Momma and Patrick Swayze said be nice

Dec 4, 2014 | Open Street Map, Rambling

Probably the funniest thing that happened to me this year – and there were several – was the car incident. I was driving along with the child of a friend and I missed the street on which they lived. No big deal since I had 2 more turns I could make. She turned and looked at me and got excited “WHAT ARE YOU DOING? YOU MISSED THE TURN”. I know – I’ll catch the next one. “YOU…YOU….YOU’RE AN IDIOT”. I laughed and that didn’t help the situation – the kid just got more upset.

So Monday I called someone an asshole on a talk list on OSM. A diversity talk list. So yeah….I sent it and in my head I was screaming at myself “YOU’RE AN IDIOT”.  I won’t get into the details much.

  • Person A said something and misspoke.
  • Person B took personal offense and went overboard in the response to the point I felt it was a personal attack.
  • Myself – Well….I dove in because it’s happened before from Person B.

It’s the problem on any wiki type environment. The problems on Wikipedia are well known. OpenStreetMap has the same problem. Atanas The Geohipster has asked me to comment on the state of Geo and make some predictions for 2015. Last year NRGS predicted:

  • OpenStreetMap gets kicked out of Mom’s basement (finally!) only to find a world it is unprepared for. The good news, it will live in a van down by the river.
  • OpenStreetMap finally hits the mainstream as a recognized database and ends up splitting into two separate entities: one for the people who see it as a hobby and one for the companies who see the commercial opportunities behind it.

Neither was glaringly right and I would argue mostly wrong….sorta. If you look at the state of OSM licensing – yeah it’s a mess in my opinion. The fact that the data is ODBL licensed and  the last email I saw can’t accept ODBL licensed data….well. People are jumping the commercial opportunities. Look at Mapbox.  Steve Coast is trying to kickstart a book on OSM. OSM is pretty high on itself currently. That’s Good.

The problem is the community. I don’t think there is one ……well much of one. It could be my inherent problem with not being involved enough – but I’ve got this day job. I have noticed the more involved you get the more likely you are to suffer outburst from users. It’s not every one. It’s a few people. 90% of the people who work in OSM are good and passionate. There are the 10% though…. that other 10% are there. 90% of the time I’m happy with what I’m doing – but those 10% times overshadow the good. It’s gotten more civil over the last year since NRGS went through this blowup…but still. I don’t believe for a second we had anything to do with the civility getting better. I think it just happened. There are people – good people – working on a Code of Conduct. It’s needed. I broke that by screaming asshole.

Do I want to be involved in it? If I’m able to get so upset I call someone as asshole on a list… There’s enough stupid going around these days….we live in a stressful environment. I’ve got plenty of places to rage. I broke my personal rule on threatening to quit. You don’t threaten – you just quit.

I want to believe I can drag people into OSM and have them map the things they want to map…and do something good with the outcome. Except it’s gonna involve me getting bent out of shape and calling someone something. I know me. I can’t stand bullying behavior…and I used to do it online. I’m good at it. I was well known in my past job for burning people on email. That’s probably why I was so quick to scream this week. I should turn the other cheek and walk away….but…..

For me currently HOT is the only desirable chunk of OSM. It works. It’s community mapping Community and something good is coming out of the data. Do I digitize for HOT? not enough. Very little actually. I’m more interested in my neighborhood most of the time.

  • I’ve taught workshops on OSM.
  • I chose OSM for a talk next month to a group of Linux Users.
  • I try to bring people into OSM…

…and I’m finding a hard time believing I need to be there. Like today. I need less stress in my life. I really do. I left my last job because of stress. I need more good things. Less “You’re an idiot”.  Really. I don’t believe I’m inherently right on anything. . I’m wrong more than right. I don’t suffer yelling though.

With that – I turn off comments because I don’t need comments. I’m venting.

I’ll figure it out – but for now I’m taking a break from OSM for a bit. I hate it because I’ve got work coming up and OSM plays a role in it. Maybe OSM gets relegated to work and not fun from here on out. I’ve burned too much time in two days worrying about it.

Momma and Patrick Swayze said be nice. I wasn’t. Momma would be horrified I used the word asshole in public and didn’t spell it out like most of the family learned to do. Except A double S hole doesn’t always come to mind when I’m mad.



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