OSMF Strategy 2023

2023 Strategic Planning Cycle – Community Participation

The Board of the OpenStreetMap Foundation is revising its Strategic Plan, and invites all OSMF members and the OSM community to participate in this process.

The plan is quite large, so we want to discuss it with you in four phases over the next two months. In each phase we focus on a different aspect of strategic development for the OSMF.

The first phase will be “Cluster B: Community Development for OSM”. We are looking for your comments for only this section for the next two weeks.

If you click through the link to “Cluster B: Community Development for OSM” you will find all the strategems in that cluster listed there.

We would especially like your feedback on just four questions:

  • What is missing from the plan? Or put differently, what should we add to the plan?

  • Are there any inconsistencies in the plan? Does the plan seem to be well aligned with the OSMF Mission and the direction of the OSM movement? Where are any problems?

  • Which three strategems are most urgent? Which three must we do really quickly?

  • Which three strategems are very important? Which strategems are critical for OpenStreetMap to succeed and grow?

You may of course comment on anything else as well.

If there is debate on this topic on any of the hundreds of social media sites that host OSM-related discussions, you could help us greatly if a member of that site or channel please prepare a summary of the comments and post it (in English) to the team. We cannot follow all of the discussions on all social media ourselves but we do care to hear your voices.

We will mainly follow feedback in these two places:

You can send private comments to be read only by the strategy team at strategy@osmfoundation.org or you can write individually to Board members.

Due to our small team, we’d like comments to be in English. Machine translation from your language is fine. We have used https://translate.google.com and DeepL Translate: The world's most accurate translator successfully but there are many others that work well.

Many Thanks

Craig Allan, Sarah Hoffmann, Allan Mustard


The “Gender“ section reads a bit confused to me. It can’t seem to decide if it just refers to women (which is too often treated as just cis women), or if it wants to include everyone who’s not a man (which would include other genders too). If you want to limit yourself to just (cis) women, then you can take the references to “non-binaries” (?!) out. If you want to include all marginalized genders, then you can include a few other bits.

(language tip: “non-binaries” is not usually used as a noun like that, and reads funny :rofl:)


Thanks for this initiative!

I’d like to comment on the initiative(s) regarding recruitment, specifically aimed toward increasing participation in the OSMF working groups. In my experience (outside of OSM) in recruiting volunteers for nonprofit organizations, I found that a significant barrier to entry was not having a specific list of actionable tasks that the organization needed help with. In other words, people wanting to volunteer are more apt to raise their hand if they understand the specific needs that they could assist with. The idea of just joining an OSMF working group without specificity is fairly intimidating for ordinary participants in the project.

Therefore I would suggest that the strategy include developing and maintaining specific tasking that each working group is interested in tackling but cannot due to insufficient volunteers to work on it. This allows the OSMF to leverage motivated volunteers that are willing to help if directed to specific projects of interest. Further, this should be backed by a public relations push to advertise the need regularly and a routine review of the lists to ensure their continued relevance.

The creation of lists of desired tasks is itself a strategic initiative. It allows the organization to articulate how it thinks about the future state of OSM based on a description of the initiatives needed to get there. It also reduces the perception that working group participation is an unreasonable workload and reveals to potential participants where their skill sets may apply. Additionally, it gives a launch point for the future should the OSMF decide that a working group initiative would be a better candidate for paid work.


amanda - We are aware and working on it. We will contact you directly with a proposal for revising the wording.



While I would agree that better working relationships with “humanitarian” organisations is something to strive for, I’m rather surprised that here the OSMF is simply repeating the narrative of the “humanitarian” mapping businesses and blaming its members and the wider OSM community for effects that can be directly linked to weaknesses in these organisations business models.

That there are incidental conflicts between overprotective mappers and new mappers is normal and is addressed in earlier items in the document. But it is neither the local mappers nor the “recruits” fault that they are systematically put in these situations at scale, it has to be owned by the organisations propagating such models (and making a pretty penny off it btw).

As to imports, this item seems to lack any justification outside of that relaxing the rules (which are overall far too lenient) would make it easier for the “humanitarian” organisations to offer privileged access to OSM. Have they ever done anything that would warrant that?


“Strategy B3” seems missing (?)

