Thoughts on OSM design, and looking forward and back

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Thoughts on OSM design, and looking forward and back

Steve Coast
I really liked something I read in The New New thing ( http://www.amazon.com/New-Thing-Silicon-Valley-Story/dp/0140296468/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpi_7 ) about Jim Clark ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_H._Clark ) when the author Michael Lewis would ask about the past of his companies and stuff he'd say "that's boring" and "That's the past. I really don't give a shit about the past". ( http://books.google.com/books?id=UJw3i9_ZqQkC&lpg=PP1&dq=the%20new%20new%20thing&pg=PA44#v=onepage&q=shit%20about%20the%20past&f=false )

I think we're locked in between three groups of thought on the OSM right now.

Right up front we have the school of thought that everything is perfect the way it is. That uservoice is some kind of inherently crappy system (see the uservoice ideas page at http://osm.uservoice.com/ ). That we shouldn't allow people to use tools which make fixing the map easier (see @chilly on twitter), that people are inherently stupid and there should be a barrier to entry to editing in OSM because it's complicated. This school of thought is essentially still living in 1991 and I'll call this school the Game Haters: everything is wrong, even talking about it is wrong.

In the middle we have a bunch of thought on how the site should or shouldn't be. Legitimate questions about putting the map or help up front, or using OSB or uservoice, or some new system, or something. But nobody can agree with anyone else, and anyone who actually does anything comes under attack because they'd never encompass everyone's idea of what the design or UI should be. Let's call this school the Player Haters: the game is there, we can play by the rules but don't like it when someone plays better

Lastly we have a school which is looking forward and willing to throw out ideas and try them. They don't instantly hate everything or dismiss it because they don't personally like it. There is room in this school to understand that there are other schools out there, that what works for them might not work for someone else.

At points like these, I think we have to decide though some debate where the project is going to go. If we want to just keep the tools hard to use and subject people to PL1 and trac, then that's a legitimate point of view. If we can stand some innovation like group 2, then that's cool too, or if we're able to just move on and keep innovating.

If we look back, we've actually mostly not given a shit about the past. We threw out segments, threw out entire codebases (like 0.1 0.2 and so on) in the search for something better. We in OpenStreetMap tend to innovate. That's not to say it's not messy, it's a horribly messy process from a 'consensus' and community point of view, because often their isn't any consensus on anything, ever.

It's that central freedom to not conform that is the most important, beautiful and gratifying thing in the project but sometimes like now with the design, it holds us back.

I don't want the entire design debate to be about uservoice, but it's a great example that exposes the extremes of thought. Going through the extremes:

* Some people *literally* don't want any feedback.
* Some want feedback, but in trac or hidden in some other horrible system
* Some want feedback that's easy, but just not on the front page
* Some want feedback that's easy and upfront but not too exposed
* Some want feedback that's easy and exposed to the most people (like having maplint or keepright or OSM switched on the front page by default)

Will we ever get a consensus through debate? I highly doubt it.

For the record - yet again - I'm not proposing uservoice as the final solution. I'm not proposing we use it for map bugs. But, it is a brilliant tool for many sites and it's provocative and brings up cool ideas of what we can do in the future with something similar.

It's worth also thinking about where the schools of thought communicate. Mostly the negative ones are on the lists, and the positive ones have been in uservoice and on opengeodatas comments on the blog posts. Why is this? That's hard to answer. I think it might be simply that there are a lot of barriers to entry on the list, flames and baggage that a newbie doesn't want to deal with - because *they're a different group of people*.

The project can exist with these different schools of thought.

When I think back to most of the beginning years of OSM I'm struck remembering how much time I spent fucking around with SQL doing the big horrible jobs that nobody wants to do. Our sysadmins today mostly do all this awesome work and probably enjoy it like I did even, we need that skill set and school of thought to make the project run.

In other words - we have people who contribute in all sorts of ways.

At the same time, we growing in to the realm of a new school of thought. We're increasingly hitting people who can contribute enormously but just not in the way we're used to. Basically it's a question of time and how much mapping/software/community/etc you can contribute per unit time if you're a random member of the public new to the project:

* If you want to contribute a half-decade to OSM you can, and many have
* If you want to contribute a year to OSM you can, and get a lot out but you need that time
* If you want to contribute a month, that's reasonable
* If you want to contribute a week, you can do it just about probably with some pointers
* If you want to contribute an hour you need lots of help, like a mapping party
* If you want to contribute a minute, you're screwed

Everyone in OSM has basically been contributing for the kinds of extended periods of time as above, not the minutes or hours. Many see someone contributing so little as wrong or pointless. I say just the opposite. The people who spend minutes or hours disappear because we just don't welcome them.

It should be perfectly possible to contribute an error in 1 minute in OSM, and have someone who's prepared to spend a lot of time on it fix it. But so many people fight that idea. There's nothing to be afraid of, we're just increasing the size and reach of the community - and that's a good thing.

