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Mailing lists, web fora, and IRC channels are important and very public communication channels for the OpenStreetMap community. Many new OSMers have their first exposure to the community in these channels. Communication through online methods does not allow one to see facial expression, hear tone or see other cues. Due to the nature of this communication initial impressions are very important. We should strive to make a good first impression and we should be aware that many of these channels are archived in one form or another and will survive for a long time.

Enthusiastic discussions are part of the lifeblood of a successful project and disagreements are inevitable. We should strive to keep our discussions and disagreements appropriate.

Guidelines for behaviour are seldom needed as we understand all of this, and we mostly do a good job of treating others as we would be treated. But once in a while a joke can be missed, a misunderstanding can arise, or a disagreement can become too personal. We should strive to keep our community energetic and accessible with these expected behaviour minimums.

Best practices

How do these guidelines apply in the OpenStreetMap Community?

  • The best use of these guidelines is self governance.
  • When we forget ourselves, our friends should remind us.
  • If our friends don't remind us, those we disagree with might remind us.
  • Sometimes a neutral party may arbitrate.
  • And sometimes the best option is to take a break, if we realize it or not.

Mailing lists

  • Assume good faith
  • Stay on topic
  • No conspiracy theories
  • No grandstanding
  • If you've made your point already, you don't need to tell us all again
  • Nitpicking doesn't help you or anyone else
  • Learn to live with the reply-to setting. We're not changing it, no matter what your opinion is and so on.
  • Don't publicly call people out. Many issues can be resolved by gently contacting the other person.
  • Communicate with the same respect you would utilize in person.
  • Calmly adding to the discussion can help keep things tame on the mailing list. (Moderate people who do not participate, makes extreme actions seem the norm)

Process for moderation

The moderators for the mailing lists will follow the guidelines below. For each infraction an individual will be met with the following responses. Which gradually become more direct up to the point where members may be blocked.

  1. Send polite mail to individual
  2. Robust mail outlining what the issue is
  3. Temporary block of 24 hours
  4. 2nd block for one week with mediation with blocked individual
  5. 3rd block, discussion between moderators about final block

If the community is generally unhappy with moderation they can contact the board via the Communication Working Group to suggest a change in moderation

Moderator guidelines

Moderators will adhere to the following guidelines when enacting the above policy

  • Try to keep participants on topic but do not be too heavy handed
  • Calm down or block aggressive or abusive behaviour

For matters related to licensing

  • License discussions should be moved to legal-talk
  • Other than license announcements actual discussions should occur on the legal-talk mailing list

See also