Project-wide suspension and ban policy
At the September 2023 meeting of the OSMF Board of Directors, a policy was adopted on project-wide bans and suspensions. It is immediately in effect but also will be submitted to the community for comment and will be revisited at the October 2023 Board of Directors meeting.
OpenStreetMap Foundation Policy on Project-Wide User Bans
This document articulates the policy of the OpenStreetMap Foundation (OSMF) on banning (suspending) members of the OpenStreetMap community from the entire project for any time period.
For purposes of this policy, the following are defined:
- channel - An OSMF-controlled communications medium such as an email list, a subforum channel on an online forum, a wiki, changeset comments, or a moderated group on a social media platform.
- Data Working Group - The OpenStreetMap Data Working Group, also known as the DWG.
- moderator - A natural person participating in the moderation of discussions in a particular channel. This explicitly includes administrators of the wiki listed at https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Wiki:Administrators
- OSMF-controlled - A medium or project sponsored by and subject to rules imposed by a working group or other agent of the OpenStreetMap project and supported by the OSMF Board of Directors.
- rules of good behavior - The various guidelines for comportment, manners, conduct, and behaviour enforced by moderators and the Data Working Group, explicitly including the Etiquette Guidelines adopted in 2022 and the Data Working Group ban policy.
- wiki - The OpenStreetMap wiki found at https://wiki.openstreetmap.org
The OpenStreetMap community values transparency, collaboration, and the dedication of its volunteer contributors. The Board of Directors recognises the significant negative impact that sustained disruptive behaviour can have on the community’s morale, productivity, and well-being.
For the most part, OpenStreetMap effectively operates under an honour system, that community members will voluntarily abide by certain rules of good behaviour and will abstain from bad behaviour. However, though extremely rare, the community has had occasion to seek the expulsion, both temporarily and permanently, of disruptive and counterproductive community members who threatened the good order of the project. Under normal circumstances, perpetrators of vandalism or malafide edits to the database are handled by the Data Working Group (DWG), vandalism of the wiki by the wiki moderators, and disruptive behavior in social media by moderators of the various communications channels used by members of the OpenStreetMap community.
However, in that rare circumstance when an actor perpetrates malafide acts across much or the whole breadth of the project, demonstrating a pattern of behavior at odds with the various multiple guidelines enforced by the DWG and the moderators, a global ban may be called for. While moderators and administrators of various individual channels or working groups exercise responsibility within their respective domains, it is sometimes necessary to take project-wide actions against those who harm the community. This is particularly the case when malafide actors “channel hop”, i.e., move from one channel to another to evade penalties from different moderators.
What This Policy Does Not Cover
This policy in no way curtails, reduces, or circumscribes the authority of any moderator, group of moderators, or working group to enforce and apply any rules of good behaviour or conduct in effect currently or in the future. Moderators and working groups retain full authority to counsel, admonish, warn, block, ban, suspend, or otherwise counter and discipline malafide actors in their respective domains.
What This Policy Does Cover
This policy covers all media controlled by the OpenStreetMap Foundation.
In the event that an actor perpetrates malafide acts (i.e., violates rules of behavior) in two or more channels, and in changeset comments or in the geospatial data under the purview of the DWG, the moderators of those channels in concert with the DWG may collectively resolve to impose a ban (suspension) of said malafactor for any time period, up to and including a lifetime ban depending on the seriousness of the offenses, at their collective discretion. Such a ban may be instituted only after the relevant moderator groups and the DWG have already applied their own procedures for admonitions, warnings, and blocks.
If two or more groups of moderators, in accordance with their own procedural rules, vote in favor of such a ban (suspension), and if the DWG also votes in favor of such a ban (suspension), in accordance with the DWG’s procedural rules, the resolution shall be adopted and go into effect.
If a discrete group of moderators should moderate more than one channel, all that group’s channels together shall be considered for purposes of this policy to constitute a single channel.
Moderators and hosts of OSMF-controlled media are required to enforce such a suspension or ban, and moderators and hosts of external media are encouraged to apply it, as well.
The malafide actor shall have the right to appeal any such resolution and its implementation to the Board of Directors of the OpenStreetMap Foundation.
In the interests of transparency, a report on such a ban is to be published on the moderators' page of the website of the OpenStreetMap Foundation. Said report should include descriptions of the incidents that led to the ban (suspension), with links to any relevant online documentation, and a justification for the action.
Intent of the Policy
This policy is framed by four philosophical beliefs:
- The process of imposing a project-wide suspension or ban should occur rarely, should not be easy, and should require concurrence of at least two groups of moderators plus the Data Working Group, to ensure that such bans or suspensions are applied only in the worst cases of misconduct spanning all or a broad swath of the project;
- The Board's oversight must be preserved via an ability to appeal such bans or suspensions;
- The language used in the policy must be written such that bad actors cannot find room to argue about procedures and applicability of rules;
- The right of working groups and moderators to determine their own procedures for adjudicating violations of the Etiquette Guidelines and the DWG ban policy should be preserved.