Clarification about comments from Community Services Associate from Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team United States Inc about these forums

As the title says: Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team United States Inc claimed ownership over community.openstreetnap.org ) (ref Brazilian forum at 2022-03-22)

Here’s the link: Nova plataforma de diálogo / users: Brazil / OpenStreetMap Forum (archived URL: Nova plataforma de diálogo / users: Brazil / OpenStreetMap Forum).

Why this is relevant

Since this Discourse platform is announced as part of OpenStreetMap dot org, I do assume this is under the umbrella of OpenStreetMap Foundation. However, such claims, even if implicit, go against OpenStreetMap Foundation, which defends the interest of the OSM users as a whole. For sake of comparison (in the order of 100 times more):

This person matches the name as one employee (or “contract”) of Humanitarian OpenStreetMap United States Inc (link here Humanitarian OSM Team/Board/Board Meeting Minutes/28 March 2022 - OpenStreetMap Wiki) however from an OpenStreetMap contribution, this person literally has only one post on that forum.

Let’s not fall into the trap of “ambiguous text” like say she could be interpreted in two ways. The person who doesn’t seem to have any other collaboration on OSM is LITERALLY paid to be a spokesperson and is not the first time this type of thing (mistakes by paid person) needs to be corrected in public.

What’s going on? What’s the agenda not discussed in public?

Additional request: how to make a formal complaint to OSM Foundation?

I need some help on how to make a formal complaint about this case to be evaluated by the OpenStreetMap Foundation, but I’m not sure how to do it. Help is welcome. Also, any additional contextual information (such as more cases of this happening) are welcomed)=.

In addition to “correct the narratives” on the Brazilian forum, I’m also concerned with the eventual conflict of interests of people on this Discourse platform also being employees/contractors from Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team United States Inc. If the situation is “beyond repair” and the OSM Foundation is unsure how to fix it (or reach a point where it is forced to not react), this means this Discourse platform, despite being a software upgrade, would be a clear governance downgrade.


About conflict of interests in this discussion

As a bare minimum ethical imperative: I hope anyone commenting (but in particular if is moderator by editing this post) makes a clear disclaimer about conflict of interest ahead of commenting. By conflict of interest, this means for example both receive money currently or in recent past, and other types of gifts (such as travel, t-shirts etc) either directly by OpenStreetMap United States Inc or by organizations under significant financial sponsorship even if not directly apparent by name of organization (which in case of Latin America one example would be “Mapeo Abierto LATAM”).

Speaking of ambiguity, it would’ve been helpful to quote the text that you found objectionable as part of this critique. When you refer to ambiguity, is this the sentence at issue?

Estou escrevendo para informar que estamos com uma nova plataforma de conversa e engajamento chamada Discourse.

Perhaps it’s just my unfamiliarity with Portuguese, but this doesn’t really scream ownership. Is there some background context other than the author’s affiliation that we (those gathered here, not my institutional affiliations) should be aware of?

(I have no idea why you’re also singling out OSMUS, which is a distinct organization from HOT. But yes, I have received T-shirts from OSMUS. I’m also its board president, but I’m posting as an individual, because it would hardly concern a serious organization to take over Discourse in such a manner.)

Copy for the original initial post (as this is likely to have issues):


This company already has the expertise to colonize local existing organizations, such as the case of what happened in the Philippines (here link https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/w/images/a/aa/A_Call_to_Correct_Narratives_about_Geospatial_Work.pdf). But now with so much money, far beyond the OSF Foundation itself, it’s clearly trying to present itself as the role of the OSM Foundation also in Latin America. They’re not doing any hard work, just saying they’re doing it by paying people without actual experience.

I do understand there exists other companies which do business with OSM data, but not as far as doing business by saying they’re representing everyone’s while even the wiki which talks about Organized editing (link Organised Editing/Activities - OpenStreetMap Wiki) there’s clear complaints about low quality and quantity over quality (to quote: Many unreviewed edits, often very low quality, focusing on statistics, volume of edits and fundraising over improving map. Not all edits made as part of their organised editing was ever reviewed by anyone from HOT, and many reviews ignored very clear issues.)

We come to a point where (even if for total coincidence, not any sort of unspoken agenda) the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team United States Inc could simply colonize not just Latin America, but the entire OpenStreetMap Foundation to be free to use the trademark. It’s like the Europe (including hard work of several multinational companies) being colonized.

We have a slang here in Brazil: the last to quit, please turn off the lights.

I would start from posting in Nova plataforma de diálogo / users: Brazil / OpenStreetMap Forum and ask there to clarify this text, or just clarify on your own.

I am not a greatest fan of HOT, but I really would start from posting short sentence there asking to clarify/fix it. And notify that person about this thread. Rather than assuming it to be deliberate lies.

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Agree with Mateusz. The discourse platform allows the author to edit their post so the author could simply fix the problem (maybe after checking with their superiors) since it is clearly a factual error.

Should they refuse to fix the issue then you can still take it to the next level.

