Global Ban Policy

Hi all,

this is about the Global Ban Policy that might have come out of the blue for some users.
I would like to encourage everyone to comment on that here.
No user acting in good faith should worry about bans and blocks,
and if anything in the policy sparks concerns then we shall seek to adjust the policy.

The OpenStreetMap Foundation recently decided to ban a repeatedly trolling user.
The global ban itself had been totally proportionate,
as the user in question has been moving from venue to venue (from edit wars and the Wiki to various channels on this forum to even GitHub) to act cantankerously and perform personal attacks.

The board then confirmed the global ban suggested joinly by the moderation team and the Data Working Group. Most people are not faimilar with the details and do not need to. For them it had been totally unclear how low or high the bar for this ban has been.

For that reason I suggested to have a policy instead, and I’m grateful for Allan to suggesting one that

  • makes it obvious to all users acting in good faith that they are never affected by that
  • minimizes the amount of attention we need to give to actual trolls

I will bring up points that have been raised here during the board meeting on Thursday.



I think it’s an important tool for admins and moderators to let them work better together - across platforms - to hinder disruptive behavior which will make OpenStreetMap a less attractive platform to work on as a contributor.

It will save them time, it will give them a clearer picture of the situation and it will stop sneaky platform-switching. It is also made clear that if the policy has a negative effect it will be removed. Good stuff.

I agree, there should be such kind of policy. But on the other side, whats the benefit, if the banned user simply can create a new account or thousands of them and just continue trolling?


Plenty of users who have been banned in the past didn’t resort to these tactics. So it seems undeniable that there is a benefit.

The kind of behavior you describe has been more common among other types of problematic users, such as those engaged in politically motivated vandalism of map data. But that’s a separate problem which this policy isn’t attempting to solve. After all, the recent waves of this kind of vandalism clearly focused on the map, not the various OSM communication platforms. So there wasn’t really any need to coordinate DWG responses with, say, forum mods.


I think it’s good and proper for various mods to talk to each other, and for one group of mods to use the behaviour of a person on another channel in local moderation decisions. It can be totally appropriate for mods to say “We’re banning you here for what you did there”.

But given some of the wtf’s we’ve seen from some mods, it’s not a good idea to automatically apply their mod decisions to everything.


I wouldn’t think a “wtf”-rated decision made by a mod would be adopted as a global ban.


As said, I approve the policy. Just wanted to point out, that

Person trolling over multiple channels resulted in keeping even the board busy.

would be still possible. In general I think it would be better to be prepared for the future. Some months ago also nobody created >1000 accounts and “harm our data”. At some time someone will do it, for sure. So I would suggest to the board to take this into consideration and better not to wait, until someone is acting like this and there are no solutions available.

my comments related to ~ Legal, psychological domains:

“Right to be Forgotten”:
This principle, mainly recognized in the EU, allows individuals to request the removal of personal information from online platforms. If OSMF implements a global ban policy, it must consider how this principle applies to the removal or retention of user data.

Employment Discrimination:
Telling sponsors or partner companies that edit OSM about banned people could lead to legal and moral issues linked to unfair treatment in hiring. It’s important to talk to a lawyer to know the impacts and make sure it follows the job laws.

Healing | Rehabilitative Activities : Engaging banned individuals in rehabilitative activities, like mapping tourist tracks in nature using Mapillary, can serve as a constructive way to address underlying issues leading to trolling behaviors. This approach aligns with the communal and constructive ethos of OpenStreetMap.

Sure. That is why the there is requirement that 3 separate groups of people (2 moderator groups + DWG) need to agree on global ban (after they have all applied their “local” bans and it didn’t help) before such global banning action can take place. Seem like strong enough checks&balances to me (hopefully not my famous last words :smile_cat:)

Sure, but I don’t see what that has to do with this global ban? Could you give specific example where exactly do you think there might be a conflict?

Employer discriminate all the time - discrimination in global is actually the whole purpose of employment process (otherwise one would have to employ anybody who applies). When they decide to employ someone whose knowledge is better then someone elses, or someone who reacts better under stress, or someone whose past behaviour shows them as better team player; the employer is “discerning, distinguishing, noting or perceiving differences between things” (i.e. discriminating).

In many countries there are laws that prevent certain kinds of discrimination, e.g. those solely based on sex/gender, color of skin, or political / religious affiliations. I’m however not aware of any country with laws that prohibit any and all discrimination, e.g. refusing to employ someone who has a huge history of being a jerk and intentionally vandalizing things every time they don’t get their way.

