User:FTA/2014 Election Answers

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Questions and my responses so far...


Increasing diversity has been a term used a lot lately in OSM circles, however, the topic has largely remained isolated to gender diversity. Looking at diversity from a purely geographical perspective, how would you see the OSMF's role in increasing the diversity of OSM with regards to engaging with non-western and non-english speaking communities? --DaCor (talk) 03:53, 15 October 2014 (UTC)

To effectively spread OSM and its message, we should start with the users currently in the areas we wish to focus on. Grassroots grows through the human factor! Once we identify those areas, we can contact active users in the vicinity and see if they are willing to provide us with some information to help OSM grow in their area: who/what referred them to OSM, what they focus on, what they like/don't like about OSM, if there are any improvements they'd like to see to the system (which would really help us with those oversights that are a result of a lack of perspective), and if they would be willing to help jump-start OSM in that area. At the end of the day, the local OSM groups are what will help to keep people connected and active. Like I've mentioned in my manifesto, I would like to see the breadth and reach of OSM local organizations grow. So, OSMF's role should be encouraging the growth of these local groups and helping to oversee (and perform) the outreach to these identified members. OSMF should also continue to encourage organizations like HOT who go out to many non-western and non-english communities and provide OSM training to groups and groups of people. FTA (talk) 15:12, 25 October 2014 (UTC)

Shared values

A twist on the diversity topic. OSM is a global undertaking, spanning many different cultures, life styles and belief systems. Now we can't know which values we share with specific contributors, however in lieu of that, what position would you take towards a data donation from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (assume that it would require attribution on our copyright page)? SimonPoole (talk) 08:44, 23 October 2014 (UTC)

Echoing the above, if the data are released with the proper license and provide improvements over current data in the area, we should not reject it. Like all data we import, though, it should still be vetted and checked for soundness by those who are familiar with the area. FTA (talk) 15:18, 25 October 2014 (UTC)

New Members Not Editing

OpenStreetMap is still growing at an impressive rate in terms of new members signing up, over 20% in 2014 alone, however that growth is not being reflected in a corresponding growth in contributors where the opposite is actually the case, where during the first 9 months of 2014, in 6 of those months, there was a drop in new contributors compared to the previous month. In your opinion, what is the major factor preventing this corresponding growth and, given the (albeit limited) resources of the OSMF, how could the OSMF look to addressing this issue? --DaCor (talk) 03:53, 15 October 2014 (UTC)

I could conjecture for hours as to why people who are signing up might not be editing. It could be that it is harder than they thought; it could be they thought they could place a pin on a custom map for signing up. Regardless, I don't see that as a major problem because contributions aren't lacking and we are still seeing an increase in active users (Media:Active_contributors_month.png--it's still trending up!). One thing I'd like to do is to add an optional indication on the user registration form (or if that might alienate people, then in the user settings) for the interests of the user: give them the opportunity to classify themselves as a developer, editor, both, or no response. Through this, we can get some indication of what the users (who do answer) might be here for. That said, I think it would be beneficial to reach out and touch base with new users. I mentioned this in my manifesto, but if we want to have people stay in the community, we need to nurture our members and help them feel accepted. This could be accomplished through means of a "new user patrol" that generally welcomes new members. If it's an overwhelming task for that group, we could narrow it down to users who have made at least X number of edits ("Hey I noticed you recently joined and have made a few improvements in Anywhere, Country. Great work! If you could use any help, give us a shout."). Even better, if we implemented the user preference like I mentioned at the beginning, we could focus on people who indicate they would like to edit and give them a general welcome/offer for help; those who indicate developer could be welcomed and directed to the API, Overpass, etc. FTA (talk) 14:50, 25 October 2014 (UTC) Development

If you were to list the top 3 things you personally would like to see done to the homepage to improve it:

  • what would they be,
  • why do you think they will not be implemented within 24 months, and lastly
  • what can the OSMF, as an entity, do to ensure further development of the main website and the behind-the-sceens infrastructure

--DaCor (talk) 03:53, 15 October 2014 (UTC)

1) LearnOSM more prevalent, especially during user registration (possibly in the confirmation email). It's a great resource that would really help pull in new users who do not have any experience. This could easily be done in 24 months. 2) Option to view GPS traces on the main map (e.g. check box option under Map Data and Map Notes). Let users of the map have the opportunity to see how the road compares to GPS traces uploaded in the area. It could be no one has edited in the area and the map either is offset or doesn't show a way. Not sure about the feasibility, however, so cannot comment on the 24 month timeline. 3) Provide a map layer rendered just like "standard" in terms of items present, but is colored with only black and white. It could be difficult to discern say a park from a golf course for someone who is colorblind. I initially wanted to say the ability to customize each item's color on the map key, but that would require much more work to implement and use more computing power. With a simple black and white layer, we could choose patterns, fills, and widths to differentiate objects. It might not be the most easy-to-read, but it would be an unambiguous option to deciphering something should someone have difficulty in doing so with the standard map. I think this could be completed within 24 months.¶ As I mentioned in my manifesto, we should continue to cultivate the software programming side of OSM. OSM isn't just about open's about open data and we have a lot of it. There needs to be a continually maintained infrastructure in place to support that data. So, we should also highlight this side of OSM when recruiting and at local OSM events. Universities are a great resource for finding volunteers, too, as students need real-world experience and instructors usually like to help out open-source projects. Lastly, we need to continue our relationships with companies who have invested much time and effort into tools and code for OSM. FTA (talk) 16:04, 25 October 2014 (UTC)

Affliation, sponsorship and other interests

Could the candidates detail any professional or other affiliations (investments, memberships) they have with companies or orgaisations relevant to OSM. Please include if your activities on the OSMF board would be supported by any such organisation. SimonPoole (talk) 12:35, 22 October 2014 (UTC)

I have no professional relationships with any mapping companies (or anyone that works at any of them) in the past or present...or future for that matter. I also do not perform any contract OSM work. FTA (talk) 14:55, 25 October 2014 (UTC)

Modus operandi of the board

FYI User:lonvia raised a discussion point on the osmf-talk mailing list here: "Modus operandi of the board" inviting candidate responses "I would appreciate if all the individual board members could shortly address the points raised by Frederik" [ in Frederik's manifesto ] -- Harry Wood (talk) 14:29, 21 October 2014 (UTC)

Given the discussion that followed it would probably be good if all candidates in addition could state their position on a few central questions that were raised in the discussion:

  • If a motion is made from within the board or from the OSMF members that the whole board steps down for a fresh restart would you be willing to step down together with the other board members?
  • Would you - when elected to the board - actively pursue such action?
  • Would you be in favour of limiting the duration an individual member can serve on the board?
I would be in favor of term limits for OSMF directors to serve only two terms. Serving too long can cause someone to become comfortable in the pejorative sense of the word, and there are plenty of other opportunities outside of the board for people to get involved and still shape/help OSMF. If such a measure limiting terms were passed, I would also advocate that there be no grandfathering...everyone on the board when the measure takes effect would be in their first of two terms. I think this election would be trivial if the members elected were to step down immediately, but if the community did largely voice support for such an action I would consider it. FTA (talk) 01:01, 28 October 2014 (UTC)

Mailing List and Constituency

Would you say that the "osmf-talk" mailing list is an OSMF communication channel that has to be taken seriously, or would you prefer to discount it as infested by "age-old toxicity" and ignore it? --Frederik Ramm (talk) 23:17, 22 October 2014 (UTC)

Healthy communication is a key component to a successful and properly working organization, so I think we should keep open any mode of communication that connects and furthers OSMF. It might be a good idea to also look at other methods of communication among members--maybe an actual forum thread for OSMF talk--because some may not like to communicate through a mailing list. All that said, we should consider implementing some general code of conduct for interactions between members in any official modes of communication (listservs, messages on OSM, wiki messages, etc.). With this, we would provide a safe environment for all when it comes to discussing anything related to OSMF and keep those discussions on point. FTA (talk) 15:29, 25 October 2014 (UTC)

Licensing: ODbL & Share Alike

What is your opinion on the ODbL and share-alike provisions in general? --Randy Meech 15:30, 25 October 2014 (UTC)

It seems our current license has been functioning well for the most part. Share-alike provides a sort of "pass it on" legacy when using OSM data and I think it should continue. There have indeed been cases that have required clarification; we can continue to provide guidance as required. It might not be a bad idea to solicit the community for uses they would like counsel on specifically (like those mentioned by Peda) and compile those into a second round of use cases. FTA (talk) 01:01, 28 October 2014 (UTC)

Open source

OpenStreetMap may be called an "OpenData" project, but should we also aim to make it an Open Source project? Should we set up a project to move the OSMF and its working groups away from services such as Google Docs/Spreadsheet, Google Mail, and other proprietary software? --RobJN (talk) 21:45, 25 October 2014 (UTC)

I'd argue OSM is already an open source project. We have nearly all, if not all, of our source code available for anyone to see/use. I do see what you are aiming for though...yes, OSM does use non-open source software to accomplish many administrative things. It would be a great initiative to try and find open source alternatives for some of the tools that we currently use, but if none are available I think it is still okay to use these services that companies provide free for people to use most features, e.g. Hackpad, Google Docs. I would oppose moving to something like Office 365 that does indeed require a subscription fee for everyone to use. FTA (talk) 18:09, 26 October 2014 (UTC)

Commitment to Meeting in Person

If you were elected to the board would you be able to commit to meeting in person for a few days a couple times a year? Personally I think it is important for boards to meet in person, but it is difficult for us to do that without a commitment and desire to meet in person. This commitment is assuming we had an agenda and facilitator for these meetings.

Meeting many times in person would be more of a cost burden than an effective tool; in addition, doing so would have a nontrivial carbon footprint. It might not be a bad idea for the board to meet together once or twice to get to know each other, add that personal touch to the relationships of the members, build the board's teamwork skills, etc. Coming to mind is a retreat of a few days to work out OSMF's goals, set the course for where OSMF is going, and what the board can effectively tackle. I would definitely be committed to such a meeting. Otherwise, in today's society, there are plenty of tools that can be used to hold effective meetings as if the board were meeting in person. If it is the visual element that is necessary, things like Skype or Google Hangouts can be used instead of Mumble/Ventrilo/IRC. FTA (talk) 18:09, 26 October 2014 (UTC)

Vision and Funding

Maybe we are too constrained in our vision of what OSM could become, perhaps we need a bigger vision for the future.

The question I would like to ask the potential board candidates is “If you had ample funding for the next 3 years what would you want to achieve with it and how would you go about it?” User:Stevenfeldman

A few ideas beyond my manifesto:
  • Increase our visibility online and in print...we are a brand! We have some big players already like Craigslist, Wikipedia, Foursquare, etc., but the more sites with our attribution in the corner of a slippy map, the more our name will be noticed. Push more. Advocate companies to switch. Advocate governments and subsidiaries to switch (universities come to mind, example: [1]). Advocate private citizens to switch. We should also refine, develop, or streamline the process from OSM -> self-hosted and used slippy map.
  • Increase active outreach to underrepresented/underpopulated areas of the OSM userbase in the world. Kick start local or national clubs, training, and visibility in conjunction with users already active in those areas. These grassroots connections through clubs are where the human factor is the greatest, where people are able to bring their friends along to a meeting and introduce them to the community, and where OSM members can join in fraternity together. Outreach also includes school outreach, where we can tap a new and active source of involvement that might also influence friends and older family members to check out OSM. Monies would help develop teaching curricula to be used.
  • Grow our hardware infrastructure to support a heavier tile load. Then with this, fund development of a stand-alone computer application to view OSM (like a commercial product that currently exists). This tool could then be used with an infinity of map overlays among other things.
  • Provide giveaways or contests every so often. Everyone likes free stuff/swag. These could also reward users for hard work. Be entered to win a free OSM tshirt if you edit in the month of January; write a diary entry and tweet it to OSM for a chance to win an OSM backpack; upload a trace for a chance at some OSM sunglasses. This also helps increase our visibility on a personal level..."Hey, what is that OpenStreetMap on your shirt?" As a side note, the OSMF should set up an official online shop to provide OSM gear as I think the demand is there.

Really, I think many of the things necessary to grow OSM are already in place. There are numerous sources of tools to help users begin editing once they have started. We have a range of editing programs for beginners to experts. What's left is getting users either in the door or to stay inside our proverbial room. We need to get the message out there who we are and what we do--improving our name recognition--while retaining and growing those who have already joined the community.FTA (talk) 19:36, 30 October 2014 (UTC)


[2] What will you do to make the board run as a team? --It's so funny (talk) 21:24, 26 October 2014 (UTC)

I will be easy to work with and coolheaded...we can discuss/argue policy or actions without personal attacks. I will suggest some sort of facilitator for a face-to-face meeting if one is decided. I will advocate increased communication among board members about issues so that problems do not become pent up until they explode. I will recommend dividing up foundation tasks among board members so it does not become a competitive environment. I will also suggest we update the community about board business and seek input from members on tasks at hand. The board should be working together to improve OSM, not separately. FTA (talk) 20:28, 30 October 2014 (UTC)

Community vs. Investment

Assume the Foundation has put much resources to manage a software development. Now the final software is immediately before deployment rejected by

  • the community at large
  • a specific national community
  • even just a single respected community member

for reasons you understand to be valid but which you deem unimportant. Other examples (as with the Visual Editor of Wikipedia) have shown that you likely would loose parts of the community, but otherwise loose the foundation's investment. Would you

  • enforce the deployment
  • make the feature forever Opt-In
  • postpone the deployment
  • abandon the software

or what else?

I do not like answering hypotheticals because there could be an infinity of contributing or environmental factors that, when not specified, could alter the response. But, from the beginning, the community should be involved in the development of a tool that is funded by the OSMF; this is especially true if it is something that completely changes the way we go about doing something (e.g. a different database format). By consulting the community and getting feedback about features or items that should be included, such an issue as you describe should not normally arise. If the software is not something that completely alters the way something is done, then it is most likely by definition "opt in" because ultimately users would be able to choose if they wanted to use it. Thus, I would probably keep the software at an opt-in status. As an example, look at the editors: users have free choice whether to use one of the in-browser editors or JOSM. I'm sure there are plenty of people who do not like one or another, so the use of their preference could be considered them "opting in" to that software. Finally, in returning to my thesis statement, regardless of the scenario I would give the situation due consideration as to the effects of each choice (enforce, opt in, postpone, etc.) on OSMF, the community, and moving OSM forward; I would also put it up to a board vote on what the final resolution would be. FTA (talk) 19:22, 3 November 2014 (UTC)

Vision and Mission

OpenStreetMap has a Mission Statement, but no Vision Statement. Do you feel that the Mission Statement needs revision? If so, how would you suggest revising the Mission Statement? Most organizations see the need for a Vision Statement. A Vision Statement describes a broad roadmap for the organization. Do you support the creation of a Vision Statement and if so, how do you see getting input from the community? Related to that, would you support conducting an annual survey to get input from the community? Glassman (talk)

I think we should have something like a Vision Statement, but it should be a "living document" (one that is changed and updated). I would support a short one-page memo that is updated every two or three years based on input from the community (in survey form like you suggest) and visions from the board members that lays out where we want to see OSM go from here and some of the big projects we wish to tackle (whether previously suggested or brand new); the oft-proposed "retreat" for board members would be a good time to sculpt this. This type of document would keep us on track to making OSM a better map and help us envision and motivate bigger and better things. As a real-world example, NASA's science directorate creates a Decadal Survey every 10 years that describes the priorities of missions and what they desire to accomplish in the time frame until the next one is written. FTA (talk) 19:56, 3 November 2014 (UTC)