[hackerspaces] Vetting new members

Steve Clement steve at aggli.ion.lu
Wed Jul 15 10:50:04 CEST 2009

On Wed, Jun 17, 2009 at 02:48:37PM -0400, David Powell wrote:
> On 6/17/09, Harry <harry at deds.nl> wrote:
> Because it's simply a fact of life that people with drug problems tend
> to rob anyone including their own family of everything they have to
> support their drub habbits. I'm not saying that a marijuana possesion
> would cause me not to give you a key but a heroin possesion charge
> along with a theft charge would certainly throw up a flag. I will have
> my personal belongings there as well as my members personal
> belongings. I feel the need to protect that stuff any way I can.

I can't help it but need to reply to this one.

First off, the U.S is different than Europe in drug usage.
What do the Statistics say about that?

Hyptohesis: Potentially 60% of all new-joiners (eager enough to WANT a Key) are Smack addicts?

I trust strangers sometimes more than my so-called Peers. Because the chances that I liaise and sympathize with a Drug-Addicted-Sexual-Boy-Loving offender is pretty slim (at least in Luxembourg)

This is exactly what turns our society upside down at the moment, the Lack of trust and responsibility.

If I don't give you trust (to a certain extent) how can you trust me back?

You will find that if you give responsibility to strangers in your space and identify them with the Equipment at hand trouble will be minor.

Bare in mind that you should not necessarily stress the fact that this 10'000 dollar machine is very precious and don't break it etc... but Rather treat this globally that ANYTHING in this space is priceless because it can be shared and is accessible 24/7

And eventually the stranger will bring equipment of his own of a certain value, thus understanding better what it means to have common goods of various monetary-value.

> hand out keys to them I want to make sure I can trust them. A 35 year
> old man with no criminal record is probably trustworthy. That same 35
> year old man with a criminal record of drug possesions and thefts is
> not trustworthy and should only be in our building when someone who is
> trustworthy can keep an eye on them. We will have thousands of dollars
> worth of equipment. I would like to keep it that way.

Sorry, but I can't agree on that, most sex offenders are close-by family members that know their victims very well (easy access, easy prey) and usually this comes out at a very late stage of a Abuse-Act.
(with the rise in Grooming this is not so true anymore but this Phenomenon isn't that alerting yet)

what about suspected drug possesion, or Terror suspicion if you participate a a Free-Speech demo, this is too vague to be categorized.

> Also, another reason to do a background check is because we allow our
> children to visit the club at times. If I find that someone has been
> convicted of sex crimes against children then frankly I don't want to
> know them. I don't want them to know where I live and I don't want
> them to know anything about my kids. I don't care what their reason is
> because it's not worth the risk.

See above, Parents should have a good link to their Kids and in case the stranger asks weird stuff over MSN or similar this should be discussed in Family (all too often discussions are replaced by the TV running during family time, which is sad)

> Don't get me wrong. I have broken the law. I speed all the time. I'll
> be the first to admit that I have smoked a little weed and taken a few
> pills back in my day. But I've never stolen from anyone and I've never
> touched anyone.

I do get your points and partly understand your reasoning but feel that you might be a bit too cautious.

> Sorry if you've had bad luck and have a crazy criminal history. I'm
> not going to hate you for that. It's your life and you can do what you
> want with it. However, I'm not going to ask you to house sit for me
> while I'm on vacation either. In fact I would not even invite you to
> my house unless I knew you long enough to know that you straightened
> up.

;) damn, I wished I could return a favour there ... I'll have to house-sit someone elses...

Luckily a HackerSpace is owned by it's User-Base therefore the house-sitting scenario should not arise.

> Criminal history does matter.

But sneakingly background-checking people is not the way to solve this problem. Not in the long or short run.

Rather investing energy into building rapport with people, trusting them, have long discussions with them, argue with them, respect them and treat them with the same excellence as you would treat your Microcontroller Board.

sincerely yours,


Let's build a Hackerspace in Luxembourg!
mailto:steve at hackerspace.lu
.lu: +352 20 333 55 65

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