To think of it another way, consider a scale free distribution of OSM contributions, because that's what it looks like: we have a very few people spending 24/7 on OSM, we have a few people spending hours on the site a day and then *lots* people spending 5 minutes a day. What we should be able to do is connect those groups. If we have 60 people spending one minute to report a bug, say textually, on OSM then there are plenty of people in OSM willing to spend an hour going through and doing the actual editing. And the project would be infinitely stronger for it.

It's not like this is something new, it's exactly what map maker and waze do in their own way. We can do it better though. Our simple attempts like keepright, OSB and the dupe_nodes stuff points how big these kinds of feedback could be with more polish.

And we have to be honest about how bad things are. I know when I say that OSM is crap, PL1 is crap and so on many of you get all offended... but it's just the reality of it. I don't think we really need to get newbies to do screencasts on usability like wikipedia did? Get people in and record them trying to fix a street. We can, but if you can put yourself in a newbies shoes for a second you can see it.

We need new thinking and a fresh push on design and usability. That might not come from within the existing community, by definition if it's going to attract new and different kinds of people, which it needs to if we're going to scale to the next level of contribution.

Basically it comes down to trusting someone to do this stuff and not giving them too much crap for actually getting it done. We made many similar arguments with the license change process you might recall. Many think you can have a valid legal opinion without the nuisance of an actual law degree in the same way you can write kick-ass C code without having a degree in computer science. Everyone has those legal opinions the same way everyone has design opinions, but they're rarely right.

Back to what we need to fix - design, the editor experience, the logo (this spontaneously came up on uservoice again).. they all have fundamental problems. Just because they've worked for us old timers, we like the existing logo and we've learnt to put up with PL1's foibles doesn't mean that's the right thing to keep going forward.

I know matt takes it personally that the logo is anything other than perfect, and richard takes it personally that potlatch is crap for newbies... but that's just fact of the matter as I constantly hear from designers, newbies and so many others. I don't care about personal feelings on those particular topics nearly as much as it physically pains me to think about all the people we turn away every single day because of it.

We have IIRC about a 70% drop off rate of people who create an account and never do anything else. I've heard the school of thought that says "fuck them they wont contribute anyway" but I have to disagree. A simple prominent feedback tab to report map bugs or feature requests is the simplest possible thing you can add, and I promise it will lead to a huge spike in contributions. I'm willing to bet people money on that.

Most maps in the world try their best to hide their bugs, like closed software. We should be bold end expose them so they're fixed faster.

Lastly I want to talk about implementation.

It's clear after years of chatter that the community is the wrong place to innovate on design and probably editing too. The model of 'wait for someone to do it' works well on a bunch of things, but not everything. How did I get the design done? I paid $70 to a really great designer and html coder in peru who I worked with over skype to come up with the straw design. For $70 (at $7/hour) I got more done than the last 1-2 years of design in OSM. That should be celebrated not attacked because the current site is perfect (really, it isn't) or I didn't warn everybody (JFDI is supposed to be a virtue here).

There are talented flash coders, designers and more who will even work for free to help us too but just can't put up with people pissing all over their work, which is what usually happens on these lists, or bizarre tool chains or having to refactor crappy code. They don't have that thick skin and time for it. I think we need to find ways to work with them, or pay them, to work on this stuff. And that involves putting a buffer between the old timers in the community and people who want to move it forward.

Or maybe there's a better way, you tell me?

Case in point, PL2. We have no idea when it's coming, if it will work or what. What I personally want to see is a community of people behind building the thing like there is behind the rails codebase or even JOSM. But everyone's so afraid of pissing off richard, or doesn't have the time to work it all out, we're not moving forward like we should be.

Here's a radical solution - flash programmers are $10-$20/hour on oDesk.com and others (and it will be quicker and cheaper than you might think). Why don't we club together to get it finished? I'll come back to how in a second - but just think for a minute how many people are turned off because of the editor. If we can bring in just 1% more people a day with a better user experience and editor, then compounded over time we have a huge gain in map quality, community and everything else.

Back to paying someone. Is it the best solution? No. Will the result be perfect? No. Is it the best way to get open source code built? No, but I point out that most of the Linux kernel is now built by paid employees. Would Richard like to be paid to work on PL? No, I've tried a bunch of times. Would someone else in the community? Maybe. Should we try something again like bounties? Maybe that too. But just sitting around with the status quo on all these issues isn't getting anywhere fast.

At this point I will get a load of flames that Richard is awesome, he's spent loads of time on the project and all that. I agree. But, I take that as a given as I do with anyone in the project. We're all here giving time, love and effort. We shouldn't have to preface every criticism with three paragraphs about how we're all so great.

Lastly - I'm saying all this to promote a debate and discussion. Paying someone is just one option. Do I want to do it tomorrow? No, but it does look interesting. And, by the way, just paying doesn't mean we just get the software out. It means from experience you usually also really get the paid coder interested in helping long term (not always, but if you're good at picking who does the work) and in this case we'll also be able to pull in lots of people who are professional flash coders who will expect the code to be laid out a certain way, with such and such a toolchain and all that.

Let the flaming commence.


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Re: Thoughts on OSM design, and looking forward and back

Dermot McNally
On 23 February 2010 20:17, SteveC <[hidden email]> wrote:

An excellent and though-provoking post. It's rare to read something of
that length on such touchy subjects and agree with so much of the
content.

