Operations/Minutes/2022-04-01 Meeting about community.osm.org and Discourse

From OpenStreetMap Foundation

Draft minutes.

2022-04-01 OSMF meeting about community.osm.org / Discourse


This meeting was announced on community.osm.org, OSMcal, auto-tweeted by the OSM events Twitter bot and echoed on the OSMUS slack.

Some points have been reordered.

Minutes by Dorothea Kazazi.


Grant Slater

Rubén Martin

  • From Spain
  • Involved with OSM Discourse since early last year
  • Trying to support conversation and collect all the feedback

Frederik Ramm

  • From Germany
  • Amanda's colleague
  • Became aware about community.osm.org from some complaints

Christian Quest

  • User of Discourse
  • Deployed several instances in past years, such as the French one.

Tobias Knerr

  • On OSMF board
  • Nudging the board to modernise communication platforms
  • Thanks expressed to Operations team

Amanda McCann


  • OSM mapper and user since 2008
  • Moderator in German forum

Apparent agreement on / "Decisions"

Please note that the points shown below seemed to be agreed on by the participants but there was no voting/explicit discussion on the wording or the actual points.

  • Copy/migrate content from forum.osm.org to community.osm.org.
  • Etiquette guidelines topic won't be a blocker for migration.
  • Adopt the existing forum rules for the migration - the rules will be interpreted by the same moderators as before.
  • Display notification in the forum to inform users about the migration.
  • Install the automatic translation plugin as soon as possible.

On choice of name community.openstreetmap.org

  • Grant: personal decision, not the most multilingual name - did not want to use the software's name and "community" is used for communication sites of other projects.
    • Comment: Anyone that wants to be "part of the community", has to use that site and if you don't, you are not part of the community.
    • Comment: Good choice - platform can be considered to be the "centre" of the community.

On soft launch

  • Trying to fix some of the problems and decide the road ahead.
  • Not much communications on launch yet on blog.osm.org or mailing lists or linking from www.osm.org
  • 531 signups so far.

Aim: Create a friendlier space for communication on OSM.

Long term goal

Potentially migrate both forum.osm.org and help.osm.org

Quick round of reactions on the soft-launch

  • Happy with the volume of activity coming from very diverse set of communities and groups. (Rubén)
  • No issues with the conversations - friendly so far.
  • On-boarded people who were not aware of this change.

Review current open proposals' feedback and decision making

New categories requirements and process

New categories requirements and process (+ initial cats we want to see)

  • Getting a lot of diverse opinions about the initial set of categories.
  • Country spaces are the most requested and are the more traffic-heavy in forum.osm.org


  • Country spaces should be replicated on community.osm.org if the people in the forum are happy - potentially having the same admins/moderators. (Grant)
  • Have a defined process to suggest categories. (Rubén)
  • Migrate sections/content of forum.osm.org (see "migration" section).

Other points mentioned

  • Rubén is in favour of "organic" route of adding categories, based on requests.
    • If the organic route is chosen, then it would be necessary to cancel the migration of the old content.
  • Grant doesn't want to annoy the users of "country sections" in forum.osm.org but these sections should probably be replicated, if their users are happy with it.

Information requested when suggesting categories
Currently, requesters of new categories have to provide some additional information (purpose/is the community hosted elsewhere/current activity/commitment for self-moderation by community).

Defining a process
Frederik was critical of defining a process, as it will take a long time to agree on the process and then on the categories. Suggestion made (see "migration" section).

Migrating content from old forums (and transition plan)

Migrating content from old forums (and transition plan)

Apparent agreement on / "Decisions"

Please note that the points shown below seemed to be agreed on by the participants but there was no voting/explicit discussion on the wording or the actual points.

  • Copy/migrate content from forum.osm.org to community.osm.org. Forum will be switched off at a later point and any messages after migration will be lost.
  • Grant and Christian will do the testing.
  • Notification in the forum informing users about the migration. (Grant)


  • Forum.osm.org runs customised version of fluxBB, very old software.
  • Grant wants to demise the software. Can keep a read-only copy but doesn't want to run the software in one year's time.
  • Currently has ~ 850.000 posts.

On communities using the forum

  • Some communities are very active there but quite limited number of people use it.
  • Need to be respectful of the communities, admins and moderators and how they operate.
  • Need to make the new community site work for the current users of the forum and make them to feel at home in the new system.

On migration and data preservation

Is migration the goal or is it optional? Question by Christian Quest.

In France, the decision was to change the software and migrated the content and accounts to Discourse. Around 100,000 messages migrated.


  • Migration: Inform forum users that the whole forum content will be migrated/copied to community.osm.org by [date] and ask if they foresee problems. After that time the old forum can still be used but any new content there will be finally lost (or made read-only), as the old forum and the Discourse instance will be decoupled after migration. (Frederik)
  • Partial migration of a community who wishes to migrate. (Rubén)
    • It makes things more complicated, as forum is treated as a whole.
  • No migration and make forum.osm.org read-only: solves the problem of preserving the content. (Rubén)
    • Can't reply to old messages, if they are made read-only.

Advantages of migration

  • Respect and psychological effect:
    • With migration people will be keeping their identity.
    • Migrating the old content and then talking about adding categories shows maximum respect, especially for users of non-English forum sections, as they are invited to a space which is pre-populated with their own non-EN content, so they won't feel excluded.
  • Suggestions by Discourse: Discourse provides suggestions when you search for something, and is encouraging interactions, as you find content from other categories, so having the old content migrated helps. (Nop)

Concerns about migration

  • Will stop requests of categories till migration gets completed.
    • Migration does not block new communities.
  • Technical aspects (preserving URLs/accounts/etc).
    • See "On technical aspects of migration" below.

On technical aspects of migration

Information mainly provided by Nop and Christian

  • Duration: Migration be done over a weekend for the whole forum.
  • Links: Preserving them is easy.
  • Zero performance problems.

Partial migration test: https://community.cquest.org/

Grant, Christian, Frederik, Nop, Tobias, Amanda in favour of migration. Rubén as well, as long as the technical aspects are addressed.

Biggest blocker: not technical but psychological (Amanda).

Apparent agreement on / "Decision"

Copy/migrate content from forum.osm.org to community.osm.org.

Communicating about the migration

Communicate that the forum software is old and insecure.


  • Have at least one person per forum section.
  • Communicate in the language of each forum section.

Other point mentioned

  • Communities: A lot of communities are not on the forum but want to be on community.osm.org - don't care about migration, just want to use the software.

Apparent agreement on / "Decision"

Notification in the forum informing users about the migration. (Grant)

Language and location based content and categories

Language and location based content and categories

On installed default English locale

  • Having only the default English locale installed is not respectful to people who don't speak English - would like to improve languages of user interface.

Discourse language support

  • Discourse supports several languages other than English.
  • Admins can set Discourse to use the browser's language, if localisation is available, and the user can change this.

On automatic translation plugin

Provide option for users to click a button and display automatic translations. Creates a better experience for people.

Concern: Using commercial API and cost.

Apparent agreement on / "Decision"

Install the automatic translation plugin, as soon as possible.

On requesting language-based categories


  • Migrate content, provide the automatic translation plugin and then see if there is a need for language-based categories. (Christian)
    • Quality of translation depends on service, but quality has improved a lot over the last year.
    • Enable the automatic translation plugin as soon as possible.

Other points mentioned

  • Nop is skeptical of automatic translation, but good if it works.
  • The plugin won't help people to translate the messages they write in a non-EN language to English. (Rubén)
    • Other people can read non-EN messages, if the language is available.
  • The plugin doesn't help with languages that are not available via the plugin.

Future possibilities

Communities could request language-based categories after migration if they need them.

Review other requests and feedback

Questions on decision on Etiquette Guidelines

Questions on decision on Etiquette Guidelines


  • Provide the option to change rules now: Communities will be free to decide their own guidelines or use the OSMF guidelines and define 2-3 people for their category/section as moderators. (Rubén)
    • It will be difficult to find 2-3 moderators per section. (Nop)
    • Adding difficulty to people.
  • Keep the rules as they are and provide the option to improve governance as a second step. Don't need to mix the guidelines with the change of the software, if there is no urgent problem that needs to be resolved quickly. (Christian)
    • Some forums have written down rules, and these will be migrated. We shouldn't make having guidelines a requirement for the migration.

On making a clean start

  • Some people think that users of forums and mailing lists are toxic and are preferring not to migrate the old content. We can't redact away part of the community.

Other points mentioned

  • While we have to make sure that the users of old forum feel welcome, we also have to try bring back the people who don't use OSMF communication platforms any more. (Tobias)
  • The recently approved etiquette guidelines for the talk and osmf-talk mailing lists is a good fall-back solution.
  • There should be some etiquette guidelines, to be able to quiet down obnoxious people and keep the platform a welcoming place. (Grant)
  • Without guidelines, moderation cannot be enforced. (Rubén)
    • Agreement by Nop.
    • Moderation rules can be added and applied as the need arises, they don't have to pre-exist. (Frederik)

Suggestions for migration

  • Have the existing rules, plus a banned topic list (religion, criminal, political) (Nop)
    • Careful on how to phrase "political".
    • This would start a long discussion.
  • Same rules as before, with same moderators. (Frederik)

Apparent agreement on / "Decisions"

Please note that the points shown below seemed to be agreed on by the participants but there was no voting/explicit discussion on the wording or the actual points.

  • Etiquette guidelines topic won't be a blocker for migration.
  • Adopt the existing forum rules for the migration, which will be interpreted by the same moderators as before.

Future possibilities

  • Communities might later choose if they want to keep the current forum rules or use the etiquette guidelines which were adopted for the talk and osmf-talk mailing lists.
  • A list of banned topics might be created. (Since 2007 religion topics are not allowed in the forum (non-mapping related ones))

Pending questions

  • How far can communities' own rules can go? Would a community section where misgendering or edit-shaming is allowed be acceptable? (Amanda)
    • Edit-shaming is a necessary part of the German forum.
  • How to best interact with the French Discourse community.

Governance and accountability model

Governance and accountability model for this tool and group.

Not discussed.

Help OSM transition plan

Help OSM transition plan

Not discussed.

Meeting adjourned 90' after start. There might be a follow-up meeting in a couple of weeks.