Etiquette/Process for Moderation

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As requested by the OSMF board, the LCCWG Subcommittee of volunteers further defined a process for moderation of the Etiquette Guidelines that will apply to the talk and osmf-talk mailing lists. This draft document was open for comments and suggestions from July 23 to August 18, 2021. This Discussion page was used. The Etiquette Guidelines draft revision was posted for public comment from August 13 to September 8. The remit of the Moderation Team was subsequently expanded to include the general, general:tagging, and foundation channels on the community forum at the request of the Forums Governance Team.

Process for Moderation Revision


Moderators (and the moderation team as a whole) will monitor conversations, respond to incidents on the OSM talk@ and OSMF talk@ mailing lists and three channels (general, tagging, and foundation) on the community forum, and respond to any complaints of violations of the OSMF Etiquette Guidelines. This procedure was informed by the governance practices of OSMF and working groups (e.g., escalation of topics from the Data Working Group to the OSMF board.) as well as research on community engagement best practices. Moderation team guidelines can be found at Etiquette/Moderation Team Guidelines.

Moderators have two primary responsibilities to the OpenStreetMap community:

  • Proactive Moderation: Help OSM conversation channels provide new community members with a useful and durable introduction to the project by encouraging open and healthy dialogue, and discouraging breaches of OSM’s etiquette guidelines, as well as communicating the guidelines of conduct and codes of etiquette
  • Incident Response: Respond to etiquette guideline violations identified by channel participants by working directly with affected community members and keeping records of moderation decisions.

Proactive Moderation

Proactive moderation is a public effort by moderators as subscribers to channel conversations and posts. This means that responses will ideally be sent within the relevant conversation thread to help guide situations away from becoming heated, irrelevant or off-topic, and before any Etiquette Guidelines are violated. Good community practices can contribute to de-escalation of issues.  The moderation team members are encouraged to collaborate and support each other.

Incident Response

When moderators are notified of needed reviews or actions, or when the moderator observes a violation of the Etiquette Guidelines, the moderation team will respond to these incidents using a process focused on de-escalation and non-violent communication practices.

The first step will be for a member of the Moderation Team to seek additional information and intervene to de-escalate. If this is unsuccessful the Moderation Team will convene as soon as possible to review the incident to determine what response is required, based on the Etiquette Guidelines. Once the Moderation Team has a complete account of the events it will decide how to respond. Responses may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Nothing (if the Moderation Team determines no violation has occurred, or that the community's reaction was sufficient to lay the matter to rest)
  • An admonition and/or formal warning message to individuals from a designated OSMF moderation account, outlining the issue and offering to speak directly with the persons, if appropriate, via an OSMF platform
  • A recommended one-week break from the mailing list and/or forum
  • A temporary block or thread freeze of up to 24 hours to slow down or prevent direct participation by the individual (“mod flag” feature of Mailman, block/freeze feature of Discourse)
  • A longer temporary or in rare cases a permanent ban from the talk@ and/or osmf-talk@ mailing lists and/or the community forum

Incident responses from moderators should include a brief description of the violation(s), the guideline(s) violated and the acknowledgement of the right to appeal any decisions.

Reporting Violations of the Etiquette Guidelines

Please report all incidents on the OSM talk@ and OSMF talk@ mailing lists or on the community forum where someone has engaged in behavior that is potentially a violation of the Etiquette Guideline. Reports can be made by emailing or by messaging @mods-general on the forum.

When filing a report, the information below is important to capture.

  1. Your contact info to allow for follow up by the Moderation Team
  2. Names (real, nicknames, OSM user name or pseudonyms) of any individuals involved. If there were other witnesses besides you, please try to identify them and their role as well.
  3. Where the incident occurred and your account of what occurred. Please include the relevant thread or message.
  4. Any extra context you believe existed for the incident, such as any relevant relationship between you (the incident reporter) and the people involved.
  5. If you believe this incident is ongoing
  6. Any other information you believe the Moderation Team should have

All reports will be kept confidential. In some cases the Moderation Team may determine that a public statement will need to be made. If that's the case, the identities of all victims and reporters will remain confidential unless those individuals instruct us otherwise.

If you are unsure whether the incident is a violation of the Etiquette Guidelines, you are encouraged to still report it. Any complaint made in good faith will be accepted. The Moderation Team would rather have a few extra good-faith reports where no action is taken than miss a report of an actual violation. Reports filed in good faith will not result in negative consequences for the person reporting. Knowing about incidents that are not violations or happen outside OSM mailing lists can also help to improve the Etiquette Guidelines and the Process for Moderation.

NOTE: If you believe someone is in physical danger, please call your local emergency number.

Incident Documentation

Internal Documentation for moderation actions and incident responses is needed to support moderator activity:

  • To coordinate across moderation teams, time zones, and situations
  • To document decisions, justifications, and a running timeline of communications and topics with factual incident reports and timelines
  • To inform evolving OSM/OSMF needs with historical decisions and decision-making examples and precedents
  • To provide consistency and ease the burden of moderation work by standardizing communication template to be evolved and modified to situations over time

Reconsideration Requests

The Moderation Team is convened by the OSMF Board of Directors ("Board") to make the osmf-talk@ and talk@ mailing lists productive for OSM by providing safe, healthy and inclusive community norms. Team members are accountable to the OSMF Board to uphold the highest standards on the delivery of the moderation mandate and procedures.  The Moderation Team accepted responsibility for moderating the forum from the Forums Governance Team, and is expected to adhere to the same standards in the forum as it does in the mailing lists.

Any of the parties directly involved in an incident can request reconsideration of the Moderation Team’s decision. To make such a request, contact the OSMF Board with your request and motivation and the board will consider the case.