If I had to pick a single most important theme as the central one,
it's the whole area of turning people away from the project before
they even begin and how that's a really bad thing. For a long time OSM
was so far away from being ready for mass appeal that it didn't really
matter if normal people stayed away. We don't have that luxury any
more.

Our public face has to show us up at our best against the competition,
because the public doesn't know or care how clever it is under the
hood. But they do know what they can do with Google Maps and similar,
and we need to make those features an obvious and easy part of our own
front page, starting with mashable maps for the ordinary user.

And yes, I'm prepared to work on it.

Dermot

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Re: Thoughts on OSM design, and looking forward and back

Ian Dees
In reply to this post by Steve Coast
On Tue, Feb 23, 2010 at 2:17 PM, SteveC <[hidden email]> wrote:
I know matt takes it personally that the logo is anything other than perfect, and richard takes it personally that potlatch is crap for newbies... but that's just fact of the matter as I constantly hear from designers, newbies and so many others. I don't care about personal feelings on those particular topics nearly as much as it physically pains me to think about all the people we turn away every single day because of it.


Steve, I *really* don't want to start a flame war on the list (and I greatly appreciate your hard work on OSM), but I want to make sure and shine the mirror back at you a little bit. Lately your posts to this mailing list and others have been very confrontational on a personal level with some people. I imagine the discourse about new ideas for OSM would be much more civil if we didn't have to worry about personal attacks from you. I'm not saying your objections are *wrong*, but keep in mind that there are human beings subscribed to this list. When they read your troll-ey responses to criticism, I imagine it douses interest in continuing the on-topic conversation very quickly.

Also, I did not know OSM had a UserVoice page -- perhaps you could continue sharing with this list the ideas you've heard for making OSM better, but this time don't slit people's throats when they make a constructive response to your idea.

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Re: Thoughts on OSM design, and looking forward and back

JohnSmitty
In reply to this post by Steve Coast
On 24 February 2010 06:17, SteveC <[hidden email]> wrote:
> In the middle we have a bunch of thought on how the site should or shouldn't be. Legitimate questions about putting the map or help up front, or using OSB or uservoice, or some new system, or something. But nobody can agree with anyone else, and anyone who actually does anything comes under attack because they'd never encompass everyone's idea of what the design or UI should be. Let's call this school the Player Haters: the game is there, we can play by the rules but don't like it when someone plays better

The thing about OSB is there is already hooks into JOSM, how much
effort would it be to do the same thing for uservoice?

You don't need to use the OSB website, just their API.

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Re: Thoughts on OSM design, and looking forward and back

Steve Coast

On Feb 23, 2010, at 2:27 PM, John Smith wrote:

> On 24 February 2010 06:17, SteveC <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> In the middle we have a bunch of thought on how the site should or shouldn't be. Legitimate questions about putting the map or help up front, or using OSB or uservoice, or some new system, or something. But nobody can agree with anyone else, and anyone who actually does anything comes under attack because they'd never encompass everyone's idea of what the design or UI should be. Let's call this school the Player Haters: the game is there, we can play by the rules but don't like it when someone plays better
>
> The thing about OSB is there is already hooks into JOSM, how much
> effort would it be to do the same thing for uservoice?

For the 3 millionth time, I'm not proposing uservoice for map bugs! :-)

Just that the basic interface, a big feedback tab on the right/left etc is a good idea :-)

> You don't need to use the OSB website, just their API.

Yours &c.

Steve


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Re: Thoughts on OSM design, and looking forward and back

JohnSmitty
On 24 February 2010 07:30, SteveC <[hidden email]> wrote:
> For the 3 millionth time, I'm not proposing uservoice for map bugs! :-)

Well the same question goes for any proposal, but you keep mentioning
them, but the question is still valid when you do start looking at
solutions:

"how hard would it be to integrate a bug solution into JOSM etc?"

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Re: Thoughts on OSM design, and looking forward and back

Steve Coast
In reply to this post by Ian Dees

On Feb 23, 2010, at 2:07 PM, Ian Dees wrote:

> On Tue, Feb 23, 2010 at 2:17 PM, SteveC <[hidden email]> wrote:
> I know matt takes it personally that the logo is anything other than perfect, and richard takes it personally that potlatch is crap for newbies... but that's just fact of the matter as I constantly hear from designers, newbies and so many others. I don't care about personal feelings on those particular topics nearly as much as it physically pains me to think about all the people we turn away every single day because of it.
>
>
> Steve, I *really* don't want to start a flame war on the list (and I greatly appreciate your hard work on OSM), but I want to make sure and shine the mirror back at you a little bit. Lately your posts to this mailing list and others have been very confrontational on a personal level with some people. I imagine the discourse about new ideas for OSM would be much more civil if we didn't have to worry about personal attacks from you. I'm not saying your objections are *wrong*, but keep in mind that there are human beings subscribed to this list. When they read your troll-ey responses to criticism, I imagine it douses interest in continuing the on-topic conversation very quickly.

oh sure - if you have any specific ones that annoy you I can try and explain why I was short. I think mainly it was just very annoying how TomH pissed all over it straight away which is actually pretty unlike him.

