Operations/Minutes/2022-04-21 Meeting about community.osm.org and Discourse

From OpenStreetMap Foundation

2022-04-21 OSMF meeting about community.osm.org / Discourse

Please note that these minutes do not go through a formal approval process.


This meeting was announced on community.osm.org and added to OSMcal.

Some points have been reordered.

Minutes by Dorothea Kazazi.

Previous meeting

New action items

  • Grant Slater to install the Question & Answers Discourse plugin on community.osm.org (decided after voting).
  • Christian Quest to test if migration of the account ID from forum.osm.org is ok on the new production-like instance of Discourse.
  • Christian with Grant to test the process of migrating the content from forum.osm org (FluxBB) to community.osm.org (Discourse).
  • Nop and Rubén Martin to review the old forum guidelines on what is acceptable behaviour and draft new draft guidelines, to be reviewed.
  • Nop to write down the existing moderation guidelines for the German forum with input from the OSM Austrian forum and Nakaner. Rubén and Christian might also offer input.
  • Grant to report stats on help.osm.org queries.

"Decisions" / Apparent agreement on

Please note that the only decision taken with voting was about installing the Question and Answers Discourse plugin on community.osm.org (unanimously approved).


There seemed to be agreement on:

  • Migrating the content of forum.osm.org to Discourse/community.osm.org by the end of May 2022. Date to be decided in early May.
  • Initially appointing moderators on community.osm.org for a time limited period (suggestion: 6 month) and then appointment can be done with a more complex process.
  • Providing two guidelines to moderators 1) on what is acceptable behavior and what isn't and 2) about expected behaviour of moderators.
    • There wasn't consensus on whether the guidelines have to be provided before appointing the first moderators.
  • The forums governance team (in the future) to be selected by the community among volunteers.
  • Decision on migration of help.openstreetmap.org to be taken after the forum is migrated.

Forum migration progress

Christian working on migration progress on test instance, trying different scripts.
Trying to get Markdown down correctly.

Update by Christian Quest

Has posted some updates on community.osm.org

  • Currently testing on a virtual machine.
  • Fixed some problems.
  • Recreated table, linking old and new IDs of posts and topics.

Next steps

  • Christian will test if migration of the account ID from forum.osm.org is ok on the new production-like instance of Discourse (was not working on the development version).
  • Christian Quest with Grant Slater will test the migration process - if the account ID is ok.
  • Grant might set-up a parallel production instance or take a snapshot of the current instance.

Other point mentioned

  • Grant will have more time to spend on OSM from the beginning of next month.

Suggested migration time

Migration in late May. Date to be decided in early May.

Moderation process


Suggestion by Tobias

  • Find a process to appoint moderators which is workable but not too complex. Perhaps using the poll-feature of community.osm.org to vote on people who put themselves forward.

For new categories we expect them to already use a process to find moderators.


  • finding and encouraging moderators.
    • In German forum moderators were found via posts in the forum (Nop).
  • moderators not being active after some time.

On moderator position

  • is not a fun position, as they are needed when there are problems.
  • they are not needed on a every-day basis.
  • people who want the job might be power hungry, thus not well suited.
  • moderators themselves can become targets.

Suggested process for appointing moderators

1. Put guidance on what deciding the factors for moderators should be (see suggestions further down).
2. People nominate themselves.
3. Followed by community voting on the nominations.


  • Time: Developing the guidelines might take much time.
  • Process can be gamed (voting turning in a popularity contest).
    • Proposal: Add a simple hurdle (e.g. an applicant for moderation needs 1) 5 people to support their application and 2) more upvotes than downvotes on their application), instead of having a complex process to avoid gaming the process. (Frederik)

Points mentioned during discussion

  • Rubén was in favor of developing clear guidelines first and then defining the process for moderators
  • Tobias and Frederik thought it is most important to find good moderators.
  • The two OSM mailing lists (osmf-talk1 and talk2) still don't have moderators due to trouble with the process and Tobias would like to avoid that from happening on the new platform.

1 osmf-talk is the mailing list for OpenStreetMap Foundation members (Join the Foundation). All past messages are available here.
2 talk is the general mailing list for OpenStreetMap. All past messages are available here.


  • Moderators are assigned initially for half a year to get things started and afterwards a more complex process for appointing moderators can be developed. (Frederik)
    • Preference to have community self-governance from the start. (Tobias)

Suggestion to have two guidelines for moderators

  • 1. On what is acceptable and what isn't.
    • Need something more than the vague old-forum guidelines, for people to be comfortable to moderate. (Rubén)
    • Proposal (by Nop): Have a "Blocked" list of topics for discussion.
  • 2. Expected behaviour of moderators. Examples:
    • read the messages frequently and be always available.
    • have notifications on and respond quickly.
    • should know what they are talking about.
    • if a post is edited by a moderator - make it very clear on the post. (Nop)
    • if a post by a moderator reflects their personal opinion - make it very clear on the post. (Nop)
    • moderators should not be top-contributors in the channels they moderate, as it gives undue weight to everything they say. (Frederik)
    • moderators should not be very invested and have strong opinions on everything. View of serving not dominating the community.
    • if a moderator takes action, the other moderators should be able to follow what was done and why. (Nop)

On old-forum guidelines

  • In English the guidelines are very simple and very general. (Rubén)
    • provides leeway with interpretation (Grant)
    • the "be nice to each other" guideline can be very easily misused - works only if you have moderators who know how to interpret such general guidelines (Frederik). Can spread propaganda using nice words. (Nop)

On Code of Conduct and Etiquette guidelines

  • Code of Conduct discussions can take years but we can take the effort already made and use the etiquette guidelines as a basis. (Rubén)
  • The etiquette guidelines have been developed by a small group (LCCWG moderation subcommittee) and only been adopted for two OSM mailing lists (osmf-talk and talk) - not for the whole OSM project.

