I’m a bit concerned about where my contributions go - I don’t feel like working for free for Google or Waze, but working for free to create a dataset that benefits us all (if some may profit from it, that’s even better) is a great thing.
I’ve been a bit edgy about the openness of Mapillary, as evident from the “How open is Mapillary?” thread back in 2016. Overall, it has fared pretty well, providing a great platform for us OpenStreetMap enthusiasts, as well as being a decently open platform overall. They have also done this while keeping afloat financially, which is a hidden side for all of us here, but surely a great achievement.
A few days ago I noticed emails coming from the public issue about Mapillary things (applications, website and others). At first I got happy, as I thought “Oh, the app won’t kill our devices anymore by rewriting all images just to add EXIF tags”, but the messages put me down:
mapillary_issues is no longer an active repository.
This issue has been moved over to our internal task list. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with a reference to this issue if you want to add more information, or want to be notified once it’s been fixed!
There are many things to be concerned about, the first few that come to my mind:
- No way to provide additional input on issues that affect multiple contributors
- No way to see what issues others have faced
- No way to see any progress on the reported issues
This is disappointing and disturbing. There might be many reasons, a few most likely ones:
- Aiming for more investor money and improving the image
- Preparing to sell the company and improving the image
I don’t expect an honest and full answer from Mapillary employees not because they are evil or something - they are wonderful, hard working and brilliant individuals. But they are entangled financially, possibly with NDAs, and would not be able to be speak their minds.
It is more expected that the community would be able to speak their mind and reveal whether they care about the continued open, honest communication. Surely the example of people working for free for Waze shows that many are fine with their contributions being locked away - and there’s this sad possibility that Mapillary might be going in that direction soon.
Having said that, I’d expect all contributors to be polite, maybe even more than usually so. This is people making decisions because of financial reasons, and having full legal rights to do so. If somebody feels that this is unacceptable, it is not OK to trash the people behind the project/company.