OSMF Strategy 2023

Further quoting from https://wiki.osmfoundation.org/wiki/Cluster_B

Strategy B10: Humanitarian Mapping

Task B1001: Humanitarian mapping

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. (Proposed Task B1003)

What is the source of this statement? If it was true I’d expect to see lots of entries at https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Import/Catalogue that with a status of “Dropped” with information as to why, when in fact very few are in that status, and none obviously fit this description. Presumably there were a number of actual concrete examples that led to this sentence being written - does anyone know what they were?


There seem to be a lot of imports going on that are not listed in the import catalogue, so you will not see the whole picture looking only at that page.

The HOT Tasking Manager currently lists 123 projects when searching for import.

There are also imports documented extensively in the wiki that are not linked in the catalogue:

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Put bluntly, the rules that OSM has in place around imports are there for a reason - to stop well-meaning but poor quality imports happening.

If anyone sees an example of imports happening that aren’t following the rules please do report them to the DWG. We will always try and work with importers who don’t seem to understand what they are doing (see e.g. here) rather than just “revert all and ban everyone” but sometimes it is necessary to nip problems in the bud before they become more serious. We have in the past blocked the creators of task manager tasks until they have complied with the rules.

However, I suspect that a number of the “imports” that you found by searching aren’t really imports. Taking just the first listed one as an example (unfortunately you have to login to HOT’s private server to see that) it is essentially just “mapping from aerial imagery” - it doesn’t seem to be an import and doesn’t seem in any way problematic.


And this one also was not imported, due to concerns of data quality raised by the Brazilian community (myself included). Nevertheless, the wiki page is good and can be reused for future works (especially the equivalence tables).

Coming back at the draft, still about imports (Proposed Task B1003), I agree with fellow mappers that imports rules should not be relaxed. Conflating data is really hard, and while I am personally 100% in for any import of good data, only experienced mappers should work on that.

I am not saying that the Import Guidelines right now is perfect, but it works. And on my experience, humanitarian organizations do not have, right now, the expertise to work on imports. On the other hand, they do have financial resources to get professional support, but for some reason still try to rely on novice mappers for that.

So please, “current import guidelines are cumbersome” (true) "and bulk imports are hard to get approved" (false). If you prepare a good wiki page showing knowledge on the open data and proposing to import high quality data, while open to get advice, it is actually quite easy to get approval :wink:

Also, it seems there is some confusion between the terms Imports and Organized Editing Guidelines. While they might be related, in my opinion they don’t always work together (or am I mistaken here?).


I regards of: UPDATED Strategy B5: Gender diversity

I thought OSM is something about geo-data, not about gender. Everyone who want’s to add geo-data should be able to do it under certain rules. Totally agree. If a person like to do arm-chair mapping for what ever reason, what’s the matter about?
Is it gender-equality if you “promote” a app intend to be used by woman only? Isn’t it stereotyping “woman”?

In regards of: Task B603: Maintain Data user relations
Is your intention OSM is a service provider? If so, I would like to have all the house numbers in China and US available in OSM. Thank you :wink: Sorry, but OSM is providing a geo-database as it is. Take it or leave it. Period.

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I would tend to disagree a bit with this take. There is a big difference between helping and informing potential data consumers and maintaining cordial relations with organisations and companies that use OSM data, and kowtowing to big tech and its agents (the Linux Foundation and others).

The former is in our interest and IMHO implicitly part of the OSMFs remit.

There are many data consumers (small businesses and orgs like @SimonPoole said) that utilize OSM for small one-off use cases and want to abide by the rules. I agree it would only help OSM to be cordial with these folks.

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Description: At present, aside from certain corporate users of data who have become corporate members, the OSMF has virtually no formal communication with data users, and in fact has little idea of who most users of data are. The lack of a feedback mechanism is a vulnerability. OSM suffers from being seen as a community of map builders with no connection to the use of that data. There is very little awareness of what map data needs in order to be useful, or the ways competitive map databases are evolving ahead of OSM, which impedes the goal of making OSM the map of first choice.

Maybe my understanding of the above is wrong, but I don’t read anything in regards of helping others to use our data but understand it in a way: “Hey data-user-X, what can we do to make you happier?” Isn’t it the exact opposite we ask from the mapper. “Don’t map for the renderer”. In future then “please map it like this for data-user-X”.

