OSMF Strategy 2023

I’m curious, what would ‘getting deprecation back under control’ entail precisely? I agree it definitely presents a problem for data consumers and newer mappers who are not as informed to the utility issues of various tags, but I would be afraid of stifling community innovation.

the fun part is that it depends on person: it can mean “stop deprecating any established tags” or even “stop any deprecations at all, anything like that is illegitimate” to “we need framework for large scale deprecations so we can deprecate many tags, including ones that are widely used”


Innovation tends to take place in new tagging, most deprecation is renaming existing tags or slight modifications. Not saying that the later shouldn’t be possible, just that it needs to take place with consideration of existing use, which includes no stealth changing of semantics, and reasonable lead times for change.


Does anyone have a compelling reason why I should not move this to the ‘Foundation’ category instead of general?


Moved to ‘Foundation’ category.

For an in-depth discussion of the problem, see this section of a thread from last year: “What was previously a primary feature now became an attribute to another tag”.

For an example of the sort of code that results from this sort of change, here’s some for “is it an embassy or just a diplomatic office”. Confusingly, “office” is also referenced on the “diplomatic” wiki pages as a tag value but it’s also of course a main tag for many objects.

Another example is the change to the “amenity=charging_station” definition, as I pointed out here. I don’t disagree that there was a problem, but for a proposal to be approved that doesn’t allow data consumers to tell old-style and new-style examples seems something of an omission.

Edited 13/5/2023 to add a couple of other examples of “deprecation” issues: here and here.


The 2021 community survey indicated that the OSM community is only 8 percent women

Yes, this is an important problem in OSM.

The same survey showed about 2.5% nonbinary & others, and you haven’t mentioned it. I’ve been following trans & nonbinary spaces for years, and this is an impressive figure that we should be proud of.

It important to recognise our flaws, but also our achievements. Some people want to constantly bash OSM, to talk about how horrible we are. Especially when it comes to “diversity”. It’s unbalanced to only talk about the bad things. Why can’t we be proud of the ways OSM is diverse and open and welcoming? Why do some people only want to complain?


For example, there are now hundreds of communication channels in use now. There is no way this is effective. This community is amazing, and gets stuff done anyway, but I would be very surprised if there isn’t a data-backed way to simplify things. The world’s advertising and social media companies are extremely good at deploying digital media communications to meet their goals. The data for this exists. What if OSM used it to establish an updated community communications process and protocols.

OSM thrives through the diversity of its community.

To capture the value of that diversity - the knowledge of millions of people about their home towns and the places they visit - it needs to meet people where they are.

For the Philippines, for example, that might be Telegram. For the US, it might be Slack. For the older family demographic, it might be Facebook. For the gamer demographic, it might be Discord. For the hacker demographic, it might be IRC.

Mandating a one-size-fits-all approach to communication would steamroller that diversity in favour of a (probably Western, college-educated, middle class dominated) monoculture. If we decide “ok, we’re centralising on Discord or whatever from now on”, we inevitably lose the diverse knowledge of people from cultures and demographics for whom that’s not a natural fit.

OSM has always taken an approach of “let a thousand flowers bloom”. Sometimes flowers die - like, slowly and inexorably, many of the mailing lists are doing. Sometimes they flower briefly and colourfully and are then never seen again. That’s fine. It doesn’t stop us planting new seeds and it doesn’t mean we have to cut down the whole rich biodiversity to sow one single hardy perennial.


focusing on “UPDATED Strategy B5: Gender diversity”

IMHO: The current strategy calls for a thorough re-evaluation:

  • In its present form, it is based on a one-dimensional approach (gender) and does not take into account OSM’s diversity statement, which prefers a multi-dimensional or deep-diversity categorization, where sex/gender is just one among many.
  • The current proposal segregates men and excludes them from the process. It even strengthens the negative stereotype that men are the cause of gender inequality.
  • It fails to consider that there are various reasons for the existing gender inequality. For example, it could be a result of societal division of labor, as traditionally women have less free time due to their roles in family and household tasks.
    • gender research 2019: "women perceived OSM editing as a time-consuming activity. Therefore time factors featured significantly as both a barrier to female participation "
  • Preferring a one-dimensional gender focus: In many local OSM cultures, this approach can lead to polarization and conflicts, causing dilemmas within the local OSM community about whether to embrace the conflict or not.

so I propose “B5: Emphasizing Inclusive Interactions”

In a nutshell: The emphasis should shift from just gender to fostering equitable, inclusive interactions, irrespective of an individual’s gender identity.