> Also, I did not know OSM had a UserVoice page -- perhaps you could continue sharing with this list the ideas you've heard for making OSM better, but this time don't slit people's throats when they make a constructive response to your idea.

er... can you point to any example where I "slit people's throats when they make a constructive response" ?

Yours &c.

Steve


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Re: Thoughts on OSM design, and looking forward and back

Tom Hughes-3
On 23/02/10 21:35, SteveC wrote:

> oh sure - if you have any specific ones that annoy you I can try and explain why I was short. I think mainly it was just very annoying how TomH pissed all over it straight away which is actually pretty unlike him.

Did you read the long blog post I wrote the next morning where I
attempted to be more constructive?

Tom

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Re: Thoughts on OSM design, and looking forward and back

Steve Coast

On Feb 23, 2010, at 2:46 PM, Tom Hughes wrote:

> On 23/02/10 21:35, SteveC wrote:
>
>> oh sure - if you have any specific ones that annoy you I can try and explain why I was short. I think mainly it was just very annoying how TomH pissed all over it straight away which is actually pretty unlike him.
>
> Did you read the long blog post I wrote the next morning where I attempted to be more constructive?

No, sorry Tom, where was that?

Yours &c.

Steve


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Re: Thoughts on OSM design, and looking forward and back

Tom Hughes-3
On 23/02/10 21:46, SteveC wrote:

> On Feb 23, 2010, at 2:46 PM, Tom Hughes wrote:
>
>> Did you read the long blog post I wrote the next morning where I attempted to be more constructive?
>
> No, sorry Tom, where was that?

http://compton.nu/2010/02/redesigning-the-openstreetmap-web-site/

Tom

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Re: Thoughts on OSM design, and looking forward and back

Steve Coast
In reply to this post by JohnSmitty

On Feb 23, 2010, at 2:33 PM, John Smith wrote:

> On 24 February 2010 07:30, SteveC <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> For the 3 millionth time, I'm not proposing uservoice for map bugs! :-)
>
> Well the same question goes for any proposal, but you keep mentioning
> them, but the question is still valid when you do start looking at
> solutions:
>
> "how hard would it be to integrate a bug solution into JOSM etc?"

should be relatively easy with OSB or similar?


>

Yours &c.

Steve


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Re: Thoughts on OSM design, and looking forward and back

Steve Coast
In reply to this post by Tom Hughes-3

On Feb 23, 2010, at 2:50 PM, Tom Hughes wrote:

> On 23/02/10 21:46, SteveC wrote:
>
>> On Feb 23, 2010, at 2:46 PM, Tom Hughes wrote:
>>
>>> Did you read the long blog post I wrote the next morning where I attempted to be more constructive?
>>
>> No, sorry Tom, where was that?
>
> http://compton.nu/2010/02/redesigning-the-openstreetmap-web-site/

Cool makes a lot of sense, Tom.

As you can see from uservoice, things you highlight like routing are very important to people out there. You might also have seen the misconception in blog posts back and forth last week with GIS guys that they thought OSM was simply unroutable because we don't expose it. Properly explaining why that is (bringing the service in house) and then doing it is I guess the right way forward.

As for the approach... I'm really not sure a hack weekend would work. Say we got a designer in for a weekend. They'd actually want to sit in photoshop for some period of time and then iterate the design, then code that the HTML, then bolt all the functionality and so on. Could we really do any of the first bits in a hack weekend?

So I'd say it'd be more efficient and get wider input, to iterate it out here on the interwebs and then code in the functionality over a hack weekend maybe, or refine and tweak etc.

I know a bunch of people don't like uservoice, but it's actually got some good stuff in there now and it's what I was planning to use to iterate the design feedback. A bunch of people are using it, I posit because 1) it's so easy and 2) you can vote nicely on things...

Here's my proposal for next steps:

* put the html etc in svn or git or whatever
* use uservoice for consensus on features to fix first (have a look, lots of good stuff)
* pay the html guy to go do it
* iterate like this 5-10 times at least

if you think there's a better and more inclusive system than uservoice, or anyone wants to do the actual work, please of course let me know but right now I'm just trying to actually move it forward bit by bit...

and again, I'm positing uservoice just for the feedback here, whatever actual feedback and bug system to use is as up in the air as anything else.

It would be helpful to get deep and broad thoughts from the sysadmins on what the different bug system technical requirements are fo ryou guys too?

Yours &c.

Steve
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Re: Thoughts on OSM design, and looking forward and back

Steve Coast
Tom

one other thing.. you mention things like the three-pane front page and other totally new concepts...

I said to Andy that my personaly goal wasn't to try and answer such 'big' existential questions because it'd be too hard and could take forever. I figured just iterating the current design with some cleanups and maybe a feature or two would at least accomplish something and fix 90% of the annoyances I hear from people, like it's so hard to get started (youtube screencast right up front in the help tab) and the front page is so noisy (reducing the front page content and putting it all in that tab too)...

I dunno how we'd realistically answer the question of a total new start over design - pretty hard.


