OSMF Local Chapter re-application - OSM Belgium

Reading this, it seems to me that at least some of Simon’s critique should be directed toward the foundation. If the standard application doesn’t ask the right questions, that’s the responsibility of the OSMF, not the Belgian community (or any community). Joost is being very forthcoming on any questions, so if there is still a problem the responsibility lies with the process, not the applicant.

@SimonPoole I understand your questions and the concerns, especially with @ZeLonewolf 's analogy to help me, but you do seem quite accusatory. Maybe it’s something that’s getting lost in translation, but to say the Belgian community is getting a “free pass” seems kind of unfair, especially as it seems to me like they had a nightmare year of admin headaches and have followed the process correctly.

And, in at least one instance you do seem to be accusing Joost, personally, of vague things which seems inappropriate in this context and, more importantly, makes it harder to track the answers and concerns for the relevant questions. But again, maybe this is a matter of translation or culture.


It’s quite reasonable to ask additional questions not on the application, as you can’t anticipate all questions that are relevant for all local chapters. That’s one of the purposes of the consultation period.

I’m not sure why people seem to be surprised that there are questions about the OSM Belgium finances, given the recent financial failure of OKF BE, money transfer, and related people.


As Paul points out it isn’t practically possible to enumerate all possible points that should lead to additional documentation being included, more on that below. Not to mention that one would hope that extraordinary circumstances as in this case remain rare.

There is the point that has cropped up for past applications that they should be better vetted before being published and potentially problematic points delt with beforehand. That has reasonable expectations of working for “new” organisations but not in this, rather special, case.

As to the ‘vague’ accusations: Joost immediately tried to frame my questions as a personal attack, given that I couldn’t have known who was going to respond a bit far fetched, I did reference Joost as a potential victim of the circumstances though. So I gave a pointer to the conflict of interest situation that was discovered after the fact during the microgrant project, given that it is well documented no need to repeat things here, but it doesn’t inspire confidence that we get the whole story when dealing with OSM-BE.

But I would argue that the aspect that caused the upset was more of a technicality than the real problem, which was that the relevant projects were eligible for grants in the 1st place because nobody had considered adding conflict of interest avoidance terms to the already quite complicated participation rules.

Which brings us back to the case at hand: if the OSMF is going to have to assume that it has to always explicitly ask for any relevant non-obvious information for its processes there’s going to be a lot more paperwork going forward.

In any case I find Joosts version of the events reasonably plausible and the articles of the new organisation address issues such as publication of general assembly minutes.

The OSMF board will need to decide if the whole complex around the OSgeo-BE transactions needs a post-mortem, but I expect that will wait till the SOTM-EU accounts have been finalised.

Yes, this is what I mean:

"There is the point that has cropped up for past applications that they should be better vetted before being published and potentially problematic points delt with beforehand. "

Of course the community consultation is useful and needed for a certain kind of question, no one is disputing this, including Joost, who has answered many.

But this one seems like something the OSMF or LCCWG should have vetted.

Further, I don’t think that asking for a layer of good faith analysis before going to community consultation is the same thing as coming up with every single question that could ever be asked, ad infinitum. Instead, why not amend the process to require the board or WG to do an extra layer of due diligence if there’s a governance or fiduciary element that is non standard.

Using forum threads to debate things never, ever works. there’s way too much nuance. And, I worry that this is bruising for Joost and the community. Is this what we want to do to people? Intentions are good, I am certain, but I don’t like seeing people who are good hearted and committed volunteers experience discomfort simply because the issue is too nuanced to adjucate in a discourse forum.

If the core questions still stands, I recommend sending this back to Arnalie to be looked into, instead of doing more debate and meta debate.

@arnalielsewhere could you or another member of the board step in and help move this forward?


I don’t think we should ever discourage discussion of such things in the community thread. It might be uncomfortable in the short term, but by engaging in this discussion we are avoiding the birth of a festering needless suspicion that would fall on the involved parties. As long as they don’t violate the etiquette guidelines, Simon and Joost should be applauded for engaging with each other on this topic.

I do believe it would be helpful to have one or two members of the OSMF board to chime in on occasion to confirm points, especially for nuanced topics like this.


Happy new year, everyone! Just read the thread where I left of.

To be clear, OSMF Board is handling the re-application. I have flagged this to the board@ after Joost emailed on 22 Dec. However, due to the holiday break, there has been no discussions within the board until today (3 January).

We will have a mid-month board chat next week and this is part of the agenda.


I proposed adding catchall point that would ask for all relevant and important information not covered by previous points.

It will not help in this specific case but has chance to make handling future applications a bit better.


Hey all— I get to read this as a non board member which is great for me personally! No responsibility.

I had been involved of course last year as a board member when a lot of this transpired. Everything Joost shares matches what was under discussion between OSM be and osmf. I’ll also echo Ben’s message about the heroic effort to keep OSM BE strong through a turbulent time. Belgium community and OSM as a whole are in a better place due to the personal passion of dedicated volunteers. Thank you.

The board didn’t get into every detail on what transpired with okbe and I think the application is stronger after the substantive questions in the consultation. After this consultation it will be up to the osmf board to make the final determination. My opinion is that OSM BE should be a local chapter.

I think there’s a few concrete learnings as well about the LC process. The LCCWG has renewed effort to examine and evolve that process. I expect they’ll take points easier here into account at some point.

