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A subject that would be useful to treat: some weeks ago, there was a looong debate on the tagging ML about the question of consensus: is it a goal or a way to take a decision? Is the ML the better place/tool to use/reach consensus? Which tools would be preferable? And so on…

The present Discourse instance was viewed by some users (I’m among them) as a better way to reach consensus than the tagging ML:

  • it allows quick polls to be made upon specific points of the debated matter, which is more light as a formal vote and could be used as the IETF “humming” (the RFC #7282 was dedicated to explain such points of the IETF decision-making process, which proved useful in this debate; you may want to read it as well, as it is quite enlightening upon the traps of a decision-making process);
  • it allows to approve one’s comment by smileys/likes without the need of a formal answer, limiting the constant branching of debates by persons wanting to react to a comment, reactions which in turn provoke other reactions…
  • it allows to split a debate in sub-topics, to prevent the debate going in unexpected directions;
  • it may allow moderation of the debate by a chair, provided that we could find a way to elect/designate a chair in Discourse for some debates…

These matters would need further discuss, but the opinion of some persons in this debate was that the ML was a sub-optimal tool, and that Discourse may be a better place for debates. There were some cons opinions expressed by people preferring the ML, but two points proved especially blocking for several people, and it seems that removing this block would greatly increase the acceptance of Discourse:

  • the possibility of receiving daily/weekly digests on some particular categories/tags, and only on these sections;
  • the possibility to receive mail notifications when an answer is posted to a given topic, with the possibility to answer to this given topic by a simple mail answer.

These are the points I remember about this debate; you may find additional details by reading the ML archives of this debate. Taking the questions and opinions raised there into account may be extremely useful, both by increasing the acceptance level of Discourse, and by providing a better tool than ML for debates.


Thanks for your feedback, it’s definitely informative on the current challenges we can try to solve by implementing more modern tools like discourse.

Both options are already enabled in this instance. Under you user preferences - Email you can set up the digest to be daily or weekly, and it will include the categories/tags you are tracking or watching.

Congratulations on the new forum! Definitely worth a new look and powerful community service. :clap:


Great that these options are available! Once the instance is fully set up, with categories and all, it would be great to warn the community that this possibility exist and that debates may happen here with these options.

What with the moderation issues I talked about?

The current plan is to have at least a few moderators per category, as well as global moderators. The good thing is that anyone can flag posts with issues and we can always merge and split messages and topics when needed.

A post was merged into an existing topic: Proposal - Language and location based content and categories

Great development. This modernization was much needed. This would also result in a mobile friendly forum.

My biggest wish with this new forum is that the (tagging) voting can move from OSM wiki to this forum. If possible, voting and discussing here would make the process much more accessible to all OSM contributers. Writing the proposals can still be done on wiki but discussion and especially voting should move to here. This would need a proposal category on this forum where post can be made for RFC and voting.


That reminds me on how the Rust project handles conversations around their RFC, this talk might be relevant to inform OSM thinking.

I agree that this forum could potentially be a much more accessible platform for discussing and voting on proposals than wiki pages. There are a lot more contributors with an OSM account than an OSM wiki account and the usability of a poll tool easily beats that of manually adding templates and signatures to a list in wiki syntax.


A post was merged into an existing topic: Proposal - Language and location based content and categories

As long as there is a way to log the result of a vote on the wiki afterwards, this seems fine. I do like how the current voting process strongly emphasizes explaining why someone votes against a proposal. Would that be possible with Discourse?

One of the major problems for every worldwide community platform is the language barrier. Not everyone feels fit to debate complex matters in english and using a translations software to work your way through an extensive topic is a tiring thing, not to talk about the quality of the outcome which has significantly increased over the past years (at least for the most widespread languages) but still does not match what I would call close to perfect.

There are so many users in countries all over the world contributing to the database as well as to the national forums backing off from participation in these basical discussions because of this language barrier. I am sure many of them would be ready and able to deliver valuable input and it is a pity all this knowledge and expertise remains an unused treasure.

My vision of a such a community platform would be some kind of integrated translator showing the content of each and every post in the language any user has chosen as default so that everyone interested in participation could do so in the own language without any restriction. Yep, this is some kind of science fiction only - but this would finally be a real big step forward in multilingual communication.

Just a thought … :sunglasses:


Well, great inspiration. The WeeklyOSM newsletter uses Google Translate. I am not happy with Google, but it’s useful for such situations.

So this forum should have:

  • a setting for each user, what language(s) are acceptable
  • the feature to decode the used language of a post
  • a button at each post “translate to my language”

I doubt, Discourse will / could have all that.

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@Map_HeRo @karlos There is an option of an integrated translation plugin, see the following topic

This plugin may not solve everything but it surely addresses quite a bit of the desires you each have. Check it out and if you believe this would be a worthy addition to our community forums here please reply or :heart: the post so it gets more attention.

Furthermore, translation with DeepL is possible with an existing fork of the translation plugin; DeepL is really fantastic for translation, my friend a professional translator uses it all the time. Maybe it’s not perfect but is objectively much better than all the others.


An integrated translation plugin would be a good step forward at least, so thanks for the hint and starting the topic! :+1:

And yes, DeepL is for sure one of the best translators but using it to manually translate one post of a topic after the other one is an awkward job … an integrated solution would do much better.

Yes, see the current proposal about languages and locations, which includes a point about enabling multilingual collaboration

My experenice with it depends very much on language. If you want to go from X to Y where X and Y aren’t common languages and aren’t German, you end up in some cases with something that sounds like its gone through German to get from X to Y. In my case one language was English and the other ones included Arabic, Persian and Chinese. It may well be excellent for other X and Y.

it’s great for German :smile:


Yeah it’s not perfect. But is it good enough for folks to communicate between languages on this forum? We’ll only know if we try

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In the current proposal, that something we want to try, but we want to avoid increasing the scope of work in this first phase because there are other major work involved in transitioning Help OSM and the old forums.

If we end up approving the proposal, we’ll also check with the Operation team in terms of resources and time to see when we can accommodate this testing.