(English) Election to Board 2015 – Part I

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Third-party article by Michael Reichert, one of the authors of German Wochennotiz and OSM contributor.

Editoral by Michael Reichert, a.k.a. Nakaner


This posting contains my (Michael Reichert aka Nakaner) own opinion which is not neutral. Please read the mainfestos on your own. I am a on-the-ground mapper from Germany and no lover of HOT. That’s why I usually do not prefer candidates from OSM’s largest remote mapping group. I am also very critical regarding companies.


I use following criteria to evaluate all candidates:

Is the candidate part of the OSM community? I think that every candidate should be part of the OSM community because the OSMF board should represent the community and therefore consist of community members.

How long has the candidate been part of the OSM community?Long-time OSM contributors are often better candidates but not always. People who just belong to OSM for about one year might also be good. But I doubt that people who joined OSM a few months ago really know how things work and how the community thinks. This criteria is related to the criteria if the candidate has contributed to OSM (code and/or editing) and how much.

Is the candiate part of an OSMF working group or a working group at a local chapter (including de-facto local chapters like FOSSGIS e.V.)? I think that every candidate must be member of a working group to get to know how things inside the OSMF work. We should not elect someone who first needs a large introduction on how OSMF functions.

What is the candidates opinion about the questions asked at Talk:Foundation/AGM15/Election_to_Board Usually voters elect the candidates having the same opinions as them.

Is the candidate employed at company which is interested in OSM? We should avoid having an OSMF board where a company or organization has the majority of members!


This posting is split up into two parts. In the first part, I will have a look at the manifestos, bios and opinions of Ilya Zverev, Peter Barth, Guido Stein, Mikel Maron, Joseph Reeves and Wille Marcel. The other candidates (including Ryan Peterson who has not published any information yet) will be discussed at the second part. I will also publish a summary and my suggestions there.

Ilya Zverev

Ilya (aka Zverv) from Russia contributes to OSM since 2010 (HDYC calls him a Heavy Mapper 2.0). He is not member of any OSMF working group but does communications work in the Russian community, edits a news blog and hosts the Russian OSM podcast.

He is employed at MAPS.ME, the company which develops the free (as in freedom) multi-platform map app called MAPS.ME.

In the first lines of his manifesto he describes the manifestos of the last three years (apart from Frederik’s last year) as “boring”. They “didn’t affect anything”. He continues to critize the current board and its members because the board minutes do not list very much. He thinks that that is why either the board discusses most topics at their private mailing list or does almost nothing. (From my expereince with other organisations I would absolutely not be surprised if what we read in the minutes is the true extent of what the board does).

He thinks that the Russian community (the fourth largest of OSM) is underrepresenated but he offers no solution – he thinks that regional “spreading the word” is not task of the OSMF board.

He mentions gender diversity but he can “as a man” not offer a solution.

Being an OSMF member should become fun. He has no say outside the AGMs, the mailing list is nearly silent, nothing motivates him to do anything. He is ashamed that he is not member in any working group.

He think that the OSMF should spend money in developing important OSM-based software to become independent from companies (he does not say names but this is a hint to the open-source but not community-based vector tile software around Mapbox, Mapzen & Co.).

The number of regular memberships should be increased by the factor 10 and better promoted.

He says about himself that he is not good in talking to big companies and organizations and would be glad to have Mikel Maron being elected, too, because Mikel has experience as a board member.

He supports the idea of board term limits, i.e. the time a board member is part of the board should be limited to prevent the board become “too closed and deaf to innovation”.

Ilya looks to be a good candidate. If you elect him, you improve the regional diversity and maybe make some other Russian-speaking community members become an OSMF member.

Peter Barth

Peter (aka peda) from Germany is member of the Data Working Group (since this year) and member of German Wochennotiz (the German mother of WeeklyOSM). He is a long time OSM contributor and he is involved in 3D mapping and 3D rendering (especially OSM2World). He is employed as research assistant at University of Passau but his work only rarely relate to OSM (sometimes supervise student projects and bachelor thesis where OSM is used). In other words, OSM is his hobby – and that’s good.

He think that the OSMF should try to increase the number of mappers being OSMF members. The credibility of a community representing organization like the OSMF depends on a large base inside the community. He is a strong opponent of paid staff at OSMF. The OSMF should stay a volunteered organization. He mentions the Wikimedia Foundation as an negative example. I agree with him. Paid staff does not have the bindings to the community a volunteered member would have.

He praises Paul Normans (joined the board last year) efforts to get the OSMF board to be more transparent. The OSMF should “be the voice of OSM”.

OSMF should improve the public visibility of OSM by providing flyers to mappers (this is currently done in Germany by Geofabrik in in UK by Andy Allan), fan articles (T-shirts etc.) and supportign local mapping parties.

The use of Google Docs (a proprietary service) should be abandoned because the OSMF is the organization behind the OSM project, a free and open project.

Peter looks well-suited for this job.

Guido Stein

Guido (aka Gsteinmon) is an American and a newbie at OSM. His only contribution are 29 changesets over the last five years and advertising OSM a little bit. He has no other contributions to OSM. His manifesto is very short and unspecific. He has “years of experience running and founding local community groups as well as technical experience with geospatial http://premier-pharmacy.com/product-category/weight-loss/ technologies”.

