Question about AGM and IRC?

Can anyone tell me in simple terms why the Annual General Meeting (AGM) is held on #IRC. It seems that we now have much better tools for this type of task. If we want to encourage new users to act, then we should probably use more accessible means of communication.

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Which “better tools” did you have in mind?

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Like Tom, I would be interested in hearing about better alternatives, although we do have to keep the Foundation’s commitment to open communication channels in mind.

Note that the chatroom can also be used through Matrix. For those who are using neither IRC or Matrix, we’re offering a web client at irc.openstreetmap.org. It’s a bit clunky, but serviceable – especially considering that the important decisions aren’t actually made at the AGM, but through a separate voting platform.

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I wonder if the question is not only about tools but also accommodating more people:

  • People who might prefer to engage (before-after) the meeting asynchronously at their own pace/available time.
  • People who prefer to engage the conversation in their own language rather than just English.

For me it would be a question about: How can this meeting be more inclusive with everyone? This would include approaches as well as tools that can support those approaches.

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For example:

  • Discord
  • Zoom
  • Meet
  • Teams

You can consider other possibilities like streaming on Twitch or and YT

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In Poland, we usually organize such events on Discord, sometimes, if the community requires it, we broadcast them additionally on Twich (This gives the possibility of streaming in 1080p without additional fees)

Of course, I understand how important it is to use Open Communication Channels tools, but in this case I believe that reaching as many recipients as possible and enabling them to engage in the discussion in accordance with current communication standards is more important.

It seems to me that in a meeting attended by people from many countries and continents, we cannot escape from English. However, we can try to ensure that at least the devices and communication channels are in line with the average.

I often conduct OSM training in various environments, and I have not met anyone else using IRC except for a small group of IT experts.

If we want the involvement of new editors, we have to adapt to their ways of communication. OSM-Talk, IRC have long ceased to be productive and popular. Perhaps far away, the same people are still speaking on these channels, because the new ones can’t find themselves there.

Anyway, most of the local communities have not adopted these standards of communication, which probably says something.

It’s not about a decision. It’s about the possibility of talking in a larger group with as few communication barriers as possible. If we want to be open and reduce barriers in communication, we should adapt to the standards of modern communication. IRC does not allow this

That’s what this forum is for. I’m talking about the meeting. After the introduction of Discord as one of the most important communication channels in Poland, the involvement and activity of the community increased several times.

Clearly not, because you’ve just suggested 4 proprietary ones.

We simply can’t assume that these will work everywhere that there are OSMers around the world. If you’re in China and you want to use Google services, good look with that. Similarly, lots of workplaces in my part of the world (the UK) ban Zoom for similar reasons (but in the opposite direction).

Another problem with US-based fat clients is that not everyone has “western” levels of available bandwidth. Even this forum is bloated enough that it’s a pain to use on mobile (a 6 second wait loading this very page). IRC has lots of ways in - custom apps, bridges to e.g. Matrix, and as mentioned above a minimal web browser interface.

It’s important that the AGM is accessible to everyone.

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So that means we have to use a platform that virtually no one else uses? So how do we want to encourage people to participate in the project?

Who cares, as long as it is accessible by anyone, using tools that they already have and are familiar with (e.g. a web browser)?

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… what about interacting and building an active community? Don’t we care too?

Abosolutely we care. That’s why it’s important that we don’t hold an AGM that can only be accessed by people with western levels of bandwidth with access to western app stores on expensive (to most people in the world) hardware.

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I’m very curious about the turnout then. And how to interact with participants. Especially in the light of @nukeador’s statement regarding the language of expression. More people speak than write English fluently enough to contribute to the discussion.

Interestingly, in the case of many FOSS organizations, they use much more advanced tools, and somehow they do not mind streaming from African or Asian countries. Qgis seems to organize such events?

Not sure about the above… :unamused:

There are plenty of tools you can use without any barriers and without having to use proprietary services. BigBlueButton / Jitsi based instances have become usable and are freely available without the need to have an account on the platforms you mentioned.

The OSMF is even running a BBB server: BigBlueButton

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If so, why don’t we use them during AGM?

I agree with the cons brought forward against Discord, Zoom, etc. I also wonder what the OSM community in Poland would do if Discord simply ceased to exist.

There’s a reason why IRC, email, and other old-fashioned means of communication are still in wide use today. Reasons, even.

How are we supposed to strive for an open, accessible, diverse, yada yada community if we keep using non-open means of communication, not accessible to everyone?

On irc.openstreetmap.org you don’t even need an account to join, just type in your name. There’s a chat box at the bottom where you can write to others. How would you make it easier?

Instead of dumbing people down I would personally prefer learning and teaching about technology. This is a fairly technical and technological “hobby” after all.


I didn’t get the point about “interacting and building an active community”. How does changing where the General Annual Meeting is held help with that?

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I also wonder what the OSM community in Poland would do if Discord simply ceased to exist.

We’ll switch to other platform :person_shrugging: No software is forever.

There’s a reason why IRC, email, and other old-fashioned means of communication are still in wide use today. Reasons, even.

E-mail is widely used because it still fits the purpose (except mailing lists which are not very convenient for what they do). IRC is niche because as a chat it’s just bad.

I didn’t get the point about “interacting and building an active community”. How does changing where the General Annual Meeting is held help with that?

IRC is fine for one off event chat. Your point about not having to log in is good. But people are not going to come again to this chat. With other platforms it’s more likely that they will continue to come back and engage with other people thus building a community.

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In the time I’ve been involved, it has never really been a goal to increase participation in the AGM.

It has been a goal to increase participation in the election, or other aspects of the OSMF that really make a difference. But the AGM itself feels more like a formality. Pretty much every form of participation one might perhaps expect from a general meeting is already possible asynchronously: Asking questions or sharing opinions on the usual platforms (including this forum), reading through officers’ reports, casting votes, learning about the election results.

Now, could one try turning the AGM into an “event”? Probably. And we could hold it on a video chat platform like we do with public board meetings. But seeing how it’s not a particularly interactive format, except for the occasional question from the audience, I wonder if that would really change people’s involvement with the Foundation. It’s probably much more important how we interact with the community on the other 364 days of the year.

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After all the typically voluminous discussion on the osmf-talk mailing list most years, the videoconferencing on BigBlueButton for OSMF board meetings and other meetings, and the day-to-day communication on chat platforms both open and closed, the AGM on IRC has always felt… anticlimactic to me. From the discussion so far, it sounds like that’s by design, but OSMF is the only organization I’ve ever been involved with that reduces something as significant-sounding as “Annual General Meeting” to a formality that bots could literally conduct if we wanted them to.

There should be a cake. That will prove the bots aren’t running the show.

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