OSM Etiquette Guidelines

Sounds good overall! Two suggestions:

First, I’d like to note that when the OSMF board approved the Etiquette guidelines, we explicitly did so for international spaces and excluded regional communities from the scope. This was to enable the latter to set rules written in local languages and adapted to cultural expectations. There may also be specific rules for some forum categories, e.g. what kinds of content is on-topic there. So I would propose writing “enforce OSM Etiquette Guidelines and/or a local set of forum rules documented within the category as a pinned topic”.

Another addition to the process I would suggest: OSMF local chapters will be consulted when the creation of a location-based category for their region of interest is requested.

Admin edit: See below for the decision

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Is it possible to clarify which parts of the Etiquette Guidelines might not apply to a regional context and why? I assume this is a OSMF space even if it’s used by different communities.

We can create a separate topic to discuss this if needed.


This space is provided by the OSMF, but so are forum.osm.org and the mailing lists which many of these communities are currently using. I won’t speculate on how the local variations in the rules may look like, as this would indeed exceed the scope of this thread and I also doubt it would be productive. It’s enough to note that these communities are typically not using the EG at the moment, and that I prefer not to link a platform migration to a change in the relationship between local communities and the OSMF.

I’m moving this to a new topic for better discussion.

I’m trying to think about any cons of the Etiquette Guidelines being applied to these whole forum, since this is already applied to the main osm mailing lists and reflects an evolution on how to make OSM spaces more welcoming, safe, inclusive and diverse, which is also our goal here.

We would need to understand if there are any issues on using and respecting the Etiquette Guidelines here. If so, can we get some specific feedback on which ones and why?


I agree with Tordanik, we should not mix the platform transition with a change in government. Etiquette Guidelines have been discussed for years and it is evident that there are huge differences across cultures how they are seen.

Hi @dieterdreist

Is it possible to get a bit more detail on which specific points of the guidelines you think are an issue and why?

That would help understand what are the cons. Right now the conversation feels very abstract if we don’t talk about concrete examples/points.


Cons of making the Etiquette Guidelines mandatory:

  1. Procedure: When the Etiquette Guidelines were discussed their scope was limited to OSM talk@ and OSMF talk@ mailing lists. People who do not use these channels probably did not take part in the discussions believing that the guidelines would not apply to them.
  2. Inflexible: The problems in different communities might be different and communities should be able to change their rules easily without a global discussion.
  3. I think that communities should make their own rules unless there is a good reason to impose rules top-down.(see next paragraph)

Personally I like the “Unacceptable behavior” section (but I don’t understand what is meant by innuendo and edit shaming) and I think that something like that should be mandatory for all categories. Banning discriminatory behavior against persons is a good reason to impose rules top-down.

The “Be welcoming” section is less clear: Will posts be moderated if they are not particularly welcoming? Eg someone answers: “Use the forum search.” or with a link to an old topic. Such answers are not welcoming but not discriminatory and I don’t think people should be criticized for being gruff (I hope that this is the correct word. In German I want to say “schroff”).

Expecting people to use inclusive language is problematic as it is indeed language dependent. Eg in German it is quite difficult because words have a genus that might or might not correspond to gender. To make German inclusive you have to adapt nouns, pronouns and articles that vary depending on number and case… it’s difficult. (in English you use singular they and are mostly done with the gender part of inclusive language. Much easier.) There are a lot of (and sometimes quite heated) discussions about this topic in Germany and those who support inclusive language disagree on how it should be done. Furthermore there are many people who do not use or know inclusive language. They should not criticized for the way they write.
If communities can make their own rules they can simply agree to disagree on that topic and leave it out of the rules.
I understand that the rules don’t say: “You must use inclusive language in a particular form.” but they encourage it.
(Note: Using pronouns against a person’s declared wishes and deadnaming are forbidden in the “Unacceptable behavior” section. I strongly support that.)

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I think you make a good and key point, there are sections that describe what’s not accepted and other describing what’s encouraged, and it seems you agree with the not accepted ones.

For the encouraged, it is something we should build a culture around, nobody is going to moderate you, but people will help you being welcoming.

