[hackerspaces] Hackerspace drama, oh my!

Colin Keigher general at keyboardcowboy.ca
Thu Jul 3 03:50:34 CEST 2014

If Noisebridge was a great example of "...how organisations [...] [with]
minimal policy can easily shift..." then why the need to adopt an
anti-harassment policy?

Here's an example of Noisebridge's policies:

It's very convoluted and is a symptom of ill-planning.

When I look at your entrance and membership section, I see two key
points that are ignored quite often:

> You should take responsibility for the actions of anyone you invite or
let into Noisebridge.
> If you are a regular user of Noisebridge or participant in our
community, you should consider becoming an associate member.

A lack of accountability for anyone inside of Noisebridge seems to exist
here. So what do you do about those associated with ill-fated members?

Then there is your anti-harassment policy:

Why does this need to be a separate policy? If you have an element in
your space that warrants this policy and you're not removing them then
that is the problem.

Here's what VHS has listed for policies:

> 1. Be excellent to each other.  No racism, no sexism, no homophobia,
no classism.
> 2. VHS projects are group projects, not individual projects.
> 3. Freedom is good.  Group projects are open projects.
> 4. Eager willingness to learn is all you need.  Expertise is not
required.  It’s always OK to ask questions.
> 5. Full Disclosure.  Disclose your motives and affiliations.

Very simple rules to abide by. Why can't Noisebridge make it this clear?
VHS hasn't had the need for an anti-harassment policy and because of the
lack of an open-door policy, I can count zero members being booted and
only two visitors being banned for reasons not relating to
harassment--one at the request of myself specifically. None of these
visitors have been to the space since then. It's not a utopia to say the
least, but I can safely say that we've never had anyone found sleeping
on top of an elevator or something.

Full disclosure however, for legal reasons there is a constitution and a
set of by-laws (this is dictated by the Societies Act):

But it's rare that we have to fall back on them and VHS only has them to
keep the government happy.

I just get the impression that in the five-years that you and others at
Noisebridge have neglected to take off the rose-coloured glasses and
think that the solution is to just pile stuff on top of each other.

If you have a poisonous element within your space, it should be removed.
Failing to do this makes you part of the problem regardless of whatever
half-hearted solutions you throw at it.

On 02/07/2014 6:25 PM, Naomi Most wrote:
> The "meta point" being that no one should model a hackerspace on Noisebridge?
> That may be true.  I have no stake in that particular game.
> There are dozens of ways to model a hackerspace, and I wouldn't say
> Noisebridge has the best one.  It's an interesting model, and one I
> feel is worth pursuing because it is hard, and I perceive there to be
> payoffs in figuring it out without compromising its ideals.  You may
> disagree.
> But the original point *I* was addressing was the assertion that if
> you start with a community and then build an organization, that the
> rest will basically follow.
> I used Noisebridge as a counterexample to THAT point.
> Noisebridge is a great example of how organizations based on culture
> and minimal policy can easily shift, even pushing its original members
> out, simply by being unaware of how the rapid influx of new people
> (ANY new people, not the oft-demonized Occupy and so on) changes the
> culture by sheer weight.
> That's not the only lesson learned from the last 5 years at 2169
> Mission St, but it is one of the biggest ones.
> Again: if you guys can't see past "at least we aren't Noisebridge",
> you're never going to be able to learn from our mistakes.
> --Naomi
> On Wed, Jul 2, 2014 at 6:08 PM, Al Billings <albill at openbuddha.com> wrote:
>> Naomi,
>> sudoroom has the same problems as noisebridge because it explicitly modeled
>> itself on noisebridge with consensus decision making, an open door policy to
>> the street, and a political, social justice mission. They've gone as far as
>> to say a space isn't a real hackerspace if it isn't political.
>> Your counterexample proves the meta point...

Colin Keigher

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