Wiki Proposals: An OSM Echo Chamber?

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Wiki Proposals: An OSM Echo Chamber?

Roland Olbricht
Hi all,

We recently had an experienced and productive community member, Ilya,
putting a lot of time in a Wiki Proposal just to see the whole process
fail. Given the feedback from the process, this has been due to a whole
bunch of hard-to-control problems
- the whole thing has been too complex
- the wording did cause misunderstandings
- attempt to discuss the matter in an unsuitable medium

If even an experienced member cannot handle the process then we should
reconsider whether the process of Wiki Proposals makes sense at all.

I suggest to replace the Proposal process by three more specialized
and therefore much simpler processes. They are structured by what they
can affect.

In particular, the discussion should go to better suited places than the
infamous Wiki page discussion shadow pages:

Ilya complained that at the wiki discussion page turned into a complete
mess of "56K text". I do agree that the wiki page is a hard-to-read
mess, but yet it has only the content of 10-30 messages.
There had even been expressed deprecation that the discussion spilled
into the voting section because it is so difficult to read.

For comparison: My mail client currently handles more than 100'000
messages and is still fast and comfortable to use. Even in the forum
where users are stuck with what the web interface allows, it is easy to
have discussions with some hundred responses.

This should remind us that the wiki discussion facility is unsuited for
any nontrivial discussion but it disguises as sufficient discussion
facility.

Note that on the same time there is a group of 350 community members
who have indicated to be interested in public transport. Ilya stated as
a reson that the corresponding mailing list has "less than 3 messages"
per month. The content equivalence of "3 messages" on a wiki discussion
page already would make the impression of a heated discussion.
Apparently the wiki discussion pages have distracted him from the real
audience.

Please note:
It does not make sense to discuss the redesign of one communication
channel in another communication channel. But the wiki does not have a
suitable place to discuss the issue. Hence I cross-post to the forum to
at least reach also a large portion of the less tech-savvy community
members.

I suggest the following three specialized replacements for the Proposal
process:

=== Distinguished Documentation ===

OSM could profit in a lot of cases from a good how-to map for particular
subjects. But at the same time exists poor documentation and people do
not necessary know which to trust. Writing a good documentation will
become more rewarding if we can offer a process to indicate general
acclaim and distinguish excellent documentation.

The voting confirms that the claims of the documentation reflect actual
mapping practice. That way, it makes the effort a distinguished
documentation.

It des not affect any existing wiki pages.
It does not affect the OSM database.

=== Wiki Cleanup ===

Amongst the real problems of OSM is that our wiki documentation has lots
of poorly maintained pages. There exist even contradictions between
different pages. For an unexperienced users it is difficult to figure
out which wiki pages are really applicable.

We need a decision process which of the contradictive statements can be
discarded. The hurdles should not be too high because we generally do
have too few maintenance of the wiki content. Nonetheless, as this does
give some rulesets a spin in favour of others, it should be subject to a
voting.

There should be left a success notice after the cleanup has actually
been done.

The document must state which wiki pages are considered authoriative.
It should state which wiki pages are to be changed.
It can list the used tags, tagging combinations, or data constellations
that are in scope of the document at all.
It should state which used tags, tagging combinations, or data
constellations will after the change newly contradict the wiki.

Affects the wiki.
Does not affect the OSM database.

=== Tag Disambiguation ===

Sometimes different people tag different types of objects with the same
tags. This is a problem because you do no longer know what is really
there. It is the core concern of the old Proposal process.
Given that backwards compatbility is nowadays an important virtue,
the preferred solution is to add an extra tag to distinguish the
different situations.

The voting is to check that the disambiguation is logically sound
and that it covers the vast majority of applicable constellations.

Affects the wiki: the description of the affected tags and tag
combinations are changed.
Affect the OSM database: mappers are adviced to systematically change
tags in the course of local maintenance.

=== Remarks ===

There are other purposes advertised on the pages of the Proposal
process. Most notably an invitation for general discussion.

I do discourage them.
 From all the communication media we have in OSM the wiki is least
suitable for discussions, as explained in the beginning.

Best regards,

Roland

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Re: Wiki Proposals: An OSM Echo Chamber?

Andrew Hain
I would suggest that this is part of a wider malaise that the mission of the wiki has become unclear.

--
Andrew
From: Roland Olbricht <[hidden email]>
Sent: 04 December 2017 08:42:46
To: osm-talk
Subject: [OSM-talk] Wiki Proposals: An OSM Echo Chamber?
 
Hi all,

We recently had an experienced and productive community member, Ilya,
putting a lot of time in a Wiki Proposal just to see the whole process
fail. Given the feedback from the process, this has been due to a whole
bunch of hard-to-control problems
- the whole thing has been too complex
- the wording did cause misunderstandings
- attempt to discuss the matter in an unsuitable medium

If even an experienced member cannot handle the process then we should
reconsider whether the process of Wiki Proposals makes sense at all.