Not really. We retained the original numbering from early drafts rather than renumber the entire document, that’s all. The content of B3 ended up in other sections. Knowing that the document would go through multiple additional revisions, it wasn’t worth the effort to renumber the entire document before sending it out for comment.

B501 - the quote there is not really representative of the study. Here’s a larger quote:

[…] Since then scholarly interest in gender and VGI has been conspicuously absent and seemingly abandoned. Instead, limited evidence, both anecdotal and empirical, suggests that
current debates around gender in VGI play out predominantly in online forums and are focused on
overcoming hostility and creating acceptance of diversity within male dominated virtual online mapping environments, the prospect of which has been identified as a factor in alienating women from adopting technology more generally. These efforts perhaps deflect attention away from attempting to understand the real value of widening participation, a step-change which is inherent within the rhetoric around gender and VGI.

The study wasn’t about things said on forums. The reference for “current debates” that they give is “email correspondence”, “workshop discussion/participant observation”, “Mumble discussion”.

Whilst I appreciate the reason for doing it, it’s a real shame to put the onus on the submitter to translate into English for you. It certainly doesn’t fit well with “Task B402: Address language barriers”. Given that it’s likely that the people collating any comments are likely to have a broader range of translation tools available, why not allow people to submit in their own language and translate them as they come in? In addition, there’s a potential for nuance to be lost if you never see the pre-translated version, and there’s no way to check the original text later if there is any doubt.


I have to agree with this. The narative in Strategy B10: Humanitarian Mapping looks quite bias in favor of business partners. What makes the redactors write « humanitarian organizations have experienced hostility from OSM members. » ?

It seems that the redactors dont know the history of Humanitarian mapping at OSM, how engaged volunteers did organize and had great success with the major OSM disaster responses from 2011 to 2015 developped workfows and coordination with humanitarian NGO’s and UN organisations. Why this stopped suddenly in 2015 and now replaced with a business model where HOT and MissingMaps did not want to continue with the working group model used since 2010 where volunteers had a great participation ?

I agree that humanitarian corporative partners have developped a more business oriented model wiith corporative voluntarism. They should accept to discuss orientations with the OSM community like it was done before 2015. Many mapping projects main objective since 2015 was to estimate the population in a territory for vaccination campaigns. While NGO’s were satisfied with population estimates, the OSM community was quite insatisfied with the multitude of projects creating a high level of quality problems.

Our partners agree that the quality of mapped buildings is a problem but have difficulty to manage both Starting new projects and go back to previous projects dissiminated in development countries where the local mappers dont have the ressources to correct quality problems.

New tools developped at HOT might help in the future. But other then software, organisation and training are important dimensions with a constant flow of thousand of newbies mapping once.

Redactors of the OSMF Strategy 2023 should not take for granted these accusations from some humanitarian partners and should instead find propositions of mediation between engaged / experienced OSM contributors and business partners.


Thanks for this, Brian! I’m happy to work on this as diversifying WGs is one of my main mandate as part of the board. However, I am prioritizing revising the Local Chapters criteria and application (as well as working with LCCWG re improving (community) Affiliation models in OSM) for Q2; but I hope to also formulate something re: WGs participation, and hope to prioritize it in the next quarter.

Thanks for reminding us, Andy. Will push this in the board to consider. We welcome feedback in any language and will use machine translators to understand them; however, there might be inconsistencies depending on the accuracy of the machine translators (I found deepL to be 95% accurate in the languages it offers; compared to Google or Microsoft), so we might need help for clarification.

I’m the only one notice the following underlining trend here of defending a heavily authoritarian approach instead of address the root of complains: the document endorses the idea that OSMF would be free to take sides in local disputes by choose interventions (uses the name “moderators”) with unlimited rights of what is allowed to be talked in public? Really?

