Working Group Minutes/SWG 2011-07-01

From OpenStreetMap Foundation


IRC Name Present Apologies
_chrisfl Chris Fleming y
Eugene Eugene Usvitsky y
Firefishy Grant Slater y
apmon Kai Krueger y
mkl Mikel Maron y
RichardF Richard Fairhurst y
samlarsen1 Sam Larsen y
stevenfeldman Steven Feldman y
toffehoff Henk Hoff y
TomH Tom Hughes y
wonderchook Kate Chapman y


24 June 2011 Minutes approved


  • Discussion about community feedback / decisions
  • Articles of Association
  • List etiquette
  • Front page

Articles of Association

  • Main focus is now to make a proposal to put for discussion within the membership (and alert the community)
  • We have covered most topics

Discussion about community feedback / decisions

  • The question asked here by apmon is: should we have a way of polling the whole community in case of a controversial decision.
  • A good discussion was held (See irc logs below), themes included what kind of decision would involve the community; how to be effective and still give the community choice. We also briefly discussed the creation of a community council, made up of the most active contributors from each country.
  • But no conclusion was reached and the discussion will be continued in future meetings.


  • None

Next weeks agenda

  • Discussion about community feedback / decisions
  • Articles of Association
  • List etiquette
  • Front page

Next meeting

Next meeting 8th July 15.00 UTC


wonderchook joined the chat room.
[15:35] wonderchook: so did we decide just to replace the front page, OR is there a meeting in 25 minutes?
[15:51] chrisfl_: I *think* there is a meeting in 25 minutes.
[15:54] wonderchook: chrisfl_: cool, I didn't put extra credits on my phone to tether for IRC for nothing;
[15:54] wonderchook:
[15:56] chrisfl_: So where in the world are you at the moment.
[15:57] toffehoff joined the chat room.
[15:57] apmon joined the chat room.
[15:58] stevenfeldman joined the chat room.
[15:59] toffehoff: Hi all, did anyone of you get an invitation for todays meeting?
[15:59] stevenfeldman left the chat room.
[15:59] wonderchook: I am on this island:
[15:59] stevenfeldman joined the chat room.
[16:00] chrisfl_: toffehoff I've noty seen anything.
[16:00] stevenfeldman: me neither
[16:00] wonderchook: toffehoff: nope I didn't see anything either
[16:00] toffehoff: OK. My mistake probably. Thought that Mikel was taking care of that....
[16:01] wonderchook: toffehoff: I htink mikel is offline
[16:01] wonderchook: or was supposed to be this week
[16:01] toffehoff: He was last week.
[16:01] toffehoff: Apparently this week to
[16:02] wonderchook: toffehoff: hmmm, yeah I have no idea.  The schedule of HOT's members is impossible to keep track of;)
[16:02] toffehoff: Anyways. It's 1700 CET.
[16:02] Eugene joined the chat room.
[16:03] toffehoff: Time to start the meeting, with or without Mikel ....
[16:03] Eugene: Hello everyone!
[16:03] chrisfl_: hi
[16:03] toffehoff: The usual first question: who's taking notes?
[16:03] toffehoff: Hi Eugene
[16:05] chrisfl_: I'll do it
[16:05] wonderchook: I'm tethering through my phone so I don't recommend it be me
[16:05] toffehoff: Thanks Chrisfl_!
[16:05] toffehoff: Any objections to last weeks minutes?
[16:06] Eugene: Don't think so.
[16:07] toffehoff: While the rest are pondering over the minutes, let me check if we have a quorum.
[16:07] chrisfl_: not from me.
[16:08] TomH: SELECT COUNT(members) FROM swg WHERE present = true
[16:08] stevenfeldman: minutes look good
[16:08] stevenfeldman: tomh: that is ubergeeky 
[16:09] toffehoff: When there are no objections. With thanks to Chris, they are accepted.
[16:09] toffehoff: Who are present:
[16:09] toffehoff: chrisfl_, eugene, apmon, stevenfeldman, tomH, wonderchook.
[16:09] apmon left the chat room. (Ping timeout: 480 seconds)
[16:09] RichardF: hello
[16:10] toffehoff: Hello Richard.
[16:10] toffehoff: apmon just left?
[16:10] toffehoff: Not present are:
[16:10] toffehoff: mkl, samlarsen, apmon
[16:11] toffehoff: Correct?
[16:11] toffehoff: Missing anyone?
[16:11] • RichardF adds a bridge so that wonderchook doesn't drive into the river
[16:12] toffehoff: ... and that from someone who is more into boating.
[16:12] toffehoff: Today's agenda
[16:12] toffehoff: Discussion about community feedback / decisions (is apmon present?)
[16:12] toffehoff: Articles update
[16:12] toffehoff: List entiquete update
[16:13] toffehoff: Front page
