Working Group Minutes/SWG 2011-11-04

From OpenStreetMap Foundation


IRC Name Present Apologies
_chrisfl Chris Fleming y
Eugene Eugene Usvitsky y
apmon Kai Krueger y
RichardF Richard Fairhurst y
rweait1 Richard Weait y
stevenfeldman Steven Feldman y
TomH Tom Hughes y


  • To conclude information-gathering ("trawling") exercise by next meeting
  • To encourage regular communication of improvements to the site and core tools (more CWG/EWG scope than SWG)

Next meeting

Next meeting 11th November 16.00 UTC

Draft agenda:

  • Complete "suggestion trawling" exercise
  • Identify next steps, potentially to include:
    • further study of complex topics (e.g. local chapters)
    • review against OSMF's stated mission
    • review of feasibility


16:12 stevenfeldman: so it's you and me Richard and we aren't a quorum
16:12 RichardF: that's very true :)
16:12 stevenfeldman: eugene is here
16:12 Eugene: I seemed to me the same but that's quite silent here...
16:12 TomH: is here
16:13 RichardF: pings a couple of people
16:14 rweait1: Howdy, Strategic-ers
16:14 RichardF: yay
16:14: and let me paste what I've found thus far for "community strategy suggestions" onto the wiki... will be two mins
16:17: ok, have posted to
16:17: so can I suggest that we have a short meeting today, starting now, to update where we are with things?
16:18: anyone? :)
16:19 stevenfeldman: I still have some more trawl to do thru us talk
16:20 RichardF: ok. I've done talk@ back to October 2010 - I could go further back but actually you find the same things tend to get repeated again and again
16:20: (either that or my brain was telling me it couldn't take any more)
16:20: so I'll probably move to looking at the wiki next.
16:21: anyone else had any progress with looking through things? (I know that a few of the people who were trawling through stuff aren't here today, e.g. apmon)
16:23: that'll be a no then. so:
16:23 stevenfeldman: US has been a lot about status of local chapter
16:24 rweait1: Let me have a quick look at the wiki you linked.  I'm not a current member of SWG
16:24 RichardF: rweait1: you would be very welcome :)
16:24 rweait1: Sorry, RichardF: too many other irons in the fire to have regular time for SWG. :-(
16:25 RichardF: understood. well, essentially, because SWG has not got very far with the (admittedly nebulous) task of identifying possible future strategy for OSM - as defined by the community - we decided to go "back to the community" by researching what people have been asking for
16:25: so I propose that I'll mail strategic@ setting a deadline of next week for the "trawling" process. we can then start to identify what we think has most promise and is in keeping with OSMF's remit
16:26 rweait1: After a quick look at the page I have to wonder where the "strategic" is in any of the suggestions.
16:26 stevenfeldman: 2 interesting topics on US Talk 1) the need for a "professional" face to oSM that could be more accessible to potential govt and other commercial users/contributors 2) The never fully resolved discussion about the relationship between OSMF and "the project"/contributors
16:26 RichardF: and whether there's anything, like local chapters, that's going to require some work.
16:26: rweait1: see the bit at the top.
16:27 rweait1: That'll teach me to just read the headlines.
16:27 RichardF: laughs
16:27 RichardF: it's all about "support and encourage". what should OSMF's strategy be to support and encourage the community to build a better map?
16:27 rweait1: iirc, at the first SWG face to face in Girona, there was a lot of interest in fund raising.
16:28 RichardF: rweait1: excellent. could you add that? (I wasn't there but that seems like a good thing to paste)
16:28 chrisfl_: sorry being distracted by "real work"…..
16:28 rweait1: several charter members of the SWG list claimed to be excellent fund raisers, and that they had 'just stacks' of money wiating to be claimed by OSM(F)
16:28 RichardF: stevenfeldman: interesting - yes, I see the "professionals" item now.
16:28 stevenfeldman: The problem with the fundraising discussion was that last time round no one could agree what we needed it for except a couple of servers maybe
16:29 rweait1: nothing seems to have come from that, and those claiming the expertise seem to have disappeared.
16:29 stevenfeldman: rweait1 I remember that :) Shame we couldn't come up with a proposition for them to raise funds against
16:29 RichardF: maybe as we start to get closer to a "strategy" then it becomes easier to identify if there really are things to raise funds for.
16:30 apmon has joined the channel.
16:30 RichardF: (absolutely not saying that we should raise them for the sake of it - but if it turns out lots of people have been saying "wouldn't it be great if we could do this" and funds are the blocker...)