I’m sorry, but one of the know issues is exactly the misuse of local chapters to become not just a health promoter of OpenStreetMap, but a economic operator (which then have incentives to compete/hostilitie anyone on region it operates). One of the worst examples (which sometimes is used as example of country which OpenStreetMap started to be used for humanitarian action) of it was Haiti, as explained here https://lists.openstreetmap.org/pipermail/osmf-talk/2020-December/007515.html by another OSMF member on a broader discussion that at that time was not even considering the chance of local capters could have power to censor content. Quote from the main list:

Haiti provided an example of how bad things can go when one association
(COSMHA - Communauté OSM Haiti mostly based in Port-Au-Prince area) had
been active as a de facto LC and a de facto “economic operator” providing
paid services around OSM. Over time, volunteerism tended to disappear or be
very limited to the extent that the association operated solely under a
business logic for the only benefits of some of its members. In parallel,
tensions grew within the membership resulting into its shrinking and its
control by a few. Entry in the association was made difficult. The internal
democracy was limited. The association through its de facto OSMF chapter
role seeked control over all OSM activities (community, association and
business) in the island. This resulted into violent relations with
individuals and other groups (in Port-Au-Prince, Saint-Marc or
North/North-East) around any community volunteering activities as well as
around economic opportunities. Tensions were such that certain mappers
stopped their OSM activity or left the island in 2013. The overall resulted
into less volunteer community-based activities, a dependence on economic
project for any activity and a shrinking of the number of active local
mappers. COSMHA shrunk over time, in members and activities in parallel
with the scarcity of economic activities, the association being incapable
to keep members and attract new ones. The same pattern with differences
though applied to other Haitian OSM groups. Of course Haiti is specific but
some of the above-laid out dynamics are common in the world of associations
in French-speaking African countries. And we shall have this in minds while
considering to merge business and OSMF LC logics into one single entity. We
shall also think about how LC dynamics can also affect in return the OSMF
and contribute to changes in the proven and successful governance model of
the OSM ecosystem based on a small OSMF and LC.

By the way, neither Haiti nor countries in Africa are the only examples of bad thing happening of abuse of influence of local chapters (often the ones not accepted as local chapters because of past complains), however this proposal attempt to grant powers to local chapters that not even OSMF is expected to influence at global level since is expected to be neutral. If necessary, later I could bring far more examples of it. The point here is in no case, just by using the name “humanitarian” any special right to ignore good practices should be tolerated.

Other comments

The @PierZen already mentioned the obvious issue about this text being heavily biased towards business partners of OSMF. This, again, is against expected neutrality of OSMF, which is absurd to even be on a draft like this one.

And @SimonPoole commented about conflicts of mappers to humanitarian organized editing be the… way the organized editing is done! I’m sorry, but in special for mission critical use, the data quality, and in fact often OSM data is used to revalidate other datasets (or is used directly, such as offline use with OsmAnd), this decision alone would cause chaos on data pipelines in such way that could trigger data users to either forget use OSM data or survey entire country, because no data point become trusted anymore. As example, I’ve been reading about the HealsitesIO attempt to bulk import data, but they didn’t done (at least on Brazil, often the points are geocoded likely with Nominatim or Goog Maps API, so obviously not ready for bulk import when streets and house numbers are incomplete). If any Humanitarian-like organization would be allowed to bulk import reckless, this would easily cause chaos here. About data ready to be imported, even potential the imports from USA (which could have spatial accuracy) for PoIs often need review, so is absurd what the daft is proposing. My argument is that conflation itself is a very hard task, and tolerance to allow reckless behavior by organizers that don’t even live in the regions plus potential censorship of complains (such as being paying partner of any potential corrupt local chapter) will, because the way OSM data is used often as it is by generic apps (often cached by significant time for offline use), kill people such when used with routing for PoIs that don’t exist.

To finish my comment: the individual right to a person be offend does not override the collective rights, e.g., the potential damage on lives of those who are indirect data users, which in several regions (despite undocumented in the Wiki) actually include even emergency response to find places they don’t know already. The less likely major competitions (e.g. Goog Maps) have better coverage in any region, the more likely OSM-related apps already be in use at least by government, and the people who add/edit data are very careful to not break things.


It has taken me many hours to read through the “Strategy Cluster B”
document and write down my commentary. I became a bit grumpy towards the
end but thankfully you placed your chapter on humanitarian mapping there
so that was a good match.

I can only guess how many more hours you must have spent writing all
this and I respect that. Thank you for sharing it and asking for
feedback. Here’s mine.

First of all, I would like to advise strongly against scope creep. In my
opinion, the OSMF must limit itself to what is essential to the project.
Any attempts to cater to “extra” stuff is going to up-size the
organisation and invariably lead to the OSMF controlling much more than
it should. You’ll end up having to hire an executive director and a
handful of staff to work under them if you want to achieve everything
you mention here (and from this being the “Cluster B”, I assume there
must be others). This, in turn, will significantly raise your monetary
footprint, and you’ll need to lick the boots of those who pay for this.

Your question to the community should not be “which of these should we
prioritize” but “which of these are essential”, with a view to dropping
all others (respectively putting them out to volunteer tender).

B1 “Volunteer working groups”

The assessment is correct.

B101 “Membership recruitment and retention”

Sounds sensible, though not all working groups will cherish the annual
reminder mentioned here.

B102 “Communication about Working Groups”

Verdict: somewhat ok

Good idea but this item relies on CWG being up to the task. Could be a
lot of work.

B103 “Best Practices and Onboarding”

Verdict: waste of time

Many working groups will not have a single person who even knows what
“best practices” means. This sounds to me like a boilerplate solution a
management person would come up with, and out of touch with reality.

B104 “Working Group Membership drive”

Verdict: somehwat ok

Sensible idea but of course needs liaison with working groups to know
what to advertise for.

B2 “Community strategy”

I strongly advise to steer clear of anything remotely sounding like
“community management”. If the OSMF tries to “manage” the community that
has created the OSMF in the first place, we’re succumbing to a business
approach that is unsuitable for OSM.

B201 “Focus on local knowledge and distributed intelligence”

Verdict: ok but has issues

Lots of text here for something that should really just be headlined
“Support for creating local chapters”? I am on board with offering
support to budding local chapters where there’s a vibrant bona-fide
community. I am however strictly against the OSMF going down a checklist
of countries with a goal of “checking every country”. As we have seen in
the past, there can be unsuitable bids for local chapters essentially
controlled by one single corporate, academic, or humanitarian actor and
in these cases we want to be able to say no - the OSMF is not there to
lend credibility to an existing enterprise.

I find a “deliverable” measured in numbers of new chapters per year
extremely problematic as it will encourage you to wave through
questionable applications just to show that you have met your goals.
Don’t do that. You must be comfortably able to reject support.

B203 “Provide opportunities for more structured input to project
direction and topics”

Verdict: waste of time

Since when does the OSMF consider the running of its affairs “corporate
governance”? I find that a very poor choice of words. It might be my
non-native English but I would ask you to choose your words carefully
since there might be many other non-native speakers getting the wrong
idea here.

The potential democratic issue in letting local chapters influence OSMF
affairs is that I can be a member of both organisations, the OSMF and my
local chapters, and thereby increase my influence. It might come to a
point where individual membership in the OSMF is only possible for
people who are not in a local chapter. It is of course ok to ask for
local chapters to make a report, but keep in mind that the report will
not necessarily reflect the view of the majority of local chapter
members (depending on which local chapters get how much influence). But
on the whole I think this is a waste of time - let the local chapters
come to you with ideas, rather than ask them to convene a panel to write
up ideas.

B204 “Promote local groups and events”

Verdict: meh

Duplicates some text already in the B2 introduction.

The text in this task is not about promoting local groups and events but
about translation and moderation.

I’ve been with OSM since it started as an English-only project and
sometimes I think that if the OSMF continued to be English-only, and
left everything non-English to local chapters and groups, some things
might actually be easier for everyone involved. I think that in the long
run it is not manageable for the OSMF to engage in all languages, and
difficult to select which languages to support and which not, and it
would be good to try and offload this responsibility. So that we come to
a point where we can say “you want support for language#144? no problem,
here’s the list of things you need to find volunteers for, go ahead” and
maybe “and here’s a little funding to help you get this off the ground”.

The deliverable of “translation of surveys into at least 14 languages”
without mentioning them sounds a bit silly but I guess behind the scenes
these 14 languages exist as a list and you just didn’t include them for

Applaud the cautious tone regarding content moderation.

B205 “Give better visibility to community content.”

Applaud the honesty in admitting that you don’t know what it is you want
to do :wink:

B4 Cross-border and cross-cultural collaboration

B401 “Support SOTM and support local SOTMs”

Verdict: ok but has issues

The term “forward-leaning” is not universally understandable.

The deliverable of “about a dozen annual or biennial local/regional
SOTMs” is not a sensible choice since it is not in the board’s control
how many such SOTMs come to pass - don’t set yourself deliverables that
you cannot conceivably deliver on.

B402 “Address language barriers”

Verdict: Meh

See comments on B204.

You are too obsessed with surveys. In my opinion they should be 1% of
what you’re doing and not 10%.

B403 “Address cultural barriers”

Verdict: not worth including in a strategic document

Unsure what this adds over B204. A moderator on an international list
who is not sensitive to cultural issues is an unsuitable moderator. So
essentially this reads “Make sure moderators are suitable”, which is
kind of obvious.

B404 “Address trust and safety in communication, define role of local
chapters in moderation”

Verdict: platitude

I think that un-critically parroting the tale of new members being
“driven away” by “a few disruptive community members” is not suitable
for a strategy document. With OSM becoming more popular, we’ll have more
and more “new members” that we need to drive away because they’re not
sharing our values. If you want to talk about people being driven away,
please balance it with words about legitimate interests of quality
assurance by the existing community.

Also if you want to talk about “toxic communications” make it clear what
exactly that means. It must become clear that “toxic” cannot mean
“anything that someone might be offended by”. It must become clear that
quite frequently, the problem lies with those taking offense because
their contributions are criticised.

As it stands, this task just slightly more than a no-op - you’re
promising those who whine about toxic communication that you’re hearing
them but you’re not really doing anything. Still, you’re entrenching the
idea of poor newbies being hounded by a toxic community with this
paragraph and I think you shouldn’t do that.

B5 Gender diversity

This is presented in a funny formatting with some sub-tasks not having
received a headline. I will comment by sub-task:

B501 “Develop a policy to promote gender diversity within the OSM movement”

Verdict: A hodgepodge of ideas, some problematic

I find it extremely problematic that an attempt is made to use the
crowbar of “we want more women to participate” to undermine our credo of
“local knowledge is best”.

To me, it is absolutely undeniable that a street-level survey makes a
better map than armchair mapping. This is also, I believe, featured in
the OSM core values at
Mission Statement - OpenStreetMap Foundation where it says:
“OSM favours objective Ground Truth over all other sources”

If the board really thinks that women are less suitable for street-level
surveys, then what is the board’s vision? That women should stand in the
second row, in the comfort of their homes, doing menial tasks tracing
stuff from aerial imagery, so that the men can then go out and to the
dangerous work?

Is this really what the board is thinking? Please say no.

It is clear that not all women will want to go out and survey in all
areas. The same is true for men. Then again, even the roughest area will
have its “locals” - of any gender - who can move in the community
unharmed. I think you are achieving the absolute opposite of what you
want with your words here. I think what you write here sounds like “a
woman’s place is at home, not out there doing dangerous things like

I think that OSM is a project with certain characteristics. There are
certain things we do, that make us OSM. These are echoed, perhaps
imperfectly, in our “Mission Statement”. I think that our attempts at
gender diversity should extend to welcoming people of all genders to our
it turns out that people of some genders statistically like our project
less, and prefer to spend their time on other hobbies, than that’s
perfectly fine. But we shouldn’t be asking “how can we change our core
values so that we become equally attractive to all genders”. This is not
the right approach to gender diversity.

On a technical note, B501 is headlined “develop a strategy…” but
doesn’t actually say anything about developing a strategy. The points
that are mentioned seem to be a somewhat headless collection and don’t
sound like a strategy at all.

B502 SDRP and iD presets

Verdict: ok but has issues

The existence of the SDRP has helped to calm tensions.

I find it quite the stretch of imagination to assume that somehow
“broader application of iD presets” will increase the participation of
women but I’m rarely ever using iD at all so who am I to say. If you
continue down this line of arguing then you will probably at some point
be able to justify almost everything by saying it’s good for gender

B503 Funding for software projects

Verdict: sounds fishy

The naming of one particular software project (that I never heard of -
“Women Mobile Application”) in this part of the strategy document sounds
a bit as if someone has done their friends a favour. You should stick to
a more generic wording like “funding of gender-inclusive software
projects” and you should clearly say who decides on funding and how the
success of such funding will be measured.