[16:13] toffehoff: Anything else?
[16:13] toffehoff: (must say, that I haven't prepared this meeting .... sorry)
[16:14] stevenfeldman: I think list etiquette is done and front page unlikely to move without dermot
[16:14] toffehoff: ok
[16:14] toffehoff: ... and community feedback/decisions has been raised by apmon last week.
[16:14] toffehoff: .... who is not present at the moment.
[16:14] wonderchook: stevenfeldman: yeah I submitted a draft of the list etiquette when I said I would, back a couple weeks ago
[16:15] toffehoff: wonderchook: Mikel has brought that into the last face-to-face board meeting.
[16:15] toffehoff: They gave a go.
[16:16] toffehoff: Articles update then....
[16:16] toffehoff: ... not much there either 
[16:16] toffehoff: Since we hadn't had a meeting this week.
[16:17] toffehoff: Main focus is now to make a proposal to put for discussion within the membership (and alert the community)
[16:17] wonderchook: good to go:)
[16:17] wonderchook: or rather know:)
[16:17] toffehoff: Starting with (hopefully) a discussion at SotM Vienna
[16:18] toffehoff: Think that's it, isn't it Chris?
[16:18] toffehoff: ... and Eugene ...
[16:18] chrisfl_: yes
[16:18] Eugene: Yes, seems so.
[16:19] wonderchook: so what is left for the proposal?
[16:19] toffehoff: Enough!
[16:20] toffehoff: Looks like we had touched all items on the agenda....
[16:22] apmon joined the chat room.
[16:22] toffehoff: Welcome back apmon
[16:22] apmon: hi
[16:23] toffehoff: Talk about "Discussion about community feedback / decisions"?
[16:23] apmon: Did I miss anything?
[16:23] toffehoff: Not anything major.
[16:24] apmon: OK, great, I will be able to read it up in the protocol later on
[16:24] toffehoff: This community-thing is our main item for today.
[16:24] apmon: It will possibly be a major item for quite a while, in case we want to act on it in some way
[16:25] toffehoff: Apmon: since you brought this up last week: what is it what we need to discuss?
[16:25] apmon: Well, one of the statements of osmf is that "it supports the community but not controls it"
[16:26] apmon: So from that I read, that "the community" is the sovereign
[16:26] wonderchook: so how to bring in community feedback?  or allow the community to help in decisions? 
[16:26] apmon: But at the moment there is no way for the community to formally express its wishes
[16:26] TomH: unfortunately that is, of course, complete nonsens
[16:26] TomH: as apmon says there is no way to consult the "community"
[16:27] TomH: nor can I see any sane way of doing so
[16:27] apmon: Well, that is what some one in OSMF needs to find out how to do. And SWG seems just as good a place as any other
[16:27] toffehoff: What for role should the Communication WG play in this discussion?
[16:27] TomH: every other open source project that sets up a fundation does so with the precise intent that it will run things
[16:28] RichardF: OOI where does it say that OSMF supports the community but does not control it?
[16:28] TomH: only we seem to be desparate to make the foundation some kind of impotent body that does nothing except hand ware
[16:28] RichardF: because I think you'll find the OSMF main page says "The OpenStreetMap Foundation is an international not-for-profit organization supporting, but not controlling, the OpenStreetMap Project."
[16:28] RichardF: which is _very_ different.
[16:28] RichardF: similarly, "The OpenStreetMap Foundation was formed to enable aspects of the project not easily accomplished by individual mappers."
[16:29] toffehoff: In what way is this different from the way apmon has voiced it?
[16:29] TomH: yes it has always been a bit unsure of what it's doing - the original intent was AIUI to have a body that could run things but then it chicked out at the last moment and adopted all this "support but not control" nonsense
[16:29] wonderchook: so I think there are structural changes that could allow community feedback i.e. having a community elected board position
[16:29] wonderchook: though, I don't understand why people can't just join the OSMF
[16:30] toffehoff: Before we look for solutions.
[16:30] RichardF: toffehoff: "supporting but not controlling the OSM project" indicates that OSMF will do things in the best interests of the map. "supporting but not controlling the _community_" indicates that the community will always take the leadership role in decision-making.
