Feedback on the decision for no SotM 2023

we have a “Bid for SotM 2024 in Nairobi, Kenya”

  • “We are proposing to host the conference in September when the long rain season is over in Nairobi and the weather is good.”


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I don’t think that categorising other views that you disagree with with a perjorative helps here. What might help is for all sides** in this discussion to try and understand each others views, and why they are important to them. Your post helps neither your argument nor any broader attempt to reach an understanding between different views.

Perhaps instead of using a word as a perjorative, explain what you mean in more detail, so that we can understand what you think and can balance that with the other side of the argument?

** I’ve previously said that I’ve sympathy with arguments on both sides of the debate here.

(for the avoidance of any doubt, writing in a personal capacity again)


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The tension is getting too high in this thread. Name-calling or potential rehashing of personal disputes originating on other forums is not helpful. For the record, I myself have firmly criticized the 2023 SOTM decision in this very thread, so when I warn people against engaging in ad hominem, know that is not out of a bias towards ‘authority’ or their self-designated opponents in this dispute.


Based on past bad experiences (boycotts, xenophobic arguments, etc) that also happened on FIFA hosts bids since the beginning of world cups

I would like to propose the following: rotate SoTM between continents.

Currently, global SoTM history (9 out of 13 in Europe) is far more biased than FIFA (which already is criticized). Without change, there’s a true lack of predictability several years upfront (which is essential to any continent to do a world scale event, even if the actual country is decided close to the year).

Don’t worry, Europeans, even then (in practice) you’re likely to get it at least once each 4 years, and predictability is such that it seems that SoTM is a mere extension of something called FOSSGIS. Rotating between continents would give far less incentives to individuals (which, anyway, unlikely would travel to any country in the other continent) use SoTM to subdivide Europe again and attack the countries (not the proposals) of other bids.

Decisions are taken by people, and people implement decisions. When I disagree with someone I prefer telling them, and if I disagree with a “political” point of view that had “political” consequences for the OSM community, I think that my reaction needs to be public, and that I need to “name the man”.

Considering that “ad hominem” means

  • Attacking a person’s character or motivations rather than a position or argument.
  • Appealing to the emotions rather than to logic or reason.

it would be nice to clarify where who did that in your opinion.

It’s a pity that we still cannot just :-1: a post.

On another, non official, platform we proposed ideas based on involvement of mappers, or minimalization of travel costs, or distribution of participation, or a combination of strategies. Rotation between continents was also mentioned, and received little support.


I think your need to “name the man” has not served you very well. Not that I believe everyone has given you a fair shake either. On the topic of rotating between continents, I agree that while well-intentioned, such an effort would ultimately result in failure if the communities do not have the will to host such an event. It will be ever more important to find passionate volunteers.

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Statistics help looking for them.

trending or countries for example, where the parenthesised percentages give us an estimate of how many of them are participants to organized edits rather than “passionate volunteers”.

like this list:

of these top-18, 13 are in Europe, the other 5 are USA, Japan, Canada, Brazil, Australia.

if you would remove “organized editors”, Brazil, the only Latin American country in this top-18, would sink below Ukraine, now at place 20.

maybe, if the OSMF does think that running a global yearly SotM is a valuable achievement, we better accept that these meetings will most often be organized in Europe. remote participation at satellite premises could become “the” way to promote global participation.

Seconding Logan, the idea of rotating the conference between continents is a good one. If we had a centrally organized conference. But what SotM WG works with, are community bids. We do not get many of these any given year. The record was 3 or 4, I think. For example, this year’s bid call closes in two days, and we’ve got exactly one.

Number of contributors, while might translate into volunteers for conferences, shows a bleak picture of OSM community being active in Europe and Nothern America. If we did what stats suggest, we’d have every SotM in the United Kingdom or Germany.

I won’t comment on the decision, but I’m pretty sure it comes from also wanting to rotate the continents. Suggesting to do that… Well, it lead to this thread.

What you as OSM people can do is talk with your local community, in whichever chat channels you use, about options for hosting SotM 2025-2026. Or, if you’re in the southern hemisphere, even 2024 — you have a couple days!


remote participation at satellite premises could become “the” way to promote global participation.

