Handling of conflicts of interest

How do we handle conflicts of interest on this platform? Imagine there are moderators or admins who cannot recognize by themselves that they are in a conflict of interest situation, are there any measures to solve or prevent this kind of situation?

Recent example can be found here


Not sure.

But if someone would make thread complaining about me specifically or about someone paying me, then I would not use moderation tools in that thread. Maybe except extreme, blatant and urgent cases like someone posting scam links or porn images.

That linked thread was not ideal, starting from something that was happening in 2017 is not too useful.

But someone employed by HOT (not checked is this claim a true one) should not be closing thread criticizing HOT.

On the other hand, if someone would make 4chan level insult thread about OSM then it should be closed, despite all moderators having conflict of interest as involved in OSM so it should not be absolute and overly broad.


pinging @nukeador given that we discuss their action and @fititnt as their thread got locked

Please, do not close this one even if you are not happy about it or it criticizes something HOT-adjacent, also please do not post about worst possible interpretation, then heavily exaggerated.


Sometimes sunlight is the best disinfectant - if someone is making batshit crazy claims then often a polite rebuttal (without descending to the level of the original accusation) can work. Attempting to suppress the claim might actually play into the false narrative.

As @Mateusz_Konieczny says, there are obviously cases where thread hiding / closure are needed, but in this example I suspect it’s actually counterproductive.

For the avoidance of any doubt, this is a personal view rather than one on behalf of OSM’s Data Working Group - although with a DWG hat on I’ve obviously dealt with plenty of fairly similar disputes, both where the complaints are without any merit, and where they are, and where there’s actually merit on both sides.

– Andy


I think we need to be clear that there was nothing that wasn’t factual in that thread, and contrary to the other “anti-HOT” thread opened by @fititnt there was no obvious OSM Etiquette Guidelines violation. I would consider morphing the guidelines to cover legal entities and to include tone policing to be way outside of their intended scope.


Hmm, @dieterdreist, you are implying that the linked topic was locked because of conflict of interest and not because of the reason given in the closing statement. I.e. you seem to assume it was done in bad faith. What makes you think that the reason given was false?

As everybody seems to be discussing why that topic was closed: To me it looks like the thread starter was worded in an antagonistic way, created to spark outrage. When confronted with the fact that a 5 years old issue is quite irrelevant, the OP shifted the topic to something else, some footer on the hotosm page, and garnished this post with another insinuation about OSM board elections.

OP didn’t use bad language and I can understand his point of view, but I can also understand the reason it was locked, as there are rules about not assuming bad faith (=insinuating?). In particular, his second post.

Regardless of the specific topic, the way a topic is framed very much contributes to the kind of conversation culture we’ll have here and to the way a thread develops. What is the goal? To use this forum as a tribunal with accuser and accused certainly does not contribute to a productive outcome. This is not really mentioned explicitly (/with example) in the ettiquette guidelines though, which is why it is difficult to communicate.

Otherwise, I’m with @Mateusz_Konieczny and @SomeoneElse here. In the future, I’d suggest to not lock the topic in such a case but explain (i.e. give a warning as moderator) why this kind of post is unwanted. Both for the one who posted and for onlookers, especially when no obvious bad language was involved, it may be difficult to understand otherwise.


I don’t think the point of @dieterdreist is that the thread shouldn’t have been locked and hidden, but that @nukeador, as an employee of the accused company, shouldn’t have been the person doing it.


Hi all,

I agree that having me handling/closing that topic was not ideal. Unfortunately we don’t have many more moderators helping review all the flags, that topic was flagged long ago and people were asking why it was hidden. This particular example was due the violation of the OSM Guidelines, from a person who was already creating antagonist/inflammatory topics that are not setting a healthy discussion.

I want to reinforce that in no way this is blocking people to talk about HOT, or disagreeing with HOT policy or actions, people is more than welcome to talk about that and about any other organization, and I personally will never try to silence that.

The @forums-governance is actively looking to have more moderators for the global categories (I’ll open a topic about that), and in a larger moderation team I’ll would have refrained to handle topics like this due conflict of interest concerns.



Unlock the thread you closed right now.