On particularities in moderating mailing lists, forum and community.osm.org

  • Mailing lists: a moderator cannot edit the emails, so different measures are needed.
  • Forum: some forum moderators keep a copy of original forum pages, as the forum does not keep a history of post edits. (Nop)
  • Community.osm.org (Discourse):
    • topics can be set to "slow mode" so that people have to wait for some time before reposting. (Christian)
    • flagged posts are hidden until checked by moderators (Christian), even weeks after being initially posted. (Nop)
    • If a post is flagged as offensive, all other posts reacting or quoting it remain active, creating confusion.
    • If someone in high-trust level is abusing the system and flagging multiple posts as offensive, this can be tracked. (Rubén)

On who to write the guidelines

  • For every category to be migrated, the community migrated to define their own guidelines. (Rubén)
  • For every forum category to be migrated, ask existing moderators to write down what rules they are currently enforcing and how the forum category is currently running. Guidelines can be changed afterwards. (Frederik)

General suggestions

  • Keep guidelines simple, as if the rules are very detailed, people who do not see something in the not-allowed list will assume that it is allowed (Christian).
  • Not hinder the migration with a discussion of the communities about adding new guidelines.
    • This was decided in the 2022-04-01 meeting - every forum category to be migrated will use their existing guidelines (Grant)

On process for appointing moderators

  • Should be uncomplicated, so errors can be easily fixed.
  • Should have a process to recall moderators.
  • Allow many moderators per channel to avoid gatekeeping. (Frederik)
  • Having moderators for limited time (with option to reappoint) instead of for life.

Other points mentioned

  • In some areas they had more than one moderator.
  • In the Austrian forum there was a time where no one wanted to be a moderator.
  • In the German forum, Nop had to remove some content from post(s) as they would have legal implications.
  • No moderation needed in French Discourse instance so far. (Christian)
  • Channel participants can also mention to other people if some messages are unfriendly - so that moderators do not need to read all the posts and will be needed only as a last resort.

On global and local moderators

What about local moderators in languages we don't speak?

Currently there is the option to flag messages as problematic from the generic admin account, so no-one is targeted for the decisions they make.

Apparent consensus on

There was no formal voting. There seemed to be consensus on having the first moderators on community.osm.org on time-limited terms.

Suggested actions

  • Proposal (by Grant): Nop and Rubén to review the old forum guidelines on what is acceptable and the new draft guidelines to be reviewed.
  • Review old forum guidelines
  • Nop to draft expected behaviour of moderators.

Governance and accountability model


On forums governance team on community.osm.org

Suggestion by Frederik for a future discussion on the (self?) appointed forums governance team on community.osm.org. Points mentioned:

  • Rubén is involved as a Humanitarian OSM Team (HOT) paid employee and this allows HOT to force their values on the whole OSM community.
  • The forums governance team has to change and be selected by the community among volunteers and not paid professionals.

Rubén commented that

  • the topic "Governance and accountability model" was about that and'
  • he agrees that we have to go through this route at a later point to be truly representative of the community.

help.osm.org transition plan


  • Provide updates about the migration of the following 5 top communities that have contributed to the forum: Russia, Germany, Ukraine, Netherlands and Poland.
  • Provide expected timeline - when and what is going to happen.

Other points mentioned:

  • Most communities have had a few messages in the past 3 months.


  • Migrating content.
  • Making the old site read-only.

Other points mentioned

  • Frederik is the largest contributor to help.osm.org, and we should respect the time and effort that he put. (Grant).
  • No strong feelings on migration. A lot of people put effort into it. Some outdated content on help.osm.org and no idea of how many people go to the site and find answers there. (Frederik)
  • There are options to recognise past work on help.osm.org (Rubén).

Action item: Grant to report stats on queries on help.osm.org.

On potential migration of help.osm.org

  • Progress with this can be discussed only after completion of the FluxBB (forum) migration, which will happen at the end of May.
  • There are not a lot of people asking to migrate the content from help.osm.org.
  • There's no existing migration script like in FluxBB (Christian)

Request to implement Question and Answers plugin

Question and Answers Discourse plugin which rearranges the replies for a specific category (most upvoted on top).

Points mentioned during discussion

  • Did not seem to be very well supported.
  • Was created by the official team that supports the forum.
  • Should try it during this interim period.
  • Does not modify the database - so it can be removed.


Motion unanimously approved with 5 votes in favour: Christian Quest, Frederik Ramm, Grant Slater, Nop, Rubén Martin (+1 to try unless there are a technical blocker).

Action item: Grant to install the Question & Answers Discourse plugin.

Meeting topic on community.osm.org

Forums governance team meeting - 2022-04-21

Next meeting

There will be a follow-up meeting on 5 May 2022, 17:00 UTC -Time in your timezone - Countdown

Meeting adjourned 55' after start.