B504 SOTM stipends

Verdict: needs more thought, clearer wording

Does this mean that the board will allocate extra funds in excess of
what the SotM conference allocates for their travel grant programme, or
does this mean that the board will attempt to steer how the SotM team do
their work? Also “cover travel expenses” should be qualified in some
form, maybe “contribute to…”, or else people will expect too much.
Also make it clear that a presentation at SotM must first be accepted by
the programme committee before the speaker is eligible for travel
support, or else you’ll get lots of applications where the presentation
is below-par for the conference. (This is not something I have made up
as those of you involved in past conference planning must certainly know.)

B505 Webinars

Verdict: sounds ok

“consider applications” is not a high hurdle. I would suggest to try and
combine any funding with some kind of measure of success.

B6 Community relations

The introductory sentence is problematic because without any discussion
it gives the users of a map the position of “stakeholder in the mapping
process”. For me this is not true. If your local butcher gives away free
sausages and you go get one, are you then a “stakeholder” in the sausage

By listing “users” and “corporations” in the introductiory sentence
under “Community relations”, this section implicitly makes these groups
part of the “community”. This is not my use of the word “community”.

B601 Maintain Volunteer (including Working Group) relations

Verdict: needs more thought

I welcome and understand the ideas in this section however I don’t see
how a working group should “sign” something since membership in working
groups can be fluid - how often would a working group get to change
their minds?

I also think that the mixing of the “working group” and “biennial
survey” topics is strange - is there a plan to have the survey somehow
formally inform working group mandates, or why are the two issues put in
one task?

B602 Maintain Corporate relations

Verdict: yuck

I can see how the OSMF needs to cater to those who bankroll the
organisation however when I read words like “corporations are major and
important sources of … mapping contributions” and that they could be
“tapped for expertise”, and when I compare that with the actual map
content and activities that we have seen in the past, I shudder.

I think that any statement about corporate relations must have some
qualifying wording about the alignment of interests. We can work with
corporations as long as we have a common goal but the overall goal of
all these corporations is NOT the well-being of OSM. In most cases they
don’t even understand what OSM is about. What you’re writing here is
that we need to listen to them - but should they not also listen to us?
You write (good!) “two-way communication” but then “RECEIPT” of
actionable feedback - when more often than not it is us who should be
giving actionable feedback to them!

I think that you are going to far in distancing yourselves from
legitimate voices in the community by writing “hostility from certain
members of the OSM community”. If you look at past haphazard involvement
of corporations with OSM, they have earned every bit of skepticism they
receive. More often than not, corporate players have treated us with at
best neglicence and at worst they have lied to our faces. This troubled
history should not be glossed over with a story of a few “certain
hostile individuals”.

Where’s the language about volunteers being driven away by corporate
mapping in OSM? These cases exist - who is the lobby of these mappers if
not the OSMF?

If you could put in some wording here that says the advisory board also
has the role of guiding corporations towards making constructive
contributions to OSM that sit well with the wider community of mappers,
that would be very welcome.

B603 Maintain Data user relations

Verdict: out of scope

I don’t think the OSMF should concern itself with data users. Because
what should be the result? If data users say they want more building
footprints in OSM then… the OSMF will import them? If data users say
they don’t care for tree species being mapped then… the OSMF will
discourage that?

If you really do want to include an item like this in your plan, then
also mention that users be educated about their rights and
responsibilities arising from the ODbL license - since the lack of
proper attribution is the #1 gripe that our volunteers have with users.

B7 Empowering volunteers

B701 provide education and training

Verdict: somewhat ok

Sometimes training material can be biased in some way - towards one
particular editor, one particular style of mapping, etc.; there is some
potential for friction here. Maybe as the first step it would be enough
to have a directory/collection of stuff that has been made by various
volunteers. Could also include promotional materials like leaflets.

B703 Provide curated tags proposal

Verdict: dear god no

It is not OSMF’s business to tell people what to map, or how. Also I am
troubled by the “rule by survey” attitude to many things.

B704 Provide dialogue moderation

Verdict: duplicate

This duplicates B204 and it begins to sound like you’re really obsessed
with moderation.

B705 Provide infrastructure for training, testing and development

Verdict: needs more work

You will have to be clearer on what components the sandbox should
include. The editing API already exists as a sandbox, with a more or
less empty database. The most common issue is that no rendering server
exists that is fed by this sandbox. However, some uses might also
require a Nominatim or Overpass service that works with the sandbox data.

