Category Archives: Uncategorized

Project of the Week: State of the Map – EU

Project of the Week is taking a little hiatus while we’re enjoying the
State of the Map – Europe conference
in Vienna this week. One of the presentations at SotM-EU11 will be on
Project of the Week. Be part of the presentation by running quick to
this poll. Tell us your favourite Project of the Week so far!

State of the Map – Girona photo by Chris Fleming is
licensed CC-By-SA

Weekly OSM Summary #21

June 27th, 2011 – July 11, 2011

A summary of all the things happening in the OpenStreetMap world.

  • In the upcoming weeks, several OSM servers will go down for maintenance. Read more about it here.
  • The new country South Sudan is already in the OpenStreetMap database.
  • You can use OSM Emitter to create OSM POIs with your Twitter account and a simple tweet.
  • A re-utilization of the Ordnance Survey Open Data under the ODbL is possible.
  • The ODbL-Map is back online. It shows the current license condition of OSM ways in a map.
  • The OpenStreetMap mailing list (OSM-talk) will get a list-moderation.
  • A nice video of the OpenStreetMap Smolensk mapping party.
  • The Kindle device will support „high quality street maps of cities in the near future“.
  • Kate Chapman wrote about her work for the Humanitarian OSM Team (HOT) in Indonesia. Further the HOT Team asked for help for Libya. Read more here.
  • Google+ for Crowdsourcing Crisis Information, Crisis Mapping and Disaster Response“.
  • “A new kind of map based on open data“ is a new project between MapQuest Open and Stamen Design. Check it out here.
  • At Nicolas Mollet webpage you get several free POI icons for OSM.
  • In the Netherlands: Current train movements on an OpenStreetMap map.
  • A nice visualization from GeoCommens of Wal-Mart taking over the United States.

Did we miss something? You can contact us via

Hitting reset on talk-au

I’m speaking strictly personally here, posting to talk@ and opengeodata.

OSM often crosses bridges in it’s growth. Mostly they’re technical, like introducing color maps, rendering new things or speeding up the system. We have a much more ugly bridge to cross in front of us.

Would you want to be part of a community which includes people explicitly working to disrupt it, trolling it and breaking data? Would you want to be part of a community where people are literally scared for their jobs when thinking about helping run it?

Over the last few days there has been a bunch of discussion on talk-au which you can read in the archives, though for your own sanity you might want to skip it.

For the most part the posts revolve around the OSMF, the LWG and the license process. I considered my presence there over the last few days as both a last ditch attempt to salvage the data and more importantly the community that’s there. As RichardF pointed out, their license acceptance rate is about half what most EU communities have achieved. I would say that the people on that list feel disaffected with the process and their representation in it.

Despite multiple attempts at trying to have a reasonable dialog over both what happened and what we can do about it, mostly I’ve been met with extreme animosity.

Most of that comes from people either banned from the main lists, been deleted/blocked from OSM or been moderated or who have publicly stated they’re here to disrupt the project.

I’ve tried to get many people involved posting there in what I thought was a worthwhile effort, in effect to save that list. Almost everybody declined to do so. Only RichardF braved it and was met with a predictable response. Frederik has given up and from my reading of his email considers talk-au dead (I think you should make that email public). I find that understandable.

I’ve been trying to find someone to moderate the list along the Etiquette guidelines on the wiki. Mikel has given up, understandably, and he leads the main moderators. We found one native Australian to moderate but they backed out because they literally feared for their job safety, that the people who now inhabit the list would make life with their employer difficult. Thus, they declined to do so after initially accepting. I actually am convinced that was the right decision and the people on that list are capable of it.

I don’t think anyone I know in OSM would want to be part of a community like that. I think it’s a sad low point in what otherwise is a wonderful project to be involved in.

Let me be more clear, *I* don’t want to be part of a community that accepts this. Who in their right mind would want to be a part of a community run by people explicitly out to disrupt, fork and troll?

In the best traditions of open projects our ideas and code are Free. It’s not clear that our time and server resources should be. Unlike our ideas and code, they’re finite and open to abuse. Make no mistake that our time and resources are being used explicitly to destabilize the very project which provides them. Used by mostly anonymous or pseudonymous people who as I say have been kicked, banned or explicitly stated they want to destabilize OSM. This is not about censorship. If you read the lists, you’ll find we’ve made available repeatedly both the methods and the people to help resolve issues. These people are free to fork the project and the data, it’s all available for download. They have their own mailing lists. Are there genuine questions about license, it’s implementation and so on? Absolutely. But level-headed discussion is not welcome on talk-au for the most part. There are a few people who can discuss this stuff impersonally there but it’s a small part of the list.

Now – why are we at this point?

The OSMF and the working groups, the apparatus of how a chunk of this project is set up, are unable to deal with direct threats like this, even if it’s been going on for a year or more. One of the main forks of OSM (if you can call it main, it doesn’t yet display a map) is run by an ex-board member. When you have someone like that working together with those who’ve explicitly declared they want to disrupt OSM, it’s very hard for a young, open and democratic organization to deal with. For the most part we have no idea how many of these people are even real too, it’s been suggested that a few of the pseudonyms are in fact just one person creating them on the fly.

We simply don’t have the tools for it. Until last week we had no moderation at all, and that took many, many months (perhaps years) to set up. The board meets too infrequently to be able to respond to people explicitly working for its downfall, which perhaps is a little ironic. The working groups likewise I don’t think have the bandwidth as they currently operate. Generally in an otherwise do-ocracy there is a lack of people who feel they have the authority to take on a role like moderating. Even if they do, it’s an extremely thankless task that almost nobody will take on.

So – what do we do now?

Well to answer that I have to assume you agree with both the horrific tone on that list and that it should not be part of the community we represent. For that, you might be wanting references to some of the things I cite (like this ) but I’ll allow others to do that exhaustively (Grant is usually good, hint hint).

I want to get back to mapping. I can only do that if we do something about these people on our lists.

I don’t want to contemplate ignoring the problem, which is one extreme end.

I don’t want to be a part of a community that accepts this, so leaving it as-is is not an option.

We’ve tried hard to find moderators and failed. If you want to volunteer and moderate under the Etiquette guidelines, this is the first option I would consider, but you will get a lot of flack. And a beer from me.
We can remove everyone from talk-au and start afresh. No pseudonyms, no license talk (would have to go to legal-talk) under the new list. This would hit reset but remove people who have legitimate concerns and those just trying to get on with mapping.

We can block the ‘main’ people. Then you have to draw the line somewhere between the good and the bad anonymous posters. I would suggest anyone who’s posted that they want to disrupt the project and anyone operating under a pseudonym.

We can place everyone under the emergency moderation flag and clear each post one by one, by moderator, by vote, I don’t care. I can log in and do that too.

Lots of people from talk@ could join talk-au@ and make it a nice place to be again, the way we took back legal-talk@ from the very same people.

Maybe you have a better option?

Either way, this is an ugly bridge to cross. We need to do something to make it clear this is not how things work in OSM. We need to make the message heard that this is not normal, this is not the reputation we want to be known by and we won’t let it be this way.


Project of the Week: On the way to Vienna

This week

We’re on the way to Vienna for State of the Map-EU, so the Project of the Week is to map those things
that will help you get to Vienna. So map your trains, planes and auto service stations on the way from home to Vienna, or the cobbler shop who repaired your shoes.

Next week

While we’re at SotM-EU next week, PotW will be on Hiatus. If you aren’t with us in Vienna, consider
browsing through previous Projects to find one to inspire your mapping
this week.

Project of the Week of the future!

Project of the Week was created by Steve Coast in 2010 and has been
maintained by Steve, and then Richard for more than a year. It is
time for more voices to be heard in the Project of the Week.
Volunteer to be the next PotW maintainer, or nominate a candidate that
you think will be great at maintaining PotW. The project of the week
for 20 July 2011 is to find the next maintainer for Project of the Week.

Vienna State Opera House photo by Gryffindor
is licensed CC-By

Mailing list moderation

After careful consideration, effective immediately Mikel Maron, Andy
Robinson and Mike Collinson have access to the moderation system
across the main OSM mailing lists. They will use their best judgment
according to the moderation guidelines and they enjoy the full support of the OSMF

Project of the Week: Tennis

The project of the week is a fun way to get out and map something that
you might not map otherwise. This week we’ll map tennis courts before
we run home to watch the matches at Wimbledon.

First job: Make sure all your local tennis courts are on the map!

This is your Project of the Week. Make suggestions. Inspire other
mappers. What is it about contributing to OpenStreetMap that
interests you? Postboxes? Bowling alleys? Share your OpenStreetMap
interests by suggesting a Project of the Week or Project of the Month.

Tennis ball photo by catbaggan is
licensed CC-By-NC-ND

Q3 2011 Service reductions

Some secondary OpenStreetMap services will be unavailable during the
following dates, due to power maintenance work at our server hosting:

– 2nd and 3rd July 2011. (Saturday & Sunday)
– 30th and 31st July 2011. (Saturday & Sunday)
– 3rd and 4th September 2011. (Saturday & Sunday)
– and 1 weekday (to be confirmed) during August 2011.

On each of these weekends, the servers will be shut down at 7:30 UTC,
and will be started again after works are completed, which will be
Sunday 16:30 UTC at the latest, but may be earlier. We do not yet have
a precise date for the August maintenance.

The following services will be unavailable during these periods:
* server (errol)
* rendering of new map tiles
* and web sites

As a temporary replacement for XAPI/jXAPI, consider using third-party
services such as that provided by MapQuest:

Additional information will be posted to the following page:

The following services are *not* affected:
* web site
* API and Editing
* and diffs.
* tile serving for existing tiles (details below)
* Wiki
* Nominatim (search)
* mailing lists
* subversion and git (source code repositories)
* trac (bug-tracker)

Maps will still be viewable on the homepage and on
other people’s websites. We’ll be serving tiles from a back-up tile
server. However rendering engines will be deactivated, meaning that
new rendering of map updates will not take place during the
maintenance period, some requests for tiles will fail where no cached
copy is available, and tile response times may be slower than normal.

Utility pole photo by strollers is
licensed CC-By-SA

Weekly OSM Summary #20

June 14th, 2011 – June 26, 2011

A summary of all the things happening in the OpenStreetMap world.

Did we miss something? You can contact us via