[hackerspaces] New Member Vetting

Pete Prodoehl raster at gmail.com
Tue Sep 18 16:11:05 CEST 2012

Throughout this thread I've wondered what exactly a "member" is, and 
what privileges they have, and what access they have, as it differs with 
different spaces.

At Milwaukee Makerspace we've got a lot of equipment, some of it very 
expensive, and some of it very dangerous, and all of it owned by 
individual members, so we don't just let anyone walk in and join. We do 
the whole "come to open night, meet us, get to know us" routine, and 
have an existing member vouch for you.

We also give members a key to get in to the space 24 hrs a day, assuming 
they will follow the rules, be safe, and not use equipment they are not 
checked out on. If your space just has tables, wifi, and a few tools, 
that may be safe/fine for anyone, but if you've got a mill, lathe, 
forge, kiln, laser cutter, etc. you might be a bit hesitant to let 
people in.


On 9/17/12 6:17 PM, James Carlson wrote:
> 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
> <mailto: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
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