[hackerspaces] New Member Vetting

James Carlson james at schoolfactory.org
Tue Sep 18 01:17:21 CEST 2012

At Bucketworks in Milwaukee, we welcome anyone to join -- there is no
vetting process. Folks fill out a standard application and sign off on a
member agreement that we walk them through. We do run a standard background
check and perform a County-Cap search (an online search in WI you can do on
anyone to find their court cases / prosecution history.)

So it's easy to become a member--but where we've put much more energy (as
with the Phoenix Asylum and i3 Detroit) is in the on boarding process for a
new member.

New members get a full tour of the facility (at 34,000 sq. ft. it takes a
while to show people around) and are invited to attend the monthly member
meeting. We create a profile for each member with information about them in
the space, when they'll be around, and what they want to work on. If they
are joining at a level where they have their own space, they schedule a
move-in date. We also schedule training or follow-up workshops with
teachers or mentors who are usually other members to show them how to
operate tools, equipment, and whatever else they might need.

Only after all these steps are completed do we consider them a full member,
even though they have access to Bucketworks before they are finished. This
has helped us--by spending the energy up front we have avoided needing to
vet members or throw anyone out in the last 10 years that we've had a
membership program!

In sum-- I think vetting on a basic legal safety level is good, and the
rest of the energy and time should be spent with on-boarding a new member
so they become a part of the community. As Sam said, having a 'sponsor' who
guides the new member through really helps. (In our case it's the full-time
staff director Tim Syth who does this for each member.)

On Mon, Sep 17, 2012 at 5:47 PM, Roland Hieber <lists at rohieb.name> wrote:

> Hash: SHA1
> On 18.09.2012 00:26, Edward L Platt wrote:
> > At i3 Detroit, we're pretty much open to anyone who wants to be a
> > member.  We just record their home address and check their ID, and
> > we don't require new members to be sponsored.  We've never had any
> > serious problems.
> What Ed says. At Stratum 0 in Braunschweig, Germany, we don't even
> have an "application form", anyone who wants to be a member just
> writes an e-mail to the board stating that she or he wants to be a
> member, and more thatn 50% of the board members have to agree. The
> only things we need are the applicant's real name and a valid e-mail
> address. I must admit that we have only existed for a year now, and
> have a rather small hackerspace (60m²), so we're very open to any
> support we can get, given that about 80% of our members are local
> students who might leave the town in a few years ;-) But despite this
> very open policy there were never any problems with members, and we
> didn't have to reject anyone (yet).
> Concerning member vetting or even police checks, there was never even
> the slightest discussion in our community to introduce that. We have
> however an (unwritten) rule that only good-known members are given
> access to a key.
> - -- Roland
> Version: GnuPG v1.4.12 (GNU/Linux)
> Comment: Using GnuPG with Mozilla - http://enigmail.mozdev.org/
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