  • The focus should be on families and underrepresented groups!
    • This approach allows every local OSM community to adapt based on their unique cultural understanding of ‘underrepresented groups’. Each community can identify which groups need focus and, in a situation where the ‘pro-gender’ vs. ‘anti-gender’ conflict is highly polarized, the community can choose to focus on universally supported causes, such as assisting wheelchair users. This way, support can be unified, regardless of political stance.
    • Emphasizing the family serves multiple purposes. For one, it appeals more broadly, including to those with conservative values, making OSM appear more value-neutral. In addition, the inclusion of spouses (or partners) and children in the OSM community inherently increases diversity.
      In a family or partnership, the relatively limited shared time can lead to conflicts. Therefore, if an active OSM editor’s partner can also attend events and enjoy their time there (maintaining the ‘fun factor’), many editors won’t have to make difficult decisions or choose between their family and OSM. This approach not only fosters inclusivity but also minimizes potential conflicts, encouraging a balance between personal commitments and contributions to the OSM community.
    • It would be beneficial if the ‘underrepresented groups’ (such as women, non-binaries, wheelchair users, etc.) didn’t have to compete against each other for financial and other forms of support. Instead, they should be able to assist each other and identify projects that are not only useful for their specific group but also applicable to others. If we’re not careful, the distribution of more funds and resources could exacerbate internal conflicts, something we should strive to prevent. Encouraging collaboration and shared objectives among these groups could lead to more effective utilization of resources and foster a more harmonious community.
  • Time-based approach: More efficient tools are needed for new community members with less free time.
  • mapping Intercultural differences / cultural diversity / OSM communication behaviors
  • Emphasis on congressive behaviors: This involves “prioritizing society and community over self, considering others’ perspectives more than imposing one’s own, stressing interdependence and interconnectedness, leaning more towards collaboration and cooperation than competition, and promoting careful thought processes.
    • see Eugenia Cheng proposal … collaboration, why do we reward individualism?
  • Emphasis on fun factor: About 99.9% of the community are volunteers who donate their free time to contribute to OSM; hence, let’s not forget to maintain the fun factor as recommended by Mary Poppins!" :slight_smile:
    • "In every job that must be done
      There is an element of fun
      You find the fun and snap!
      The job’s a game"
  • etc ,…

Disclaimer: I am a male residing in Hungary/Europe, a region characterized by polarization.

I like Eugenia Cheng proposal: "A Mathematician’s Manifesto for Rethinking Gender. "

"… Cheng proposes we take to gender inequality: to refrain from talking about intrinsic characteristics associated with gender and focus instead on a different dimension—the roles that certain behaviors play in various aspects of society. If we focus on roles and behaviors, she says, then we can treat people of all genders the same, by using the way a person behaves and relates to others as the basis for our decisions about how to treat that person.

To help bypass the problem that some “ways of relating” may be associated with a particular gender, Cheng recommends adopting a new vocabulary for describing behavior. She proposes the term ingressive behaviors for actions that involve “focusing on oneself over society and community, imposing on people more than taking others into account, emphasizing independence and individualism, [being] more competitive and adversarial than collaborative, [and] tending toward selective or single-track thought processes.” By contrast, congressive behaviors involve “focusing on society and community over self, taking others into account more than imposing on them, emphasizing interdependence and interconnectedness, [being] more collaborative and cooperative than competitive, [and] tending toward circumspect thought processes.” Particularly in the United States, ingressive behaviors are generally associated with men and congressive behaviors with women. But Cheng is careful to note that a person may behave ingressively in one context and congressively in another. Her view is that focusing on behavior is less divisive and more productive than talking about gender, and that taking an ungendered approach will thus likely help us move toward greater gender equality."


