User:CMoffroad/Community Moderators Proposal
Feedback needed on a proposal for a new Community Moderator role for the small Thailand OSM community.
The lack of rules and decisions in the small Thailand OSM community has created over the last years a toxic environment for new and well-intentioned mappers while allowing vandalism to thrive.
With the future migration of forums to community.openstreetmap.org, and with the confirmed approach that each community can set its own rules, I believe this is the right time to bring major changes to the community, including the election of new community moderators who would oversee the first draft of Thailand's Community Guidelines.
I am looking for feedback on this proposal from OSM experts and evangelists, especially those who experienced the same issues in their small communities and took successful steps.
Note: I have already documented and discussed all issues below in the Thailand forum and informed the community that I am working on a proposal. Missing references will be added over time.
The small Thailand OSM community was started by expatriates around 2007.
Tremendous work has been done in the early years to map major cities, boundaries, and major highways (animation)
Since 2010, communication has been done mostly through an English-language users forum where around 10 regular participants have discussed issues and tried to make decisions. There is also a mostly Thai-language Facebook group for Q/A which had so far little activity.
While the majority of top and most active contributors have been mostly expatriates, more and more Thais are contributing and also participating in discussions using English.
The Thailand wiki has been used as a place to gather some specific conventions.
The small community consists of individuals with often strongly opposed opinions making decision-making difficult.
Hence the community has never had any written guidelines on how to:
- moderate a proposal and vote on it
- respond to incidents
- welcome new mappers and provide them with guidance
- participate in contributions reviews and changesets comments
Consequently, over the last years
- remote companies have taken advantage of the situation and brought unchecked low-quality mass modifications, overriding local mapper contributions
- top participants at some point engaged in edit wars over highway classifications they could not agree on
- a long-term regular forum participant still today openly advocates against following the wiki guidelines and defends others not doing it in changeset comments
- a number of regular contributors and participants have left the forum or completely OSM mainly due to a lack of decisions taken against corporate vandalism
- new mappers start changing major road classifications on their first days of mapping
- many mappers including regular ones never respond to changeset comments or direct messages
Furthermore, it wasn’t even clear until recently what were the responsibilities of our 2 forum moderators (respond to spam and direct complaints)
- both rarely participate anymore to the forum or contribute to OSM due to professional and personal reasons
- one is not living in Thailand anymore
- another one has brought the company that has been the recent source of low-quality mass-edits and pushed for years for more quality control without following suit
I have personally in the last 18 months:
- improved the Thailand wiki with a minor road classification decision tree to try to reduce conflicts
- reviewed mostly alone the quality of organized edited teams and tried to involve the company and community to improve in vain the quality of their edits
- found out through an extensive search of the forum content that the same exact issues happened regularly over the past 4 years
- like others, thought a few times of leaving the forum and OSM altogether
Because I do not have the energy to continue doing this alone, I have recently put a vote on whether remote organizations/companies should be banned completely in Thailand, or whether very strict rules should be put in place, or whether nothing should be changed.
Surprisingly, many people voted, including the ex-participants I contacted, and the outcome was that all people without exception wanted rules for organized editing teams (either through a ban or stricter rules). Some ex-participants have even told me they would join back OSM if it would happen.
So I am really hoping that participants will appreciate this proposal below to also have rules applying to individual mappers (including ourselves).
Have the community elect on a yearly basis 3 trusted community moderators with different backgrounds, a new role that would have the responsibility to:
- define, improve and revise the community guidelines
- proactively moderate discussions and proposals
- proactively respond to incidents
- encourage regular contributors to welcome new mappers, review the quality of changesets in their local area
The community guidelines would include clear written rules on:
- the exact responsibilities of the community moderator
- code of conduct for OSM contributors and community participants
- proposal process: moderation, vote, wiki update
- voting process: who can vote? how long the vote stays open? how many votes are needed?
- organized editing teams: what can they modify, on what scale?
- incidents response: conditions for warning, block, ban…
- quality check process: encourage regular mappers to review changes in their area, welcome new users, and provide some guidance
- Why 1 year? to prevent abuse of power or complaints that moderation, decision-making should not stay long-time in the hands of the same people
- Why 3 moderators? to have enough coverage if some moderators are not available, and make the decision-making/moderation process easier
- What different moderator background? to represent different segments of the community specifically the local mappers who may not be able to communicate in English. For instance, one could be native Thai, another one bilingual, another one ex-pat...
- Why would the elected moderators define the guidelines alone? while they should collect feedback from the community, it can be expected as usual that most correspondents will never find common ground to agree on a specific guidelines version.
- I am a long-term foreign resident in Thailand (2010). I settled in Chiang Mai in 2019 where I started to explore new activities (enduro, MTB).
- Joined OSM in 2020 to document my mountain biking and enduro ground surveys.
- I have so far surveyed more than 15000km of paved and unpaved tracks, trails in northern Thailand, and improved tags for thousands of km of OSM roads. I have documented dozens of missing remote villages and 4WD tracks linking them.
- My goal is to improve and harmonize northern Thailand’s maps for outdoor enthusiasts (hiking, MTB, and enduro), and I maintain guidelines and a OsmAnd plugin.
- My professional background is in software engineering and visual analytics.
- I am fluent in both English and French, and I speak decent Thai.