[16:30] TomH: wonderchook: if you read the wiki page referenced above you'll see that per the Companies Act only members of the company can vote for the board
[16:30] toffehoff: lets first try to define the problem (if there is any)
[16:30] toffehoff: RichardF: thanks.
[16:31] chrisfl_: TomH although there is flexibility as to who is a member of the company if we want it.
[16:31] TomH: indeed
[16:31] wonderchook: toffehoff: you are asking me?
[16:31] toffehoff: No, in general.
[16:32] apmon: toffehoff: The problem is that there currently is no way to ask "what the community wants" in case of controversial discussions
[16:32] apmon: There is also no way to know when a decision is controversial enough to warrant "asking the community"
[16:33] toffehoff: But now you state that we need to consult the community in every decision... Is that so?
[16:33] stevenfeldman: It is not just"how do we ask?" but "how do we assess/balance/respond to a diverse range of responses?"
[16:33] apmon: No, most decisions are not controversial enough to need to bother the whole community
[16:34] toffehoff: But who decides whether a decision is controversial enough to bother the community?
[16:34] wonderchook: TomH: sorry, can't get it to load
[16:34] wonderchook: anyway, so that is a legal requirement?
[16:34] apmon: Some however are, and OSMF doesn't have mechanisms for these controversial decission
[16:35] Eugene: The real decision would be a creation some kind of representative board of community, consisting of most active members in every country, who then would make decisions for the whole COMMUNITY. And include these members in OSMF, which will then control the whole PROJECT.
[16:35] toffehoff: again: who defines whether a decision should be labeled as controversial.
[16:36] apmon: toffehoff: That is part of the problem that needs to be discussed and a solution found to it. (It is by no means a trivial problem)
[16:36] chrisfl_: So how would the community representitive know what the community wants?
[16:37] Eugene: Because they ARE a part of community, and the most active one
[16:37] toffehoff: Like we all are not part of the community?
[16:37] chrisfl_: So the current board aren't part of the community?
[16:37] apmon: Eugene: No single person can represent the entire community as divers as that of OSMF
[16:37] apmon: s/OSMF/OSM/
[16:37] Eugene: We are a) too few to know all he problems and b) every country is different
[16:38] apmon: Eugene: +1
[16:38] apmon: But that is why  single "community representative" won't likely work
[16:38] Eugene: apmon: I was not talking about 1 person. I was thinking of 10-15 from each large country and 5-10 from all others
[16:38] wonderchook: yeah, so I think asking the community what it wants could be one in many ways, I just think whatever way it is would have to be defined clearly
[16:38] wonderchook: and it would be impossible really to ask the community what it wants in defining that way
[16:38] toffehoff: If an active contributors doesn't has no interest in becoming member of OSMF, why would he/she be interested in such a representative role?
[16:38] apmon: In the day and age of internet, one can go for much more direct democracy
[16:38] stevenfeldman: eugene +1 but trying to include everyone in every decision is a recipe for paralysis
[16:38] chrisfl_: So hundreds of people?
[16:39] chrisfl_: and it would still be a fraction of the whole.
[16:39] Eugene: Hundreds of people is better than hundreds of thousands from the community, isn't it?
[16:39] stevenfeldman: apmon: so called direct democracy will not help to reach well informed decisions that will be actioned
[16:39] toffehoff: BTW: shall we also agree on the fact that we're never going to get a 100% satisfaction within the community.
[16:40] Eugene: Absolutely
[16:40] wonderchook: I think for large changed that effect the whole community direct democracy is a method, I mean if the community votes to destroy itself well that stinks but it is what the community wants
[16:40] toffehoff: There will always be people who feel left out ...
[16:40] wonderchook: though really I wouldn't think that type of vote would happen very often at all
[16:41] wonderchook: toffehoff: agreed, but I'd be interested in knowing how much of the community feels they were at least represented in some decisions or if it is just a couple people who are loud that don't feel that way