On Feb 23, 2010, at 3:12 PM, SteveC wrote:

>
> On Feb 23, 2010, at 2:50 PM, Tom Hughes wrote:
>
>> On 23/02/10 21:46, SteveC wrote:
>>
>>> On Feb 23, 2010, at 2:46 PM, Tom Hughes wrote:
>>>
>>>> Did you read the long blog post I wrote the next morning where I attempted to be more constructive?
>>>
>>> No, sorry Tom, where was that?
>>
>> http://compton.nu/2010/02/redesigning-the-openstreetmap-web-site/
>
> Cool makes a lot of sense, Tom.
>
> As you can see from uservoice, things you highlight like routing are very important to people out there. You might also have seen the misconception in blog posts back and forth last week with GIS guys that they thought OSM was simply unroutable because we don't expose it. Properly explaining why that is (bringing the service in house) and then doing it is I guess the right way forward.
>
> As for the approach... I'm really not sure a hack weekend would work. Say we got a designer in for a weekend. They'd actually want to sit in photoshop for some period of time and then iterate the design, then code that the HTML, then bolt all the functionality and so on. Could we really do any of the first bits in a hack weekend?
>
> So I'd say it'd be more efficient and get wider input, to iterate it out here on the interwebs and then code in the functionality over a hack weekend maybe, or refine and tweak etc.
>
> I know a bunch of people don't like uservoice, but it's actually got some good stuff in there now and it's what I was planning to use to iterate the design feedback. A bunch of people are using it, I posit because 1) it's so easy and 2) you can vote nicely on things...
>
> Here's my proposal for next steps:
>
> * put the html etc in svn or git or whatever
> * use uservoice for consensus on features to fix first (have a look, lots of good stuff)
> * pay the html guy to go do it
> * iterate like this 5-10 times at least
>
> if you think there's a better and more inclusive system than uservoice, or anyone wants to do the actual work, please of course let me know but right now I'm just trying to actually move it forward bit by bit...
>
> and again, I'm positing uservoice just for the feedback here, whatever actual feedback and bug system to use is as up in the air as anything else.
>
> It would be helpful to get deep and broad thoughts from the sysadmins on what the different bug system technical requirements are fo ryou guys too?
>
> Yours &c.
>
> Steve
> _______________________________________________
> talk mailing list
> [hidden email]
> http://lists.openstreetmap.org/listinfo/talk
>

Yours &c.

Steve


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Re: Thoughts on OSM design, and looking forward and back

Steve Coast
In reply to this post by Dermot McNally
Thanks Dermot, you put it better than I did.

On Feb 23, 2010, at 2:05 PM, Dermot McNally wrote:

> On 23 February 2010 20:17, SteveC <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> An excellent and though-provoking post. It's rare to read something of
> that length on such touchy subjects and agree with so much of the
> content.
>
> If I had to pick a single most important theme as the central one,
> it's the whole area of turning people away from the project before
> they even begin and how that's a really bad thing. For a long time OSM
> was so far away from being ready for mass appeal that it didn't really
> matter if normal people stayed away. We don't have that luxury any
> more.
>
> Our public face has to show us up at our best against the competition,
> because the public doesn't know or care how clever it is under the
> hood. But they do know what they can do with Google Maps and similar,
> and we need to make those features an obvious and easy part of our own
> front page, starting with mashable maps for the ordinary user.
>
> And yes, I'm prepared to work on it.
>
> Dermot
>
> --
> --------------------------------------
> Iren sind menschlich
>


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Re: Thoughts on OSM design, and looking forward and back

Steve Coast
In reply to this post by Ian Dees

On Feb 23, 2010, at 2:07 PM, Ian Dees wrote:

> On Tue, Feb 23, 2010 at 2:17 PM, SteveC <[hidden email]> wrote:
> I know matt takes it personally that the logo is anything other than perfect, and richard takes it personally that potlatch is crap for newbies... but that's just fact of the matter as I constantly hear from designers, newbies and so many others. I don't care about personal feelings on those particular topics nearly as much as it physically pains me to think about all the people we turn away every single day because of it.
>
>
> Steve, I *really* don't want to start a flame war on the list (and I greatly appreciate your hard work on OSM), but I want to make sure and shine the mirror back at you a little bit. Lately your posts to this mailing list and others have been very confrontational on a personal level with some people. I imagine the discourse about new ideas for OSM would be much more civil if we didn't have to worry about personal attacks from you. I'm not saying your objections are *wrong*, but keep in mind that there are human beings subscribed to this list. When they read your troll-ey responses to criticism, I imagine it douses interest in continuing the on-topic conversation very quickly.

So I talked to matt...  I'm happy to retract that he's so personal about it, but has clarified to say "i'd be happy if you went to a designer, or ran a competition to address the flaws in the logo. it would make me happy if the emphasis were on evolving and improving the logo, rather than replacing it."

Yours &c.

