Translating the OSM Etiquette Guidelines

Continuing the discussion from Germany subcategory:

I’m opening this topic to continue the conversation. AFAIK, OSM Etiquette Guidelines have been translated already into other (and very different) languages without major issues: French, Spanish, Russian, Japanese.

I would suggest to take a first pass using, which produces a very high quality English→German translations and then take a quick human review of the result.

About how to interpret the rules, it would be good if you can specific which ones specifically you have questions about and the LCCWG members can probably provide you with some insights.

Also note that all category mods share an internal peer-support group to help each other in moderation tasks, tips and questions.


I have had good experience with so far :+1:

I think the guidelines contain a lot of wording that only people familiar with the “code of conduct scene” will understand. For example, what is “unwanted attention” and how does it translate to different cultural settings? This is not something that deepl will do for you, it requires discussion among the community - plus, the board has approved these rules for exactly two (English-language) mailing lists so I don’t even see the value in translating them to German or trying to apply them to the German forum. Simply translating them without the necessary cultural adaptations is a recipe for disaster down the line.

From the guidelines:

  • Inappropriate attention or communication. This includes continued unwelcome one‑on‑one communication after a request for it to stop, unwelcome sexual attention and repeated harassment of others.

Personal option below:

I suspect that at least more than 50% of the population know very well what “unwelcome sexual attention” is, and probably a lot of the other half too. But if you are unsure about it, a quick search on the internet explains very well and with examples what this is about. And this doesn’t depend on your location.

Quote from other guidelines that provide examples:

This includes sexualized comments, jokes or imagery in interactions, communications or presentation materials, as well as inappropriate touching, groping, or sexual advances. Additionally, touching a person without permission, including sensitive areas such as their hair, pregnant stomach, mobility device (wheelchair, scooter, etc) or tattoos. This includes physically blocking or intimidating another person. Physical contact or simulated physical contact (such as emojis like “kiss”) without affirmative consent is not acceptable. The sharing or distribution of sexualized images.

Edit shaming is still not really clear for me: Talk:Etiquette/Etiquette Guidelines - OpenStreetMap Wiki

If it is actually edit count then it is tricky, as in some cases “can you try making some edits in area X first” is a valid argument. Or maybe according to this guidelines it is banned in all cases? Even for expressing preferences during OSMF board elections?

On the comments I see this explanation:

“Edit shaming” is any effort to humiliate or discourage a member of the OSM community from expressing a viewpoint, opinion, or fact, or otherwise to participate in OSM community affairs, due to said member’s relatively low number of edits of the OSM geospatial database (“the map”). Hypothetical examples of “edit shaming” might be posts to the talk lists including such verbiage as: “Who do you think you are to express an opinion on Topic X with only 863 changesets under your belt?” “Anyone with fewer than 5,000 changesets should not be allowed to run for the OSMF board.” “I don’t think that you know what you are talking about, given that you have only ten days of mapping this year.”

So it’s negatively commenting on another person’s number of mapping edits. It has nothing to do with typography or writing. –Jeisenbe (talk) 16:32, 10 June 2022 (UTC)

With this interpretation it would mean that one is not allowed to (for example) comment “I prefer a different OSMF board candidate, as they never ever edited anything in OSM”.

What seems to not be intended effect, I hope.

Edit shaming is still not really clear for me: Talk:Etiquette/Etiquette
Guidelines - OpenStreetMap Wiki

Yeah, I’m on the OSMF Board, and we were unclear on what that meant too. The authors (LCCWG) didn’t really answer our email requests for elaboration.

However we’re working under the assumption that the exact bounds of it haven’t been decided, and the OSMF Board can overrule the mod team to define it better. This is common in UK style laws.

If it is actually edit count then it is tricky, as in some cases “can
you try making some edits in area X first” is a valid argument. Or
maybe according to this guidelines it is banned in all cases? Even for
expressing preferences during OSMF board elections?

oh yeah, asking a candidate for the OSMF Board about their low number of OSM edits is not a any sort of a EG issue. We all agree that’s OK.

1 Like


I thought about starting to translate the Etiquette Guideline today but decided against it because I do not need a translation now and it is a lot of work to get it properly done. Especially the undefined meaning of some terms made me to decide against translating because I would not be able to find the correct German terms.

I know DeepL but I do not want to use it for texts in English where the exact meaning is important.

Up to now, it is not written down

  • which version of the Etiquette Guideline is binding if the English version and a translation contradict each other [1], and
  • which cultural background has to be take as a base for decisions who to interprete and apply the guideline.

The guideline was written for two English speaking mailing list. For that purpose, the two issues were minor/acceptable. But for wide use across cultures, a lot of work needs to be done. It is best to let the local groups decide which rules they need.

Best regards


[1] Note that we would come into a mess if the user who is subject to moderator action, or the moderators themselves can decide which version of the guideline is binding.

or in case where either of involved would be also author of translation

Hello all. I was part of the LCCWG that created the current Etiquette Guidelines, and I can offer a few data points. I’m speaking only for myself, though I believe many of my colleagues may share my views.

First, we did explicitly pay for a service “Plain English Campaign” that helped simplify the writing substantially to make it easier to read for those who are not native speakers.

Ref: Plain English Campaign

They were very good at this and we were grateful for their input. I’m not sure we could have done any more to make this more approachable.

We also went through many of the same discussions that are going on here, and we had multiple rounds of public review, and took it all into account when we finalized the text in front of us. I know that some people are not happy with all parts of it, but we made the best decision we could.

In particular, we specifically avoided creating a legal-type code that spelled out every possible offense, because these end up being roadmaps for those who want to cause trouble by gaming the system (“technically what I did was not XYZ”), and it creates arguments about text and not about behaviors.

A result is that it gives a great deal of discretion to the moderation team, and this was intentional: people operating in good faith can judge the good faith of others to distinguish between possibly inadvertent offenses (poor use of a slang term, perhaps) and clearly bad behavior.

In the case of the talk-list moderators, they are answerable to the OSMF Board, and I figure that if you don’t trust the moderation team, you can’t fix that by more words in the CoC.

which version of the Etiquette Guideline is binding if the English version and a translation contradict each other

To me this is easy: a community adopts a set of guidelines in a specific text. This specific text will be in your own language, with the obvious changes for cultural and regional differences that the community finds important.

So in a sense this is not really “translating” the Etiquette Guidelines, but building your own: it may start with the English version - and we hope we provided a good foundation - but you’ll add your own changes to reflect the character and culture of your community.



(Just to clarify a small bit on Steve’s excellent reply. When he mentioned “LCCWG” he was referring to the subcommittee that drafted the current Etiquette Guidelines and not the working group itself. While there is an overlap, different sets of people compose the working group and the subcommittee.)

My full support for the proceeding, to start the new “German” subcategory with the “forum rules” that served the German community for many years. For sure not perfect, but good enough to keep the forum running and allow the community to become one of the most acitve ones on the old platform.

On the other side I cannot any reason, why the Etiquette Guidelines should not be well worth to serve as a base for national guidelines all over the world. Nothing is stipulated in these guidelines which would not be a matter of course in all kind of conversation.

Politeness, respect, empathy, tolerance are surely welcome in every discussion whereas disrespect, harassment, discrimination, bullying, hurtful or insulting language and the like should never be tolerated in any community.

OSM is an an international community and it definitely requires an etiquette guideline for the international part of the forum. I appreciate the proposal of @SJFriedl to encourage the national subcommunities to build their own guidelines but I do not see any advantage for every national community to reinvent the wheel again and again … the closer the national guidelines are to the international ones the easier will international communication work.