Community Code of Conduct (Draft)

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This page describes a historic artifact in the history of OpenStreetMap. It does not reflect the current situation, but instead documents the historical concepts, issues, or ideas.
Impact on OpenStreetMap
In 2010/2011, the OSMF board adopted the Etiquette rules. This draft dates from 2011 but was never adopted since then. In 2021, OSMF adopted the Etiquette/Etiquette_Guidelines.
Reason for being historic
abandoned, superseeded by Etiquette
Captured time

Discussion of this document can take place on Talk:Community Code of Conduct (Draft) but it has also been discussed heavily on the mailing list: [1] & [2]

The Community Code of Conduct is a set of guidelines and rules governing the use of OpenStreetMap community communication channels. This particularly includes our primary discussion channel, the mailing lists, but also other contact channels such as the wiki,, and the forums. The following Code of Conduct is intended to keep the OSM communication channel effective for the community.

This code of conduct does not directly concern edits within the OpenStreetMap database. Data issues such as edit wars, copyrighted data, vandalism, abusive bots/imports, (actual edits within the database) are governed by other guidelines, some of which are laid out explicitly already, while others may need to be developed. This document relates to community communication. Clearly heated debate may well centre around such data issues, but we can try to separate good/bad behaviour within database edits from our conduct when communicating with each other.

Status: Draft - under development

Code of Conduct


Be nice to each other.

Be Considerate

Work created by OpenStreetMap is seen by people around the world and by contributing to the project, you're representing not only yourself, but OpenStreetMap itself. Please keep that in mind with your words and actions.

Be Respectful

OpenStreetMap contributors come from a variety of backgrounds and have a variety of skill sets. We believe that our diversity is a source of strength and that everyone has something to contribute to the project. Some degree of frustration and constructive disagreement is to be expected when dealing with a passionate community project. However, it is important to remember that a community where people feel uncomfortable or threatened is not a productive one. In the spirit of collaboration, please refrain from allowing healthy differences of opinion or frustration to turn into personal attacks or flame/edit wars. . We expect members of the OpenStreetMap community to be respectful when dealing with other contributors, as well as people outside the project.

Be Collaborative

Collaboration is central to OpenStreetMap. OSM encourages members to work together both inside and outside the organization. Collaboration, internally and externally, strengthens our community. OSM members are encouraged to act transparently and when possible involve all interested parties. When a new approach is taken on an existing project or a major project is considered/started, please notify the larger community early, document the work and inform others regularly of progress.

When we disagree, we consult others

Disagreements, both social and technical, are common in diverse communities. It is crucial for the long term success of the project that major disagreements are resolved constructively, with transparency, with the help of the community and community processes.

When we are unsure, we ask for help

Nobody knows everything, and nobody is expected to be perfect in the OpenStreetMap community. Asking questions before taking a major action can prevent problems down the road, and so questions are encouraged. When asking a question, members are encouraged to do so in an open and appropriate forum.

Step down considerately

When members of OSM leave or disengage from the project and/or community, they are asked to do so in a way that minimizes disruption to the project as a whole. Members are strongly encouraged to put forth an effort to ensure that others can pick up where they left off.

Respect Copyright and Licenses

Please be conscious of license issues, and never add data in a way that violates other licenses or copyright. While this is primarily a concern for OpenStreetMap data edits, remember that pasting data or images into a mailing list, or wiki page can also be a violation of copyright. Remember to comply with any attribution and share-alike requirements of any images/data placed on these channels, and avoid placing closed-license content there.

Additions and modifications

This document may be subject to additions and modifications. In fact, because it is currently under development we can expect a lot more additional rules and guidelines to appear here.

Communication templates

Some discussions happen in a similar way multiple times at different locations. Especially when newcomers join the project they are on a learning journey and may require the same support at similar stages in their journey. In the following are some common situations that appear regularly. Communication templates are provided to assist with resolving the situation at hand in a positive manner that can be used and adapted:

  • A newcomer joins the project and you notice it (e.g. using the website
    • They did a good edit Hi 'mapper name', welcome to OSM. Great first edit, keep up the good work!
    • They did an edit that needs improvement Hi 'mapper name', welcome to OSM. Great you joined the porject. All beginnings are difficult. "state issue here like 'The building you added is not squared'. Then state precicely where the relevant information can be found like 'Use q to square buildings in JOSM' ". You can get further hints on how to map at this website: Beginners' guide. Do you need any assistance?
  • A mapper uploads a large changeset such as this one: (often done by (HOT)-newcomers) Hi, the edits you uploaded spread over a very large area. This makes them hard to track. Please upload you changes *before* you move to a new area. Apart from that they look great, keep up the mapping!
  • A mapper requests a review (review_requested=yes in changeset comment) Hi 'mapper name', I have carefully reviewed your changes just as you requested. Is there any special issue you felt uncomfortable with?
    • everything is fine Your edits look fine to me.
    • there are issues "provied precise info on how to improve the mapping e.g. with links to the wiki"
  • You spot the usage of OSM data with Lacking proper attribution

Violations and Enforcement

This is the tricky bit! Under discussion

Anyone posting to the mailing list in violation of this code of conduct, may receive one or more warnings depending on the nature and severity of the infraction. Recurring violations will result in a ban of the offending user. The number of prior warnings, if any, before a ban, will depend on the nature and severity of the violation.

Warnings will often be accompanied by a recommendation to the offending user to desist from posting to the mailing list for a cooling off period of at least 48 hours. Failure to adhere to such recommendations (even an attempt to post in an apologetic tone) may be regarded as a violation in itself. Please just stop posting, and cool off.

Judging violations

Many of the rules and guidelines are rather broad and vague, and so the decision as to whether a particular mailing list post, or set of posts constitutes a violation will always be a matter of judgement. Community consensus will be taken into account, however final decisions need to rest with some authority (individual, or more likely, a new organisational unit). An organisational unit may need to be established, and the most likely mechanism for that to happen would be the formation of a Foundation "working group"

Option: Community council

Members of a community council for each list, forum, channel would be empowered to judge violations and apply sanctions individually and in consultation with the council and community. The community council members will be recommended by the community on that communication channel.

Option: OSMF Ministry of Truth Working Group

The foundation will establish a working group of volunteers to receive issues from the community, evaluate them and act.

Performing a ban

System Administrators will carry out a ban, as a setting against an account within the mailing list software. This will only be carried out at the behest of the judging authority as and when they identify a violation, and after an appropriate warning has been given. The role of the foundation is to "support not control" the project, however the mailing list runs on Foundation servers, and ultimate responsibility for actions carried out by system administrators rests with the Foundation.

Misconduct across other channels

Other contact channels are within scope of this document. Differing enforcement methods may be required in different venues. Users responding to a mailing list ban with further misconduct on other communication channels, should be aware that a prior ban on the mailing list may well be taken into consideration in the instigation of more rapid bans on other communication channels.


This document, The (DRAFT) OpenStreetMap Code of Conduct, is based on the Ubuntu Code of Conduct and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license.