I find it really frustrating when good substantive content is wrapped up in a communication style that feels wrong. My technique is to rewrite those kinds of messages in my mind in a way that retains the content but doesn’t give me an ulcer. This feels like routing around damage in our community, but given the nature of human beings, it may be the best option. Just remember everyone here is an individual and being loud doesn’t equate being powerful.


ps There was a reference to microgrants and conflict of interest. Myself and Joost were on the board and were part of a unanimous vote which approved a dozen or so microgrants recommended by the microgrants committee. A couple were from orgs we had involvement in, and properly should have separated out the vote on them. When this innocent oversight was discovered, we made a public statement apologizing for it. My opinion was the way it was handled should be a point of more trust in us personally.


5 posts were merged into an existing topic: Retrospective - 2020 Microgrant Ethics Issues Discussion

There were problems (?) with this arrangement that were detrimental to OSM BE

It’s more that the cost-benefit changed; when OKBE was thriving, we at OSM.be had significant benefit from being part of OKBE. When it was failing, Jonathan and I were among the only ones left to make sure there would be no violent crash. We’d rather run our own small organisation than having to run something much bigger than we need. Both of us are leaving OKBE now that the rescue is complete & there are some new folks interested to run it.

OKBE never saw itself as the local chapter, it was always OSM.be within OKBE that was the chapter, in their eyes. So of course they were happy let both the Chapter status and the Activity go. In fact, I found it a little confusing that we had to cancel and re-apply, as for everyone involved locally, it is the same OSM.be that is a member, just now with a different vehicle.

Will the new OSM BE have all the same resources (people, money, etc) they currently have under their present parent organization?

Yes. There are no employees anymore though.


That’s not what’s happening. Simon accused me of being sneaky for not having disclosed some information BEFORE the community consultation. To which my reply was “nobody asked”. And then came the suggestion “right, maybe this kind of question should be asked before the community consultation”.

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Well the OSMF had a binding formal contract with OKF-BE which included some exclusivity provisions (see the local chapter agreement item 4.) that would have continued if not cancelled.


That’s not my point. My point is that intuitively, I would expect the Local Chapter agreement to follow the OpenStreetMap community, wherever it goes. So from my POV, our current application isn’t a termination + new application, but rather a request to do a move. But yeah, that’s not how the contract works.


Hi community,

thank you for your feedback and flagging important points regarding OSM Belgium’s reapplication.

The community consultation for this application is now closed (10 January 2024).

As next steps,

  • As mentioned, the board is handling this application and we will have further discussions during board meetings and asynchronously in the board chat, gitlab or email
  • Board will revert back to the community about the discussions and next steps

Thank you to OSM Belgium especially @joost_schouppe for the humility in addressing the questions and issues raised. Also thank you @ZeLonewolf for the very comprehensive summary! :slight_smile:

In future LC community consultations, I hope we can ensure constructive feedback and healthy interactions with our fellow contributors.


That sounds good at first but… :thinking:

Yep! :white_check_mark:

Many LC applications are unique, and you see something new every time. It makes sense to remember issues from previous cases. So your advice, in general, is excellent. But it’s hard enough to apply for LC status, can you imagine a 10 page form with questions that aren’t relevant for your org, but were a problem for one group once before. I was on the OSMF Board for a few years, and I’m proud of helping several organisations become Local Chapters.

Here’s some real world examples. Don’t worry, nothing evil in any of these things. :slightly_smiling_face: Just things one needs to check. :memo:

  • Please explain the history of conflict with another country that has caused the overlap with another LC. What happens to members in the overlapping area? What happens with talking to governments? Tell us what the other LC thinks of this overlap.
  • What changes to the LC contract, for all future LCs, are needed for you to sign, please provide a sample document.
  • Your org represents a large multinational area. Explain how the dominant country (with a history of colonialisation) won’t dominate everything.
  • Please provide the documentation that you’ve transferred the trademarks to OSMF. What’s the lawyer we need to contact. What are the documents we need (you did prepare them didn’t you!) How do we get that translated?
  • Your org represents a large area, but the LC application is only for one region. Explain how that’s gonna work. What about the other region?
  • Write a list of all those large income sources that you have, tell us about them and what the outcome was. What sort of income sources do you have?
  • There’s another org in your country with a very similar goal, which is even an OSMF LC for another region. Plead provide the documentation that they are okay with this application.

The OSMF Board has to do all this alone in our free time!. There’s also the normal LC process, such as reading translations of legal documents, looking at budgets, and finding, and contacting, relevant OSMers in the region to check for community support, and asking the wider OSM community (like this).


Don’t forget @SimonPoole, for raising important issues in a constructive and civil manner. Thanks! It can be annoying when somethign is clear to you, and it can be annoying when an external person asks you to prove everything again. However that sort of due diligence is important. This sort of attention to detail is part of what makes OSM great. We make sure all the i’s are dotted and all the t’s are crossed.

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Hello everyone,

OSMF Board had a discussion last week regarding the issues raised and there are no additional documents/clarifications that were brought up/requested during the discussion (4/7 board members present).

I have proposed the OSM Belgium application in this month’s public board meeting (~25 January 13:30 UTC) and would like to invite you if you are interested in the topic. Dorothea shall send the details one week before the meeting. Thank you!



No brainer to approve the application. It’s a good community group and the fact that they have faced problems in the past and found solutions to overcome them is a strength we should celebrate. It shows significant dedication to OSM.


Looks like it was approved at the last OSMF Board Meeting.

Congrats! :slightly_smiling_face:


I would like to congratulate and welcome OSM Belgium for being the newest (and returning) OSMF Local Chapter! Thank you @joost_schouppe @Ben_Abelshausen @jbelien, Thierry and OSM Belgium community for your contributions in spreading the awareness, educating/training people and sharing the good news of OpenStreetMap!