[Noisebridge-discuss] "Banning" discussion tonight

Ronald Cotoni setient at gmail.com
Wed Feb 26 18:21:17 UTC 2014

Thank you for your input Jake.  Thank you for trying to say I use consensus
as a weapon.  Read the meeting notes from the past few weeks and you can
see some of how that isn't true.   Regardless, I am going to explain how
the noisebridge space came into existence in my personal opinion even
though you were there since you may have forgot and are definitely out of
touch with current situations within Noisebridge.

Noisebridge started after a bunch of people went to Germany and various
other places in europe and saw their hackerspaced.  They said we can do
this too and they did.  That is how noisebridge was founded.  It''s ideals
are simple.  Be excellent and it is a doocracy.  Both are really simple.
 Both work extremely well when most of the people involved and around the
space care about the space and it's membership.  It also works best if
people are brought up properly to point out bad behavior and ask people to
politely stop.  What I mean by that is if I overhear someone being mean,
sexist or whatever, I should speak up even if it isn't me.  Unfortunately,
that is not how most people think on this side of the pond, we lost it
somewhere.  I have no idea where and it isn't really relevant to this

Here is the problem.  Noisebridge would only need those two rules if we had
more excellent people around all the time promoting excellence, telling
people to stop poor behavior.  We don't have that.  When we had our first
ban of Patrick Keys, it was like pulling teeth to get this obviously toxic
person out of the community.  This drove some members away.  There were
others and other bans which drove more people away to start this lovely
space called Double Union.  This space can only have female identifying
members.  I think that is awesome but also sad.  We are the most open city
and generally ahead on most social problems yet noisebridge couldn't be a
safe enough spot.  This is a completely separate discussion.

Now back to noisebridge.  You say that Mitch has taken issue after learning
about it.  That is frustrating.  The idea of putting meeting notes and
consensus items online in a consistent place is for you as people who care
and love for noisebridge to look at it on a regular basis and make it known
via whatever means necessary that you do not want it to pass.  This
consensus item was put on there January 17th.  That is more than a month
ago, more than the time things normally take to go through consensus.  This
shows a failure on YOUR part, not anyone elses, that you did not spend
enough time in your very busy life to pay attention to noisebridge.  I am
sorry you are not a more excellent member.

The next part is consensus.  You do realize anything passed by consensus
can be reverted in as little as two weeks.  Literally just two weeks.  It
isn't hard.   Consensus is not a weapon, it is a method of trying new
things as a group and then reverting them if it doesn't work so well.  It
is really simple and straightforward.  This is how Laws are supposed to
work but don't for a variety of political bs reasons.  Perhaps the problem
is that there are politics in the space instead of logic.  Perhaps we
should amend consensus to include factual data before we make decisions.
 Perhaps we should have more mediation for people confronting their
harassers that they do not want to confront.  I have no idea.

I think you need to take a step back and perhaps you should rethink of your
involvement of noisebridge.  I think you can do more, even from Germany.
You could mediate every single ban since you never are in the space and are
a fairly neutral party.  Heck, you could organize with a hackerspace there
for us to find someone there to mediate for us and we can do the same for
them thus insuring neutrality.   What do you think about those ideas?
 Wanna do it?  I am totally down.

On Wed, Feb 26, 2014 at 5:41 AM, Jacob Appelbaum <jacob at appelbaum.net>wrote:

> On 2/26/14, Al Sweigart <asweigart at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Mitch, Lee Sonko knew about the banning proposal. I had personally been
> in
> > discussion with him about it. I was surprised that he didn't show up to
> the
> > meeting.
> If you are surprised, I think that means your discussion didn't fully
> address constraints for a possibility of resolution of the conflict.
> It seems rather clear cut that he had a conflict on that specific
> meeting night and on many others. It also seems that he made a good
> faith effort to have others block for him.
> >
> > And this is why Noisebridge isn't a safe space: after months of
> on-and-off
> > harassment, Tom brings up this consensus proposal, it's on the docket for
> > weeks, and actually manages to pass consensus. Yet after all these
> hurdles
> > were overcome, Lee can defy his ban and come back into the space and
> debate
> > his banning.
> Actually - if we say it isn't a safe space, I'd argue that Noisebridge
> isn't a safe space for lack of a useful mediation process to resolve
> this conflict before banning someone.
> Furthermore, we have always tried to have space at meetings to resolve
> conflict - even with folks that we'd generally not want around or who
> we have banned. There is no possibility for enforcement other than the
> general will of the community. So if people want to resolve the
> conflict, it seems reasonable that Lee could come to the meeting to
> make his case and the decision could be reversed if it is a convincing
> case.
> So rather than saying "Lee can defy his ban" - which is always true
> anyway, it might be worth saying that consensus wasn't really reached.
> Members of the community are unhappy with this action being taken in
> their name. There have been lots of questionable consensus items
> passed by just a few folks - folks who know that people have a block
> on that specific consensus but sometimes are absent. This is a kind of
> bureaucratic tactic of attrition and not at all consensus of the
> membership. People understand (and I think they understood) that MCT
> was blocking the banning of Lee.
> Did anyone reach out to MCT and ask him if he was going to stand
> aside? If he failed to make it to the meeting, it doesn't change that
> people understood that he strongly did not want the banning to take
> place. Where is the discussion to resolve this conflict?
> Side stepping this issue as a matter of bureaucratic process is a core
> reason that the community feels unsafe these days.
> >
> > Because Mitch says so. Even though he's a member and could have blocked
> for
> > more discussion.
> >
> Doesn't this strike you as multiple failures? For example - one
> failure is the failure to alert people to serious actions being taken
> in their name. Another is a failure of conflict resolution before
> banning. Another is that now, you abuse Mitch because he takes issue
> with the process now that he has learned about it and the result. That
> seems like a lot of problems, doesn't it?
> > We treat abusive people with kid gloves, and even when we manage to get
> > something passed consensus and say, "Yes, this person should be banned",
> > Mitch still wants to have a do-over.
> I agree that we need better processes for dealing with abusive people.
> But shall I propose that we ban Tom, Ronald and everyone else who uses
> consensus as a weapon of political power? That seems less than stellar
> and a discussion would make more sense than simply proposing a ban.
> And anyway, what is wrong with having a "do-over" in this case?
> Isn't that the point of having a process? The power balance has
> shifted - Lee is banned, the consensus item would need to be in the
> opposite direction. That is - an item to _unban_ Lee which isn't
> exactly the same question. It also means that the process may be
> discussed and a more just solution may be found.
> >
> > Mitch, do you respect consensus? Or only when it agrees with you?
> >
> Uh, are you aware that your two statements make no sense when taken
> together? There isn't consensus if Mitch, a Member, doesn't agree with
> the consensus - which is about everyone agreeing or standing aside in
> disagreement.
> I'd say that this stems from the basic idea of consensus.
> http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/consensus says:
>   \kən-ˈsen(t)-səs\ : a general agreement about something : an idea or
> opinion that is shared by all the people in a group
> For myself and others - it means that we all agree on an issue. This
> is to say that the group is really nearly everyone in the community.
> This is rare and as a result, consensus is a heavy weapon used
> sparingly when everyone will take up the job of making that consensus
> item a reality in the space. For you and a few others, it seems from a
> distance that you both treat it as a system of rules to be exploited.
> Consensus appears to mean to a few folks that they can wait until the
> room is mostly empty, fill it with a few (sometimes as few as four)
> people and if no one objects in that single session, they represent
> the result as if it is the will of the entire Membership of
> Noisebridge. That isn't consensus, it's a hack on process - which I
> can respect but not as a matter of consensus. The hack at the core is
> to re-interpret "opinion that is shared by all the people in a group"
> to suggest that the group in question is the one consisting of four
> people rather than the membership.
> These actions of "consensus" aren't being done in good faith and they
> create more conflict than they resolve. We should work to resolve
> conflict and banning Lee probably isn't the right solution here.
> All the best,
> Jake
> _______________________________________________
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> Noisebridge-discuss at lists.noisebridge.net
> https://www.noisebridge.net/mailman/listinfo/noisebridge-discuss

Ronald Cotoni
Systems Engineer
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