I agree with Richard:

As part of an international editing team that spans three continents, I generally do my best to adjust to their stated preference for communication platforms whenever possible. Right now the team members communicate fairly often and mandating a particular platform would kill their enthusiasm for reaching out. They would when necessary, but there would be less freely offered information, and what communications would occur would have less detail: a disaster for quality assurance.

Maybe your proposal does not amount to anything so severe as ‘centralizing on discord’ but I think any success at implementing a protocol would be limited. It would be akin to asking my Brazilian family to use Facebook instead of Instagram or asking my American family members to adopt WhatsApp en masse.

One of the reasons the OSM community has thrived is that it has allows people a high level of independence. They can upload their contributions, collaborating with whomever they want using the communications platforms they like without much fuss. This freedom must always be carefully balanced against any need for standardization. We must take care that people are not or do not feel stifled.


Now that replies have died down a bit, I wonder what happens next?

Is the intention for someone from the board to reply here, or will any replies be on the OSMF website after board discussion, or something else?


I hope their is at least a psuedo-formal reply on this thread.

1 Like

Thanks everyone for your feedback and opinion.

We have tabled this agenda (Strategic Plan) on next week’s board meeting. Board/Minutes/2023-05 - OpenStreetMap Foundation

Looking forward to a productive and actionable discussion.



I’ve held off on commenting on the plan itself because I haven’t wanted to interrupt the flow of comments. It’s a well-intentioned plan and I don’t really disagree with many of the specifics at all, though there’s a bit of a tendency to address the outcome rather than the underlying cause (particularly re: imports).

But the problem with the plan is that it is far too big.

OSMF is seven volunteer directors, most of whom are mapping enthusiasts rather than experienced charity directors; one part-time admin assistant; and one sysadmin. That’s it. This (just part one of four!) is a strategic plan for an organisation the size of the Wikimedia Foundation, or being kind, the Document Foundation (10 employees plus an executive director).

You, we, are not going to get a fraction of this done in five years. That isn’t a reflection on the competence or good nature of the OSMF board. It’s just a function of the size of the organisation - the number of held-over items in board minutes shows that OSMF is running at capacity even as it stands. The danger is that by trying to do everything, you actually achieve nothing.

OSMF is here to support but not control the project. “Support” means helping the community to do the things that will advance the project but which the community can’t do on its own. Identify a small number of these, and focus on them. I can think of three that in my view would be really obvious top priorities, but what I personally think isn’t the issue here. You need a plan that fits the capabilities of the organisation, and this isn’t it.


Related thread: Steve Coast's proposal for OSMF strategic plan

Yes, it is!

The list is long because it tries to capture the issues that have come up again and again as pain points that should be addressed. Can they all be addressed in the next 5 years? Likely not. Surely the board could simply pick its two favorites and present the community with faits accompli. In fact, it would be much less work. But remember that the choice of priorities can make a significant difference where OSM(F) goes in the next few years. That’s why we would like the community to have the opportunity to be part of the process of process. So when we asked “Which three strategems are very important?” we were really interested in your personal opinion about priorities.

The two weeks we had set for consultation are now over. We will compile a summary of the discussion and feedback we have received in the next view days. Some of you have pointed out some flaws in the way the cluster was organised. So we will put on hold for now the presentation of further clusters and instead look at reworking the document according to your inputs. As Arnalie already said, the board will also have a discussion during the next board meeting how we will proceed with the strategic discussion in general.

Personally, I’m quite happy with the lively feedback. I know that we are asking a lot to go through such a long document and it is good to see that so many of you have taken the time to read and comment.


extending my feedback about the diversity section, with 2 research + my personal notes.

