[hackerspaces] dossier pattern

hadez hadez.hso at nrrd.de
Mon Nov 16 19:32:26 CET 2015

Hi Sheila, List,

my 2ct:

I'd err on the side of data economy.
The fewer data you keep, the lower the potential for abuse is.
This also translates to "once you have data, someone will (want to) use it".

But let's look at the problem from another point of view (and beyond the
2ct level).

- For the most part I'll treat "member" equal to "member of the board". I
do this because there should be no real difference between the two other
than when we're dealing with legal or money issues.
- I'm assuming you've implemented the plenum pattern.
- YMMV. Everything I say below is based on personal experience.

Is the problem really that the board members are new and they do not know
whether someone misbehaved before?
Or could it be that there's not enough communication in general between the
If you're using the plenum pattern, complaints should be brought up in the
plenum, so everyone can contribute their side of the story.
However, anyone should also be able to approach the board with a complaint
if a public discussion is not suitable (yet).

I'm saying "yet" because hackerspaces should foster a culture of open and
fair communication between their members.
In the case of a complaint it could be judged that fairness would require
to not disclose the exact nature of a complaint until the facts and history
of everyone involved are known.
However, once the facts are known and the person targeted by the complaint
had their chance to contribute their part of the story and the complaint
turns out to be grounded in truth you should think about taking a more
public (in the sense of members being the public here) stance suitable to
the specific issue at hand.
The line between an open discussion and public shaming is often a thin one,
so apply your best judgment.
Eg. if a member is to be thrown out as the result of a complaint, the other
members should know what went wrong so they can learn from it.

The fact that the board is made up of new members should not be a problem
Why shouldn't members of the board be able to ask a few old-timers for
input (disclosing information as sparingly as possible, of course)?

You make it sound like there's no communication between members and "the
board" or, even worse, that the board is clueless with regards to the
history and current development of the social group that is their members.

In our 5 1/2 years of existence we've had our fair share of complaints,
both in confidence and public.
We've been able to address them without keeping track of individual
missteps in a database.
The "swarm storage" that is the collective memories of our members was more
than enough to give context to each of those complaints.
If something was serious and important, it'll be remembered.
But if you write everything down and file it in a database, you're
effectively saying "you fucked up once, you're tainted forever" which takes
away any possibility of personal development.
If there's one thing I've taken away from the last 5 1/2 years, it's that
even the nicest folks can mess up (for whatever reason).
But also that folks that have been tearing each other up in nasty arguments
and disagreements can make peace.
Likewise, folks that misbehaved in a ways that no longer really could be
treated as "minor nuisance" bettered themselves and learned a lot from
their misstep.
Quite some of the discussions we ended up having were socially and mentally
very taxing on everyone involved. I'm talking shouting matches and tears
Such things never come easy. But that shouldn't be an excuse for not
dealing with it.
I think it's fair to say that our group as a whole grew stronger from such
experiences and everyone (I hope) was able to learn something from it.

I'm not saying that everything can be solved with giving a free pass and a
second chance. Far from it.
Though it is still my strong opinion that tracking missteps in a database
is way over the top and might be a indicator for your group as a whole
should this be the only way you can think of dealing with issues like that.
If there's a disconnect between the board and the rest of the members (as
your initial reasoning suggests), this might be a far graver problem you
need to fix than recording blame for all of posterity.

TL;DR: Talk to each other and be excellent to each other.


On Mon, Nov 16, 2015 at 6:29 PM sheila miguez <shekay at pobox.com> wrote:

> I have questions about the logistics involved in the dossier pattern.
> https://noisebridge.net/wiki/Hackerspace_Design_Patterns_2.0#New_Hackerspace_Design_Patterns
> Dossier Pattern
>> Problem: The board has received a complaint about a member, but the
>> member says they didn't understand the rules. The board members are new and
>> have no way to know whether the member has been a problem before.
>> Solution: Keep records of all member complaints in a system that is
>> confidential and searchable. Even if someone doesn't want to make a formal
>> complaint, leaving a note can help establish whether there is a pattern of
>> misbehavior and help future boards follow up.
> We agree that we'd like to use this pattern, but we are unsure of how to
> implement it. We've had a complicated year, and we'd like to keep some
> records. We've got two general areas that people worry about.
> 1. What to record.
> 2. How to preserve confidentiality and privacy.
> Are any of you involved in an HR department or industrial organization
> psychology or whatever type of specialty would help give us ideas for what
> to capture and how to store it?
> 1. What to record.
> When the dossier pattern has been brought up, we've had highly mixed
> reactions. One person said it was disgusting and would be used unfairly and
> that we'd be recording hearsay and use it as an excuse to kick people out.
> I'd like to find a way to mitigate those fears. It seems to me that there
> must exist existing procedures for recording behaviors and incidents that
> help. What processes do people use?
> as an aside, it seems to me that most everyone I've talked to wants
> fairness, but some are worried about unfair accusations versus unfair
> dismissals. I don't feel like getting in to that topic, I just want to get
> something done that is good enough. It doesn't have to be perfect.
> 2. Confidentiality
> I'd like to preserve confidentiality and privacy, including forward
> privacy. For example, I've had a situation where a person filed a complaint
> and asked for the exact language of the complaint not to be shared with the
> person involved. We gave the person who was involved a paraphrase of the
> situation. If that person becomes a board member, they will have access to
> board docs. Logistically speaking, what kind of protocol can I use that
> would have a reasonable chance of keeping things private for the person who
> filed the complaint? Should I just destroy the primary materials?
> --
> shekay at pobox.com
> _______________________________________________
> Discuss mailing list
> Discuss at lists.hackerspaces.org
> http://lists.hackerspaces.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss
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