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

Noah Balmer noahbalmer at gmail.com
Thu Oct 2 17:13:57 UTC 2008

On Thu, Oct 2, 2008 at 2:24 AM, Jacob Appelbaum <jacob at appelbaum.net> wrote:

> 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.
> Noah,
> 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.

Jake, I'm tired and busy. Going though "point by point" when those points
are mostly personal attacks is not constructive or good use of my time

> 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.

That's not what it looked like, or felt like, from here

> I felt and still do feel that the method rescinding the keys was not
> done in a reasonable manner.

The method of _offering the keys was not done in a reasonable manner either

> I felt that I was being ordered around
> without a position of recourse.

I told you I was open to discussion, and I am.  I just want the discussion
to happen in a reasonable manner.  I don't feel like this has been attempted

> I also don't feel like it was just you,

When Two out of four disagree with you and a third expresses misgivings,
perhaps it's worth considering their concern instead of telling them it
isn't valid.

> 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,

Neither do I, but I think the method of reaching the decision in the first
place was a good idea either.  The whole situation could have been handled
better all around.

> 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.

Progress!  Yesterday you told me my concern wasn't valid, and that nothing
changed liability-wise with incorporation.

> 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
> liability"

I signed the lease with the understanding that we were about to be done with
incorporation and needed some people to step up for a few days to hold the
place until that was done.  Nobody ever said I was signing a lease with an
"anyone who asks for a key gets a key" policy and no requirement that the
paperwork goes through.

> The people who funded the space aren't very happy with that.

I wouldn't be either.  As I've told you, I'm open discussion on this.  Tell
me what/who you have in mind.

> 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.

Clearly there were misunderstandings all around here.

> 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've been in a poor position financially.  I haven't been able to afford
much.  That looks like it will be changing, but at the moment money is
tight.  Sorry I haven't been able to offer more, but I do what I can.  As
for it being unfair to hang that on your head, a day ago I was intending to
come to the space and build shelves and a tool bench out of my pocket and my
time as soon as I had a day free.  I now no longer feel welcome or
comfortable.  That's the effect of having you drag me through the mud.

> >      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.

No one is going to look at my user page unless they have a question about
who I am and what my position is at noisebridge.  answering the question for
people who go looking is hardly name-dropping.  You're downplaying how
important that statement was to you, but if it wasn't important maybe you
shouldn't have used it to support a personal attack, and it may be funny to
you to insult me on a public list, but it's not funny to me.

> 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?

I've spent considerable time over the course of months learning about
non-profit law and bringing what I've learned to our meetings, writing,
rewriting, and re-rewriting bylaws, meeting with professionals in the fields
of non-profit law and management to get the knowledge we've needed to make
informed decisions, and getting an offer of free training in non-profit
management which we can take up as soon as we have our act together.  I know
you don't place as much importance on the legal and organizational side of
things as I do, but that doesn't mean it isn't real.  I really shouldn't
have to tell you any of this, because you know it.   As far as I can tell,
you're pretending you don't know it because you want to make me look to the
people watching this mess from the sidelines (hi people!)

> 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.

When I explained why i hadn't continued to talk about key policy when we had
the misunderstanding that put us on this road, you attacked me for using the
phrase "let the topic change" and pretended it was some kind assumption of
dominance.  "let the toipic change" is the opposite of "keep talking about
the same topic", but you were looking for a way to support the statements
you'd made about me trying to control everybody, and you twisted words that
I'd equally apply to everyone present (everyone there let the topic change)
into something they were not.
Piling on ad hominem attacks isn't a good faith way of advocating for a
position, and misrepresenting me in public when I'm not present is a hatchet

> I absolutely can bear disagreement.

Your reaction to my disagreement was to attack me.

> 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.

It's the presumption that I'm cool with a relatively high level of
liability, that I don't like, not the disagreeing.

> 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
> addressed.

The suggestion is lost in haze of ad hominem attacks.  As I've said I'm open
to discussion too, but I'm not going to respond very well when it's
presented in a big heap of abuse.

> >      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 feel like you are betraying my trust, and you're asking me to be more
trusting.  Pointing out the irony is fair game.

> I ask for trust in our members who funded the space.

You asked me to trust "anyone who asks for a key" these things are not the

> They trusted us
> with their money and we should trust them with the space and the
> liability that comes with it.

The space is shared, but so far the liability isn't.

I have to get to work.  I don't want to continue line-by-line bickering. I
really hope that carol moots this whole thing today.  I'll do my best to
respond to any constructive discussion today, but as I said I'm booked
solid.  I don't want to respond to any more personal attacks.

> 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,
> walk.
> 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.
> Best,
> Jake
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