Etiquette/Etiquette Guidelines

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As requested by the OSMF board, the LCCWG Moderation Subcommittee of volunteers revised the Etiquette Guidelines. A draft document was open for comments and suggestions from August 13 to September 8, 2021. This discussion page was used comments. The OSMF Board formally adopted the Etiquette Guidelines at its December 2021 meeting.[1] The Process for Moderation draft is posted here and was open for comment until August 18, 2021. Moderators were appointed in May 2022.

Etiquette Guidelines


We, the OpenStreetMap Foundation, approved this revision to our etiquette guidelines in 2021 to provide a safe and positive community experience for all. These guidelines aim to support a community where everyone feels safe and confident to take part, regardless of ‘age, culture, ethnicity, gender identity or expression, national origin, physical or mental difference, politics, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, subculture’, and any other reason (reference: OSMF Diversity Statement).

Where this Applies

These etiquette guidelines apply to the OSM talk@1 and OSMF talk@2 mailing lists and to the Discourse forum.[2][3] Many people who are new to OpenStreetMap have their first exposure to our community in our online channels. But when we communicate through online methods, we can’t see people’s facial expressions, hear their tone of voice or see other cues, so first impressions are very important. We should aim to make a good first impression and be aware that communications made through many of these channels are archived in one form or another and will survive for a long time.

Ideally, everyone should make sure they are following these guidelines. When we forget to follow the guidelines, our friends should remind us. If our friends don't remind us, a moderator might remind us or they might need to take further action.

1 is the general OpenStreetMap mailing list. All past messages are available here.
2 is the mailing list for OpenStreetMap Foundation members (Join the Foundation). All past messages are available here.

Expected Behavior

OpenStreetMap community members should do the following:  

  • Act in good faith. It is surprisingly easy to misunderstand each other, whether online or in person, particularly in such a culturally and linguistically diverse setting as OpenStreetMap. Misunderstandings can easily arise when we are debating topics or when we are in a rush or distracted. Please ask the other person to explain before assuming that a communication was inappropriate or not made in good faith
  • Be respectful. Communicate with the same level of respect as you would use in person. Enthusiastic discussions are vital in a successful project and there are bound to be disagreements. However, we should keep discussions and disagreements appropriate and calm.
  • Be welcoming. OpenStreetMap aims to be a community that welcomes and supports people of all backgrounds, cultures and identities. Some examples of behavior that can help create a positive environment include using welcoming and inclusive language, respecting different viewpoints and experiences, showing empathy towards other community members and communicating with a global audience in mind. Remember that people may be new to OpenStreetMap. We should be tolerant and supportive towards new members.
  • When we disagree, try to understand why. Disagreements, both social and technical, happen easily and often. It is important to try to understand each other and work to settle any disagreements and differing views constructively. If someone contradicts your own views, try to understand where the other person is coming from. Try to ask questions that will allow the other person to explain the situation rather than make the disagreement worse, or consider private messaging for one-to-one conversations

Unacceptable behavior

Examples of behavior that will not be tolerated include, but are not limited to, the following.:

  • Behavior, speech or jokes that are sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, ableist or otherwise discriminatory or offensive.
  • Disrespect towards individuals, such as bullying, retaliation, personal insults, innuendo, edit shaming, or deliberate use of rejected name (deadnaming).
  • Inappropriate attention or communication. This includes continued unwelcome one‑on‑one communication after a request for it to stop, unwelcome sexual attention and repeated harassment of others.
  • Posting sexually explicit or violent material, including gratuitous or inappropriate sexual images.
  • Posting (or threatening to post) information that could identify another person (doxing).
  • Posting false or inaccurate information.
  • Using unwelcome, suggestive, derogatory or inappropriate nicknames or terms. This includes hurtful or harmful language related to a person’s background, family status, gender, gender identity or expression, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, native language, age, ability, race or ethnicity, caste, national origin, socio-economic status, religion, geographic location or profession.
  • Threats, abuse or violent language directed against another person, including deliberate intimidation or harassment.

Tips for Effective Communication

  • Stay on topic and be concise.
  • Start a new thread if you want to introduce a new topic.
  • Avoid repeating yourself when making your point on a thread.

See also