Community Smoothness

Back in July we had a fantastic conference all about OpenStreetMap. I did a write up of ‘The State Of The Map 2009’ back then, but I didn’t mention my talk on “Community Smoothness”.

Sadly the proper video of my talk is not available yet, but you can hear my talk and see the slides as a video (15 minutes long.  14Mb download) :

“Community Smoothness” talk : m4v format, or mov format

Or you can see just the slides on slideshare.

I will update this with a link if and when the real video comes available.

It’s a talk about debates within the OpenStreetMap Community, particularly “tagging” debates.

  • An explanation of the big debate we had about the “smoothness” tag, and how this led people to question the wiki processes.
  • A run through of common suggestions to fix the process, and problems with these ideas: The idea of creating a tagging committee, and ideas of locking the wiki page, or creating other restricted lists (such as downloadable PDFs or preset files) which boil down to the same thing.
  • Technical solutions, creating separate web-apps which list tags: Featurama, TagWatch, OSMdoc, Tagstat, Floaty cloud-Tagwatch-on-steroids. [Update: TagInfo is the one to use now, and happily seems to be longer lasting]
  • My suggestions for simple social solutions: Write out tagging policies as with the Verifiability page. Maybe supply motivation for people to be more critical of tagging proposals. Long-standing community members should display more information leading to respect within the community, or give out awards and write testimonials to each other more. Most importantly, we should generally improve the standards of existing tag documentation as a way of raising the bar to new proposals.
  • Closing remark: We should always seek positive outcomes from debates, and look for ways of taking action.

Since giving this talk, everyone in the OpenStreetMap community is following my advice, and a new spirit of harmonious cooperation has settled over the project….  and look! There’s a pig flying past 🙂

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