New categories requirements and process

This proposal tries to unify a process for requesting and approving new categories on these forums.

Please, we want to read your input in the comments below!

These forums are intended to be a safe and open space for open mapping communities and contributors and we want people to have the chance to have a space here.

What are we trying to solve:

  • Define a process on how to request a new category.
  • Understand when a new category is needed vs other options (i.e using tags).
  • Ensure new categories are properly resourced for moderation, including enforcing the OSM Etiquette guidelines.
  • Ensure there is a healthy leadership rotation among moderators.

:green_circle: Proposal on how to request a new category

  • We’ll create a subcategory under This Site Feedback to organize requests.
  • Request can be done in other languages than English or use a machine translation system to post.
  • OSMF local chapters will be consulted when the creation of a location-based category for their region of interest is requested.
  • The request should contain:
    • The name of the category.
    • Will this be a top-level category or a subcategory?
    • A description of it’s purpose and which open mapping groups will serve.
    • Why this category is needed instead of being hosted as part of the existing ones?
    • Is this a new space or it’s already existing in other platform(s)?
      • What the current volume of messages in the old platform (per week/per month)
      • Is there a transition plan for the old platform to this new one? (please link or describe)
    • (Optional) A link or list of the category specific guidelines, if none OSM Etiquette Guidelines will apply.
    • At least 3 users who can commit to moderate the category and enforce the guidelines.
      • Any context about these 3 users and why they would be a good moderators.
      • An individual message from these 3 users supporting the request and committing to their moderator duties.
      • Update (September 16th 2022): Moderator selection criteria

:left_speech_bubble: What do you think about this proposal? Add a comment below!

  • What do you like the most?
  • Is there something missing?
  • What would you do different and why?

Thanks! :slight_smile:

Update: Decision made

1 Like

3 posts were split to a new topic: OSM Etiquette Guidelines

Let’s keep this proposal open for input and feedback until March 29th.

After that date the @forums-governance team will take in consideration all the input and take a decision.


I think there should be a time limit for inactivity before a category gets “archived”. 3-6 months seems to make sense, we wouldn’t want to have excess categories cluttering up the feed.

The three moderators requisite seems reasonable, I worry it may prevent incubation of certain topics, but that isn’t really a huge problem.

Other than that it looks great!

In the old forum there are very few categories with at least 3 moderators. This applies to well used categories like users:Austria. Therefore I think that having multiple moderators is good but should not be required.
I agree with Tordanik that the OSM Etiquette Guidelines should not be mandatory if the community prefers another set of rules. Especially communities existing in the old forum might be reluctant to combine a software change with a change of rules if they are happy with their existing rules.

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It would be helpful if you detail a bit more your thinking over this topic where we are discussing about it. Thanks.

Is there an alternative proposal you are thinking about?

The thinking behind is that we want to avoid a single point of failure, avoid bottlenecks or power accumulation/gatekeeping and force collaboration to solve conflict. That’s why 3 seems like a reasonable number, specially if we ask for rotation to get new people involved (once a year maybe?).

Are there any issues you can think of having 3 for certain categories?


I propose:

List 3 users who can commit to moderate the category. If you find not enough moderators you have to document your failed efforts to find 3 users over a certain time (2-3 months maybe?). At least 1 moderator is mandatory. You should try to find additional moderators if you have less than 3.

This way the creation of a category is not blocked if not enough users are willing to moderate but makes clear that more moderators a strongly desired.

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If a category is created because there is enough volume, how likely would be you can’t find at least 3 people to support?

Sharing moderation with other 2 people will make the responsibility very light in terms of monitoring and commitment.

Of the country specific categories that are regularly used following categories have less than 3 moderators:

Austria 1 moderator, efforts to find additional moderators failed
Finland no moderators
Netherlands 2 moderators
Switzerland no moderators

Moderation is little work if everything is fine but if there are problems it can be much more work. Finding moderators for categories in smaller languages is not always easy.

If they fail to find more moderators, will the categories be closed?

The Swiss forum is not regularly used and the Swiss community currently actively suggests that people should use the mailing list. Now and then there is a stray posting, but that is it.

I proposed a minimum of three moderators when starting a category, and keeping at least two on an ongoing basis.

If a category isn’t attracting enough people to find multiple moderators, then how likely is it that it’s attracting enough posts to need its own category? We want to avoid the situation where we end up with categories with no activity.


Also important to note that the discourse moderation tools make the task very easy and we also have a few admins with global moderation rights that can support if things go wild in a specific category.

I am personally an administrator on the French forum based on Discourse. There are almost no moderation and administration tasks for a year. We’ve made some small adjustments to the settings to make the rules a little more flexible, but that’s it.

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Update from the 2022-04-01 meeting of the @forums-governance team:

Thanks for the update.

The #site-feedback:new-category-requests has been enabled now to start gathering requests.


Relevant update to this process is the newly approved Moderation Selection Criteria