[hackerspaces] Question regarding member dispute

Edward L Platt ed at elplatt.com
Tue Jan 12 15:04:49 CET 2016

I have a slightly different perspective to add.

>From an organizational best practices perspective:
Boards meet too infrequently to deal with these things in a timely manner.
Also, boards are best suited to addressing organization-level questions. So
in general, I suggest that it's better to have the board (or members)
decide on a policy and delegate the power to apply it to an officer or
committee. It's important that the policy is clear and simple so that it
can and will be followed entirely, while still giving enough flexibility to
whoever applies it.

>From a community-building perspective:
I second the above commenters who said it was important to deal with the
issue quickly. It's also important to deal with it fairly. There are two
reasons groups often fail to handle conflicts fairly: 1. laziness and
disorganization: they don't know the details of the events, the history of
the members, or even the organization's policies; 2. bias: conflicts like
these can be an excuse to act on personal grudges, and they are also
subject to unconscious bias. Also, I always advocate focusing on judging
behavior rather than character (i.e. "you did an unacceptable thing" vs.
"you're an asshole.") This is because it's more fair, and it's also a way
to enforce community norms. On that second point, it's a good opportunity
to identify norms that aren't widely understood, and send out more
information, post signs, etc.

Happy hacking,

Edward L. Platt
PhD student, University of Michigan School of Information
@elplatt <http://twitter.com/elplatt>

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