I’m not sure this is something the OSMF needs to do; a well-funded local
chapter could do it just as well since it does not need integration with
OWG resources.

B8 Undertake OSMF strategic planning process

B801 Seek community commentary on the strategic planning document

Verdict: accomplished

Mine is hereby given.

B802 Perform structured community surveys for input

Verdict: wary

I am wary on how often you speak of surveys. I think that it would be in
many ways more “honest” to simply make decisions and be accountable for
them, rather than seek strength in numbers. Surveys, in my opinion, can
easily fail because of bad wording, leading questions (how will you
verify none of the 14+ languages has them?) or a bias in who
participates (e.g. because people in one country have largely been
informed through one specific NGO’s mailing list or so). I acknowledge
that you only write you will “survey” the community and not you will
“let the community decide”, but still.

B803 Directly reach out with questions to stakeholders

Verdict: must they?

You write “other stakeholders exist, and they must be consulted as
well”, but do they? Who says that?

I think it cannot hurt to talk to a wide array of people but you must
not lose focus on who runs OSM. It’s not the users that do, and neither
the NGOs.

B804 Prepare and revise OSMF Strategic Plan
B805 Project manage the implementation of the strategic plan

Verdict: meh

Sounds like boilerplate management speak.

B9 Regular OSM Community Surveys

See various comments above on surveyism. I do not agree with “The Board
needs to commit to structured surveys conducted at regular intervals.”

B901 Regular structured surveys

Verdict: somewhat ok

I think that a simple, limited survey that focuses mostly on demographic
issues - where are you from, age, gender, how long in OSM, what brought
you here, etc. - can help measure the success or failure of diversity

I don’t believe in “what do you think the board should be doing”-type of

B10 Humanitarian Mapping

It is important to understand that in the context of OSM, humanitarian
mapping organisations are often not much different from corporate
mapping actors. They often vastly surpass OSM itself in budget which is
something that needs to be kept in mind when dealing with their requests.

B1001 Humanitarian mapping

Verdict: sloppy writing, condescending attitude

In this section you are parroting talking points by humanitarian
organisations. The fact that you do questions the whole process of how
this strategy document was created. I would ask you to trace how exactly
the sentences

“Hostile behaviour by OSM members towards beginning mappers recruited by
humanitarian organizations when they make neophyte mistakes has the
effect of driving them away from the project.”


“Humanitarian organisations wanting to import data from government and
NGO sources willing to donate such data are often met with hostility,
preventing contributions of useful data. Current import guidelines are
cumbersome and bulk imports are hard to get approved.”

have found their way into an official strategy document by the OSMF
board and to refine your process in a way that blunders like this cannot
happen any more. These statements are a slap in the face of hard-working
volunteers cleaning up after humanitarian efforts, of those who spend
countless hours reviewing import proposals, and of board and working
group members who have created and approved the current organised
editing guidelines.

If anything, these statements should have been clad in a huge “some
people from humanitarian organisations that we spoke to have claimed
that…” wrapper, but they should never have been put into a strategy
document as if they were a fact and/or the board’s opinion.

I can hardly believe that this has even been proof-read, let alone
approved, by a board majority. It is really, really very condescending
and no OSMF board should ever publicly make such claims without solid
prior research.

A frequent success indicator for humanitarian mapathons - often
advertised with “no prior knowledge required” - is “engagement”. The
more people you get to participate in your mapathon, the greater your
success. Nobody asks how many contributions later had to be fixed by
“validators” or the wider OSM community, or how many had to be reverted.
In a two-hour “no prior knowledge required” event, you can’t spend one
hour explaining how to map properly. This is a systemic problem in
humanitarian mapping - too often it tries to present itself as the
low-barrier-to-entry-adventure to make the world a better place. It is
not hostile OSMers who drive away well-meaning mappers, it’s
humanitarian organisation sending newbies towards OSM with insufficient
training to drive up their “engagement” numbers. It’s an “eternal
September” by design, and humanitarian organisations advertising for
such mapathons have no right to complain - they are setting their
contributors up to fail with false promises.

B1002 iD editor needs building tool and better presets

Verdict: let them pay for it

Humanitarian organisations far exceed OSM in budget. Suggest to collect
requirements and then ask them to fund.

