[hackerspaces] New Member Vetting

Matt Joyce matt at nycresistor.com
Wed Sep 19 01:21:31 CEST 2012

I am not alone in saying that many people in SF who are solid hackers
and good people don't like to spend time at noisebridge because the
environment can at times be very hostile.

It's been fine for me during business hours, but after hours and
weekends are a total crapshoot.

Personally I think the biggest issue is it's location in the mission
and the preponderance of people in the area trying to take advantage
of it.

But it's been my experience that the difference between an open access
space like Noisebridge and a semi open access like hacker dojo in
Mountain View is night and day.  The neighbourhood and environment I
believe is largely to blame for that.  While the internal cultures of
the spaces are VASTLY different, I feel the issues that noisebridge
has in regards to safety of occupants / equipment is really a result
of the mission.

So I think people need to consider their own location and
neighbourhood culture when making a decision on what works for them.
Noisebridge manages to persist in an environment that is exceedingly
hostile to it's open door policy.  That speaks well to their model.
But there are definite tradeoffs.  Such as the occasional lunatic
showing up and not leaving until police are called.  Or a higher
likelihood of theft.  In no way a reflection of the actual noisebridge
community, but more the price paid for trying to be good people in a
world that is not always good.

Consider what it is that your community values, and what they are
willing to put up with for it.


On Tue, Sep 18, 2012 at 4:11 PM, Danny O'Brien <danny at spesh.com> wrote:
> On Tue, Sep 18, 2012 at 3:21 PM, Pete Prodoehl <raster at gmail.com> wrote:
>> So how much do you see equipment downtime?
>> Even though we have equipment that hasn't really been "abused" we still see
>> things fail, and they often take time to repair, and that's time lost for
>> people who want to use the equipment, especially those who can only make it
>> to the space once or twice a week at best.
> Noisebridge lets anyone use our lasercutter, woodshop, network,
> kitchen, and so on, which means that anyone can come in and fix them
> too -- and are firmly encouraged to (that's what do-acracy is for).
> The working assumption is that breakage is going to be balanced out by
> a higher frequency of people fixing breakage. Obviously you need a
> critical mass of visitors with an interest in hacking to pull this
> off, but the same is true of getting enough members to help out fixing
> stuff in a more controlled environment.
> I'd love some way to empirically check this, but my anecdotal
> impression of the result at Noisebridge that breakage ends up relative
> not to the expense or fragility of the item, but to its popularity and
> accessibility. So, despite much understandable concern, Noisebridge's
> lasercutter and 3D printers are kept going a relatively large
> percentage of the time, despite having literally no oversight, no
> repair budget, and a  policy of letting anyone come in and use them,
> exactly because we have a constant stream of people with an interest
> in them working. Obscurer stuff that breaks can be broken for longer
> -- or more likely, is dismantled for use as something else.
> That means for the health of Noisebridge's systems, (desperately)
> *encouraging* usage ends up being a high priority than narrowing
> access. I'm not sure I'd go as far as to call it a *virtuous* circle,
> but the experience of bootstrapping strangers into getting excited
> enough about a complex people of machinery and self-cofidently angry
> enough when it breaks to fix it is definitely a Comedy of the Commons.
> One of the consequences of this is that people's "pet" hardware --
> things which they regularly use, but not many other people -- can
> struggle. That is why, I think, we have to emphasize to people that
> bringing in their own equipment to "share" with others isn't going to
> end well (they aren't around enough to maintain it, while no-one else
> is going to fix your shit to your satisfactoin, even if they broke
> it).
> Similarly with creating a special area of the space with special rules
> is also going to be a problem, because maintaining the rule boundary
> is a) at least as costly in terms of time and resources as maintenance
> in this environment, and b) actually (we *think*) diminishes people's
> tendency to take responsibilty for other stuff in the space. In the
> end, despite an understandable desire to define the success of a
> hackerspace in terms of how much cool stuff they have, there are some
> items where people at Noisebridge end up going "you know, you might be
> better off just inviting people over to your garage, or using
> techshop's version of that". Or in other words,"This is why we don't
> *want* nice things". But that set of items is far smaller than you
> would think, and the intersection between 'can survive in the open'
> and 'is cool' much larger.
> Standard Noiseclaimer:  As Rubin says, no hacker space is required to
> operate like Noisebridge, nor in fact should they ever.
> d.
>> Laser cutters especially seem pretty easy to do damage to themselves by
>> people not properly trained in their usage.
>> Pete
>> On 9/18/12 4:57 PM, Charlie X Wallace wrote:
>>>> 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.
>>> We have cnc mills, pick and place, laser cutter, vinyl cutter, tools,
>>> lots and lots of electronic equipment and components.
>>> We're not hesitant at all. I accept things might get damaged, but almost
>>> everything we can either repair or improve. That which cannot easily be
>>> repaired, would be  whip round/fund raiser to replace it.
>>> charlie
>>> nullspacelabs
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