I suggest to replace the Proposal process by three more specialized
and therefore much simpler processes. They are structured by what they
can affect.

In particular, the discussion should go to better suited places than the
infamous Wiki page discussion shadow pages:

Ilya complained that at the wiki discussion page turned into a complete
mess of "56K text". I do agree that the wiki page is a hard-to-read
mess, but yet it has only the content of 10-30 messages.
There had even been expressed deprecation that the discussion spilled
into the voting section because it is so difficult to read.

For comparison: My mail client currently handles more than 100'000
messages and is still fast and comfortable to use. Even in the forum
where users are stuck with what the web interface allows, it is easy to
have discussions with some hundred responses.

This should remind us that the wiki discussion facility is unsuited for
any nontrivial discussion but it disguises as sufficient discussion
facility.

Note that on the same time there is a group of 350 community members
who have indicated to be interested in public transport. Ilya stated as
a reson that the corresponding mailing list has "less than 3 messages"
per month. The content equivalence of "3 messages" on a wiki discussion
page already would make the impression of a heated discussion.
Apparently the wiki discussion pages have distracted him from the real
audience.

Please note:
It does not make sense to discuss the redesign of one communication
channel in another communication channel. But the wiki does not have a
suitable place to discuss the issue. Hence I cross-post to the forum to
at least reach also a large portion of the less tech-savvy community
members.

I suggest the following three specialized replacements for the Proposal
process:

=== Distinguished Documentation ===

OSM could profit in a lot of cases from a good how-to map for particular
subjects. But at the same time exists poor documentation and people do
not necessary know which to trust. Writing a good documentation will
become more rewarding if we can offer a process to indicate general
acclaim and distinguish excellent documentation.

The voting confirms that the claims of the documentation reflect actual
mapping practice. That way, it makes the effort a distinguished
documentation.

It des not affect any existing wiki pages.
It does not affect the OSM database.

=== Wiki Cleanup ===

Amongst the real problems of OSM is that our wiki documentation has lots
of poorly maintained pages. There exist even contradictions between
different pages. For an unexperienced users it is difficult to figure
out which wiki pages are really applicable.

We need a decision process which of the contradictive statements can be
discarded. The hurdles should not be too high because we generally do
have too few maintenance of the wiki content. Nonetheless, as this does
give some rulesets a spin in favour of others, it should be subject to a
voting.

There should be left a success notice after the cleanup has actually
been done.

The document must state which wiki pages are considered authoriative.
It should state which wiki pages are to be changed.
It can list the used tags, tagging combinations, or data constellations
that are in scope of the document at all.
It should state which used tags, tagging combinations, or data
constellations will after the change newly contradict the wiki.

Affects the wiki.
Does not affect the OSM database.

=== Tag Disambiguation ===

Sometimes different people tag different types of objects with the same
tags. This is a problem because you do no longer know what is really
there. It is the core concern of the old Proposal process.
Given that backwards compatbility is nowadays an important virtue,
the preferred solution is to add an extra tag to distinguish the
different situations.

The voting is to check that the disambiguation is logically sound
and that it covers the vast majority of applicable constellations.

Affects the wiki: the description of the affected tags and tag
combinations are changed.
Affect the OSM database: mappers are adviced to systematically change
tags in the course of local maintenance.

=== Remarks ===

There are other purposes advertised on the pages of the Proposal
process. Most notably an invitation for general discussion.

I do discourage them.
 From all the communication media we have in OSM the wiki is least
suitable for discussions, as explained in the beginning.

Best regards,

Roland

_______________________________________________
talk mailing list
[hidden email]
https://lists.openstreetmap.org/listinfo/talk

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Re: Wiki Proposals: An OSM Echo Chamber?

Warin
There is a specific OSM list for tagging .. where proposals are discussed, etc. This is in addition to any wiki discussion!

The proposal process should get contributions from those interested in tag improvements and additions.

But OSM does allow the creation of new tags by anyone without going through the proposal process, so there are things like
man_made=cairn and landmark=cairn which appear to be the same thing to me.
So no matter how the tagging proposal process is refined there will still be problems created out side the proposal process.

Personally .. I think the proposal should first address the issue of  'is it useful' (or, as some say, do 'we' want it)?
Once that is voted on then how is it to be categorised, what is it to be called and so on - each set to be a vote possibly with multiple choices.
This reduces the work load of the proposer as they can see it it will pass the first hurdle and then each successive stage gets a majority view.
But this should be discussed on the tagging specific list.


On 04-Dec-17 08:13 PM, Andrew Hain wrote:
I would suggest that this is part of a wider malaise that the mission of the wiki has become unclear.

