[hackerspaces] Member penalties

Ben Brown ben at generik.ca
Mon Feb 23 15:00:59 CET 2015

A hackerspace that isn't messy is probably not used much ;)

We're approaching 70 members and we have a rotating cleaning duty roster
in place where three members are assigned a week and an area of the
space to tidy up. Some members can't do it because they live far away,
but they try and help in other ways (seasonal cleaning, etc). It's not
perfect -- sometimes things go a little longer than they should but it
works alright. The most critical stuff (getting stanky garbage out on
the curb) happens almost every week.

As for abusing equipment, we haven't had experience in anything
malicious, but things do break -- drill bits, bandsaw blades, 3D printer
extruders. Our laser gets a huge amount of use and we're our 2nd tube in
four years. We're fortunate enough to have a budget for equipment
maintenance, though we don't always use it as often as we maybe should.

We've never instituted anything like a 'volunteer credit' system in
place. We only have one tier of membership, and we've been very
resistant to adding discounted memberships in any way, whether it's
other tiers or credits for work in the space. It's just makes it simple
to predict our income (? members x $50), plus it helps promote the
mindset that we're all on the same level, and no one has any perceived
power over anyone else.

We don't want to have an atmosphere of penalizing volunteers or members
for not doing things like cleaning up, though some occasional indirect
shaming on our mailing list has happened ;). When someone wants to join,
we try and stress that even though everyone pays to access the space,
there are additional 'duties' expected as part of membership, like
helping keep the place tidy, or reporting when things break. So far, we
haven't had a member flat out refuse to do this, perhaps partly because
of the emphasis on those expectations in the beginning. Not to say that
will never happen though.


On 2/22/2015 11:33 PM, Bob Bownes wrote:
> We are having a problem with a few members who are abusing their privileges. These are either our top tier members who have 24/7 access or some of our volunteers who are failing at their volunteer duties. In either case, we have members who are leaving the space a mess, or generally are abusing equipment. 
> Like many places, our members pay a monthly membership fee. Our volunteers can get credit towards that fee for hours worked. Penalizing volunteers is easy (take away the credit or the ability to volunteer) but leads to fewer volunteers. Penalizing paying members is also hard. 
> How are other spaces addressing this? Peer pressure alone is not solving the problem. 
> Thanks,
> Bob
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