1.) “The Gendered Geography of Contributions to OpenStreetMap: Complexities in Self-Focus Bias”

( May 2019 ) https://dl.acm.org/doi/fullHtml/10.1145/3290605.3300793

Practical Implications

Recruiting Male Contributors as Allies. Existing research has situated male and female OSM editors in a position in which we might expect a misalignment between their interest space. If this were true, a solution to any gender-based content disparity might be easy: attract more female editors. As our results show - this simply is not the case. Instead, our findings reveal that male users are cognizant of at least some of the feminized spaces, and they actively map those facilities. This contradicts the way many prior researchers have been formulating thoughts and discussion of potential improvements to the amount and quality of feminized spaces in OSM [51, 65, 68, 92]. In our dataset, female editors tended to map feminized places to a lesser extent than their male counterparts. As these spaces characterize important facilities for feminine health and nurturing of others, proper representation is necessary. However, our results point out that a straightforward solution like increasing female participation may not ensure increased representation of feminized spaces. We caution that our results should not be interpreted in a way that discourages higher levels of female participation. Rather we need to think critically about ways to increase coverage of under-represented facilities on OSM. One possible approach is the recruitment of male editors as “allies” along with more female participants and informing all editors of the state of the repository. Another solution may be to take the ”SuggestBot” approach [25] and design a content recommendation system that will seek contributors based on location, interests, skills, etc. For example, a local person who is probably aware of nearby childcare centers or maternity clinics may be asked to map those places irrespective of their gender.

2.) "Engaging Men in Women’s Empowerment”

in the research: “Seeing the World Through Maps: An Inclusive and Youth-Oriented Approach” Seeing the World Through Maps: An Inclusive and Youth-Oriented Approach | SpringerLink ( 2022 November )
Keywords : Gender; Equality; Women; Nepal ; Everywhere She Maps ; YouthMappers

“I have learned many things about Gender Equality and Equity. What allures me is “Engaging Men in Women’s Empowerment” which is a new thing to me. When I completed the training, I was fascinated by thinking about the dimension of the idea. If you want to empower women, you need to engage men in this campaign as women and men are essential parts of society.

3.) Personal note:

As a man, it feels good to be acknowledged that we too need to be part of the solution. I very much appreciate the proposed approach: “Engaging Men in Women’s Empowerment”.
This method can likely be used in other areas. It encourages those in privileged positions to help support and boost those with less power. An example of this could be “Encouraging Active Involvement of Westerners in Strengthening the Global South”

Growing up behind the Iron Curtain as an Eastern European, I was part of a peculiar social experiment. As a result, I tend to be more sensitive towards solutions that sound good in theory, but do not work in practice, compared to those from different cultural backgrounds. Because of this, I believe we should avoid zero-sum thinking and solutions, where someone always loses.

We should also steer clear of reverse discrimination as a tool to disrupt the perceived status quo.

In essence, some form of safeguard is needed to ensure that the OSMF Diversity Statement is not weaponized to exclude other groups. The Diversity Statement should be a framework for inclusion and mutual respect, rather than a tool for exclusion.


(First off, my English is terrible and I’m relying on machine translation, so I hope you’ll take this in the broad sense rather than the fine print.)
Are we done discussing this? :wink:
I don’t want to derail the discussion, so I’d like to add one thing very carefully.

I greatly appreciate and applaud the attention and efforts of the foundation and the moderators towards contributors who speak non-mainstream languages and regions with fewer contributors.
I believe that efforts from the bottom up are as important as interest and efforts from the top.
I believe that without effort from below, it’s hard for the effort from above to shine and be sustained.
However, for various reasons, the will of the foundation does not seem to be conveyed equally to everyone.
And the thoughts of the contributors also don’t seem to converge properly.
(Of course, the language barrier seems to be the biggest obstacle.)
I don’t know what areas have a large number of contributors using mainstream languages, but most areas with few contributors using non-mainstream languages are isolated and edited by themselves and disappear suddenly, and only a few remain with continuous editing.
I’m trying to keep the overall discussion in my own community and the discussion within the community converging, but I’d appreciate it if the foundation would consider this a bit more.
Thank you.

I greatly appreciate and applaud the attention and efforts of the foundation and the moderators towards contributors who speak non-mainstream languages and regions with fewer contributors.

I am pretty sure English is a mainstream language in this sense, but would you mind to clarify which other languages are “mainstream“?
Chinese, Russian, Arab? French, Spanish, Portuguese? German? Italian, Polish, Turkish? Hindi?

I think his meaning is not really related to “language” but rather to all the small communities.