--
Andrew
From: Roland Olbricht [hidden email]
Sent: 04 December 2017 08:42:46
To: osm-talk
Subject: [OSM-talk] Wiki Proposals: An OSM Echo Chamber?
 
Hi all,

We recently had an experienced and productive community member, Ilya,
putting a lot of time in a Wiki Proposal just to see the whole process
fail. Given the feedback from the process, this has been due to a whole
bunch of hard-to-control problems
- the whole thing has been too complex
- the wording did cause misunderstandings
- attempt to discuss the matter in an unsuitable medium

If even an experienced member cannot handle the process then we should
reconsider whether the process of Wiki Proposals makes sense at all.

I suggest to replace the Proposal process by three more specialized
and therefore much simpler processes. They are structured by what they
can affect.

In particular, the discussion should go to better suited places than the
infamous Wiki page discussion shadow pages:

Ilya complained that at the wiki discussion page turned into a complete
mess of "56K text". I do agree that the wiki page is a hard-to-read
mess, but yet it has only the content of 10-30 messages.
There had even been expressed deprecation that the discussion spilled
into the voting section because it is so difficult to read.

For comparison: My mail client currently handles more than 100'000
messages and is still fast and comfortable to use. Even in the forum
where users are stuck with what the web interface allows, it is easy to
have discussions with some hundred responses.

This should remind us that the wiki discussion facility is unsuited for
any nontrivial discussion but it disguises as sufficient discussion
facility.

Note that on the same time there is a group of 350 community members
who have indicated to be interested in public transport. Ilya stated as
a reson that the corresponding mailing list has "less than 3 messages"
per month. The content equivalence of "3 messages" on a wiki discussion
page already would make the impression of a heated discussion.
Apparently the wiki discussion pages have distracted him from the real
audience.

Please note:
It does not make sense to discuss the redesign of one communication
channel in another communication channel. But the wiki does not have a
suitable place to discuss the issue. Hence I cross-post to the forum to
at least reach also a large portion of the less tech-savvy community
members.

I suggest the following three specialized replacements for the Proposal
process:

=== Distinguished Documentation ===

OSM could profit in a lot of cases from a good how-to map for particular
subjects. But at the same time exists poor documentation and people do
not necessary know which to trust. Writing a good documentation will
become more rewarding if we can offer a process to indicate general
acclaim and distinguish excellent documentation.

The voting confirms that the claims of the documentation reflect actual
mapping practice. That way, it makes the effort a distinguished
documentation.

It des not affect any existing wiki pages.
It does not affect the OSM database.

=== Wiki Cleanup ===

Amongst the real problems of OSM is that our wiki documentation has lots
of poorly maintained pages. There exist even contradictions between
different pages. For an unexperienced users it is difficult to figure
out which wiki pages are really applicable.

We need a decision process which of the contradictive statements can be
discarded. The hurdles should not be too high because we generally do
have too few maintenance of the wiki content. Nonetheless, as this does
give some rulesets a spin in favour of others, it should be subject to a
voting.

There should be left a success notice after the cleanup has actually
been done.

The document must state which wiki pages are considered authoriative.
It should state which wiki pages are to be changed.
It can list the used tags, tagging combinations, or data constellations
that are in scope of the document at all.
It should state which used tags, tagging combinations, or data
constellations will after the change newly contradict the wiki.

Affects the wiki.
Does not affect the OSM database.

=== Tag Disambiguation ===

Sometimes different people tag different types of objects with the same
tags. This is a problem because you do no longer know what is really
there. It is the core concern of the old Proposal process.
Given that backwards compatbility is nowadays an important virtue,
the preferred solution is to add an extra tag to distinguish the
different situations.

The voting is to check that the disambiguation is logically sound
and that it covers the vast majority of applicable constellations.

Affects the wiki: the description of the affected tags and tag
combinations are changed.
Affect the OSM database: mappers are adviced to systematically change
tags in the course of local maintenance.

=== Remarks ===

There are other purposes advertised on the pages of the Proposal
process. Most notably an invitation for general discussion.

I do discourage them.
 From all the communication media we have in OSM the wiki is least
suitable for discussions, as explained in the beginning.

Best regards,

Roland

_______________________________________________
talk mailing list
[hidden email]
https://lists.openstreetmap.org/listinfo/talk


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https://lists.openstreetmap.org/listinfo/talk



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Re: Wiki Proposals: An OSM Echo Chamber?

dieterdreist
2017-12-04 12:36 GMT+01:00, Warin <[hidden email]>:
> There is a specific OSM list for tagging .. where proposals are
> discussed, etc. This is in addition to any wiki discussion!


