[Noisebridge-board] Re: Making Decisions and then backing out after concensus has been reached (was Re: Ick)

Jacob Appelbaum jacob at appelbaum.net
Thu Oct 2 09:24:36 UTC 2008

Noah Balmer wrote:
> Jake, I've put a lot of time and effort into Noisebridge.  I'd have liked to
> put in a lot more, and I was prepared to commit significant resources too,
> but your actions have made me think twice.  I saw some of what happened on
> the channel today and was told about more of it.  As far as saw and as far
> as I heard, you were the instigator.  You did a nice job stabbing me in the
> back.


I find it difficult that you're saying that I stabbed you in the back. I
also find it frustrating that you disregarded nearly all of my previous
email. Rather than addressing things point by point, you're ignoring
those issues.

I do not feel that I have stabbed you in the back. I will not sink to
the level of name calling, either. I have directly stated my position on
all of the forums we use. While my emails may be less succinct than my
conversations on irc, I feel that I did nothing beyond talking about my
and others' frustration with a series of events.

I felt and still do feel that the method rescinding the keys was not
done in a reasonable manner. I felt that I was being ordered around
without a position of recourse. I also don't feel like it was just you,
for the record. I think that it was totally not a good idea to back out
of giving keys in the way that we did, with the back peddling that
happened. That isn't to say that the concern isn't valid and that there
isn't legal liability to go around. But I very much feel that the issue
can be summed up as such:

"A person signs the lease, then the person decides being on the lease
was too much risk, and wants to limit access to the space to limit their

The people who funded the space aren't very happy with that. Some of
them are wondering why someone would sign such a lease. They are also
probably questioning why we rushed to sign the lease without having more
discussions on the issue. I think it's fair to say that there's a bit of
hurry to go around. We've all been massively busy and it appears
difficult to get all of us in one space at any moment in time.

Also, I find it really unfair that you suggest that I am ruining some
mythical contribution you were going to make in the form of "significant
resources." To hang that on my head is brutally rough. Considering that
so far, you had only pledged $100 a month with no startup (so says the
wiki), it seems like you weren't committing much. In fact, it might be
worth noting that this is part of the perception that I've had. In
collecting nearly $11,000, I haven't heard a peep out of you. It didn't
seem like you were interested in fiscally supporting the space beyond
the monthly fee. If this is a misconception, it's not an unreasonable
one for me to have made. I'm willing to take this as a mistake on my
part, just as I've attempted to discuss all of the other issues. If you
want to reply to my other email, it would be really helpful in resolving
these issues.

>      I got involved to help people out.  I wanted to do volunteer work for
> free for a group that I thought, and still think, has the potential to be a
> fantastic non-profit.  You're accusing me of name-dropping the position now,
> and I can only laugh at that.  I tell people about Noisebridge all the time,
> but usually don't tell people anything about being on the board unless it
> comes up, because I hate stupid power dynamics and I don't like what they do
> to a conversation.  I've always seen myself as a participant first and a
> board member only to try to help, and to do my best to ensure the long term
> legal and practical viability of the group.  I'm sorry to hear that you
> don't value that.

I'm not accusing you of anything. Your user page states the position and
while it's true, it rubs me in a funny way given all of the other
clashing. Out of all of the things that I said, I think this is probably
the least important. It's a funny afterthought really.

As far as valuing your contributions, as I said, I'm pretty burnt out.
I'm not keeping track of your accomplishments within the group, I merely
remarked that I couldn't think of any. Ironically or perhaps not so
ironically, you're telling us in this paragraph about what you _wanted_
to do and what you _see_ yourself as. You don't actually mention
anything you're doing or have done. Perhaps this is merely a
communication error and you feel you're saying things that I don't feel
you're saying?

We all hate stupid power dynamics and we all want to see a long term
legal and practical viability for the group. I'm glad we can agree on
that. I hope that we can take this conversation somewhere constructive.

>      I've had enough of being lied about, enough of having my words twisted,
> and enough of trying to reach agreements with someone who won't give fair
> consideration to a different point of view.  If you can't bear disagreement,
> all you have to do is ask me to go and get my name off the lease and then
> you can have everything your way.  The hatchet job is entirely unnecessary.

I am not lying about you, nor am I twisting your words. There is no
hatchet job. As far as "trying to reach agreements," I did not agree to
announce to the members that we would not have keys for them. I'm not
trying to have everything my way, I'm (I feel) representing, in good
faith, the consensus that I felt we made last night in.

I absolutely can bear disagreement. Most of our disagreement is directly
stemming from the fact that you appear unable to bear disagreement when
you feel like it will open you up to some legal liability. In addition,
an email was sent out saying that we'd reversed ourselves when in fact,
only two members at the time had reached that point. I know I wasn't and
still am not in favor of that course of action. I was (and still am)
willing to discuss a better course of action. I suggested transitive
trust of specific people and it's largely been ignored rather than

>      You're giving me a hard time for not being more trusting, but how can
> you ask for trust in one forum while betraying it in another?  It's true I
> disagree with you about a lot of things, but I thought that our disagreement
> could lead to constructive discourse.  I'm sorry to see how you've reacted.

Sorry. This is a logical fallacy. I'm saying you're not being trusting
with the people in the space. This is a fact. Only lease holders have
keys right now.

I ask for trust in our members who funded the space. They trusted us
with their money and we should trust them with the space and the
liability that comes with it.

This is totally and wholly separate from what you consider to be a
betrayal by me on a personal level (ie: complaining on irc). Please do
not conflate these issues, they are not the same.

If anyone is sorry, it will include me. That's not exclusively me that's
sorry but I only speak for myself. I think we should have had an
emergency all hands board meeting rather than going home on Tuesday or
rather than letting all of Wednesday come to pass. In the future, we can
avoid all of these lengthy emails by discussing this in person for such
critical issues.

While you and I have had our disagreements, I've always felt like it was
pretty much water under the bridge after any meeting that became too
heated. It seems par the course for the debate club that our group
sometimes creates. There are some bigger picture things that rub me the
wrong way but largely I agree with what I said. We're all nerds of the
same stripe and ultimately we can solve these problems.

> David, Mitch, Andy, Rachel,
> I fully support everything you're trying to accomplish for the group and I
> wish you the best of luck.

If you're ready to quit, you might want to consider a board meeting in
person to discuss things first. I think it would make sense to actually
address the concerns that *everyone* has had rather than just walking
away when things become (pretty) difficult.

If that isn't possible and you're not willing to even try, by all means,

Personally, I think it would be a big waste to not even attempt to solve
our differences and to discuss the points that were raised. I'm willing
to put in the effort. Mitch, Andy and Rachel seem on board for a meeting
(David is out for tomorrow, unsure about the days following). I really
hope that you are too.


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