[16:41] RichardF: I really don't think this is the right question. We shouldn't be asking "how can OSMF make sure its actions are sanctioned by the community?" - that's what elections to the board are for. Rather, we should be making sure that people in the community who want to do cool things are able to.
[16:41] chrisfl_: RichardF +1
[16:42] wonderchook: RichardF: could you elaborate a little bit on what the enabling people to do cools things means?
[16:42] Eugene: yes, please
[16:42] chrisfl_: also what is the community? Are we just talking about people who map? What about coders? Consumers?
[16:42] stevenfeldman: what about doing things that we don't think are cool?
[16:42] wonderchook: since there seems to be 2 different schools of thought on "enabling people to do cool things" hands off and then a helping through funding, infrastructure etc
[16:43] apmon: stevenfeldman: Why do you think direct democracy won't result in informed actionable decissions?
[16:43] TomH: apmon: how exactly do you implement it? we can't be sending millions of emails asking people to vote every time there is a question to decide...
[16:43] RichardF: wonderchook: whether it's evangelising the map across the world, or creating new products from OSM data, or building new tools to advance the progress of the map - that's what our talented individual volunteers can do, and that's what OSMF can support. That's (in my view) the real purpose of OSMF, and having to bounce more stuff back to opinion polling will hinder, not help that.
[16:43] TomH: never mind the vast bunfight that would break out on the mailing lists etc every time a question was posed
[16:44] RichardF: like it says on the OSMF site - "The OpenStreetMap Foundation was formed to enable aspects of the project not easily accomplished by individual mappers." Enabling the cool stuff to happen.
[16:44] RichardF: TomH: exactly.
[16:45] wonderchook: RichardF: yeah I think I'm just not clear on "enabling" meaning that is prety broad.  Meaning if OSM wanted a bunch of money to do something they could easily raise it.  But is that what people need/want for cool stuff?  Maybe some people, but not others
[16:45] apmon: RichardF: To use your hated word, those too things are once again somewhat "orthogonal"
[16:45] apmon: OSMF: should enable people to do as many cool things as possible
[16:45] stevenfeldman: apmon: Everyone has a say but most decisions cannot be reduced to a binary choice and the process of polling for views needs that. What happens when we are split close to 50/50 do we go with the marginal winner and ignore almost half? Thiink about the time and lack of action on license change
[16:45] apmon: but some of the decisions OSMF has to take are controversial and will allow some to do cool things and prevent others to do it
[16:46] apmon: So these controversial decisions is where OSMF currently has a problem
[16:46] RichardF: wonderchook: it might be providing hardware, or money, or simply space to develop stuff without the pressure of constant review/approval. If I had to go through a three-monthly approval process while developing Potlatch from the tiny app it began as four years ago, it would have been still-born.
[16:46] RichardF: but, as it happened, the "management" (not formally OSMF at that time) had faith in what I, and others, could do, and it grew.
[16:46] toffehoff: Controversial decisions: what do you mean exactly: License, or also the moderation?
[16:47] apmon: stevenfeldman: There are binary decisions that OSMF needs to make. Are you saying it is better to go with the binary choice that represents the smaller half of the margin?
[16:47] RichardF: if we had bounced those decisions to the community at every time, we would still have the Java applet. You only have to look at some of the mailing list postings at the time to see that.
[16:47] toffehoff: or even other decisions?
[16:47] wonderchook: RichardF: I think I'm just wondering should more stuff be done through OSMF? and if so what?
[16:47] RichardF: and the mailing lists are _much_ more fractious than they are now.
[16:47] wonderchook: i.e. HOT is separately incorporated because there was no other reason to get money to go to Haiti, which was "cool stuff" we wanted to do
[16:47] wonderchook: should that be different in the future?
[16:48] RichardF: wonderchook: if HOT works fine on its own, that's excellent. But if HOT wasn't going to happen without support, and the elected members of OSMF thought it was a cool thing, OSMF should be at liberty to support it until it happens.