In the end the big user will get maybe what they want and all the smaller users like us mappers most likely have no voice as nobody will ask.


There’s a lot of room between parading on Facebooks command (the “map builder” quote is from them btw), and being data user hostile. For example getting “deprecation” of tagging back under control would benefit both mappers and data consumers, and in the cases we really need to change something having a way of informing data consumers of what is going on would clearly be a benefit.

Given that corporate membership is the only real way of “registering” with OSM, at least that could be pointed out to companies that come to the OSMF asking about using OSM, and as said it would provide a way of getting information out (spur of the moment idea, a regular “data user” mail for the technical departments of members).


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?


When I read this forum, I am reminded that communication is a tool, not an outcome. You judge its success if you communicated successfully to get to your goal.

OpenStreetmap is probably the world’s greatest example of a successful deployment of the tool of communication. The project has transcended language and culture in order to exist for going on 19 years, right? I can’t think of anything else that does that on a global scale. It’s astounding.

How did it do this? Because people are laser focused on the goal, which is making and improving the map.

Sometimes, on some of these communication and community discussion threads, it seems like this concept has been lost.

I wonder if people have forgotten that there are a lot of reasons to communicate and not all of them need to happen for OpenStreetMap to exist. For example, to entertain ourselves (stories, books, films), to inform ourselves (school, trainings), to have relationships (family, friends, colleagues).

But in OSM, the reason to communicate is to make the map. Now, to communicate about the map means communication about a lot of things–society, governments, data, science, geography, topography, AI, computer science, information systems, collaboration, etc. It’s a huge conversation. But, the defining category of the communication is “Mapmaking.” Keeping this in mind will simplify things. The community exists because of the shared interest in making maps, and it is unified because it has shared values about the best way to do this. This is the ground truth.

So what does this look like in practice?

Think about the word “authoritarian.” If you were twenty in1985 in East Germany, this word means something different to you than if you are twenty years old in the European Union today. Likewise, “authoritarian” might mean something different to an American in Texas than it does to a Swedish person in Stockholm. I would think very hard before I used this word in the context of making a map and if I did use it, it would be for a fact-based reason such as to refer to mapping disputed borders or with regard to guidelines of a country that is very widely regarded as authoritarian, such as North Korea.

By contrast, if I want to talk about the concept of authoritarianism in modern life I’m going to hang out with my friends with whom I feel safe talking about history and politics. I do not expect everyone to converse with me on this sensitive topic. It is a different category of communication.

Because English is the most common language it’s the one this community has to be most careful about, but it’s true in other languages too. When a cultural difference is on the table, the way to resolve it is to ask “what kind of communication is going to lead to an excellent mapping collaboration.”

Here’s another one. What is a corporation? Is it a mega corporation with more monetary capital than almost all of the countries of the world, like Meta? Is it a smallish, mid-size founder-owned company like TomTom? Is it a venture capital backed start-up like Uber? Is it a small company with 25 employees? Is Overture more like a corporation? Or like OSM? You have to invest something like 15 million to join Overture, so I do have to wonder. Is the Linux foundation closer to a corporation or more like OSM? Wikimedia has something like $100 million operating budget. Are they like OSM? These are not simple questions and people get lost in them. This is not useful.

To me the question should be more like “is this company or corporation or nonprofit going to help improve the map and affirm the values of OSM?”

So that’s the first thing. Remember that you’re communicating about mapmaking.

The second thing is go back to the data when it comes to making sure that the community and its communications are effective. This is great news, right? Because data is OSM’s strength.

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.

This Discourse is a terrific start. I can translate it with the click of a button, it works great on my phone, I can search it with tags, it costs me nothing.

By contrast, the listservs and old style forums cannot be easily translated. They cannot be read on the phone without difficulty. The threads are visually hard to follow, the typography hurts anyone’s eyes who is over 30. Allowing them to stand as official channels in the presence of demonstrably better options is like asking people to stand in the rain without an umbrella.

I mean, maybe the data would prove me wrong, but I highly doubt it.

Do you want a strong, diverse, healthy, successul mapmaking community?

Answer: adopt excellent communications processes and tools to ensure that the most number of people are able to communicate easily about the project in a way that is free, broadly accessible all over the world, translatable, and searchable.

To me, these are what good community communications require.


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.