Steve


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Re: Thoughts on OSM design, and looking forward and back

Tom Hughes-3
In reply to this post by Steve Coast
On 23/02/10 22:12, SteveC wrote:

> As you can see from uservoice, things you highlight like routing are very important to people out there. You might also have seen the misconception in blog posts back and forth last week with GIS guys that they thought OSM was simply unroutable because we don't expose it. Properly explaining why that is (bringing the service in house) and then doing it is I guess the right way forward.
>
> As for the approach... I'm really not sure a hack weekend would work. Say we got a designer in for a weekend. They'd actually want to sit in photoshop for some period of time and then iterate the design, then code that the HTML, then bolt all the functionality and so on. Could we really do any of the first bits in a hack weekend?

Well as I said I started to think that it probably wasn't very practical
either which is why I suggested trying to draw up some sort of brief
that could be given to designer(s)

> So I'd say it'd be more efficient and get wider input, to iterate it out here on the interwebs and then code in the functionality over a hack weekend maybe, or refine and tweak etc.

It's difficult - people can design and propose and say "wouldn't be cool
if" as much as they like but at the end of the day what gets implemented
will be driven by the people that front up to do the work.

The risk is that our usual crowd of architecture astronauts will design
some fantastic all conquering web site with thousands of really cool
features but then there will be nobody to implement it.

> I know a bunch of people don't like uservoice, but it's actually got some good stuff in there now and it's what I was planning to use to iterate the design feedback. A bunch of people are using it, I posit because 1) it's so easy and 2) you can vote nicely on things...

I actually unsubscribed from the uservoice feed this morning I'm afraid
because I wasn't finding it at all helpful.

I'm just not sure you can design things by popular vote - part designing
is knowing that sometimes you have to say no to something. Not
everything that can be done should be done. Uservoice, as far as I've
been able to see, doesn't really seem to have a concept of rejecting an
idea.

> Here's my proposal for next steps:
>
> * put the html etc in svn or git or whatever
> * use uservoice for consensus on features to fix first (have a look, lots of good stuff)
> * pay the html guy to go do it
> * iterate like this 5-10 times at least
>
> if you think there's a better and more inclusive system than uservoice, or anyone wants to do the actual work, please of course let me know but right now I'm just trying to actually move it forward bit by bit...

You see my concern, and yes it's probably an elitist attitude, is that
uservoice is too inclusive. Certainly implementing whatever rises to the
top on uservoice is not a reasonable way to design anything in my opinion.

Just as an example, the top thing on uservoice right now is something
that we probably can't do on any large scale. I mean I'm not quite sure
exactly what it's suggesting but it seems to be that we should either
add lots more layers to our map, or that we should have some sort of
system to provide links to lots of other maps drawn using our data.

The problem is that either of those things would probably kill all those
other sites.

My best suggestion for an "implementation" of it would be to have a wiki
page listing uses of our data and then include a link to that page on
the main site - that probably strikes a balance between publicising what
can be done an not driving too big a tsunami of traffic to a third party
site.

> It would be helpful to get deep and broad thoughts from the sysadmins on what the different bug system technical requirements are fo ryou guys too?

You see to my mind uservoice isn't a bug tracking system at all - it's
some kind of crazy popularity contest. Maybe it will work for this
design problem but I don't think it will work for us in general.

A bug tracking system needs basic concepts of responsibility for a bug
and the ability to close it out, whether because it has been completed
or because a decision has been taken not to do it.

Tom

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Re: Thoughts on OSM design, and looking forward and back

Steve Coast
Oh I totally agree.

I wouldn't suggest we just do whatever is at the top of uservoice, not at all. If for no other reason that I'm the one paying for the work so I'm going to pick the stuff that coincides with a) being good ideas b) having support and c) I like... mostly there is an overlap there.

In terms of having a bazillion features - I hear you. I'm sticking to only things that the designer/html guy can do plus, maybe, the bug system. I can't of course have anything to do with routing as it's all kinds of stuff that you guys would have to implement.

I really don't see the role of uservoice and the clones of it to be "just do what the people say at the top"... if anything most of the uses (and it lets you do this) mark ideas as 'under consideration' or 'rejected' pretty much like any bug system. The flip side of that though is what if the votes are right, in the end, and we're just ignoring the ideas because we don't like them? That's a hard one to call.

Yours &c.

Steve

On Feb 23, 2010, at 3:40 PM, Tom Hughes wrote:

> On 23/02/10 22:12, SteveC wrote:
>
>> As you can see from uservoice, things you highlight like routing are very important to people out there. You might also have seen the misconception in blog posts back and forth last week with GIS guys that they thought OSM was simply unroutable because we don't expose it. Properly explaining why that is (bringing the service in house) and then doing it is I guess the right way forward.
>>
>> As for the approach... I'm really not sure a hack weekend would work. Say we got a designer in for a weekend. They'd actually want to sit in photoshop for some period of time and then iterate the design, then code that the HTML, then bolt all the functionality and so on. Could we really do any of the first bits in a hack weekend?
>
> Well as I said I started to think that it probably wasn't very practical either which is why I suggested trying to draw up some sort of brief that could be given to designer(s)
>
>> So I'd say it'd be more efficient and get wider input, to iterate it out here on the interwebs and then code in the functionality over a hack weekend maybe, or refine and tweak etc.
>
> It's difficult - people can design and propose and say "wouldn't be cool if" as much as they like but at the end of the day what gets implemented will be driven by the people that front up to do the work.
>
> The risk is that our usual crowd of architecture astronauts will design some fantastic all conquering web site with thousands of really cool features but then there will be nobody to implement it.
>
>> I know a bunch of people don't like uservoice, but it's actually got some good stuff in there now and it's what I was planning to use to iterate the design feedback. A bunch of people are using it, I posit because 1) it's so easy and 2) you can vote nicely on things...
>
> I actually unsubscribed from the uservoice feed this morning I'm afraid because I wasn't finding it at all helpful.
>
> I'm just not sure you can design things by popular vote - part designing is knowing that sometimes you have to say no to something. Not everything that can be done should be done. Uservoice, as far as I've been able to see, doesn't really seem to have a concept of rejecting an idea.
>
>> Here's my proposal for next steps:
>>
>> * put the html etc in svn or git or whatever
>> * use uservoice for consensus on features to fix first (have a look, lots of good stuff)
>> * pay the html guy to go do it
>> * iterate like this 5-10 times at least
>>
>> if you think there's a better and more inclusive system than uservoice, or anyone wants to do the actual work, please of course let me know but right now I'm just trying to actually move it forward bit by bit...
>
> You see my concern, and yes it's probably an elitist attitude, is that uservoice is too inclusive. Certainly implementing whatever rises to the top on uservoice is not a reasonable way to design anything in my opinion.
>
> Just as an example, the top thing on uservoice right now is something that we probably can't do on any large scale. I mean I'm not quite sure exactly what it's suggesting but it seems to be that we should either add lots more layers to our map, or that we should have some sort of system to provide links to lots of other maps drawn using our data.
>
> The problem is that either of those things would probably kill all those other sites.
>
> My best suggestion for an "implementation" of it would be to have a wiki page listing uses of our data and then include a link to that page on the main site - that probably strikes a balance between publicising what can be done an not driving too big a tsunami of traffic to a third party site.
>
>> It would be helpful to get deep and broad thoughts from the sysadmins on what the different bug system technical requirements are fo ryou guys too?
>
> You see to my mind uservoice isn't a bug tracking system at all - it's some kind of crazy popularity contest. Maybe it will work for this design problem but I don't think it will work for us in general.
>
> A bug tracking system needs basic concepts of responsibility for a bug and the ability to close it out, whether because it has been completed or because a decision has been taken not to do it.
>
> Tom
>
> --
> Tom Hughes ([hidden email])
> http://compton.nu/
>




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Re: Thoughts on OSM design, and looking forward and back

JohnSmitty
In reply to this post by Steve Coast
On 24 February 2010 08:00, SteveC <[hidden email]> wrote:
> should be relatively easy with OSB or similar?

That's my point, OSB is already integrated into JOSM and I realise
uservoice has a few other things going for it, but integration into
existing editors will make fixing bugs a lot simplier than something
like the dupe node site which you have to go to and zoom in on an area
and then load that area into the editor etc.

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Re: Thoughts on OSM design, and looking forward and back

Frederik Ramm
In reply to this post by Steve Coast
Steve,

    it would be easier for me if you could fragment your ideas more and
then propose them in digestible 20-line blocks or so. And then
distribute this over a few weeks instead of creating a flurry every half
year. Do you have an uservoice page where I could submit that idea and
let others vote on it?

> If we want to just keep the tools
> hard to use and subject people to PL1 and trac, then that's a
> legitimate point of view.

Good, because that's about my view. But it should be PL/I for best effect.

No honestly. In spite of our non-usability we are growing so fast that
all our power for innovation is already tied up trying to keep things
going. You may not notice that from whatever lofty place you are in but
behind the doors there is a lot going on. We literally cannot go any
faster, and it beats my why you seem hell-bent to glue an afterburner to
a ship which is already challenged to stay afloat. You make it sound
like we're stagnating but where the hell did you get that idea from?

Maybe I'm suffering from the "German viewpoint" here but there's not a
day where people do not call for (and get) some new editor feature or
introduce new (and quite complex) tagging ideas or specialist maps and
all that.

I think everything is going all right; we're very busy accommodating all
those people who come aboard and their new ideas and stuff, and I am
pretty sure there will be a time of consolidation when things become a
bit quieter and we can then devote more of our resources to dealing with
people who until then found OSM too complicated or whatever.

But really, whatever issues I might have with OSM - lack of participants
is not one of them at this time.

Bye
Frederik

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Re: Thoughts on OSM design, and looking forward and back

Andy Allan
In reply to this post by Steve Coast
On Tue, Feb 23, 2010 at 8:17 PM, SteveC <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I know matt takes it personally that the logo is anything other than perfect, and richard takes it personally that potlatch is crap for newbies... but that's just fact of the matter as I constantly hear from designers, newbies and so many others. I don't care about personal feelings on those particular topics [...]