[16:48] apmon: wonderchook: Could we keep that kind of discussion to a separate point on the agenda?
[16:48] chrisfl_: It's a question of balance, as RichardF says OSMF needs strong leadership, and needs to take the community with it. Rather than the other way roundf
[16:48] wonderchook: apmon: yeah sorry just citing an example
[16:48] wonderchook: and yes, I think strong leadership would help
[16:49] wonderchook: but i'm not sure what that really means
[16:49] stevenfeldman: apmon: I'm not saying go with the minority - I'm trying to point out that frequent voting leaves many feeling unheard, ignored. Plus many decisions need action so they depend on people voting putting their time where their vote is
[16:49] stevenfeldman: chrisfl_ +1+1
[16:49] apmon: chrisfl_: I think you have it the wrong way round. OSMF needs to take the community with it. Possibly the best way to do it is by having a "strong leadership"
[16:49] RichardF: stevenfeldman: frequent voting also alienates those who do things. They feel that their efforts to make things better are being denigrated, in favour of doing nothing.
[16:50] apmon: but that is imho up to the community to decide if it wants "strong leadership" or not
[16:50] RichardF: voting will always favour the status quo. A fast-growing project like OSM can't afford to stay still.
[16:50] apmon: RichardF: There are differences in "doing things"
[16:50] apmon: There are those that add things, and those that take things away
[16:51] apmon: Those doers that add things are uncontroversial
[16:51] apmon: those who take things away are possibly controversial, as it prevents others from doing what they were doing
[16:51] chrisfl_: apmon it's a two way thing. Everything comes from the community, but if we leave decisions to such a big group then nothing will happen. So OSMF needs to support and lead based on the best in the community.
[16:52] RichardF: apmon: nonsense. A new front page, say, would add some things and take things away. If you put that to a vote, you will almost _always_ get "keep the old one", because the community is self-selecting: it's made up of people who like OSM as it is, otherwise they wouldn't be taking part.
[16:52] apmon: chrisfl_: Yes, I agree, many decisions are not important enough for a "full community vote".
[16:52] toffehoff: I see the word "controversial" come by often. Can someone define "Controversial decisions". b/c controversial is rather subjective.
[16:52] Eugene: chrisfl_: not everything comes from community. THe best example is License question. And that adds difficulties to our problem.
[16:52] chrisfl_: RichardF I was about the pull out the front page example.
[16:52] apmon: But some are, and we currently neither have a way to deal with the latter, nor to derimine what falls into the latter
[16:53] RichardF: chrisfl_: 
[16:53] stevenfeldman: apmon: can you give some examples of "controversial"
[16:53] apmon: toffehoff: Controversial are those decissions where a non substantial fraction opposes the decission
[16:53] apmon: stevenfeldman: The license change
[16:53] toffehoff: Naming ....
[16:53] apmon: Luckily, so far there have been not many controversial decissions
[16:54] toffehoff: What is a non-substantial fraction?
[16:54] toffehoff: 10%
[16:54] toffehoff: 50%
[16:54] apmon: Changes to the logo, or the name or other branding items would be another obvious controversial change
[16:54] stevenfeldman: apmon: the license change is a good example of how listening to everyone may not be the best way forward
[16:54] RichardF: toffehoff: of what? 
[16:54] chrisfl_: Actually it seems like a tiny minority that actually oppose the license change.
[16:54] toffehoff: RichardF: exactly 
[16:54] TomH: and how do you determine what fraction opposes a change without asking them
[16:54] RichardF: apmon: again, the change to the logo is a perfect example of how an absolutely trivial change can be monstered by a load of time-wasters to no end whatsoever
[16:55] samlarsen1 joined the chat room.
[16:55] TomH: I mean it sounds like you have to hold a vote to see if it is controversial and hence if it needs a vote
[16:55] stevenfeldman: chrisfl_ but the conversation and conversion seem to have taken 2 years and aren't complete
[16:55] RichardF: I mean, the change between the old logo and the new logo is roughly equivalent to saving out of Illustrator with the anti-alias button ticked this time
