[hackerspaces] Member Polices/Agreements

Adam D Bachman adam.bachman at gmail.com
Mon Oct 4 19:26:45 CEST 2010

At Node we worked from the stance of: "don't make (me|us) make a
(rule|policy)". I think we got it from Nick Farr, but the idea is pretty
common. We're not specifically anarchists, but we trend towards
anti-hierarchy, so if we all agree something shouldn't be done (it's common
sense) then we don't do it. If there's an issue with the landlord ("no
explosions", for example) then we don't do it. If there's an issue with
personal safety or the destruction of someone else's property, then we don't
do it. (you get the picture).

rule enforcers

This sounds like a recipe for hurt feelings. Inside/outside, us/them
mentalities break down relationships, are probably bad for a functioning
collective. Unless you're not looking for a collective and want a strong
hierarchy. In that case, make lots of rules and signs and stuff.

public membership agreements

Ours is here:
http://wiki.baltimorenode.org/index.php?title=Membership_Agreement . Most of
it is cribbed from somewhere else. Most of it is also only in there because
it's "official".

- - - - -

Probably the hardest thing to get over as a member of a hackerspace central
committee is that other people will want to do and will do things you don't
want them to do. This is also one of the hardest things to get over as a
parent, btw.  At the point you realize that, the best thing to do is get
over yourself and let them do it. Two rules of thumb: pick your battles
wisely and pick fewer battles.

If there's a problem with the law (national or local), then the solution is
organic  (as in life, not chemistry: solution arises as a natural outcome of
the cause), they will be caught and punished. If there's a problem with
other people ("damn, I hate it that George burns his hair with a soldering
iron for fun and he's a weirdo") then the solution is also organic, George
will be cut out of the group and will eventually stop coming. Hackerspaces
are intensely social organizations, social pressure is their most powerful
(or *only* powerful) weapon against internal enemies-of-the-state.

More to the point, even if you make a perfect list of rules and add things
to it and put up lots of signs, the only weight it carries is whatever
social pressure the hackerspace can exert. Similarly, anything that is not
on your list of rules but is enforced via social pressure will be as good as
law (e.g., "the first rule of hackerspace is that you *don't* talk about
Windows in a complementary fashion").

The continuum of "more rules!" vs. "it is what it is" has a big fuzzy grey
area in the middle and that's okay. Your space has to find a balance between
"respect your fellow members" and "if you want it done right, do it

- Adam

On Mon, Oct 4, 2010 at 12:38 PM, Matt lehner <mlehner at gmail.com> wrote:

> In conjunction with developing the by-laws for Buffalo Lab, I am
> concerned about having a Membership Agreement and associated AUPs.
> From a managerial point of view it is important to have a common set
> of rules and regulations people can abide by. Though, it seems at odds
> with the openness of the general hackerspace mentality.
> As an organization we do not want to be dictating rules at every turn,
> but over the year Buffalo Lab has been operating.. questions about
> rules and what is allowed has come up repeatedly. We have resorted to
> signs around the space stating DO and DON'T but that can't continue
> forever.
> What have other hackerspaces done in regards to disseminating rules to
> members? Is it generally on a case by case basis, or do other
> hackerspaces have a set of rules that all members are aware of.
> Lastly, enforcing rules seems to be the hardest part of all. Partly
> because of timing, rule enforcers cannot be at the space 24/7 and not
> all members are comfortable confronting people. But also how is
> fairness handled? Do people use a 3-strike rule or zero-tolerance
> policies?
> I know I asked a lot of questions, and some might be answered by
> looking at another space's rules, policies or aup. I quickly scanned
> through the websites of various hackerspaces and did not find many or
> any public membership agreements to speak of. So if anyone does have
> one, that would be a huge help.
> Thanks, Matt
> _______________________________________________
> Discuss mailing list
> Discuss at lists.hackerspaces.org
> http://lists.hackerspaces.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss
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