[Noisebridge-discuss] Membership Status and Consensus

Jacob Appelbaum jacob at appelbaum.net
Sun Nov 24 17:21:21 UTC 2013

Dear Tom,

Tom Lowenthal:
> Jacob Appelbaum <jacob at appelbaum.net> wrote:
>> I directly told Tom that I wanted him to block this wikipage related
>> outing of members as my proxy. He has failed to do so as a member and he
>> did not represent my hard resistance, clearly, if this has passed any
>> consensus process. What petty authoritarianism indeed.
> Hi Jake,
> You got in touch with me *after* we had agreed to make the membership
> list no longer a secret. I proposed it one week, and we agreed how to
> do it the next. Although it was my proposal, the way that we chose to
> implement it was not how I'd imagined it. That's fine and good: that's
> how consensus is supposed to work.

I am objecting to forcing the wikipage disclosure. You are obfuscating
the discussion by muddling the two issues. I am aware of the "consensus"
issue that had previously passed and it was my motivation for speaking
directly with you about my objections to similar future plans.

> You expressed your strong disagreement with the proposal to add a firm
> horizon for members to make it clear who they were. We noted your
> objections, and did not record that proposal as consensus. t

I object to the specific methods of outing people, as well as the
requirement for people to out themselves generally. I object to people
being forced, especially during these turbulent political times, to
losing their right to choose who knows about their associations. People
who support Noisebridge have a right to do so anonymously and similarly,
when there are challenges, we can solve the issues in a privacy
preserving manner. Forcing, under threat or no threat of removal, the
publication every member's status, name/nym and more on the wiki as the
canonical source is wrong. As Andy has stated, it is fuzzy for a reason
and your attempts to remove this fuzzy part of the system show a total
disrespect for those reasons, as well as a total lack of acknowledgement
about the harms that your "solution" presents to our community.

> If the torrent of abuse you threw at me by IM counts as a request for
> a proxy then sure. Would that I were a time traveler, but going back
> in time to proxy your objection is not within my skillset.

This is so riddled with inaccuracies, I'm not even sure where to start.
Still, I'll try - I made it clear, via IRC, that I objected to the spat
of recent "consensus" decisions, that I felt your "leadership" at
Noisebridge was upsetting a lot of people and that I personally wanted
you to block any forced outing of members on the wikipage. That was not
a matter of time travel - it was discussing the recent past with a
specific request to change the future discussions to be more inclusive
and specifically to stop taking away the privacy of Noisebridge members
in an effort to "do something."

>> Everyone should ignore this "consensus" item as it was clearly not a
>> matter of Noisebridge consensus. If anyone is removed for not following
>> these wiki related rules or they are not allowed to participate by
>> someone citing these rules, I move that we remove these petty
>> authoritarians from Noisebridge.
>> This wikipage stuff is not in the spirit of Noisebridge, it is the
>> spirit of someone who is vying for power and man, to do that at
>> Noisebridge is really really sad.
>> Tom - could you please knock it off?
> Jake, I would have a lot more respect for your opinions on how to run
> Noisebridge if you'd spent any length of time here in the past few
> years, or planned to set foot in the space anywhere in the next half
> decade. While I have sympathy for the difficulties which prevent you
> from coming back, your absence limits your ability to experience
> Noisebridge's current situation first hand.

Ah well, if you're saying that you lack respect for my views, it is no
wonder that we are not reaching consensus. I respect that you see
problems and I respect that you're trying to resolve them - if you lack
respect for me, you will never be able to resolve these conflicts with
me and probably you'll also have trouble with those who share similar views.

With that said, when I feel safe enough to return to San Francisco, I
will most certainly return to Noisebridge. If it takes me half a decade,
I would appreciate that you not hold against me the fact that this is
largely out of my control. I have long supported and continue to support
Noisebridge in the ways that are available to me.

I would appreciate that you respect that I have certain limits and not
talk down to me because of those limits. If I were to reply with similar
behavior, I suppose I could ask you to sink tens of thousands of dollars
and thousands of hours into Noisebridge before you attempt to shift
Noisebridge. That would be rather unreasonable - so please note, I do
not make that request, I merely make it as an observation about being
inclusive. Please recognize that each and everyone one of us makes the
contributions that are possible - some with time, some with funds, some
with ideas; we should try to respect what everyone brings to the table
and use that to reach a consensus.

> The fact is that in addition to being a global symbol of anarchist
> utopia, Noisebridge is also meant to be a hackerspace. Recently it
> hasn't been much of one. Frequent theft and vandalism[^1] have made it
> near-impossible for anyone to reliably work on a project larger than
> they can carry. Sexual harassment, sexual assault, and a wholly
> incredible number of literal rapists regularly using the space have
> made it an intolerably unsafe environment for women and trans* people.

Yes, I am aware. You're building a strawman here, Tom. You suggest that
your motivations are pure and thus, your solutions are correct. This is
simply false. We agree on the problems, we do not agree on the
solutions. You can repeat the problems endlessly but you will not make
the space safer by removing those who have a deep passion for the space
or by marginalizing those who feel uncomfortable with your solutions.

> I want Noisebridge to be a safe and inclusive space where people can
> work on interesting projects, learn about technology and society, and
> meet like and un-like minded folks. But inclusiveness does not just
> mean opening our doors and asking everyone in. Being inclusive is an
> active and difficult process of making the space safe and inviting for
> folks other than cis white able men. That's what I think whe're working
> on

There is great irony in that statement. Also, your straw man argument
tactics are boring.

Let us be very precise because the lack of precision in your handwaving
is harming the discussion.

>From http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/inclusive we see:

in·clu·sive adjective \in-ˈklü-siv, -ziv\
: covering or including everything

: open to everyone : not limited to certain people

: including the stated limits and everything in between

If you wish to change this - it should be done by consensus. We have
seen many changes that are meant to be open to everyone that follows a
basic social contract. I agree that this is positive - we've always said
that homophobes and rascists aren't welcome. However, we have tended to
only *punish* or *impact* the harmful folks while generally leaving
everyone else to their own business. Thus, we don't declare that
everyone swear an oath on every entry that they're not racist or sexist
or homophobic - we should not require the major of people to do
something because a minority of people are actively harmful. We should
mitigate the active harm and do so in a way that is reducing the total
conflict in the space without radically shifting the space itself into
something else without the consensus of the entire group.

What you've told me about why you care about Noisebridge is also
disturbing to me. I feel that you care more about the 501c3 status of
the group than about Noisebridge itself. If you merely wish to have a
non-profit to do things, I would ask you to please not hijack Noisbridge
under the pretense of saving Noisebridge, when you seem to care more
about the legal entity than the rest of it.

> If all the Noisebridge members who are so invested in their local
> hackerspace that they come regularly to work and learn, who come to
> meetings and actively and fully participate in our consensus process,
> who try and make Noisebridge into an effective inclusive hackerspace
> are a bunch of petty authoritarians, you're welcome to that opinion.
> We're working on local solutions to local problems, and you're telling
> us what we mustn't do from half the world away. I respectfully
> disagree.

You are free to disagree all you'd like - this is part of the process of
discussing things of this nature and scale; I respect that you disagree
even if I do not want the solutions that you propose. I object to your
specific solutions and I have a right to do so. I also object to how
these decisions are being made - four people isn't a full consensus when
many known community members are voicing concerns. You must convince
others with reason, not by fiat or declaration; if you want to make
changes that are grand and sweeping with the force of new rules in the
space - we need consensus.

All the best,

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