[16:55] apmon: TomH: You can have a possibility to assume things are non controversial and have a way for the community to force a decision to be counted "as controversial"
[16:55] Firefishy joined the chat room.
[16:55] toffehoff: Hi samlarsen1, we're in the middle of a discussion about community-involvement.
[16:55] toffehoff: hi firefishy.
[16:55] apmon: e.g. a referendum
[16:56] stevenfeldman: tomh: votes about votes  Holds head and rocks gently
[16:57] Eugene: Forget about referendum! We have a number of members close to some small country. Any country is ruled by government, which is voted for and chosen from country citizens. Why can't we make the same?!
[16:57] apmon: E.g. if the community thinks OSMF is not acting in its interest, It can "gather signatures to hold a vote". If sufficient numbers come together, it would trigger a vote
[16:57] wonderchook_ joined the chat room.
[16:57] RichardF: apmon: er, that can happen already, that's called an EGM.
[16:57] toffehoff: Could Local Chapter play a role in this?
[16:57] apmon: RichardF: Only OSMF members are eligible for that
[16:58] TomH: Eugene: I think we're discussing if we want to be Switzerland or an ordinary country 
[16:58] Eugene:
[16:58] chrisfl_:
[16:58] RichardF: TomH: well, it would at least have the advantage that we didn't get invaded
[16:59] RichardF: apmon: so join the... never mind
[16:59] • toffehoff is thinking we're not going to come to a conclusion today....
[17:00] Eugene: Definitely... And it's an hour now.
[17:00] stevenfeldman: If OSM is like switzerland then we can invade Lichtenstein (whatever the map equivalent of lichtenstein is),2933,256098,00.html
[17:00] apmon: No, changing a political system is seldomly done in a single day... 
[17:00] • chrisfl_ is trying to figure out how to minute this....
[17:00] stevenfeldman: chrisfl_ try very briefly
[17:00] RichardF: stevenfeldman: that was the People's Map and I think we already invaded it 
[17:01] toffehoff: firefishy, samlarsen1: we've started a hour earlier to last week. Unfortunately there has been no invitation of the meeting being send. Sorry.
[17:01] Firefishy: k
[17:01] wonderchook_: flip a coin;)
[17:01] toffehoff: it's at the hour. How to proceed?
[17:01] stevenfeldman: richardf: Could we compare microsoft to aliens?
[17:02] toffehoff: This is really getting out of hand  Let's end this discussion for now.
[17:02] RichardF: stevenfeldman: that's terrific. I'm just trying to work out which one looks most like SteveC.
[17:03] stevenfeldman: apologies, it is friday afternoon and been a long week. Murray in semis beckons
[17:03] wonderchook_: I personally like the idea of coming up with possible solutions, though I'm not sure we defined the problem in a way that satisfies everyone or anyone
[17:03] RichardF: probably explains the pilot's licence.
[17:03] apmon: The first thing is probably to find out if we (or who or anyone) has a mandate to think about any changes of how OSMF interacts with the community
[17:03] wonderchook left the chat room. (Ping timeout: 480 seconds)
[17:04] toffehoff: apmon: sorry that's to vague.
[17:04] apmon: wonderchook: One will never satisfy everyone. That is why Democracy is sometimes called "Dictatorship of the majority"
[17:04] chrisfl_: It's also worth thinking about why so few members of the community are OSMF members.
[17:04] toffehoff: which changes, what kind of mandate, who is the community.....
[17:04] stevenfeldman: next week people, have a good weekend 
[17:04] RichardF: and you 
[17:04] apmon: Which is still better than a "Dictatorship of the minorities" (If there are a few limits)
[17:04] toffehoff: Thanks Steven! to too!
[17:04] stevenfeldman left the chat room.
[17:05] chrisfl_: I did a quick poll at the last Edinburgh pub meetup. Of 10 only 2 of us were members and the rest just weren't bothered.
[17:05] apmon: toffehoff: All very difficult, yet important questions, with no easy answers
[17:05] wonderchook_ is now known as wonderchook.
[17:06] toffehoff: Yes, but this is discussing in space. Everybody is somewhere else with his/her definition.
[17:06] toffehoff: First define where we are talking about.
[17:06] wonderchook: stevenfeldman: friday afternoon? it is saturday here and its been a long week;)
[17:06] toffehoff: steven has left the building....
[17:06] wonderchook: oops, irc keeps going in and out
[17:06] wonderchook: so I'm missing stuff