Then maybe you should. Over the years I've listened to you telling
everyone how OSM isn't a technical project; it's all about community.
But if you were within reach I'd bludgeon you with Matt's copy of "The
Art of Community" ( http://bit.ly/cWU58j ) until you stopped being so
bloody offensive on the mailing lists. Or maybe you should watch this
video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSFDm3UYkeE - "Build a Strong
Community Based On Politeness Respect Trust Humility" etc etc.

Seriously Steve, if you want to solve *any* of the problems you are
discussing you would do much better by trying to build a community of
people to help - instead of alienating, yet again, all the people who
have done most to drive this project to the point that it's at. I know
you love it that you founded this whole thing, and I know that unless
you're involved you think that nothing actually gets done, and that if
start a mail telling us all you read books and sprinkle in some
quotations that it makes up for the fact you haven't a clue what's
actually going on in the project any more. But you're wrong on every
count.

I'm trying to think if there's anyone left who you haven't had a go
at? Frederik, TomH, Grant, Matt, Richard ... ,  everyone who disagrees
with you on licensing, and all the people who ask you to stop having a
go at all the other people in the project who do a hell of a lot more
than you can be arsed giving them credit for.

> It's clear after years of chatter that the community is the wrong place to innovate on design and probably editing too. The model of 'wait for someone to do it' works well on a bunch of things, but not everything. How did I get the design done? I paid $70 to a really great designer and html coder in peru who I worked with over skype to come up with the straw design. For $70 (at $7/hour) I got more done than the last 1-2 years of design in OSM.

And you got a design that looks like it cost $70. We've discussed this
before, and it's not graphical design that's the problem, it's user
experience. Yet this new design "solves" everything by simply removing
all the functionality from the front page, and just have a "more..."
button. Utter rubbish. Anything can become "more intuitive" by simply
removing functionality. I can't believe you seriously think this
design is any improvement beyond the rounded corners.

But that's not surprising, since you haven't thought through what the
website needs - what's it's purpose? Here's a hint: it's building the
OSM community. When we have a community, the map will follow. Where is
the best community? Germany. But I haven't seen any reference to
www.openstreetmap.de, where it's strengths are, or what could be
improved or learned from. Or any of the other OSM regional websites.
But that's because you don't give a shit what anyone else has done,
and you think that a crappy mockup is the only thing that anyone has
come up with in the last 1-2 years. You're wrong. There are plenty of
people out there doing great things - but again, you have such an ego
that you can't contemplate it's happening without you knowing about
it.

> There are talented flash coders, designers and more who will even work for free to help us too but just can't put up with people pissing all over their work, which is what usually happens on these lists

There's much less pissing all over each other's work when you're off
doing other things. Sure, there's plenty of discussions about vaporous
ideas, but when it comes to someone saying "the most popular editor is
shit and written by someone who doesn't give a shit" there's only one
person around here that does that. It's gobsmackingly offensive. And
it's gobsmackingly destructive behaviour from the founder of OSM and
chairman of the foundation. Politeness? Respect? Humility?

> And that involves putting a buffer between the old timers in the community and people who want to move it forward.

That is a dreadful concept, and you should be ashamed of what you've
written here.

> Case in point, PL2. We have no idea when it's coming, if it will work or what. What I personally want to see is a community of people behind building the thing like there is behind the rails codebase or even JOSM. But everyone's so afraid of pissing off richard, or doesn't have the time to work it all out, we're not moving forward like we should be.

Speak for yourself - we had a great time working with Richard at the
P2 hack weekend. It's the first time I've had someone invite me round
to their house for the weekend to do OSM coding, and he repeatedly
helps me with the P2 coding. I know, I know, what actually happens
isn't important - you're just here to tear our developer community to
shreds by denigrating everyone's work and making out like you're the
only one who can save us.

> Back to paying someone. Is it the best solution? No. Will the result be perfect? No. Is it the best way to get open source code built? No, but I point out that most of the Linux kernel is now built by paid employees. Would Richard like to be paid to work on PL? No, I've tried a bunch of times. Would someone else in the community? Maybe. Should we try something again like bounties? Maybe that too. But just sitting around with the status quo on all these issues isn't getting anywhere fast.

First off, it's normally the people who already work on OS projects
that get paid to continue, not random people being paid to work on
existing projects. You've got cause and effect mixed up there. You
could hire random people to work on OSM, but that would be a disaster.
Your company has plenty of developers, but you've got them duplicating
editors and community portals on other domains. I'd be happy to be
paid to work on Potlatch, or other OSM coding, if you're offering -
again?

Oooh, here's an idea - how about you keep ranting on the mailing lists
about how shit Potlatch is, how our volunteer developers are useless,
and then suggest hiring random people who know nothing about OSM.
That'll really help motivate our existing development community - the
ones who have built *everything* we've got today. Oooh yes. Brilliant.

> At this point I will get a load of flames that Richard is awesome, he's spent loads of time on the project and all that. I agree. But, I take that as a given as I do with anyone in the project. We're all here giving time, love and effort. We shouldn't have to preface every criticism with three paragraphs about how we're all so great.

And nobody should have to take the shit that you give them on the
lists, in person, and elsewhere. Do us all a favour and either learn
to be civil or keep your denigrations to yourself.

Cheers,
Andy

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