OSM Etiquette Guidelines

I think we are prepared to enforce moderation, there is enough people who are daily monitoring these forums to handle it and that’s why we are also proposing to have at least 3 per-category moderators to support these efforts.

Also discourse allows user to flag posts, and if enough active users are flagging a post, this will be hidden until moderation action.

But how is a moderator supposed to enforce something if there is no clear rule for it?

I can tell you from years of moderation that there is a standard pattern:

  • Someone is out of line e.g. nowadays he might start a campaign trying to convince everybody that corona is just a lie, or that the republic of Germany does not exist
  • Moderator asks him to stop, politely
  • Someone refuses to stop as there is no explicit rule stating that he can’t spread conspiracy theories
  • … loop as needed …
  • Eventually moderator removes offensive content and bans him
  • Someone attacks moderator in personal mails or publicly in the wiki, claiming willful moderation, personal suppression etc., threatens escalation and complaint with admins

That’s what makes moderation so much fun. :frowning:

Clear rules from the start help a lot.

We have the possibility to use the @system account to enforce bans and moderation, so no individual moderator can be blamed.

But yes, I agree the clear rules from the start are the way to go, that’s why the OSM etiquette guidelines seems like the right fit.

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I would hope we can remove bad posts after the fact (ie pre filtering is not needed)

Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Someone might say “you can’t map everything into OSM, so why bother”. But we both know OSM is worthwhile even if it’s not perfect.

I think we are prepared to enforce moderation, there is enough people who are daily monitoring these forums to handle it and that’s why we are also proposing to have at least 3 per-category moderators to support these efforts.

what are the possibilities to appeal such a decision?

Cheers Martin

I would hope we can remove bad posts after the fact (ie pre filtering is not needed)

yes, this is why it isn’t a safe space. You are not safe, people can throw anything on you, and they will be sanctioned afterwards, when the child has already fallen into the well, as we say in German.

Would you consider a place a safe space where someone can shoot you and there is a good probability that they will be punished for it afterwards? Is this comforting?

Cheers Martin

We are not asking the impossible, we don’t want to pre-approve every message but make sure we have the tools to mitigate any potential harm as soon as possible, and that’s doable right now.

About appealing decisions, currently there is a proposal for the governance of these forums, including a team who is ultimately responsible for decision making.

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LCCWG Moderation subcommittee has come up with the following document last year:

It also covers this case underneath “Reconsideration Requests”

so basically board has activated Etiquette rules on some mailing lists while the process how to appeal is still in draft state?


I believe there’s still no moderation team up and running yet, there are a few open topics that need to be resolved. Check out the most recent OSMF board meeting minutes for more details.

Hello everyone,

Thank you so much for your time providing input here. Co-designing the next steps for these forums is important, and we are happy to see the excitement and commitment from a lot of people engaging in the conversations.

After evaluating all the feedback in this topic, and some conversations within the @forums-governance team and some board members, we want to implement this in a way that respects everyone.

Local communities know what works best for them, and it’s important that communities can set their own rules. These forums will therefore allow local communities to decide if they want to have guidelines for their own categories, that they will list or link from the pinned topic in them.

It is also important to avoid having a legal vacuum for moderation to work and be understandable and predictable. If a community does not adopt its own guidelines, it will link the OSM Etiquette Guidelines by default.

We keep our commitment for these forums to be a welcoming, healthy, and safe place for everyone, and we hope that the coming months will allow us to learn more about how to keep evolving to support this goal.

Thanks everyone!

The @forums-governance team


I don’t like that view, that says that it’s worse to call someone bigoted than for someone to be bigotted against you cf. Panti’s Noble Call (more). EG apply to posts on social media

IMHO it is a very basical isssue to have some kind of an etiquette for this forum (as well as for any other communication platform) and I believe the OSM etiquette guidelines would serve quite well for this purpose under the conditon the guidelines would be available in every language spoken within the community.

Besides that I fully agree with Tordanik and Nop that additionally specific and explicit rules are necessary to cover country/national requirements to avoid endless and frustrating discussions in the case of conflicts.

I also fully agree with dieterdreist that a forum open to the public can never be a “safe space” unless every post ist monitored before delivery. Every user can post whatever he/she likes if it is in accordance with the rules or not. Of course posts maybe removed lateron and users be banned but once the word is out the damage is done. I understand a “safe space” as an illusion, in any forum as well as in real life.

I agree with you that is is much worse if someone behaves and talks like a racist than to call such person a racist but how far is this relevant for the OSM forum? I understand this forum as a place to discuss about issues related to OSM - at least it was like that until now. From that point of view I think nukeador is absolutely right with the statement

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

There should be no space in this forum to call D.Trump a racist or W.Putin a war criminal etc. as for such issues other places are available … or shall this forum serve as some kind of another social media platform in future?

There’s several examples of OSMers calling out other OSMers racist/sexist/etc, and often accurately IMO. It sounds like that sort of action leads to bans here… :neutral_face:

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I disagree with that. Keeping harmful text on this platform exposes more and newer people to rh harmful text. Removing the text prevents that damage.

Plus, people will act differently and (IMO) are likely to post harmful text if they believe it will be deleted and unpublished.

I think the normal course of action here would be to report people you think have been acting as racist/sexist through the process report violations of the etiquette guidelines.

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I have not experienced that so far in the old forum but I take your word. Nevertheless it does not make the forum a better place calling someone a racist, sexist or the like even if it would be the truth. If someone breaks the rules by posting racistic or sexistic stuff it should be dealt with according to the guidelines.

Probably I did not express myself clearly, but I did not want to say any harmfull text or bad stuff should be kept on this platformv - the earlier it will be removed, the better. My point is: If someone insults or attacks you in a post it hurts even if you assure yourself the agressor is nothing but an idiot. Removal of such posts and/or ban may give you some kind of satisfaction later but will not remove the initial pain. From that point of view there is no safe space in this world, not in real life and neither anywhere in the internet and it does not make sense in my opinion to pretend we could create such place.

One can try to make it as safe as possible (and I fully support that) bot not more than this.

I wish you are right with that but my experience tells me people with bad nature ore rude manners often do not take into account such sanctions, not even a ban … but it’s always worth a try.

The @forums-governance team has confirmed this approach at last week’s meeting.