Healing | Rehabilitative Activities

How that this applies to OSMF ban policy decision? If some mental health institution / rehabilitation centre wants to help their inmates / patients to rehabilitate by using OSM mapping, they’re welcome to do so. The affected persons just need to create new account (distancing themselves from usernames used for destructive activities in the past would very likely even help them “start new life” and might even be a requirement from their doctors), and I assume in such cases their behaviours under new account will be monitored by their doctors / mentors to follow their progress and prevent relapses.


That depends on a type of a problematic user, someone who creates new account daily using VPN and gets blocked would in practical terms be not be affected by this policy - and to combat this damage other tools are needed.

But for example someone who presents themself as actual OSM contributor (and maybe even sincerely tries to do this) but systematically insults/trolls/derails discussions etc, can be ejected with such ban. For example (theoretical case I hope) someone who makes death threats against people who disliked their tagging proposal. Such ban and its implementation can at least make clear that such person is not welcome and is not considered as part of OpenStreetMap community.


OSMF can only ban a certain username. There is no relation to any natural person stored by OSMF. In general it’s same as being banned from entering any kind of venue, like a hooligan get’s banned from entering a stadium.

Fully agree. Just saying, it would be better to think about a solution on that and have it available before a user is acting like this.

OSMF can (subject to policy) ban whomsoever it likes. For example, the ban policy that the DWG applies for data problems is here and explicitly includes “If, while the mapper is blocked, other accounts are found to be controlled by the same person, the ban would apply to those accounts as well”.


Yes, but OSMF will not announce a natural person is banned. E.g. OSMF will not publish, Andy Townsend is banned but it will announce SoneoneElse (and all other accounts OSMF can link to you) is banned. So there is no discrimination of you as natural person possible by banning your accounts from participating in OSM.

I would like to point out some “unintended consequences” that haven’t been fully thought through:

  • Anyone can use their real name or part of their name.
  • Anyone can use someone else’s name or part of their name.
  • Anyone can use the name of a celebrity, etc.

In the EU, access to user personal OpenStreetMap metadata is only possible with a logged-in OSM user ID. ( geofabrik )

" This section of Geofabrik’s download server holds OpenStreetMap data files with all available metadata fields (usernames, user IDs and changeset IDs). Therefore, their usage is governed by data protection regulations in the European Union. These regulations apply even to data processing that happens outside the European Union because some people whose data is contained in this files live in the European Union. These files may only be used for OpenStreetMap interal purposes, e.g. quality assurance. You must ensure that derived databases and works based on these files are only accessible to OpenStreetMap contributors.

However, the blocked user list is publicly accessible without logging in.
For example, OpenAI’s AI bots, like the one you are currently interacting with, can access this list (I’ve tested, it’s not blocked), and the same applies to Bing Chat.

ChatGPT: " Read this page: User blocks | OpenStreetMap
and select only the only one username - which has a big similarity for a human name!"

The concern is that most GPT models will be trained on this data. Some companies are already using these tools blindly for preliminary screening of applicants, causing hidden discrimination.

Suggestion 1: Block “ChatGPT” from accessing blocked user info…
Suggestion 2: Only logged-in OSM users should have access to the blocked user list, and there should be an interface for blocked users to later inquire about their blocking information using their email addresses.

Ok; No conflict …

The OSMF GDPR Privacy Statement - allows for “Account Removal,” which likely means that if a user is banned, they can have their account deleted.

Account Removal

You can request your account to be removed and we will honor such requests as far as possible.

If you have not actively contributed to the project we will not retain any records, user page, diary posts and similar will be removed.

If you have contributed your account will be renamed to user_USERID and contributions and changeset comments will be retained with this name, diary entries and your user page will be removed. Since we do not allow anonymous edits we will non-publicly retain your email address in case you need to be contacted with respect to your contributions.

Wiki and forum accounts will be renamed to a pseudo-anonymous name, but otherwise will remain as is. You can unsubscribe yourself from any mailing lists, however you need to realize that personal copies held by the recipients of any mails you sent to the lists and the archives on can not be removed.

In your request for account removal you need to identify all accounts that are affected as we do not have information on which accounts belong to which OpenStreetMap id.

Is this somehow related to the topic at hand, i.e. "Global Ban Policy"? In other words, the problem does not exist with current system (DWG blocks, Wiki blocks, Community blocks, user deletions, data processing etc), but will suddenly start to exist if (and only if) Global Ban Policy is implemented as outlined?

Because, if the issues are already existing (and thus not related to Global Ban Policy proposal), might I suggest raising the issues in separate thread instead (preferably one thread per issue)?


You’re expecting this chatbot to stay on topic while making sense? :smile:

ObXKCD #810

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Awesome! :+1: :rofl: :medal_sports: