2019 OSMF board candidates – analysis and recommendations


This year’s OSMF board elections are going to decide on four of seven seats of the OSMF board. The last time this happened was in 2015 when Henk Hoff, Oliver Kühn and Dermot McNally – all of which had been on the board for many years, resigned or their terms ended and they did not re-run. Back then the introduction of three completely new members changed the dynamics of the board significantly and led to a number of important reforms, in particular a significantly better level of transparency of the board’s work, specifically through the introduction of regular public board meetings, the creation of a FOSS policy for the OSMF (which unfortunately continues to be partly ignored – especially by some working groups), the creation of the current corporate membership system (the long term benefit of which is disputed but which was without doubt a high impact change) and the creation and filling of the paid position of an administrative assistant, which significantly changed the dynamics and work style within the OSMF – again with remaining question marks on the long term effects.

In many aspects the situation of the OSMF today is similar to as it was in 2015 with the board being dominated largely by people who have been on the board for a long time (none of those three newly elected to the board in 2015 are today on the board any more while there are four members on the board right now who have been a board member more than these four years, some of them significantly longer). Current board work is – at least from my perspective – dominated by structural conservativism, a culture of intransparency and a glacial pace at making decisions even on obviously significant and urgent matters. There also seems to be an increasing detachment of the OSMF board from the practical day-to-day work in the OSM community.

So this years election have the potential

  • to initiate a new age of dynamic work in the interest and in support of the project, its core values ( and the hobby mapper community – following up on the trend initiated in 2015 which unfortunately did not prevail over the coming years.
  • to moor the OSMF more tightly into the conservative deadlock of different competing interests.
  • to open the OSMF fully to the organized and corporate interests which have been trying to find inroads into OSMF policy decisions for the last years on various levels.

All three of these possibilities are within reach based on the twelve candidates we have in this year’s elections. Having four seats open for election will also make this year’s election more like a parliamental election where some of the seats could be filled with people who do not even remotely have the support of the majority of OSMF members.

I already published two comments related to this year’s elections, one of them with instructions to candidates on how to write their election statements and how to answer the questions and another one analyzing the current composition of the OSMF membership and to what extent it represents the OSMF community. Here i will now get to the main thing – the election statements of the candidates and their answers to the questions and what conclusions i derive from this regarding their qualification.

The questions

Tell us a little about your OSM activities

This question asks the candidates to tell us about their background within the OpenStreetMap project. Apart from the factual information the answers to this question contain this also gives us a glimpse into the mindset and the self image of the candidates.

The question contained several specific individual questions and only Rory, Allan, Guillaume, Dietmar and Clifford answered these individually and these are also the candidates who have overall provided the most on-topic answers to this. The others wrote a more or less generic self presentation of themselves, in some cases very extensively (Jinal) covering aspects of marginal significance for OSMF work.


Clifford: I even attended a Corporate OSM Geo-Karaoke event. Fortunately for everyone there I didn’t attempt to sing.

Tell us a little about why you want to be a board member

This question asks quite specifically about the agenda and the priorities of the candidates for their time on the board. Most of the candidates do present some ideas here – but they vary quite significantly in how specific and concrete they are. Vague promises of increasing diversity, improving communication and transparency and other things dominate the answers of quite a few of them and i would suggest all voters to not get lured by this. Also everyone should be careful about ideas and promises of candidates in fields where they show a poor track record in in their past.

Voters should also be very careful about candidates who talk less about their own aims of what they plan to actually do themselves when on the board but about wanting to get others to do certain things. Some seem to think that a position on the board would allow them to do so – through either money or other means.

Guillaume presents the most convincing ideas here because he actually can demonstrate having worked towards several of these in the past. Allan‘s answer to this question is a good example how – even if you have no or very little specific goals – you can still provide a convincing answer to this question in a much better way than presenting some vague ideas about governance, leadership, communication etc. or promising the moon without being in any way believable in doing so.


Guillaume: The 2018 GlobalLogic incident wasn’t an isolated case. As I write in my manifesto, they tried again this year.
Steve: Reinstate a private portion of board meetings so that board members can speak freely.

Being a board member

These questions are interesting not so much because of what they ask but because of the political narrative they imply and how the candidates deal with that (e.g. if they accept the narrative of the board being a place where decisions are made in the form of negotiating compromises between different competing interests). I already criticized the third of these three questions and the others come with similar problems.

Those candidates who try to document their qualifications for those tasks deemed significant by the questions often point primarily to experiences outside the project w.r.t. those tasks. This is highly problematic because OpenStreetMap due to its egalitarian international and cross cultural scope is very different from other projects where candidates might have gained experience in their own cultural context and transferring these experiences without critical reflection could lead to attempts at colonializing OSM with the culture and values the candidate is more familiar with.

The most reflective and critical answers to this set of questions come from Rory and Guillaume but also Allan provides a pretty convincing answer including both in-project and out-of-project experiences.


Allan: This is the heart of diplomacy, and my 37+ years in three U.S. foreign affairs agencies provided me with a wealth of exactly this experience.
Mikel: I particularly feel lucky to have known and learned from great leaders at Mapbox.

Board diversity

Diversity is and has been – since OpenStreetMap made serious attempts at covering the whole earth – a big topic for the project. The interesting thing about this, however, is that different cultures have different perspectives on diversity and especially the Anglo-American narrative, which is often dominating in the OSMF, frequently takes a very selective and sometimes somewhat superficial view on the topic. The questions in this section focus on one diversity aspect only – gender diversity – and specifically do not extend on other diversity topics. It requests from the candidates an analysis for the underlying reasons of the fairly obvious lack of gender diversity within the OSMF board.

Unfortunately there are some very problematic patterns in several of the answers of the candidates regarding these questions:

  • Deflecting from the specific topic of gender diversity onto other diversity issues more suitable for the candidate’s agenda or even to general political interests of the candidate (like perceived discrimination of corporate mappers).
  • Treating OSM like any other tech project with an Anglo-American cultural dominance (which it is not).
  • Complaining about the state of affairs but mentioning nothing specifically they would want to do to address the problem but instead pointing to the assumed deficits of others who are perceived to be the culprits while they (the usually male candidates) do not consider themselves to be part of the problem.

The answer of Michal is particularly remarkable because it not only features all of the above mentioned points, it also essentially states that hobby mappers are bad for OSM because they prevent engineering a pseudo-diverse mapper community and that the fundamental idea of OSM of focusing on local knowledge is somehow discriminating in itself.

Nuno and Guillaume are the only candidates who identify the lack of representation of the mapper community among the OSMF members as a source for the lack of diversity. But also Rory, Allan and Dietmar provide important contributions to the topic.


Guillaume: The women I asked all gave the same reason for not wanting to run. It wasn’t sexism or a gender issue – and I am sure that it would have come up. “I’d rather have a board of men than alibi women”, one wrote. What they all mentioned was something the Board can’t do much about: a lack of time.
Allan: Recruit more female mappers and then urge some of them to run for the board.
Steve: Diversity needs to be diverse
Eugene: My view is that this reflects the gender diversity issue found in the wider technology communities such as numerous open-source projects and even open-knowledge communities like the Wikimedia movement.
Mikel: To address this means accepting the reality of the issue, identifying what barriers exist, and then support initiatives to make change.
Rory: We live in a society. The society has biases, which we have unconsciously picked up those biases and we repeat them.
Clifford: Highly effective organizations have learned to embrace empowerment, inclusiveness, and respect for for all. It is a goal that OSMF should adopt.
Jinal: Have event and general code of conducts that also addresses this community. This are first few steps towards an inclusive community.
Nuno: Board diversity should first come from the members
Gregory: We all need to make an effort to encourage individuals we know by telling them we think they would be great for certain roles.
Michal: Hobby mapping is a form of participation available mostly to men with spare time who feel safe mapping public spaces, in geographic locations accessible to bicycle or pedestrian mappers. It is not a model universally useful for expansion into new areas, and our significant failures in diversity are a result of failures in welcoming different models of participation.
Dietmar: I will try to invest my energy, that the board members will act respectful together and that politically motivated acitivities will not get a place on board.

Your time

This is a short question about the amount of time candidates will be available to invest. All candidates promise to continue their current participation in WGs (if there is any) if they become a member of the board so no surprises here. I only want to extract a quote from Guillaume‘s reply here which well characterizes the matter:

Being a board member is quite a commitment. I have been critical of current board members who can’t find enough time to participate. Read the answers carefully, and be wary of candidates with no obvious current commitment to the project – if they have no skin in the game, why are they running, how will they know what’s going on and who do they represent?


Gregory: In July I stepped down from the board of the OSM UK local chapter, mainly because there were newer people wanting to stand for the board and I was happy to encourage them.

Transparency: Conflicts of interest

This is in my eyes the most significant complex of questions but in the past CoI questions to the board candidates have often resulted in very disappointing answers and board members often seem to have an amazing lack of awareness and sensitivity to the problem.

Because of the significance of the matter i will in this case give a candidate-by-candidate assessment of their answers:

  • Guillaume: Most reflective of all candidates
  • Allan: Too short for a good assessment but demonstrates a very low probability for practical CoI situations
  • Steve: Demonstrates to be completely unqualified
  • Eugene: Lack of awareness of the problem
  • Mikel: No demonstrated awareness of the problem, continues to reject the existence of CoIs affecting him
  • Rory: Some reflection about possible CoI cases but ultimately rejection of the possibility
  • Clifford: Too short to make a proper assessment
  • Jinal: No demonstrated awareness of the basic problem
  • Nuno: All right answer, shows sensitivity to non-obvious conflicts of interest
  • Gregory: Limited awareness but very careful and considerate
  • Michal: Demonstrates to be completely unqualified
  • Dietmar: Limited awareness


Jinal: I’m the Senior Outreach and Community Manager at Grab, whose work is to build and support communities but does not limit to just OpenStreetMap. Considering a huge part of my role is closely working and supporting local communities and communicating different project across, there are lesser chances of conflict between the two as both, their goals are, to grow, support and collaborate with the local communities.
Michal: My candidacy for the OSMF board has been vetted by communications and legal representatives at Facebook.

We are looking for a new Treasurer

This can be handled very briefly – it asks if the candidates would volunteer for the treasurer position.

Steve, Guillaume and Clifford would do that, the others would not. Guillaume and Clifford would seem to have the necessary qualification and reliability (we are talking about being in charge of managing several hundred thousand Euros here) – Steve as treasurer would be more like putting a fox in charge of the hen house.

Are you willing to attend a Board face to face meeting?

This is again a great question – not because of the formal answer (it is two short yes/no questions) but because it invites a critical reflection on the style of cooperation and the view candidates have of the role of the board within the OSM community.

Unfortunately most of the candidates take the easy route here and answer yes, great idea, of course i will participate. What i would have liked to see from candidates is

  • a critical reflection on the elitist nature of the whole concept of face to face meetings of the board. The problem is OSM is a project of global cooperation so everyone within it – be that mappers, developers or anyone else – has to struggle with the need to communicate and cooperate with others remotely without the benefit of direct face-to-face communication. That is the fundamental nature of a project like OpenStreetMap. Now if the OSMF board not only reserves the privilege for themselves to not be bound by this but also uses community money to finance that privilege they consider themselves clearly to be an elite within the community deserving this kind of privilege and i would expect board candidates to at least have some thought about what warrants this status.
  • a critical reflection on the discriminating aspects of making the participation in a face-to-face meeting at least an informal requirement – for example w.r.t. people with disabilities of phobias or living in countries with practical travel constraints preventing them from participating in such endeavors.
  • a commitment to providing the community with some documentation of measurable benefits and results of these meetings. I have been requesting that for the past two years at least and the current board does not consider the need to justify the expenses of having face-to-face board meetings at the cost of several thousand Euros each time to the members.
  • some level of reflection on the sustainability of having this kind of meeting and the resulting climate gas emission footprint. In a nutshell: How do the candidates think OSM can have a long term future if the coordination of the project requires seven people to jet around the world to meet at least once a year for that?

Of the candidates only Rory, Dietmar and Eugene touch any of these topics, Rory and Eugene mention the discriminating aspects to some extent, Dietmar the sustainability issues. No one discusses the other matters i pointed out – which is disappointing.


Dietmar: I try to absolutely minimize flights, for private and for business purposes.

The Board and Working Groups

These questions are primarily about the candidates’ ideas about the inner structure of the OSMF.

Many of the candidates try to answer this without actually providing a clear assessment of their view of the current situation with some non-substantial bloomy phrases like talking about leadership, a better system to listen to working groups or similar. Michal even has the audacity to mainly rant about a perceived failure of the working groups in doing their jobs instead of answering the questions about what he would do concretely on the board.

The candidates can be largely categorized on this into supporters of moving to a more centralized OSMF with the board having tighter control over the working groups (Steve, Mikel, Michal) and supporters of independent working groups or as Allan nicely puts it: delegation of both responsibility and authority (Gregory, Rory, Allan, Guillaume). The others don’t have a clear position on that.

Guillaume has clearly the most background knowledge and points out some of the most significant issues. In general those candidates who are on one or more working groups have better knowledge of the subject but even among these the level of understanding of the current issues and difficulties is disappointing.


The most remarkable quote from the answers on this comes from Allan: That in fact is the single most important role of the Board, to focus on sustainability of the organization as a whole and in particular on the role of volunteers. My role as a board member would include recruiting not only new mappers but identifying prospective working group members and recruiting them to help out with those working groups, too.
Nuno: Delaying decisions about bad citizens of OSMF that are corporate members, just because they are corporate members is wrong.

The Board and the community: communication

This question, asking about what OSM related communication channels the different candidates follow, is unfortunately not very useful for assessing the candidates. Just because candidates list a lot of channels here that does not necessarily mean they actually follow the discussions there. Unfortunately, none of the candidates writes about any attempts to follow and get insights into communications outside their cultural comfort zones. What we would like to see in a board member is obviously the ability to keep track of matters in the community in a relatively non-biased way. I would also have liked to see some critical reflection on gated community communication channels. None of this can be found in the answers though.


Rory: How to do I keep track? Probably by spending a lot of time on the internet!

The Board and the community: What would you do?

This point covers a whole complex of questions and the candidates are asked to pick one of them and answer it – which makes comparison difficult. I am going to go through the individual questions and quickly point out what candidates have answered on these.

  • multilingual maps – the answers here are mostly disappointing either throwing buzzwords around without background knowledge, throwing money at the problem or indiscriminately intending to support anyone promising to provide that or not even considering the difference between a map layer on vs a map hosted by the OSMF. In any case, the right answer would of course be that this is none of the board’s business to meddle with – we have clear guidelines for map layers on
  • ground-truth based rulings of the Data Working Group – most candidates who commented on this were in defense of the DWG’s decision and critical of the board’s interference. Mikel of course tries to spin his own story of this matter in defense of the decision which he helped to make and then retroactively tried to justify – including the idea that he invented the principle of on-the-ground verifiability. Guillaume explains the situation better than i can in his answer.
  • gender pronouns – almost everyone expresses their support for this without critical thoughts and this is once again fairly disappointing. At least a hint of reflection on the fact that in a multilingual and multicultural community like OSM thinking about use of English language pronouns is a bit besides the point when it comes to OSMF politics. Allan is the only candidate who shows to understand this.
  • attribution by corporations – answers to this question are a pretty good indicator how aware candidates are of the problem of corporate influence on the OSMF and how it can affect actions and policy making of the OSMF board. Of the candidates who address this question Mikel, Gregory and Eugene essentially reject substantially addressing the topic by pushing this to the (corporate dominated) LWG for designing a policy. Michal of course presents the Facebook company line – which is so annoyingly disrespectful that it is hard to even read it. Of the others, only Nuno and Dietmar have a clear stance – with Nuno suggesting bold actions against corporate members doing insufficient attribution and Dietmar focusing more on public pressure. The rest mostly suggest asking nicely but not do anything of substance when corporations ignore that (which is kind of pointless IMO).
  • employees of companies that use OSM data on board and WGs – this is actually a key question w.r.t. how serious a candidate is about regulating and limiting corporate influence on the OSMF. Of the company employees only Rory shows a critical and problem-aware perspective. He – like Guillaume, Clifford, Eugene and to some extent Dietmar – see the need for some clear conflict of interest policy for that. The problem is of course if the design of such a policy is negotiated within a board that already has a number of members with a corporate or organizational background, who would be severely affected by clear CoI regulation.
  • GDPR implementation – this is a good proxy for how much interest the candidates have in the more annoying and less popular aspects of OSMF work. It is also an indicator on how diligent candidates are w.r.t. privacy and dealing with personal data in general. This question is answered by Gregory, Mikel, Rory, Allan, Guillaume, Dietmar, Clifford and Eugene. Only Rory mentions privacy and data protection to be important matters on their own, the others regard this mainly as a compliance problem.
  • iD development controversy – this has been a hot topic recently and i also commented on that. It is of questionable relevance for the board elections though. Still, the individual answers of the candidates paint an interesting picture on what perception they have of current developments in the OSM community and how neutral and culture independent they can be in their assessment.


Guillaume: It’s important that data users can’t regulate themselves and write their own attribution guidelines through their participation in LWG.

OpenStreetMap 2030 Vision

This vision into the future question mainly tells us something about the candidates’ world view around OSM in general and the sophistication and differentiation in their perception.

Here my reading of the different answers:

  • Guillaume touches a lot of important points – most notably the future need for more data maintenance on the mapping side and for more data processing on the data use side.
  • Allan points out the significance of the move from desktop to mobile computing devices.
  • Steve presents how he would like OSM to develop based on his current economic interests.
  • Eugene expresses a strong hope that AI/ML data collection techniques will be more broadly used for data collection in OSM in the future.
  • Mikel presents a very short answer reflecting the desire for OSM stay as it is now in the future.
  • Rory hopes that OSM keeps doing the things that make it cool now and otherwise does not think there is much use in speculation on this time frame.
  • Clifford expresses his hope for more mappers from all parts of the world.
  • Jinal sees OSM developing into a model open source project (with all the disadvantages like Anglo-American cultural dominance and technocratic rule i presume).
  • Nuno sees a need for advance validation and evaluation of edits in the future.
  • Gregory focuses on how public perception of OSM will hopefully widen in the future.
  • Michal presents a short paragraph of a positive writeup of OSM in a corporate PR style without any substantial vision for the future.
  • Dietmar expresses his hope that corporations will not try to add data to OSM at large scale any more without local knowledge and often low reliability.


Eugene: I hope that OSM will function as *the* world’s free and open geodata commons.

The candidates

I am now going to present my analysis on the candidates of this year’s OSMF board election. This is obviously a subjective assessment but it is based on many years of observation of the OSMF, seeing the coming and going of many candidates and board members. I am going to say good and bad things about various candidates but please keep in mind that these refer to the candidates’ qualification for the position of a board member. Just because i consider someone non-qualified as an OSMF board member does not mean i have an overall bad opinion for them as a person.

Guillaume Rischard

Guillaume is overall for me the most convincing of the candidates independent of the alignment of his political positions to mine. He has proven in his community work in the past – on the DWG and MWG – that he has an in depth knowledge of the OSM community and the OSMF and the ability and willingness to work hard in the interest of the community. He has also proven in his community activities that he practices an open work and communication style and i have experienced him to be willing and able to listen to other people and even (which unfortunately is often rare in the OSM community) actively reaching out for feedback and input on his work.

He has clear and solidly based positions on many of the questions asked and often provides the most thoughtful and reflective answers showing a good understanding of the matter. It can be expected that he would – when on the board – be a very productive member quickly being able to analyze matters and to form qualified opinions on topics. He is also one of only three candidates who would be willing to work as treasurer for the OSMF.

Guillaume’s main topic for this year’s election is OSMF’s resilience against attempts from the outside to influence and control it, most notably from large corporate data users. He supports this goal with solid arguments based on his past experience on the MWG.

Overall i think Guillaume this year stands out as the most qualified candidate among all the twelve options we have.

Allan Mustard

Allan has, as it is visible from his answers, only limited knowledge of the OSMF and its inner workings. That he still provides impressively thoughtful, clear and concise answers to many of the question is testimony to his exceptional qualification. Part of this is due to his work experience as a diplomat but a large part i would think is also to a much broader exposure to other cultures.

He makes in his manifesto a clear and strong statement in support of local knowledge and local craft mapping as the basis of the project. He has demonstrated with his mapping activity that this is not just a hollow statement but based on practical experience and first hand recognition of the values of this.

Of all the American candidates of this year’s election Allan clearly is my first choice. I think he would make an excellent addition to the board and with his answers he has amply demonstrated that even without deeper background on many of the more specific OSMF topics he is able to provide useful input and considerations to the discussion.

Steve Coast

The candidacy of Steve can in my opinion best be described as a bad joke. This is not the first time he has launched an OSMF board candidacy after first retiring from the board in 2012. In 2015, when also four seats were open for election he ran a similar ad hoc candidacy and failed fairly narrowly.

He has shown next to no activity in the OSM community during the past years and shows significant gaps in his knowledge and understanding of current OSMF topics. For example one of his stated goals is to introduce term limits for the board but he does not mention that term limits are being decided on in this year’s AGM in a separate vote. He seems very full of himself and not hesitant to inflate his involvement (like “I tend to follow a little bit of all the communication channels.” or “I’ve been attending board meetings on Mumble for some time.”) .

One of his main agenda items seems to be to roll back the transparency improvements of the past years by making the board meetings (which at the moment are fortunately open to the members on a regular basis) exclusive to the board, so that board members can speak more freely.

And finally Steve fails to mention his current employment status (he seems to be working for TomTom right now) – although this is specifically asked for in the questions, where he vaguely states “I’ve worked in mapping for my entire career, and it’s enhanced by, not limited or conflicted by OSM.”

Overall, i can only strongly recommend against voting for Steve – his presence on the board would be very bad for the OSMF and the OSM community.

Eugene Alvin Villar

Eugene is an active community member from the Philippines. His platform for the board election is strongly based on identity politics for the Asian local communities. One of the things he wants to pursue is for the OSMF to provide support (including financial support) to local communities in Asia and elsewhere on the world – an idea i have repeatedly spoken against because it would make local communities economically dependent of the central OSMF and this way would increase the cultural dominance of the OSMF over local communities rather than improve the global diversity and establish local organized communities as a counterweight to the OSMF.

What distinguishes Eugene from most of the other active community members running in this election is a fairly uncritical attitude towards corporate influences in OSM. He is also in strong support of organized mapping efforts and AI based data production. He lacks a more in depth awareness of the problem of Conflicts of Interests based on his statements.

Eugene is also active in Wikipedia and seems to be in support of disputed additions of non-verifiable external IDs to OSM. While this is not of much relevance for the board (the board has no say on matters like that traditionally) it indicates a fairly flexible relationship to the core values of the project. He also recommends OSM to take Wikipedia and open source development projects as examples for various things without critical reflection on the unique aspects of OSM.

Overall Eugene would not be my first choice as candidate and has significant weaknesses in various fields. But he is a motivated and active community member and demonstrates a willingness to work for the project and a solid background knowledge.

Mikel Maron

Mikel is the only incumbent running in this year’s elections. He essentially has no other choice than to run on a platform of conservativism because every promise to change something of substance would bear the question why he has not done that so far. He has been in total on the board for nine years now and in contrast to the other long term members whose terms end this year and who have decided not to run again despite some people urging them to do (Frederik and Kate), Mikel wants to stay on the board.

Since he is on the board right now looking at his work from the past years is at least as important as looking at his answers to the questions. And Mikel has during the past years been responsible (sometimes with others) for some of the most problematic decisions and actions of the board. His massive attempts at lobbying against regulating organized editing activities are legendary (see my diary entry for that). So is the famous Crimea decision against existing policy and outside the board rules of order. Not to mention the GlobalLogic incident (which Steve just wrote about again).

Mikel presents a lot of vague and non-specific wishlist-like ideas in his answers. One of the few specific things he mentioned is that he wants to impose a regulatory framework (which he calls rules of order) on the working groups. That he in his own WG work on the SotM WG and in his board work is frequently in violation of existing policy (data protection law, FOSS policy, board rules of order) does not appear to speak against that for him.

A large part of Mikel’s political activities happen on closed channels outside of public scrutiny. Steve in the above linked diary confirms this and so do various people who i have talked with who have interacted with Mikel on closed channels, as well as records of such communication i have seen.

He has – outside his OSMF work – hardly been active in open channels of the OSM community for the past years.

Overall, i can only recommend strongly against voting for Mikel. If you want to see a candidate with a relatively conservative agenda on the board there are other choices among this year’s candidates like for example Clifford. If you are worried about continuity and loss of institutional knowledge on the board Guillaume would be a good choice because he is well acquainted with OSMF internals.

Rory McCann

For avoiding confusion – i referred to Rory with the pronoun ‘they’ because they prefer that.

Rory runs their candidacy with two clear goals: The limitation of corporate influence on the OSMF and OSM and the pursuit of diversity in the project. They do so in a relatively down-to-earth way and in my experience tend to respect and substantially listen to those with even fundamentally different views.

They are very active in the OSM community and have a solid and practical understanding of things. This is also visible in the answers to the questions. On the board they would likely be a valuable addition this way. Rory works for Geofabrik so they have a professional connection to OSM but they have in the past not shown their views expressed on community channels to be significantly guided by their job. They are pretty upfront about where their professional interest might influence their opinion – which is much more reflective than from the other candidates with professional OSM connections although i would have liked to see more of a principled position being articulated on the CoI topic.

By combining the goals of a strong support for an OpenStreetMap defined and controlled by craft mappers and the pursuit of diversity Rory might also be able to, in some way, bridge the map between hobby mappers who are worried about defending their cultural identity within the project and activists working for diversifying the global OSM community.

Overall Rory is one of the candidates i find most suitable in this year’s elections.

Clifford Snow

Clifford is one of the most active and most well known American hobby mappers in the global OSM community. He runs in this year’s elections with a relatively moderate agenda. He intends to embrance the corporate interest in the project but also wants to demand compliance to certain standards from corporate actors in return.

One unique point in his agenda is that he wants to limit the OSMF board to a more strategic role. How this is supposed to be implemented exactly is not clear but willingness of board members to give up competencies of the board is positive and the whole idea is intriguing.

Clifford also says he would volunteer for the treasurer’s position on the board and would in my opinion be well qualified for that.

Overall Clifford would be my recommendation for voters with a more conservative attitude who are looking for a candidate with a solid and broad background in the project.

Jinal Foflia

Jinal is a Grab employee and has written by far the largest volume of text in her answers and manifesto among the candidates. Of all the employees of large corporations with OSM connections she has the most down-to-earth attitude. But her ideas sketched in her answers and manifesto are generally fairly vague.

Her main topics are diversity and community communication. But she does not say a lot what specific projects or goals she would like to pursue when on the board.

Like her colleagues from other companies Jinal does not show any meaningful awareness of the problem of conflicts of interest. In my opinion this disqualifies her as employee of a large corporation with OSM connection from a position on the board. Problem awareness of this would IMO be a fundamental requirement for that.

Nuno Caldeira

Nuno already ran for the board last year and does so this year again with focus on the topic of the lack of proper attribution by corporate data users.

He does not provide much on other topics but where he does his ideas are relatively practical and solid, based on practical mapping experience as a craft mapper.

Overall i would recommend adding him to your ballot in the elections, i believe he would be a positive contribution on the board although there are others among this year’s candidates who i consider more qualified.

Gregory Marler

Gregory is a long time active community members from England. He has a relatively vague agenda but ultimately on many points a fairly moderate position. His main topic of interest seems to be improving communication and he has a relatively good track record on that. This could make him a valuable addition though the lack of clear positions on many current matters makes me hesitant to put him higher on my ballot.

Michal Migurski

Michal is a Facebook employee and probably in many ways the most extreme candidate on the ballot this year. In contrast to the other corporate employees running in this election who at least claim to run as private OSM community members who just happen to be employed by a corporation with OSM connections he more or less states that he is running as a Facebook employee. His answer to the conflict of interest question contains nothing of substance, in other words he – like Steve Coast – completely rejects the idea of conflicts of interest.

This alone IMO disqualifies him from a position on the board but beyond that his agenda is distinctly anti-craft-mapper. He repeatedly points to a blog post he has made a few years ago where he declared craft mappers essentially as irrelevant and the future of OSM to be AI bots and organized mapping.

Apart from this blog post he has essentially shown no significant activity of any kind in the OSM community for the last years.

Michal’s agenda for the board essentially sketches the idea of turning OSM into a Facebook mapmaker platform controlled by corporations and replace the current independent and self confident craft mapper community with a mallable and replaceable workforce of actively recruited volunteers and paid mappers.

Overall i would strongly recommend not voting for Michal. His presence on the OSMF board would be most damaging for the OSMF and the project.

