[hackerspaces] Member Polices/Agreements

Nate Bezanson myself at telcodata.us
Mon Oct 4 20:27:56 CEST 2010

Someone's name has to be on the lease, or if there's a corporate entity,
someone is held responsible as the director, or a board thereof. It's
natural for those people to be nervous about other people mucking things

Our bylaws are here, basically copied from a book of nonprofit paperwork
with minor edits to fit our use. We figured the IRS would be more likely
to rubberstamp something familiar:

I've been big on the "don't solve non-issues" angle here, too. Our new
president is very big on policy and procedure, which is okay when it's
done right, and I think he generally does it right, but I constantly find
myself playing "anarchist's advocate" and opining that not everything
needs a rule.

What DOES need doing, more than anyone realizes, is labeling. We're not
telepathic, so even though I know that box of parts is free for anyone to
use, not everyone knows that until I write on it to that effect. One basic
principle of "Knowledge should be on the wiki or on a label, not locked up
in your head" goes a long way. Otherwise you have a connectocracy where
only people who know who to call can get anything done. In such a
knowledge-starved environment, the more polite, considerate members will
avoid using materials whose provenance they don't know, which rewards the
risk-takers who use what might be other people's stuff. So "ask" and
"label" are central principles.


> Rule Number one in rule making.  Don't solve issues that don't exist.  You
> have enough on your plate.
> Deal with situations as they arise.  Don't bike shed yourself into a
> corner.  As state earlier, a lot of stuff solves itself organically.  When
> something comes up that needs discussion, discuss it.  Until then have
> some
> faith in people.
> NYCR has no leaders btw.  No central committee, politburo, or triumverate
> of
> hack.  It's generally not necessary.  People tend to be pretty good about
> stuff.  I don't understand why anyone would want leaders.  It's silly.
> Personally I find it to be counter productive.
> On Oct 4, 2010 10:46 AM, "Adam D Bachman" <adam.bachman at gmail.com> wrote:
>> 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
>> yourself".
>> - 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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