16:30: apmon: hi :)
16:30 stevenfeldman: Problem with raising funds is it will imply a level of accountability that we and the volunteers may not want
16:30 apmon: hi
16:30 RichardF: nods
16:31 RichardF: apmon: discussion so far if it helps -
16:31: (rather informal today :) )
16:31 apmon: RichardF: thanks
16:32 RichardF: stevenfeldman: in general I think the mappers want OSMF to be accountable. What's less clear is whether there are people prepared to do the legwork in making things accountable as part of OSMF
16:33: my gut feeling is that because OSM (in the UK at least) actually attracts a fair number of retired/semi-retired professionals, we should be able to find that calibre of volunteer. But I don't think we're doing so at present.
16:33 stevenfeldman: richardf we won't get accountability as required by funders and volunteers without some professional core
16:34: I guess I could qualify as a semi-retired professional :)
16:34 RichardF: heehee
16:34 fake_mackerski has joined the channel.
16:35 RichardF: if by "professional" you mean "paid" I'd tend to disagree - I've seen organisations (canal restoration trusts in particular) that juggle six-figure budgets without paid staff. But it's not easy and it may not be attainable
16:35 apmon: Regarding fundraising: It seems more of a problem of spending money than of raising money
16:35 RichardF: anyway, to a certain extent we're getting ahead of ourselves
16:35: apmon: yes
16:36 stevenfeldman: can we agree that if we are to identify projects and raise funds to support them that the funders at least will want some accountability and that should be a subject of strategic discussion
16:36 RichardF: yes
16:36 apmon: Perhaps we should come up with some sensible ideas what to spend money on, and how it would help increase number of mappers
16:36 rweait1: SWG did create some documents for WGs and others to use in requesting funding.  How many requests have come in?
16:37 RichardF: apmon: well, that's the idea of the current exercise - to begin by identifying what ideas are out there
16:37: apmon: you might have missed it at the start of the meeting but is where we are so far
16:41 apmon: Of those, are there any concrete projects that would be fundable?
16:41 RichardF: working that out is the next step :)
16:41 Eugene: I'm sure there some things we can easily spend money on: new good usability-based website, more easy editor...
16:41: Search improvements, too
16:41 RichardF: Eugene: ...more flame-proof vests for when you suggest that sort of thing on the mailing lists...
16:41 Eugene: :)
16:42: That's why I suggest it here
16:42 apmon: Eugene: That would fall into the category of contracting out software development?
16:42 RichardF: but more seriously, that risks blurring the line between strategic and operational
16:42 Eugene: apmon: probably
16:42 stevenfeldman: We developed a budget process that set out a way to seek proposals that needed funding. This was approved by the board but i do not think they ever announced it to the WG's
16:43 TomH: money is not an obstacle to those things, so I don't see how it will help
16:43: and no, paying some peruvians on odesk to write a pile of shit doesn't count
16:43 stevenfeldman: Could the strategic question be "do we want to seek funding to pay to do things that we cannot get done by volunteers?"
16:44 RichardF: again, that's at danger of tripping over from strategy into operations
16:44: question 1 is what do we want to do ("strategy")
16:44: question 2 is how do we do it ("operations")
16:44 Eugene: TomH: why it isn't an obstacle? AFAIK, Richard don't have enough time to implement thing for Potlatch. And we can hire some people form OSM community, not from Odesk
16:45 TomH: Eugene: OK, I will adjust that slightly - if we wanted to pay gravitystorm to work on PL2 that would be great
16:45 Eugene: yes, I mean the same
16:45 TomH: but there are a limited number of people with the necessary experience/skills in the community that are available to hire
16:45 stevenfeldman: Is there a principle issue with paying people to do things that we need doing?
16:45 apmon: In the name of transparancy, I guess there would be somewhat of a need to open up bids
16:45 Eugene: unfortunately, but there even less people outside
16:46 RichardF: I don't think there's an issue of principle. There are some fairly basic fundamental problems, though.
16:46 TomH: apmon: if you start doing that then your volunteers just wind up spending the time writing specs and reviewing the results instead of doing the work
16:46 RichardF: for example, I have absolutely no problem with OSMF paying gravitystorm to code on P2, but in that case I might reasonably start asking why it's never paid me for any P2 work