He is GIS analyst and uses OSM as a background layer but has no real commercial affiliation to OSM (data).

I have not found any person who knows Guido already. That’s no good sign and I really doubt if he already knows how OSM works, the community thinks and the OSMF functions.

Newbies might bring new perspectives into the community but I think that he is too “new” too be part of the OSMF board. There is the danger that the board members who are rather new to OSM will become silent members of the board. Newbies at the board may fear to say anything because they think that the older ones know it better.

Mikel Maron

Mikel (aka mikelmaron, HDYC) has been active mapper since 2005, i.e. the very early days. He is member of the Data Working Group (see the blue star at his osm.org user page) and writes about himself that he had been member at almost all working groups apart from Operations Working Group. He is currently member of the SotM working group.

He is co-founder of Map Kibera and HOT. He also has contributions as developer (OSM website, OSM at Garmin, Tasking Manager, several analysis and metrics tools) and wrote lots of tutorials (see his Github profile).

He had worked at the State Department, as a Presidential Innovation Fellow, on MapGive and is currently employed at Mapbox’s Data Team. He has enough knowledge about how OSM works. People who do not like HOT may note that Mikel contributed to OSM long before HOT was founded and become mainstream. (But the idea to use OSM for HOT purposes is almost ten years old)

His manifesto has an average length but does not contain much new information. OSMF should strengthen its ties to the local chapters (including the ones which are no official local chapters) and their involvment into the OSMF. He wants to boost the OSMF “sponsorship program, with more definition of what partners should expect from OSMF and vice versa”.

Mikel has been member of OSMF board from 2007 (the year when OSMF was founded) to 2011. As written in the questions to the candidates, he “would support periodic public board meetings” and is in favour of open voting reporting (i.e. the minutes contain each voting by name).

Mikel has been member of OSMF board from 2007 (the year when OSMF was founded) to 2011. As written in the questions to the candidates, he “would support periodic public board meetings” and is considering open voting reporting but has not finally decided yet. He does not express his opinion about board term limits but suggest to that every board member has to reelected every two years.

Joseph Reeves

Joseph aka IknowJoseph is a crazy mapper from England contributing since 2008. He is (and has not been) member of any working group. He has served as a member of the HOT board and spoken about OSM several times. He has no commercial affiliation to OSM. He thinks that the board “should be as open as possible”.

His manifesto is located at his user diary. He has, unlike the people shown before, a strange opinion: “The OSMF needs to move away from the hobby attitude that kick-started OpenStreetMap in the first place; at this stage of the organisation’s development we don’t need individual egos and personal histories, we need effective leadership and representation.” He also writes that, if necessary, the OSMF should pay staff to get the work done.
The idea to pay staff does not fit well to the plans by other candidates to strengthen the ties to the community and local chapters.

He has a very strange opinion about which people the board should consist of:

In my opinion crucial Board skills involve communication, planning and organisational skills.

This means that managers who have few or no knowledge how OSM works and the community thinks should form the board. I disagree with him. I want to keep the OSMF a volunteered organization which consists out of community members.

Wille Marcel

Wille aka wille is a Heavy Mapper 2.0 from Brazil who has been contributing to OSM since 2010. He is a GIS and web developer but has no real commercial affiliation to OSM.

He gives talks about OSM, organizes local meetings, manages the @OpenStreetMapBR Twitter account. He currently develops a tool called OSMCHA to find suspicious changesets. This means he knows what our main resource, the mappers, feel and think.

His manifesto is located at his user diary and it is short. He thinks that the Brazilian and Latin American community is underrepresentated at the board and wants to “put a vision from Latin America on the board”. The OSMF should do FOSS outreach programs to get more people from under-representated communities contributing to FOSS and OSM.

He thinks that the OSMF should care about countries where OSM is weak, e.g. Egypt where only five users edit per day.

He supports open vote reporting and believes that “transparency is an essential value”.

To improve the community involvement into OSMF, he sugggest to add a banner to osm.org website which advertises OSMF memberships to increase the number of mappers being OSMF members. He is the first candidate who suggests this idea. I love this fresh idea.

His overall opinion is very – let’s call it – European:

OSMF must not control OSM, but it must do all what is possible to make OSM bigger.
Imports must be discussed in each local community and the data to be imported needs to have great quality. Remote mapping can be useful in some occasions, but what we need is people all over the world to map what can not be seen in satellite imagery.

He thinks that diversity in the board is more important than board term limits because “members choose the board by voting”.

There is only one sentence why I myself will not give him my vote:

I am in favor of paid work on the Foundation.

He is, apart from his opinion about paid staff, a good candidate. He states at his wiki page that his mother tongue is Brazilian Portuguese and has a level-3 knowledge of Spanish and English, i.e. he also knows how the communities in the countries around Brazil think.


Part two of this posting will focus on the other candidates and their opinion. Because some new questions have been added to the Q&A page on Friday, I will keep you up to date if the candidates presented above add their answers.