It is no secret that HOT paid for a lot of the work hours that went into setting up this Discourse forum. This donation was welcomed by the OSMF and does of course not mean that HOT should have any control over Discourse, or claim to own it. (A claim to “have helped create it” or so would however be totally appropriate.)

Such PR lapses like the one you point to can point to a cultural problem or even be deliberate. I remember long ago a press release about some new service by the commercial company CloudMade where the press reported that “CloudMade’s OpenStreetMap project” did this or that. CloudMade claimed at the time that they never said OSM was their project and the press was mis-interpreting things. It was probably a mix of both - I think that CloudMade employees probably talked as if their company owned OSM, even if they didn’t say it, and the press picked up on that.

But I’d be willing to apply Hanlon’s razor in this case :wink:

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Also, people complained in past about HOT people not disclosing their affiliation.

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Also, people complained in past about HOT people not disclosing their affiliation.

or HOT not being clear on their homepage that OpenStreetMap is a different, unrelated entity with HOT having no official role in OpenStreetMap (this is also hard to find out as they are using the trademark in their name)

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Hi fitnit. I am here to clarify, my intention was just to inform OpenStreetMap forum users that there was a new community platform available. Any possible factual confusions resulted by translating / language are now fixed.

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Dear fititnt, I want to respond to your posts here as I am the head of the community team (where Carla works at HOT). I have been a paid employee of HOT for two years and prior to that have been a board member and a voting member of the same.

I believe that Carla has now clarified her post from March of this year, so hopefully you have a better understanding of her intent.

As woodpeck says HOT staff used their working time to support the setting up of the forum as a contribution to the OSM ecosystem and infrastructure and we are, of course, keen to use the forum but definitely do not want to own it (or be perceived as owning it). If anyone wants more information on how much time was donated and to what aspects of the forum set up, my colleague Ruben (who has been the person most involved) would be happy to provide that information in a separate thread.

I’d also like to clarify that Carla isn’t ‘literally a paid spokesperson’ for HOT. Her role is community services associate and she works on the development of projects and initiatives that support community mapping for humanitarian and development purposes.

On the call for corrected narratives from the OSM Philippines community, I think this was a situation where HOT (and partners) received open, serious, rigorous critique from an OSM community and responded through dialogue and action. The situation that led to the OSM Philippines publishing their call was not something HOT is proud of, but I’d also say it is something that we have learnt from and we still work closely (and hopefully more effectively) with many community groups in the Philippines.

On the work of the Open Mapping Hub in Latin America, I’m not sure I totally understand in what way the team is presenting itself as a replacement for the OSMF… Their aim is again to support communities and partners to leverage the power of open mapping and OSM to support better humanitarian / development outcomes for local people, which I think is quite distinct from that of the OSMF. They have been quite active in communicating their activities and intentions and engage regularly with the OSM community in Latam through community channels. You can find more info on all of the regional Open Mapping Hubs that HOT supports, here.

On the trademark issue (also responding to dieterdreist’s point above), the thread you linked to from OSM-talk was an open discussion and one of the outcomes of it was that HOT edited its OSM wiki page to draw a clearer distinction between what HOT is and what OpenStreetMap is. We also made a commitment to do the same on our new website (due to launch in the next couple of months) to remedy the confusing footer that we currently have and this commitment still stands.

Thanks Pete, I’ll chime in here with a bit more details with my HOT’s hat on.

When I started working for HOT almost 2 years ago, and because my past experience and passion supporting Open and Libre communities during almost 2 decades, I asked my manager for 10% of my time to support the wider OSM project where I see fit.

In this case I decided to support the OSMF Ops WG efforts to launch a new forum platform because I had experience with the software and also with facilitating community discussions for decision making and governance.

I distribute this time freely and it’s not managed by anyone at HOT, I just report on how I’ve been using the time. I’m just accountable to the whole OSM community, OSMF and the rest of the @forums-governance team, the same way I assume other people in WGs, Board or other roles that work for organizations that have a direct relationship or interest in OSM and its data.

I hope this helps to clarify my and HOT’s involvement in these forums.


:shield: With my moderator hat on, I would like to remember that this category follows the OSM Etiquette Guidelines. I would suggest to check the “Expected Behavior” section and in particular the “Act in good faith”, in relationship of how this topic title was worded. I would suggest to please review it. Thanks.

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A post was split to a new topic: Latin America, OSM and humanitarian intervention

A post was merged into an existing topic: Latin America, OSM and humanitarian intervention

On another side, OSM receives a lot of diverse donations from many sources and commercial sources, to work well. The role of the OSMF if I’m right is to allow and manage these resources and also guarantee it’s not limiting OSM contributors’ ownership. I don’t see any conflict there.

Cheers

Quick comment: I discussed with moderators and agreed to change the post title.

I am the sysadmin for community.openstreetmap.org and many other OSM services. This site is hosted on OSMF infrastructure, the setup / install is in managed via chef as per all the infra we host. The database and backups are managed by OSM operations team.

Yes, a HOT employee with discourse experience has been helping me with setting up the site over the last year. His employee has not been a factor I have worried about, it also hasn’t been hidden. He is 1 member of the @forums-governance team.

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