Also note that discourse enables community moderation, so people most likely will be flagged if they are being rude or grumpy :sweat_smile:

The piece of information missing here is that the application of the CoC to the site has already been enacted FAQ - OpenStreetMap Community

That’s pretty much the Discourse default FAQ document, which is displayed unless you define your own FAQ document.

I’ve removed the reference to the etiquette guidelines in the FAQ - hopefully there’s not too much confusion for people replying in the next few minutes.

As stated in the second paragraph of the guidelines themselves, their application is to the talk@ and osmf-talk@ mailing lists, not the forums, help.osm.org, discourse, local lists or other spaces administered by the OSMF.

I’m also not sure how they would apply to a reputation based system like discourse or help.osm.org where by default users with sufficient reputation can perform some moderation activities. We would have to disable all of that stuff and only give the powers to the moderation team. This would conflict with how we’re setting up new topics, where we want to identify 3+ people to give full moderation powers over the topic to.

And as a practical matter, the moderation team is not yet selected, so no one could moderate this discourse instance yet!

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Specific examples? The EG says you cannot disrespect anyone, and that includes calling Donald Trump a racist. Some large organizations have a culture of not openly criticising powerful institutions (and it might make sense for them), but I don’t like that culture.

My bad … just looked rather similar and link to the OSMF ToS.

Link to OSMF ToS is auto filled in from the “tos url” field:

@_ᚐᚋᚐᚅᚇᚐ_️ I don’t think anyone would be calling names to anyone on an OSM platform, it’s off-topic.

If the board thinks the Etiquette Guidelines are good enough for the most important/bigger communication OSM channel (osm-talk and osmf-talk) why we should not follow the lead and apply them here from the start?

@pnorman When I consulted the LCCWG subcommittee group, communities and groups can embrace the guidelines in other OSM channels without asking for authorization. And the initial conversation @forums-governance team had signaled that we wanted to use them, that’s why they were on the FAQ.

I would like understand which specific points of the guidelines are a concern and why in order to evaluate with the governance team if we need to make any changes.


the issue I wrote about is not specific to certain rules, or the way these are agreed on, changed and applied, it is more generally the notion that a change of the technological communication platform should not be combined with a policy change.
Changes in policy can of course be discussed (anytime), but coupling the fate of the platform with the acceptance of the introduction of explicit behavior rules (where these aren’t established as result of discussion among the local community) does not seem a way to improve or speed up adoption.

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I understand. At the same time we are taking this opportunity to start a few things with fresh eyes and for a lot of people this is not a platform to transition to, but a new place.

My worry is that the people who have been often discriminated or isolated and as a result they have moved away from other OSM channels, don’t have the same protections that are now in place at osm-talk for example.

If there are no concerns about the protections that the guidelines is enabling, I would be inclined to start with the right foot here and offer them to people who have been asking for a safe and modern place for discussions for a long long time.

That’s why I’ve been trying to understand how applying the guidelines can affect people using the tool when we won’t accept any of the abusive behaviors described on them no matter what.

unless you are going to moderate everything that people post before delivering it, we won’t be “safe”, the etiquette cannot prevent attacks, it can at most ensure that the sanctions are the same for everyone.

The goal is not to be able to handle everything before hand or be perfect, but ensure a safe space, and that’s totally doable.

The current FAQ is rather general and not touching some sensitive topics.

Currently, in the forum a few things are explicitly stated as not welcome, e.g. SPAM advertising and propagation of personal religious or political beliefs unrelated to OSM. Strictly by the FAQ I could spread all of that as long as I do so politely. Experience has shown, that it is required to make unwanted content explicit. There were some ugly moments where people insisted that they had every right to continue their exposition as it wasn’t explicitly blacklisted. It might also be a cultural thing with us Germans. :slight_smile:

But I fear with only nice, general rules we’ll rewind the clock by about 10 years. Likely worse as we have more highly controversial things going on in the world right now than back then.

There is also one topic where let’s-wait-and-see-how-it-works is a dangerous tactic. Some content which might be posted in any public forum is considered criminal in some legislations. I am thinking about things like hate speech, symbols of forbidden organisations, wrongful accusations or straight criminal content. OSMF will be liable to remove such stuff very quickly once it is detected/reported. So a system should be set up that guarantees removal of the really bad stuff within a day. Are we prepared for that?