[Noisebridge-discuss] Why Consensus Kills Community

Al Sweigart asweigart at gmail.com
Mon Dec 16 21:22:33 UTC 2013

I know some cool and not-dull people who come to Noisebridge but don't come
to the weekly meetings or participate on the mailing list/IRC channel.

On Mon, Dec 16, 2013 at 1:04 PM, bfb <bfb at riseup.net> wrote:

> -------- Original message --------
> From: Al Sweigart
> Date:12/16/2013 11:43 (GMT-08:00)
> To: Gregory Dillon
> Cc: noisebridge-discuss
> Subject: Re: [Noisebridge-discuss] Why Consensus Kills Community
> I think Greg and John bring up some good points. I'd like NB to be a place
> where a complete stranger who has heard of the place can come in, chat with
> some people maybe, and then work on random projects.
> The whole "get to personally know people in order to be at the space" is
> really intimidating on both sides: I'm hesitant to "sponsor" a complete
> stranger because I don't want to be blamed for their bad behavior.
> I think the coercion to be a part of Noisebridge makes the place
> uncomfortable. Not everyone wants to be a part of the membership, attend
> meetings, take on responsibilities, come up with policy, etc.
> >>I empathize with you up until this point. I'm not familiar with the
> demographic you begin to describe, but they sound awfully dull to me.
> They'd rather pay a membership fee, clean up after just themselves, and
> have someone to voice problems to (and have them handle it). This is how a
> lot of organizations work, and Noisebridge doesn't have to give up its
> identity and accessibility to achieve this. But it does have to change its
> current political structure.
> On Mon, Dec 16, 2013 at 9:06 AM, Gregory Dillon <gregorydillon at gmail.com>wrote:
>> I also first soaked in the environment .  With those  observations I
>> initially decided that Noisebridge was not the space for me,    Still,  I
>> keep coming back to see.  I'm glad I did because as of a  couple months
>> ago, things seemed different.
>> Its true that the associate membership process at times felt like it was
>> something of a pain to go through, but again, I''m glad I did it.  I
>> believe I asked @ 15 people to sponsor me over several trips to NB.   Yes,
>> at moments that took me out of my comfort zone,   but it is really not such
>> a bad thing to talk to people.
>> On Mon, Dec 16, 2013 at 8:27 AM, John Shutt <john.d.shutt at gmail.com>wrote:
>>> It's not too much overhead for me, which is why I'm posting to the list
>>> right now, sitting in on meetings, and going through the membership
>>> process. I would suggest that it's too much overhead for a lot of other
>>> people, especially people who are new to the space or just passing through.
>>> In the past, if none of the random collection of members who happen to
>>> be present at that moment wanted to deal with them, that meant they didn't
>>> get a tour. Now, the policy is to kick them out by default. It might not
>>> have anything to do with the guest: Maybe the members only want to sponsor
>>> people they know well, maybe they just want to work on their projects,
>>> maybe they know they're going to be leaving soon. Requiring that all
>>> members be friendly and helpful supervisors to a stream of people they
>>> don't know seems unreasonable, and implying that all guests require
>>> constant supervision creates a weird dynamic.
>>> I'm thinking back to the first time I visited Noisebridge, when I had
>>> just arrived in San Francisco and didn't know anybody and could barely
>>> code. I wasn't sure if I would fit in at Noisebridge, so I was pretty
>>> nervous. I didn't have any particular projects in mind the first few times
>>> I visited, I just soaked in conversations, looked at what other people were
>>> working on, and studied in the library.
>>> Since then, I've used the space to make my first open source
>>> contributions, help build the book scanner, learn Rails, Ember.js, and a
>>> lot of other things, work on the Noisebridge ticketing system, work on
>>> SecureDrop and Open Library at the AaronSW hackathons, give talks at 5
>>> Minutes of Fame, land my first programming job, give tours to visitors, and
>>> introduce a lot of good people to the space. I feel pretty comfortable at
>>> this point that Noisebridge is a good place for me to work.
>>> But if I had been subjected to an unfriendly interrogation on my first
>>> nervous visit, and then told by a board member on the mailing list that
>>> Noisebridge wasn't a good place for me to work, I would have taken their
>>> word for it.
>>> On Mon, Dec 16, 2013 at 12:14 AM, Tom Lowenthal <me at tomlowenthal.com>wrote:
>>>> John Shutt <john.d.shutt at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>> > Long story short: A strict interpretation of the associate membership
>>>> and
>>>> > doorcode policies would result in all of the members of the book
>>>> scanning
>>>> > group and Restore the 4th SF getting immediately locked out of the
>>>> space.
>>>> Hi John, I want to take a moment to jump into this thread and disagree
>>>> with you. Sorry about that.
>>>> A “strict interpretation” of the associate membership policy would ask
>>>> that you introduce yourself to someone in the space and tell them that
>>>> you're working on the awesome book scanner project. If any one member
>>>> there agrees that you're working on a great project and that they want
>>>> you there, you're golden.
>>>> Only if not a single member there is down with what you're working on
>>>> would you'd have to leave. Honestly: policy or no policy, if you go
>>>> somewhere to work and **not a single person** there is happy with you
>>>> being there, it'd probably be a good plan to find somewhere else to
>>>> work.
>>>> I think that's pretty different from what you described. The goal of
>>>> associate membership is to knit the Noisebridge community together
>>>> more tightly and allow for more accountability for what happens in the
>>>> space. If that's too much overhead for you, I guess Noisebridge isn't
>>>> a good place for you to work.
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> Noisebridge-discuss mailing list
>>> Noisebridge-discuss at lists.noisebridge.net
>>> https://www.noisebridge.net/mailman/listinfo/noisebridge-discuss
>> --
>> Let's stay in touch.  Greg
>> _______________________________________________
>> Noisebridge-discuss mailing list
>> Noisebridge-discuss at lists.noisebridge.net
>> https://www.noisebridge.net/mailman/listinfo/noisebridge-discuss
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