[Noisebridge-discuss] Associate Membership Extermination

Jake jake at spaz.org
Wed Dec 10 00:45:53 UTC 2014

On Tue, 9 Dec 2014, Jacob Fenwick wrote:

> I'm from out of town and am visiting noisebridge.I'm curious to hear about 
> what associate membership was all about and why they got rid of it from your 
> perspective.

For years Noisebridge was attended almost exclusively by non-members. Some of 
these people had good energy to contribute and wanted to help maintain and 
improve noisebridge.  Many others were homeless young people from the streets 
of San Francisco who wanted a place to live, a squat.

Since membership at Noisebridge was expressly tied to cash dues, membership was 
not offered to people without that spare cash, regardless of their level of 
dedication or caring for Noisebridge.

The result was a Lord of the Flies social situation in the space, where the 
loudest and most aggressive people claimed the most authority in the space, and 
there was no process for the "membership" to differentiate between people who 
were good for the space, and those who simply abused it.

I proposed Associate Membership to create a pathway to membership for people 
who were good for noisebridge but were intimidated by Membership, or couldn't 
afford to pay for it.  Simultaneously, to combat abuse of the space I proposed 
a subtle policy where officially, only members and associate members could 
expect a right to be at the space without a sponsor.

This step was important to provide a way to ask disruptive people to leave 
without having to first identify a specific disruptive act, and then win an 
argument about it.  Instead, members could simply ask a nonmember to leave 
because there was no member sponsoring their presence.

Unfortunately, a lot of people failed to understand the ideas and implemented 
them incorrectly, first implementing the policy only between 11pm and 10am 
(which created a LOT of problems at 11pm) and then by misrepresenting the 
policy as prohibiting entry by non-members at any time.

I was still trying to fix the mess when a seperate situation boiled over, with 
a power-hungry "Secretary" declaring martial law at noisebridge, and an end to 
consensus process by members.  Since many of the people I thought were my 
friends had taken his side against my proposals (before they realized his game) 
I ragequit noisebridge and only recently have had enough hope to even bother 
discussing these problems again.

Thank you for asking for more information.  I only wish that others would seek 
to understand before they seek to tell me to shut the hell up.


> On Tue, Dec 9, 2014 at 3:49 PM, Jake <jake at spaz.org> wrote:
>       and no thanks to me, for trying to improve the dismal state of 
> community that noisebridge is trapped in.
>       with the failure to understand Associate Membership, noisebridge has 
> embraced the time-tested strategy of offering membership only to those who 
> can pay, while
>       assigning all others the status of guest or visitor.
>       this means that anyone who cares about noisebridge but doesn't have $40 
> per month to donate will continue to feel disempowered from confronting 
> unexcellent behavior,
>       cleaning up out of a sense of ownership, or making changes as part of 
> doocratic participation.  Only the very most entitled non-members will feel 
> free to make their
>       mark on noisebridge.
>       and moneyed hackers around the world will continue their absentee 
> membership, holding onto it as a status symbol while never setting foot in 
> the space.
>       it didn't work very well in the past, but fuck it, nobody remembers 
> that.
>       -jake
>       On Tue Dec 9 Mitch Altman wrote:
>       Thank you!
>             From: tdfischer at hackerbots.net
>             To: noisebridge-discuss at lists.noisebridge.net
>             Date: Mon, 8 Dec 2014 18:57:07 -0800
>             Subject: [Noisebridge-discuss] Associate Membership Extermination
>             I went through the wiki a bit ago and wiped out anything that 
> refers to
>             Associate Membership.
>             Good riddance.
>             Apologies if I was overzealous in any do-ocratic editing of the 
> wiki.
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>       Noisebridge-discuss at lists.noisebridge.net
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