[hackerspaces] Members storing their personal stuff...
jan at das-labor.org
Fri Nov 22 16:23:06 CET 2013
On Thu, 21 Nov 2013 21:44:16 -0500
Nathaniel Bezanson <myself at telcodata.us> wrote:
I'm with das LABOR e.V. in Germany.
I will answer parts of question #10 first to give some context:
> for context, it might be helpful to understand how large your space is
> and how many members you have
We have 128m² space and about 40 active members and ~120 paper.
(Numbers might have changed in the past years. I don't keep track.)
Of those 128m² some space is used for a lounge, a kitchen and a room
for talks/workshops. Here is a floor plan. (Left to right: Soldering
area, lounge with kitchen above, conference room, basement workshop for
a CNC mill and, manual lathe and other tools you'd expect to find in a
workshop. Below that is the storage and server room.
> 1. Do you allow members to keep their own stuff at the space, at all?
Yes. We have space for regular accessed private property in our
soldering room and less frequently accessed things end up on shelves in
> If not, why not, and what happens to stuff that gets left behind
> accidentally, or deliberately abandoned/donated?
We contact the (ex-)member and remind them to pick up their stuff. If
they say they don't want/need it anymore we take the usable parts and
make them club property.
> 2. How much storage space does a member get? Is it variable? Based on
> what criteria?
Everyone who wants physical storage space can bring a box* and put it on
the shelve if there is room left.
It is possible to get space for more than one box if it is really
justified and not permanent.
* The box mustn't exceed certain dimensions, which I forgot. I think it
was along the lines of 40x30x30 cm.
But we have enough reference boxes to see if it's adequate :D
> 3. For how long can a member leave stuff in the space?
There is no time limit, as long as it fits into your box or nobody else
is claiming the additionally occupied space.
i.e. You have two boxes and someone else has none. Now this someone
needs place for a box. You'd be obliged to clear the extra space. (We
_will_ enforce this!)
> Once they start, is it safe to assume that their stuff can remain as
> long as they remain a member?
> 4. If there's some sort of inactivity or timeout clause, how does
> that work, and who enforces it?
That's a little bit subjective. Freeing space happens every now and
then when the owning entity of a box does not show up for a prolonged
period of time - which is not fixed.
Now I've mentioned the separation from soldering room shelve to
The basement gets cleaned out every now and then (2-4 times a year).
When we do that we ask everybody to remove their stuff from the
basement. Usually within 2 weeks. After that all non-club property is
moved into the /dev/null box. Everything in this box has a grace period
of (usually) 1 month to be claimed. After that the good parts become
club property and everything else either ends up in someones flat or on
> 5. Assuming you require labels on storage spots or labels on stored
> items, how are unlabeled items handled when they turn up in storage?
> Or items left in unlabeled spots?
We do require to label the boxes but neither the content nor the shelve.
What happens with labeled stuff depends on who finds it outside it's
designated storage area. (I'm assuming whoever is responsible for that
box isn't around to put it where it belongs.) Sometimes those boxes are
just put back, other times a friendly written reminder ends up on top
of everything in that box. In extreme cases (stuff not put back after a
fair grace period) the whole box ends up in /dev/null. (see #4)
> 6. Have you ever had anyone try to actively subvert the limits?
Yes. This happened quite a lot in the past, where some entities put
up to six boxes of private stuff and then got upset when first asked
and then forced (by /dev/null) to remove the exceeding boxes.
(I assume it will happen again.)
> 7. Are "group projects" by a handful of members given special
> accommodation, beyond what an individual member would get?
Yes. So do larger projects. Imagine you'd want to build a laser cutter
with three other people. Where would you store all the parts? 4 boxes
are a little small, aren't they? In those cases the group has to ask
the monthly bootstrap meeting for permission to i.e. occupy a whole
table for some weeks.
Most of the time asking the bootstrap is just a formality.
> 8. Assuming you have some mechanism to throw out stuff that everyone
> agrees is abandoned, has anyone come back later and whined that their
> precious shit wasn't yours to throw out? How do you handle that?
This happened a few times in the past and I'm sure it will happen again.
If a box was just moved from soldering area to basement it's perfectly
fine to take it back upstairs as long as there is still free space
(which most of the time is an illusion). If we threw it away or someone
else took it after something ended up in /dev/null they have no say in
it. If you fuck up or are just too lazy to be arsed to clean your stuff
you have no say after the fact and you have only yourself to blame.
(This applies even if valuables are thrown out. Take care of your own
shit or live with the consequences of others doing it.)
> 9. Is your system so drastically different from what I'm describing
> that the questions don't even apply? Do tell!
You decide ;)
> 10. Whatever storage system you have right now, is it working?
More or less.
> What do you see as its main strengths, and main weaknesses?
Pro: If the /dev/null policy is strictly enforced the space is so
tidy it's almost grotesque
Con: There will always be people who will whine or cause even more
drama if the policy is strictly enforced
> If you could start from a clean slate, what would you change?
We are currently upgrading our /dev/null system to behave like the
"Vortex Of DOOM!" as used by the Tokyo Hackerspace.
 http://i.imgur.com/7hFaoMvh.jpg (shamelessly stolen from Yves
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