+1, but it is really "in addition" (mostly, people do not post their
comments and concerns in both places).  The tagging mailing list is
mandatory for the proposal process (announcing RFC and voting start)



> But OSM does allow the creation of new tags by anyone without going
> through the proposal process, so there are things like
> man_made=cairn and landmark=cairn which appear to be the same thing to me.


It could be interpreted that the latter is about a cairn which is a
landmark while the former is about any cairn (but there is not
documentation enforcing this view). Actually, there used to be
documentation referring to the "landmark" key, but it was removed:
https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/w/index.php?title=Key:landmark&diff=next&oldid=887875
(This documentation is from OpenSeaMap (or one of the other sea
mapping projects, I'm not sure) and was referring only to landmarks
visible from the sea, so the key was disputed with this definition for
being too generic in its key name in the past)

Cheers,
Martin

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Re: Wiki Proposals: An OSM Echo Chamber?

Tordanik
In reply to this post by Roland Olbricht
Hi Roland,

On 04.12.2017 09:42, Roland Olbricht wrote:
> We recently had an experienced and productive community member, Ilya,
> putting a lot of time in a Wiki Proposal just to see the whole process
> fail.

there's an important distinction here: It's Ilya's proposal that has
failed (for now at least), not the proposal process. That proposals are
sometimes rejected is an inherent part of that process.

I've written several proposals over the years, and while some of them
have been accepted, I've always learned something from the ones that
weren't. Just because I'm an experienced contributor doesn't mean all my
ideas are great – and the proposal process is a way to weed out those of
my ideas that aren't.

I'm not trying to suggest that the proposal system cannot possibly be
improved upon. However, Ilya's proposal was pretty unusual as far as
proposals go: It had a couple specific flaws which you already hinted at
(such as trying to do too much at once and writing in a "documentation
page" format instead of describing the changes to be voted on), so it's
likely not the best basis for generalizing observations to the proposal
process as a whole.

> I suggest to replace the Proposal process by three more specialized
> and therefore much simpler processes. They are structured by what they
> can affect.
[...]
> === Distinguished Documentation === [...]
> === Wiki Cleanup === [...]
> === Tag Disambiguation ===

At the moment, the proposal process isn't really intended for things
that _only_ affect the wiki, it's always an attempt to come to an
agreement on how to tag things in the database. So most of these items
seem to be outside the scope of what proposals are suitable for.
Generally, I don't believe a democratic process is the best way to
produce well-written documentation.

Tobias

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Re: Wiki Proposals: An OSM Echo Chamber?

Yves
I like the idea of voting to praise a good documentation.
The tools are available in the wiki, so why not try it out on a non debatable tagging scheme (maybe landcover wouldn't be a good idea for a try).
Yves

Le 4 décembre 2017 18:47:00 GMT+01:00, Tobias Knerr <[hidden email]> a écrit :
Hi Roland,

On 04.12.2017 09:42, Roland Olbricht wrote:
We recently had an experienced and productive community member, Ilya,
putting a lot of time in a Wiki Proposal just to see the whole process
fail.

there's an important distinction here: It's Ilya's proposal that has
failed (for now at least), not the proposal process. That proposals are
sometimes rejected is an inherent part of that process.

I've written several proposals over the years, and while some of them
have been accepted, I've always learned something from the ones that
weren't. Just because I'm an experienced contributor doesn't mean all my
ideas are great – and the proposal process is a way to weed out those of
my ideas that aren't.

I'm not trying to suggest that the proposal system cannot possibly be
improved upon. However, Ilya's proposal was pretty unusual as far as
proposals go: It had a couple specific flaws which you already hinted at
(such as trying to do too much at once and writing in a "documentation
page" format instead of describing the changes to be voted on), so it's
likely not the best basis for generalizing observations to the proposal
process as a whole.

I suggest to replace the Proposal process by three more specialized
and therefore much simpler processes. They are structured by what they
can affect.
[...]
=== Distinguished Documentation === [...]
=== Wiki Cleanup === [...]
=== Tag Disambiguation ===

At the moment, the proposal process isn't really intended for things
that _only_ affect the wiki, it's always an attempt to come to an
agreement on how to tag things in the database. So most of these items
seem to be outside the scope of what proposals are suitable for.
Generally, I don't believe a democratic process is the best way to
produce well-written documentation.

Tobias



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Re: Wiki Proposals: An OSM Echo Chamber?

Warin
On 05-Dec-17 08:42 AM, Yves wrote:
> I like the idea of voting to praise a good documentation.
> The tools are available in the wiki, so why not try it out on a non
> debatable tagging scheme (maybe landcover wouldn't be a good idea for
> a try).
> Yves

There is usually room for improvement in any documentation particularly
for documents read by different cultures.
What may appear to be excellent 'English' well understood by an American
could be misinterpreted and/or confusing to an Irishman.



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