B1003 Make imports easier

Verdict: dear god no

Humanitarian organisations have a history of importing low-quality data
under a rallying call of “people might die”. Yet when you see their
presentations to possible donors they will always underline how OSM is
this great global project with such huge engagement.

Were they to import their data into a tiny little database only used for
disaster prevention in some region, without the global reach that OSM
has, their proposal would be less interesting.

Humanitarian organisations have more than enough funds to make good
quality imports that meet the standards of the OSM community. If they
would like to create a lesser-quality database, they are free to do that
but not with OSM.

It is problematic enough to have western organisations dictate how
mapping is done in the Global South, but importing data that wouldn’t
pass muster elsewhere gives the recipients a “second-class OSM”. This
cannot be what we want.

Let me stress again, the fact that this talking point even made it onto
your list unquestioned is a clear sign of a flawed process. Please do
not repeat this mistake.


General observation

The document quotes many external documents, claims and facts, but does not contain references that would make it possible to locate the original source. I’m not a fan of turning every document in to an academic paper lookalike, but the absence of any reasonable way to verify statements made in this document undermines its value quite substantially.

Examples: “A 2019 academic study”, “Women Mobile Application”

PS: a corollary to this is that statements of fact that are only based on hearsay should not be included in the document.



This contains a substantial misframing of the academic paper referenced there. The paper (https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10708-019-10035-z) does not state that “underrepresentation of women is in part a consequence of how” “…current debates around gender in VGI play out predominantly in online forums…” it simply observes that current debates on the topic are centred around that topic (just as I may note the document we are discussing here) and then goes on to explain why they are doing something else.

Anton already pointed this out in OSMF Strategy 2023 - #8 by Anton_Khorev, sorry.


General observation - quantitive deliverables without measurement protocol

In numerous places the document proposes deliverables that are based on a measurement of a quantifiable entity, for example “Reduction in toxic communications in OSMF-sponsored communication channels and social media.” However none of them specify a measurement protocol and base line numbers that such a measurement could be compared to, making delivering the deliverable a purely subjective exercise.


Appreciate the board inviting feedback! I’ve only made it to B5 so far (this is a lot of text!), but I’ll already share my comments on the first half of the document:

  • B201: Creating additional institutions or organizational structures, including new local chapters, has a cost in terms of volunteer effort. It is only a net positive in the right circumstances; notably the prior existence of a sufficiently large and engaged local community. A growing number of local chapters could be a positive signal if it is indeed the organic result of more grassroots contribution activity, but I would personally not treat it as a goal.

  • B205: There are opportunities to make already-existing community content more visible, e.g. by renovating and promoting blogs.openstreetmap.org (which is a mix of posts from the OSMF blog, user diaries, and community blogs), or improving the visibility to sites like this forum and the OSM wiki on osm.org. Not sure these are board-level strategy concerns, though.

  • B405: While the Discourse platform is indeed up and running, I hope the board remains commited to support the continued improvement of this platform. For example, we are still figuring out what to do with help.osm.org, and there are various feature requests which would require admin or developer resources to implement (e.g. improved support for non-English languages, or better integration with other OSM resources). As mentioned before, this site is also not very discoverable for visitors of the osm.org front page, and we haven’t yet started in earnest to invite communities currently based on mailing lists to move onto this site.

  • B502: I’m not familiar with the “Women Mobile Application”. But given that you “currently have no information on this app so a description of the app is not possible”, and that the community likewise lacks the necessary public information to form an informed opinion, its inclusion in this strategy document feels premature.



This item seems to be rather confusing. It would seem to implicitly expand the OSMFs charter to control and direct “the project”, which most readers will assume means OSM. If the “the project” and corporate governance is really intended to refer to the OSMF, I would suggest this needs to be made clear.


Quoting from https://wiki.osmfoundation.org/wiki/Cluster_B

Task B405: Provide modern, open communication platforms

  • Note: The OSMF has fully implemented the Discourse based community discussion platform so this task is now completed.

Does the OSMF really believe that this task is “completed”, even though the migration is very much incomplete? The Discourse software doesn’t support the migration of the help site yet, and many old forums sit in limbo; the evidence would suggest that the moderation rules that have been put in place are too onerous for some communities and it appears that the global moderation team is unwilling to take them on.