[Noisebridge-discuss] Advisory about recent thefts at Noisebridge.

aestetix aestetix aestetix at gmail.com
Sun Jul 10 20:42:50 UTC 2011

On Sun, Jul 10, 2011 at 1:23 PM, Rich Humphrey <rich_humphrey at yahoo.com>wrote:

> Hello-
>  This is really sad to read, since before this started happening NB was one
> of the safest most trusting environments I've been in.
>  It's not surprising though, I had my space at CellSpace for a long time
> and we really struggled with 'Radical Inclusion' in this neighborhood. There
> are just a lot of people who are going to do this sort of thing, sometimes
> it's just how they live even though they are otherwise pretty nice.
>  It's also true that once you're 'discovered' as a good target it suddenly
> becomes a free-for-all. This is not limited to theft, the seriousness of the
> incidents will escalate also! There's a 'you can steal there' problem but
> there's also a 'they won't beat you up so they're helpless' problem that's a
> LOT worse!
>  It's also obvious to me that NB people are really not the problem, and
> they are very unlikely to be a problem, no matter how 'weird' they may
> appear to some people. They are all really awesome and we're all very lucky.
>  I really support Radical Inclusion but this must be in keeping with the
> purpose of the place, which, unlike CellSpace, has a pretty clear purpose. I
> think the 'let anyone who buzzes in' policy is going to have to go away,
> that's just reality. It will probably have to change so that members have
> access and non-members will need to have a member let them in and have a
> member who is their 'sponsor' or escort of sorts. (or is at least aware that
> they are there)
>  So I would say be more strict about membership, and extend radical
> inclusion to MEMBERS. That would take care of 99% of it because NB people
> are awesome and the 'weirdos' of NB are THE BEST and we want to keep them.
> Street people are not going to join and they are not going to try this stuff
> if they don't know they can. (we have a lot of experience with this!)
>  This is not just about property or awkward situations, it's really a
> safety issue in a late night space like this. It could be very bad.
> 1. Cameras, or the appearance of cameras, can be a big deterrent. But not
> always.
> 2. When cameras are working, even with very nice security software, they
> are not really very useful when there's an incident. Sometimes you get lucky
> and get a clear image that you can use but more often you spend hours
> retreiving a grainy shot of a dark figure carrying something. (Yes, I can
> confirm that Bigfoot stole your laptop.) Then people get annoyed with the
> person who took a whole day to retrieve and deliver the stuff from their
> crappy system. (lots of experience with this!)
> 3. Street thieves go for things they can turn over NOW. That's laptops,
> phones, wallets, cash. They are NOT interested in equipment, non-portable
> cameras, desktops, cables or any of that. It's useless to them. If your
> laptop gets stolen, it was a street thief. If you RAM is gone, that's a
> dishonest geek!
> 4. The police are not fast enough for safety! Especially at night. They'll
> come, they'll catch the people afterward, but this is just not good enough
> when it comes to the physical safety of the people we care about (everyone).
> There needs to be some precaution to make this less of a threat BEFORE
> anything happens.
> So I think you should only let members open the door. There can be a policy
> for members who don't want to be officially declared as such or who can't
> afford the dues. Let anyone join! People who are a problem will just not do
> that. Or if they do, then they're a member with a problem which is very
> different from a stranger with problems.
> Membership, especially with dues, is really an excellent filter! It lets
> you keep your values while keeping your space safe! You can still let anyone
> join. You can even let visitors join instantly if they pay dues up front.
> Awful as it may sound, this really works, because problem people will simply
> not pay. There can still be sliding-scale membership, just not for walk-ins.
> I think it's an unfortunate problem, but very natural considering the
> neighborhood. We're very lucky to have these options to solve it.

Thank you so much for offering insights. It sounds like you have a lot of
valuable experiences and wisdom to contribute.

However... the big problems with the membership suggestions are that they
empower membership beyond what it currently nets you (the ability to block
consensus), it's unfair to people who are community members but cannot
afford the admission, and, as we do not issue membership cards of any sort,
it's impossible to enforce. On top of that, I know many people who are
longstanding community members and make regular donations to the space, but
have never gone through the formal membership process for any number of
reasons. People who everyone else would have just assumed is a member.

For reference, we tried doing anonymous membership a couple years ago, which
incidentally was how we figured out that membership gives you nothing but
the ability to block consensus. I'm not sure how to do "unofficially
declared" membership beyond that, because becoming a member requires a
consensus decision. On the other hand, asking someone to fill out a
membership application informs them that you know who they are and value
them, helps them feel more included in the community, and may make them
reconsider doing bad things (if they were ever so inclined).

> =Rich
> -----------------------------------------------------------
> Richard Mortimer Humphrey
> General Specialist
> --- On Sun, 7/10/11, Jonathan Lassoff <jof at thejof.com> wrote:
> > From: Jonathan Lassoff <jof at thejof.com>
> > Subject: Re: [Noisebridge-discuss] Advisory about recent thefts at
> Noisebridge.
> > To: gian.pablo at gmail.com
> > Cc: liz at bookmaniac.org, noisebridge-discuss at lists.noisebridge.net
> > Date: Sunday, July 10, 2011, 12:05 PM
> > On Sun, Jul 10, 2011 at 8:32 AM, Gian
> > Pablo Villamil
> > <gian.pablo at gmail.com>
> > wrote:
> > > As I've pointed out before, NYC Resistor was also in a
> > sketchy area, and
> > > implemented a far more doors-closed policy. The space
> > was freely open only
> > > on Thursday evenings, aside from that it was members
> > only.
> > > This policy did not seem to get in the way of people
> > doing cool things, and
> > > it made the the people there feel a lot more safe.
> > > I've already had a couple of experiences at NB
> > where... undesirable
> > > visitors... made it impossible for me to get work
> > done.
> > > Perhaps we should have more of a vetting policy?
> > > My concern is that word seems to be spreading - fast -
> > around the
> > > neighborhood about NB being a wide-open place with
> > lots of goodies.
> >
> > I somewhat agree. I've thought in the past what NB would be
> > like a
> > members-only place, and I still think it could work. We
> > could just be
> > really liberal about who we can make members.
> >
> > I don't see any reason to cap membership at a certain size
> > or put
> > mechanisms to slow growth in place. I'd much like to see
> > some
> > mechanism to stop complete strangers (people that aren't
> > friends,
> > friends-of-friends, etc.) be able to come in off of the
> > street.
> >
> > --j
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> > Noisebridge-discuss at lists.noisebridge.net
> > https://www.noisebridge.net/mailman/listinfo/noisebridge-discuss
> >
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