The use guidelines to protect a corporation already is a shame, but doing by literally paid employee is absurd.

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Throwing demands at the moderator team does not help, so please don’t.

I actually agree that moderators with a conflict of interest in a case should leave that case to the other mods. The way this was handled is not good practice.

However, that only works if there are other mods. And as @nukeador has explained, there just aren’t that many other people who can respond to flags in the global categories at the moment. While @firefishy and myself can technically do so, we’re here to help with the migration process, policy issues or (in Grant’s case) the tech. We didn’t sign up to be moderators.

So as far as I’m concerned, the best take-away from this is to hurry up with finding some good mods for the global categories whom the community can trust.

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I think you might be assuming in bad faith that I thought the topic was closed because of other reasons than the ones given. :melting_face:
What I said was that someone with a COI should not interact with superpowers in topics that are related to their COI, and I wonder how this is currently reflected in the guidelines, and whether we should add something if it is not.

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Hehe okay. The thought that you cited the linked topic just as an example of a situation where a COI is something that people could assume came to me only afterwards / after I read Michael’s post, sorry.

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Don’t mind me for interfering in this discussion, but the request of yours is worded very aggressively in a way that won’t help you in what you seek. Yes, nukeador locked your initial topic following the OSM guidelines, even though he personally shouldn’t due to conflict of interest, but as mentioned above, not enough global mods to assist in such case in a reasonable time period for respond.
And it seems you have foggy thoughts due to all this situation going on, which originated by the sorta-aggresive topic about HOT’s old ad. I understand and accept that you don’t like HOT, I’m also not fond of their whole whereabouts, but if you want to have a discussion about HOT in general here, try and keep it more in a non-aggressive tone, just like others did in your topic.


Going in public outside here about one moderator sponsored (paid, an employeer) by external organization acting in obvious conflict of interest against the OpenStreetMap Foundation by not reverting an action is something that is worth to be assertive if necessary.

I can be reasonable in many aspects, but this is not one of them.

What you here think @'s both would result? The organization profit over OSMF trademark, yet this cannot be discussed on OSMF forum?

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The issue of this topic is a general discussion about how to handle conflicts of interest in this forum.
Your personal vendetta against HOT and @nukeador does not really fit in notwithstanding the question, if the lock of your topic was adequate or not. Imho all your posts in this thread are off-topic and should be subject to flagging.

In respond to the topic I believe such cases may be very rare (at the time being). If it occurs, the best solution would be if the mod being in potential conflict would ask another authorized user to take over. Otherwise every affected user should have the right to ask for a review in an appropriate and polite way.

Yes, I got the point of lack of modpower for the global categories but in such extraordinary rare cases someone being able to handle it should take the time. Such matters should not be underestimated imho.


@Map_HeRo thank you for calling my attention. So, for anyone reading: if either my two previous comments here in this thread become hidden or deleted, I’m okay with that.

Going back to the actual question

About the proposal for this issue, the initial suggestion from @Mateusz_Konieczny seems very similar to how Wikipedia recommends to handle conflict of interests with super users. I really think it’s a approach that makes sense.

I don’t remember the best link to describe it but maybe the one as starting point is the Wikipedia:Conflict of interest - Wikipedia .


Is there a thread describing current attempt to do this? Or is there no such thread/attempt?

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Um, isn’t the whole point of “not using superpowers when one is in COI” that one shouldn’t be using superpowers when one is in COI? The COI has been identified and acknowledged/explained by the person doing it, as I understand.
Thus, no more usage of superpowers by that person should be acceptable in this topic, period. Insisting that someone does another wrong in order to right the initial wrong is not good idea at all, for all sorts of reasons.

So, IMHO, any and all (possibly needed) corrections requiring superpowers should absolutely be done by other moderators/admins (preferably after conferring between themselves), and definitely not by the one who is in alleged Conflict of Interest.


(I’ve read this thread only up to post #10)

in my experience (with #communities:latam), there has been no effort to find other moderators before creating the community, four people selected themselves and that was it, at least for the time being. and here again hot, or hot-friendly.

Note that for all communities created before the moderator selection criteria was agreed, there is a process to discuss, validate and renew moderators in 1 month period (December 10th)

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