[Noisebridge-discuss] Membership Status and Consensus

Jacob Appelbaum jacob at appelbaum.net
Tue Nov 26 19:36:50 UTC 2013

This is going to be a very confusing thread do to the fact that we use
the same first name, Jake. :)

> Dear Jake,
> If you put even half the effort into helping noisebridge deal with
> actual, real challenges that are threatening to entirely destroy it as a
> hackerspace, that you put into writing abusive public emails to the fine
> person willing to do the hard work of being secretary, your position
> would be a lot more respectable.

I do not believe that my recent emails are abusive in nature; they are
oriented around resolving an ongoing tension and avoiding very specific
future conflicts with respect to past decisions. It does not matter if
the person proposing these solutions is the king of the hill or the bum
at the bottom. The objections to the solutions are valid and come from
multiple people, myself included.

> As it is I feel that you are behaving as part of the problem as opposed
> to part of the solution.  I wish you would take a step back and consider
> this.

I object to the specific solutions. That is part of the problem for that
specific solution, yes. There are other solutions where we may achieve
similar goals, I suspect.

> The fact that you are unable to come to the space and participate makes
> it impossible for you to be aware of the reality of the situation,
> including the fact that almost everyone you know who has ever been a
> part of Noisebridge has left, and doesn't come around anymore.  I urge
> you to acknowledge this reality and integrate it into your strategy to
> help.

Purging membership unless members take specific action is wrong.
Similarly, outing them or punishing them for refusing is wrong. The
reality of the political dimension of our community does not require me
to set foot in the space.

> Detached idealism is its own worst enemy, and it discredits itself. 
> Your ideals are laudable, but your means are not credible, consisting of
> nothing but criticism of the people doing the most hard work at the space.

Summarizing my contributions as wholly negative is extremely disrespectful.

An objection to the specifics of the consensus "solution" is not a
negative action in itself.

> For me to address the particulars of your latest complaints, I (and Tom
> I think) believe that a consensus item "requiring" members to identify
> themselves on the wiki with no consequences for failure to do so should
> satisfy you. 

I think that checking the membership binder should be sufficient and
that the secretary should be able to confirm membership if there is any
dispute. If people also wish to have flair on their wikipage, I wouldn't
object; I object to a culture of forcing membership disclosure and also
to punishment of any kind for refusing to disclose membership status.

> A change which would have introduced consequences was
> blocked partially on your behalf, and will not be implemented.  As for
> the secrecy of membership, I believe it was always that a member's
> status would be revealed to a direct inquiry to the secretary.

It depends on who is inquiring. If the FBI walks into Noisebridge, I
would hope that no one would disclose information without a search
warrant. If this information is public and on the wiki, we lose the
agency to refuse disclosure that is harmful to our community and the
specific members targeted by said agents.

> If you want to talk about the details of the information security policy
> around membership status, a shorter email listing your perception of it,
> desires for changes, and persuasive arguments will be a whole lot more
> respectable than personal attacks, especially on our hardworking
> secretary.  And if you think that job is easy, you should talk to the
> people who have done the job and had to quit.

I'm happy to discuss these topics.

> As for your inability to come to the space, please acknowledge the fact
> that it limits your ability to know what is actually happening to it,
> and who is actually using it vs. who has actually abandoned it to rot.

I acknowledge that I do not understand all of the problems.

I would appreciate it if you would similarly acknowledge that objections
to specific solutions are not (always or even usually) objections to the
statement of the original problem.

I understand that there are issues - I do not believe that the total
number of issues will be reduced if we change certain specifics without
real consensus.

> And again, please try to focus your valuable energy toward productive
> improvements instead of unproductive and divisive attacks.

Disregarding the concerns of members and non-members is not
unproductive. In any case, productivity is not my goal when I feel that
the entire membership is under a divisive attack - protecting the
privacy of members is more important. That is not about progress per se
- it is about ensuring that the concept of "progress" doesn't trample
other good parts of the community in service of solving another problem.

All the best,

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