An off-topic space/category

What about an “off topic” forum, for non OSM stuff?

It can be good to have a space for OSMers to socialize a little and get to know each other (as much as possible). OTOH a downside is it’s the most likely to need moderation if there’s strong opinions on some non OSM thing.

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You are right that off-topic spaces are really challenging to moderate, it’s easy things go out of rails when people start talking about politics, religion and other controversial topics.

Might be worth thinking about socializing in general and how other communities have been doing this and keeping at the same time a safe space (maybe we can split this conversation in a separate topic).

politics, religion and other controversial topics should be banned from OSM; we have twitter, facebook etc. for that. But OSM-café for not strictly mapping related but still some mapping character is okay.


Do we have this cafe-style spaces already at OSM? Do we know about other projects that have implemented them successfully? It would be great to extract some learnings from there.

On the French forum, we don’t have any

On the OpenStreetMap US Slack, we have a “random” category that seems to serve this purpose.


One of the most annoying things about all these discussions is that it is literally re-inventing the wheel.

The existing forum has

  • country / location based categories
  • international topic based groups (some of which are quite popular)
  • and yes an off-topic “general” space.

None of this discussion would be necessary at all if the existing content was simply migrated, or the second or two to look at the existing site was taken (and no, you don’t need an account to simply read).


The OSM World Discord server has that vibe IME

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True, but discussing these questions could help us discover opportunities for improvement. Discourse offers some additional features compared to FluxBB, which may enable ideas for the category structure that simply weren’t possible before.

From the discussion in other threads, it looks like we might end up with top-level country categories after all (which would indeed mirror the structure of, but I feel most of the forum’s topic-based categories could be replaced with tags on Discourse. There’s no point in recreating “Carnaval kaart” as a category, to use one particularly obvious example, even though we might import the threads from that category as part of the migration.

That being said, you are making a good point in general and we should avoid reinventing the wheel needlessly. When in doubt, we can and should fall back onto the existing structures, and that probably includes the question where to put general/off-topic discussions.

This things can be on topic. For example Tag:amenity=place_of_worship - OpenStreetMap Wiki tagging, Tag:office=political_party - OpenStreetMap Wiki tagging or lobbying about some Very Dumb Laws impacting OSM.

We also still need to handle Brexit.

Blanket ban is a bad idea, though discussions on merits of gun laws, abortion, which religion is true and other culture wars should be handled elsewhere.

Blanket ban is a bad idea, though discussions on merits of gun laws, abortion, which religion is true and other culture wars should be handled elsewhere.

in some instances, decisions may be contested but necessarily political, e.g. when we decide (tags concerning) whether something is a religion at all, or maybe just a business.

As far as we all agree it is not an issue, the few remaining cases require reciprocal respect from the different stakeholders and an effort to try understanding other points of view.

Cheers Martin

Aren’t those part of OSM tagging discussion? (instead of off-topic)

oh, I thought that ban would apply to the entire forum, not only offtopic

though note that basically any topic can suddenly become controversial

I’d like to resurrect this discussion. I really think that an off-topic space would be nice, and I am sure it will be possible to moderate it. From my experience as owner of the German OSM Off-Topic Telegram Channel, I can tell that it is nice to be able to talk about other topics and that only a small minority of users have problems with staying civil in political discussions (one was banned).


If off-topic is already happening over chat rooms, what need would it solve having it on the forums?

Maybe it would be good to get a list of pros and cons of having a non-OSM space hosted at an OSM space.

Well, forums and chat rooms are two different media. It’s a bit like asking why you would need to write e-mails when you could also phone.

I’d like to have a space to have off-topic conversations with OSM users that are a bit more text-heavy, non-realtime and sorted by topic than those that I can have in chat rooms.

For example about Wikipedia: Who is also active there? What fo you do? Is it connected to your OSM work and how?

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Das ist nicht das, was @Martin_Borsje meinte mit “should be banned”!

Wie tief kann den die Struktur gehen? Im Moment kenne ich nur Hauptkategorien und Subkategorien. Sind weitere Subkategorien unter Subkategorien möglich?

Only one level of subcategories is possible, additional complexity can be handled by tags or making more top-level categories to accommodate.

Maybe it would be good to get a list of pros and cons of having a
non-OSM space hosted at an OSM space.

to build community

Mit der aktuell verwendeten Standardkonfiguration nicht.

Es gibt wohl eine Option max_category_nesting, durch die man eine 3. Ebene einführen könnte, aber da verlässt man den ausgetretenen Pfad der Standardkonfiguration.