Dietmar Seifert

Dietmar was the last candidate to nominate himself and his answers and manifesto look a bit sketchy and incomplete. He is the only German candidate and has been an active member of the German OSM community for many years. He is particularly known in the German community for his QA services like for checking the completeness of addresses and streets in OSM based on lists obtained from public authorities.

The main goals of Dietmar’s candidacy are regulation of corporate involvement, focus on local knowledge in mapping, transparency, clearer policies on software on the OpenStreetMap website and more meaningful involvement of local chapters in OSMF decision making processes. As a unique point he proposes the creation of a tagging working group – which is a bit at odds with the current mission of the OSMF which specifically does not allow the OSMF to interfere with tagging and mapping.

Dietmar is typically very cautious and considerate in his communications and would in my opinion be a valuable addition to the board although with his lack of involvement in the international OSM community he is likely not very well known outside Germany and neighboring countries.

Voting recommendation

So where does this leave us in terms of who to vote for? My summaries and qualification assessments written above are of course based on my subjective views and preferences. Still i think they include a lot of useful neutral observations of value also for those with different preferences than me and could serve as a starting point for your own decision making process.

As i have written in the introduction above this year’s elections are significant because they could result in both a significant shift to the better and to the worse. Therefore, this year i will also provide an overall voting recommendation.

OSMF board elections are done with STV so your ballot contains a list of up to twelve names. I would recommend to vote for (in that order):

  • Guillaume
  • Allan
  • Rory
  • Clifford
  • Dietmar
  • Eugene
  • Nuno
  • Gregory

I would not include:

  • Jinal
  • Mikel
  • Steve
  • Michal

Every member should of course decide based on their own personal preferences who to vote for. Even if your values and ideas of what are important qualifications in a board member for the benefit of OpenStreetMap are similar to mine, you might vary the order from my recommendation to reflect your individual preferences. Read my arguments and reasoning above and if you have the time also read the full answers and manifestos and form your own qualified opinion to make a good election choice.

Also keep in mind that as part of the elections this year members are also asked to vote on a resolution regarding the membership fee waiver and normal members in addition on various AoA changes. I encourage you to read my comments and recommendations on those.


  1. Pingback: weeklyOSM 489 | weekly – semanario – hebdo – 週刊 – týdeník – Wochennotiz – 주간

  2. Hi Christoph,

    Thank you very much for your endorsement! I would like to clarify my position on attribution.

    Without any doubt, we should not “[ask] nicely but not do anything of substance.” Attribution, as I write in my answer, is essential. We must make sure that our guidelines are crystal clear about what we expect. Clear and reliable guidelines are good not only for contributors. Reusers need guidelines they can trust to frame how they can use OpenStreetMap, without the risk of upsetting mappers.

    Any license, without the potential of enforcement, is nothing but words, and of no strength to secure an open project at all. When the guidelines aren’t met, we do need to be able to go further than ask nicely. The recent action by the board to give FOSSGIS a PoA in one case to enforce attribution[1] is a very positive thing.


    • Thanks for elaborating on your agenda for the board. In my attempt to summarize the candidates’ statements i of course needed to reduce some of the more subtle differentiations and the nuances in the different views of insufficient attribution were one of these. Glad to hear this is an important point for you.

  3. Pingback: weeklyOSM 489 | weekly – semanario – hebdo – 週刊 – týdeník – Wochennotiz – 주간

  4. Thanks for this post, it’s very helpful for me to know how my words are heard. I’ve written a response post[1], clarifying some things. (feedback on feedback!). Summary: I’m aware of different languages w.r.t. gender pronouns, I think the OSMF must do more than just “ask nicely” when there are attribution issues, and I’d like to think I’m better than that w.r.t. CoI issues.


  5. Christoph and Rory, please keep in mind that English is not the native language of many mappers and refrain you from writing abbreviations: think about the time you saved by writing “w.r.t.” instead of “with respect too”… and the time people spent trying to encipher 😉 it.

    Durchschnittliche Note: hervorragend trotzdem

  6. Pingback: [Перевод] Новости из мира OpenStreetMap № 489 (26.11.2019-02.12.2019) – CHEPA website

  7. Pingback: News from the world OpenStreetMap No. 489 (11/26/2019 – 02/12/2019) / geek magazine – Developers

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