16:46 TomH: you can't go out to open tender without far more preliminary spec work than we would normally do
16:47 RichardF: I should probably also remind people that we have a separate WG that is looking at barriers to development, and that's EWG (Engineering)
16:47 Eugene: I see one of the problem as core people working for the project don't have enough time besides their real work to implement all things needed or possible for the project
16:48 TomH: yeah but I'd rather spend the time I have writing code that hand holding somebody with no knowledge of our code through trying to do something
16:49: and it's one thing to hand hold a volunteer for a bit who will hopefully stay around, and another to have to keep doing it for each project as different people get the job of doing it
16:49 rweait1: perhaps offer badges to those who write deployable code to solve "important" issues?
16:50 RichardF: rweait1: that's one of the suggestions I spotted on trawling through talk@, too: "provide greater appreciation/visibility of developers’ work to encourage more"
16:50 rweait1: Though really the lolcat of awesomeness should be enough for anybody.
16:50 TomH: feel free, though frankly I have no idea why a "badge" would make anybody excited ;-)
16:50 RichardF: haha
16:50: was just about to type that
16:50: but seriously, we don't do enough shouting about the good stuff that happens on the site
16:50 chrisfl_: I don't know if a badge will help
16:51 RichardF: so people come along with the preconception that "the site never changes", which is complete nonsense
16:51: the site gets better every month. but we don't tell people.
16:51 TomH: I mean I know it's very "Web 2.0" but I've never got the whole "badge" thing
16:51 apmon: RichardF: I agree, that changes to the site could be better announced
16:51: that would probably be more motivation than a badge
16:52: and more useful
16:52 RichardF: yeah, let's not get hung up on badges or whatever :)
16:52: serious proposal - should we throw the idea of "better communicating developments on the site" over to Communications WG to tackle?
16:52 rweait1: Making changes to the site more visible is helpful, I think.  How can I as part of CWG help?  
16:52 RichardF: rweait1: STOP READING MY MIND!
16:52: that's the third time in three comments ;)
16:52 rweait1: Is there a commit log that I should be parsing so I can blog about it?
16:53 RichardF: rweait1: git for core site, Potlatch and JOSM would be good places to start.
16:53 TomH:
16:53 rweait1: Or should the commit log be available as a full time side bar on the blog, or seomthing?
16:53 apmon: I guess it would be the responsibility of the developers to make the CWG aware of interesting developments
16:53 RichardF: developers working with CWG. we're all friendly helpful people.
16:53 TomH: rweait1: whatever has the yellow "live" tag is what is running
16:53: for PL2
16:53: whatever is there is normally what is running
16:54 RichardF: ok, so that's a concrete action - excellent
16:54 RichardF: happy to help too, of course
16:54 apmon: rweait1: Perhaps a summery post of all the development that has happened in the last year would be good
16:55 RichardF: apmon: a few months too late to be summery
16:55: (sorry)
16:55 apmon: :-)
16:55 rweait1: apmon, sure, but I think that regular updates from now on is helpful too.
16:55: not just "look where we've been, but "Look, we keep moving!"
16:55 RichardF: absolutely.
16:56: ok, we're five minutes from the hour. anything outstanding for this week, or can we begin to wrap up?
16:56 apmon: yes, both of them are helpful
16:56 RichardF: if possible I'd like to move towards some sort of very broad agenda for each week's meeting, if only to keep the momentum
16:57: so... for next week I would suggest
16:57: 1. Complete "suggestion trawling" exercise
16:57: 2. Identify next steps, potentially to include:
16:57: a) further study of complex topics (e.g. local chapters)
16:57: b) review against OSMF's stated mission
16:57: c) review of feasibility
16:57: (yes I did copy and paste that)
16:58: in other words: wrap up the "trawling through lists/wiki/forum to find what people have been asking for" part of the exercise
16:58: and then start to look at how to draw that together into strategy
16:58: does that sound ok? (please speak up :) )
16:58 rweait1: +1
16:58 Eugene: I agree
16:58 apmon: +1
16:59 RichardF: excellent, thank you
16:59 stevenfeldman: +1
16:59 RichardF: so we'll wrap up here for today; I'll write a recap post to the strategic@ list and post the minutes on the wiki
17:00: thank you all very much for coming and for supporting SWG :)
17:00 rweait1: thank you, RichardF. You are keeping SWG transparent.