The two remote SotMs were a bit dull, frankly. People attend these not because of the talks, but for meeting people. Stripped of interaction, that was hardly better than watching a two days worth of low-effort youtube lectures.

I tried to organize an online portion of the last european SotM. We had a telegram group, a channel with a textual broadcast, a thing for sharing introductions. Less than a dozen people participated. I don’t think that promoted global participation well enough.

Engaging people from behind the screen is by a magnitude harder than in person. That would require a differend kind of conference, differently organized with a different team. We could take some hints from Mapping USA and few others, but overall it’s hard to find a remote conference that engaged anyone besides its speakers.


My own experience of the South Africa organized SotM was actually quite positive. Some connections resulted of less quality than others, but interaction, IMO, was very well coordinated, definitely not comparable with youtube lectures. YMMV, obviously, but my experience was positive, and was a perfect base for working further in that direction.

above, it’s my own personal experience, what follows is me attempting to summarize what I gathered from that other non-official forum:

what was suggested (@dónal ?) and what I tried to present here wasn’t remote participation, but satellite meetings, combining global interaction with in-person strengthening local community ties.

just one bid for the SotM 2024, unsurprisingly, given how the SotMWG hasn’t been able to tell us which bids would have been discarded the same way as Kosovo was discarded for 2023. (@afgb1977 ?)


This might actually be good, but this way SotM WG would have to coordinate a dozen or two separate meetings instead of one big. I thought HOT was going to do this with unSummit, but that became many small distinct conferences. I would like to try it, but not until we get a green light from at least four local teams from all around the world.

I got the impression that the working group favoured Cameroon but were obstructed by a board member who considered Yaoundé equivalent to Mariupol as a conference venue. Did I get the wrong end of the stick?

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According to Wikipedia on Cameroon:

  • Human rights organisations accuse police and military forces of mistreating and even torturing criminal suspects, ethnic minorities, homosexuals, and political activists.
  • As of 2020, Cameroon “currently prosecutes consensual same sex conduct more aggressively than almost any country in the world”.

Some people in the OSM community are openly gay, and thus could not safely travel to Cameroon.

I say this as someone who’s happily worked in a project together with a university in Yaoundé and is not gay.


I think we’re at risk of going in circles here so I’ll simply refer you to the very first post in the thread where I shared the guidance that a major organisation that supplies safety guidance to major companies provides. I have more trust in the impartially of that than the words of human rights organisation whose job it is to highlight the shortcomings. That’s not too dismiss the issue but to try to put it in a more balanced light.

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I did recently work and live 3 years in Cameroon (2019 - 2022). For what it is worth, while these laws do exist and while a country governed since 40 years by the same president clearly applies singular democratic norms, the same president is also reluctant to enforce the laws criminalizing homosexuality. Cameroon, in this regard, is far from the worst country on the continent. In addition, comparing its capital to places such as Abuja or Kinshasa, with which I am also quite familiar, Yaoundé is “relatively” safe in terms of crime.

This post certainly doesn’t intend to defend Paul Biya, who remains a dictator arresting and locking up opposition members and conducting a war against the english speaking minority in the West, but simply hopes to add some nuances.


Definitively, but I wanted to reinforce the personal opinion of ‘a board member` that @Wynndale seems to make personally responsible for the decision.

TLDR: Any chances for a Twin-Conference: Positive Disruption and Unity in Action?

Now we have 2 bids for the OpenStreetMap State of the Map (SOTM) 2024

It’s a bold proposition, but could these two applying teams consider organizing a Twin Conference? A conference hosted at two parallel venues with watch-only rooms at each site, to view the other location’s English presentations.

On the downside, this is uncharted territory and would require additional organization. It would force our primary attendees to choose between one venue or the other, potentially complicating face-to-face discussions (like those among developers and OpenStreetMap Foundation members). Also, the equitable distribution of sponsorship funds could lead to conflicts.

However, on the upside, this twin-conference concept could be a wholly inclusive, win-win solution. No community would lose out, and it would offer the opportunity for more community members to participate, thereby possibly increasing overall attendance. It might also help foster cooperation between the two communities. Many local communities could join in, creating watch-together local parties.

imho: This big task, a twin-conference, is challenging but may bring more people together and build cooperation. Not just a meeting, but a way for unity and shared progress

Let’s think and Brainstorming ON :thinking: