[hackerspaces] Question regarding member dispute

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[hackerspaces] Question regarding member dispute

Shirley Hicks
Hey everyone,

Hope all the hacker and maker spaces are off to a good start with the new year.

Have a question regarding a member dispute I need to crowdsource. This is within the US, and specifically Alabama. I’m not a US native.

We had a dispute develop between two members of the space that originated in an outside incident, but which then overflowed into the space after a failure to resolve successfully. This is our first such interpersonal problem that has developed between members. As we are still a relatively new group (3.75 years since first meeting, three since first incorporation, two in our space) and have been adding policies and standing rules as needed, while we have a basic set of rules in place for this type of thing, we’re having to walk through our first application of them carefully.

The particulars that I can state are that we’re not dealing with the incident itself, but rather with behavior at a subsequent meeting, in which one member behaved inappropriately, the other responded. One member has accused the other of harassment. (we have a policy that has been approved by the membership)  We have drafted, (but have not yet sent) warning letters to both. There is a push developing from within a portion of the membership to vote out one of the members for the behavior, but the member concerned is also likely to push back because of his own concerns regarding what he sees as defamation of character which may affect other matters with which he is dealing.

We are considering seeking legal or mediation advice locally as we want be able to deal with this appropriately. Am wondering if other spaces have dealt with similar disputes and what you learned in the process.

Our bylaws concerning member rights and responsibilities are at http://wiki.redmountainmakers.org/wiki/By-Laws_of_The_Red_Mountain_Makers#Rights_and_responsibilities and our standing rules are at http://wiki.redmountainmakers.org/wiki/Standing_rules#Be_excellent_to_each_other
Our anti-harassment policy - http://wiki.redmountainmakers.org/wiki/Policy:_Antiharassment

Thanks for any input and experience you can offer in advance.

Shirley Hicks
Treasurer
Red Mountain makers
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Re: [hackerspaces] Question regarding member dispute

Joshua Pritt
I always hate when people just can't be excellent to each other.  But the best thing to do IMHO is to gather all the facts that you can for the whole situation, then make a call using your best judgement based on these facts.  You can always just reinforce the fact that someone is not being excellent and that is the main problem.  That's probably too simple on something so complicated but really that's what we're looking at.

I hope this helps and I hope no one else has to go through this!

On Mon, Jan 4, 2016 at 5:16 PM, Shirley Hicks <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hey everyone,

Hope all the hacker and maker spaces are off to a good start with the new year.

Have a question regarding a member dispute I need to crowdsource. This is within the US, and specifically Alabama. I’m not a US native.

We had a dispute develop between two members of the space that originated in an outside incident, but which then overflowed into the space after a failure to resolve successfully. This is our first such interpersonal problem that has developed between members. As we are still a relatively new group (3.75 years since first meeting, three since first incorporation, two in our space) and have been adding policies and standing rules as needed, while we have a basic set of rules in place for this type of thing, we’re having to walk through our first application of them carefully.

The particulars that I can state are that we’re not dealing with the incident itself, but rather with behavior at a subsequent meeting, in which one member behaved inappropriately, the other responded. One member has accused the other of harassment. (we have a policy that has been approved by the membership)  We have drafted, (but have not yet sent) warning letters to both. There is a push developing from within a portion of the membership to vote out one of the members for the behavior, but the member concerned is also likely to push back because of his own concerns regarding what he sees as defamation of character which may affect other matters with which he is dealing.

We are considering seeking legal or mediation advice locally as we want be able to deal with this appropriately. Am wondering if other spaces have dealt with similar disputes and what you learned in the process.

Our bylaws concerning member rights and responsibilities are at http://wiki.redmountainmakers.org/wiki/By-Laws_of_The_Red_Mountain_Makers#Rights_and_responsibilities and our standing rules are at http://wiki.redmountainmakers.org/wiki/Standing_rules#Be_excellent_to_each_other
Our anti-harassment policy - http://wiki.redmountainmakers.org/wiki/Policy:_Antiharassment

Thanks for any input and experience you can offer in advance.

Shirley Hicks
Treasurer
Red Mountain makers
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Re: [hackerspaces] Question regarding member dispute

Matt Joyce
In reply to this post by Shirley Hicks
One warning. Toss one or both if the issue persists. Members should be able to handle this amongst themselves without involving the community. If they can't do that... They are betraying the trust of the community.

-Matt

On January 4, 2016 5:16:56 PM EST, Shirley Hicks <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hey everyone,

Hope all the hacker and maker spaces are off to a good start with the new year.

Have a question regarding a member dispute I need to crowdsource. This is within the US, and specifically Alabama. I’m not a US native.

We had a dispute develop between two members of the space that originated in an outside incident, but which then overflowed into the space after a failure to resolve successfully. This is our first such interpersonal problem that has developed between members. As we are still a relatively new group (3.75 years since first meeting, three since first incorporation, two in our space) and have been adding policies and standing rules as needed, while we have a basic set of rules in place for this type of thing, we’re having to walk through our first application of them carefully.

The particulars that I can state are that we’re not dealing with the incident itself, but rather with behav ior at a subsequent meeting, in which one member behaved inappropriately, the other responded. One member has accused the other of harassment. (we have a policy that has been approved by the membership) We have drafted, (but have not yet sent) warning letters to both. There is a push developing from within a portion of the membership to vote out one of the members for the behavior, but the member concerned is also likely to push back because of his own concerns regarding what he sees as defamation of character which may affect other matters with which he is dealing.

We are considering seeking legal or mediation advice locally as we want be able to deal with this appropriately. Am wondering if other spaces have dealt with similar disputes and what you learned in the process.

Our bylaws concerning member rights and responsibilities are at http://wiki.redmountainmakers.org/wiki/By-Laws_of_The_Red_Mountain_Makers#Rights_and_responsibilities and our standing rules are at http://wiki.redmountainmakers.org/wiki/Standing_rules#Be_excellent_to_each_other
Our anti-harassment policy - http://wiki.redmountainmakers.org/wiki/Policy:_Antiharassment

Thanks for any input and experience you can offer in advance.

Shirley Hicks
Treasurer
Red Mountain makers


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Sent from my Android device with K-9 Mail. Please excuse my brevity.
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Re: [hackerspaces] Question regarding member dispute

sheila miguez
In reply to this post by Shirley Hicks

On Mon, Jan 4, 2016 at 4:16 PM, Shirley Hicks <[hidden email]> wrote:
We are considering seeking legal or mediation advice locally as we want be able to deal with this appropriately. Am wondering if other spaces have dealt with similar disputes and what you learned in the process.


Try and handle things in a timely manner. If things aren't resolved quickly, try and give the people involved regular status reports.

There might be a non profit in your city that does conflict resolution. One of our members helped by contacting one for us <http://www.ccrchicago.org/>. We didn't end up using them, but it is nice to know they exist.





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Re: [hackerspaces] Question regarding member dispute

Robert Davidson
In reply to this post by Shirley Hicks
This is how we do it.

Generally speaking mediation works well, another thing that works well is they both take a week/month off (week for very active/month for not active members)

Now with that being said the community will generally not make a person feel welcome if they are a net negative member.

https://dallasmakerspace.org/wiki/Rules_and_Policies#Formal_Complaints

Formal Complaints

The formal complaint process exists for members to request a discussion be held by the Board of Directors regarding specific actions of another member. Members are expected to discuss their complaints in a calm and polite manner. Mediation is available to resolve issues without the need of a formal complaint.

  1. Formal complaints against another member must be submitted, in writing, to the Board of Directors or to any member of the Board of Directors.[5] The complaint must have two parts outlined at minimum, a "Complaint" part and a "Recommended Solution" part.
  2. The Board of Directors will decide to either hold a special meeting regarding this matter, or will consider it at the next meeting in its cycle.
  3. The Board of Directors is not required to act in accordance to the grievance or complainant's "Recommended Solution" part and may devise its own remediation.
  4. Complaints will be added to the agenda of the meeting, posted on this wiki, without identifying information.
  5. Minutes for the meeting will not be scrubbed of identifying information.


Robert Davidson
Dallas Makerspace

On Mon, Jan 4, 2016 at 4:16 PM, Shirley Hicks <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hey everyone,

Hope all the hacker and maker spaces are off to a good start with the new year.

Have a question regarding a member dispute I need to crowdsource. This is within the US, and specifically Alabama. I’m not a US native.

We had a dispute develop between two members of the space that originated in an outside incident, but which then overflowed into the space after a failure to resolve successfully. This is our first such interpersonal problem that has developed between members. As we are still a relatively new group (3.75 years since first meeting, three since first incorporation, two in our space) and have been adding policies and standing rules as needed, while we have a basic set of rules in place for this type of thing, we’re having to walk through our first application of them carefully.

The particulars that I can state are that we’re not dealing with the incident itself, but rather with behavior at a subsequent meeting, in which one member behaved inappropriately, the other responded. One member has accused the other of harassment. (we have a policy that has been approved by the membership)  We have drafted, (but have not yet sent) warning letters to both. There is a push developing from within a portion of the membership to vote out one of the members for the behavior, but the member concerned is also likely to push back because of his own concerns regarding what he sees as defamation of character which may affect other matters with which he is dealing.

We are considering seeking legal or mediation advice locally as we want be able to deal with this appropriately. Am wondering if other spaces have dealt with similar disputes and what you learned in the process.

Our bylaws concerning member rights and responsibilities are at http://wiki.redmountainmakers.org/wiki/By-Laws_of_The_Red_Mountain_Makers#Rights_and_responsibilities and our standing rules are at http://wiki.redmountainmakers.org/wiki/Standing_rules#Be_excellent_to_each_other
Our anti-harassment policy - http://wiki.redmountainmakers.org/wiki/Policy:_Antiharassment

Thanks for any input and experience you can offer in advance.

Shirley Hicks
Treasurer
Red Mountain makers
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Re: [hackerspaces] Question regarding member dispute

\0xDynamite
In reply to this post by Shirley Hicks
> We had a dispute develop between two members of the space that originated in
> an outside incident, but which then overflowed into the space after a
> failure to resolve successfully.

It's simple, either they behave as the community asks, or they forfeit
their membership.  You have to bite the bullet and be willing to do
it.

Unfortunately, most ppl don't have the respect to demand it from
others.  Absent that, the only recourse is to use the police.

Mark
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Re: [hackerspaces] Question regarding member dispute

riot-2
In reply to this post by sheila miguez
Ahoi,

On 05.01.2016 00:56, sheila miguez wrote:
> On Mon, Jan 4, 2016 at 4:16 PM, Shirley Hicks
> <[hidden email] <mailto:[hidden email]>> wrote:
>
>     We are considering seeking legal or mediation advice locally as we
>     want be able to deal with this appropriately. Am wondering if other
>     spaces have dealt with similar disputes and what you learned in the
>     process.

If there's no lawyers / externals involved yet, i'd say it'd be better
to (learn to) do it yourself than seek someone who's probably not even
qualified to "handle nerds" (see also: cat herding)..

That is also a nice hackable discipline to add to your space, if you
have members interested in that :)

> Try and handle things in a timely manner. If things aren't resolved
> quickly, try and give the people involved regular status reports.

Handling stuff timely, yes. But one thing that usually helps a lot (at
c-base and elsewhere) is to give participants time "to steam off" - i.e.
a temporary ban. (Be appropriate with the duration and discuss this first ;)

This also helps alleviate collateral damage on the community. Except in
rare cases, where people then start bothering other members. If that
happens, give them a final warning.

> There might be a non profit in your city that does conflict resolution.
> One of our members helped by contacting one for us
> <http://www.ccrchicago.org/>. We didn't end up using them, but it is
> nice to know they exist.

When followed by councelling, that does wonders - if not, you'll
probably get rid of someone you never needed in the first place ,)

Cheers,
riot
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Re: [hackerspaces] Question regarding member dispute

Sam Ley
In reply to this post by \0xDynamite
On Mon, Jan 4, 2016 at 5:21 PM, Mark Rosenblitt-Janssen <[hidden email]> wrote:
It's simple, either they behave as the community asks, or they forfeit
their membership.  You have to bite the bullet and be willing to do
it.

This is dead on.

We had a similar set of disputes with one member who wasn't breaking any of the big on-paper rules, but was very prone to conflict with other members, bad about working things out, always contacting the board with complaints instead of speaking with people directly, playing "mommy said/daddy said" with multiple board members when they didn't get answers the liked, prone to angry outbursts instead of discussion, etc. They managed to drive out one member, then another, over the course of a 6 month period.

We direct mediated a TON of conflicts over this time (including with other members who are trained mediators), but new issues kept popping up. When the third member (a very long-time and respected member) contacted us and said they were leaving due to this person, we knew we finally had to take action.

It was tough, but we do have a term in our lease/membership agreement where we can kick someone out immediately for breaking any of the rules, or with 30-days notice for no reason at all (we have a bit of a delay since the members keep large pieces of property and tools at our shop - if it was a more traditional hackerspace model we would have both time frames be "immediately"). We met with the member, gave them notice, and that was that. It was hard to do, and the member said every toxic thing we thought they would about us (I'll call my lawyer, its because of so-and-so isn't it?, its because of my gender, its because you don't respect REAL creatives, etc.).

But they left, and things have been MUCH better. We cleared the way for some great new members, old members are happier, and I realized that letting things go that long was the worst decision. We were uncomfortable kicking someone out (it was our first one), but after doing it I realize we should have done it much sooner. You aren't calling someone a bad person by kicking them out, you aren't taking their livelihood or anything major. You are just telling them not to show up anymore. Your members trust you to make the space a good one, and sometimes you have to be the bad guy for a day.

The other local space here gave us some good insight when we discussed the situation with them - they have had to make the same decision a few times, and gave the same advice I'm giving now - if you've tried a few times to get someone to play nice, and they won't - ask them to leave. Just that simple, and once it is done you'll wish you did it sooner.

Sam Ley
Phoenix Asylum, Boulder, CO


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Re: [hackerspaces] Question regarding member dispute

Matt Joyce
Frankly, if you are thinking you might need to call the police to deal with a member... that member needs to be gone.  You have no trust in them, and that is not a healthy member of a community.

-Matt

On Mon, Jan 4, 2016 at 8:01 PM, Sam Ley <[hidden email]> wrote:
On Mon, Jan 4, 2016 at 5:21 PM, Mark Rosenblitt-Janssen <[hidden email]> wrote:
It's simple, either they behave as the community asks, or they forfeit
their membership.  You have to bite the bullet and be willing to do
it.

This is dead on.

We had a similar set of disputes with one member who wasn't breaking any of the big on-paper rules, but was very prone to conflict with other members, bad about working things out, always contacting the board with complaints instead of speaking with people directly, playing "mommy said/daddy said" with multiple board members when they didn't get answers the liked, prone to angry outbursts instead of discussion, etc. They managed to drive out one member, then another, over the course of a 6 month period.

We direct mediated a TON of conflicts over this time (including with other members who are trained mediators), but new issues kept popping up. When the third member (a very long-time and respected member) contacted us and said they were leaving due to this person, we knew we finally had to take action.

It was tough, but we do have a term in our lease/membership agreement where we can kick someone out immediately for breaking any of the rules, or with 30-days notice for no reason at all (we have a bit of a delay since the members keep large pieces of property and tools at our shop - if it was a more traditional hackerspace model we would have both time frames be "immediately"). We met with the member, gave them notice, and that was that. It was hard to do, and the member said every toxic thing we thought they would about us (I'll call my lawyer, its because of so-and-so isn't it?, its because of my gender, its because you don't respect REAL creatives, etc.).

But they left, and things have been MUCH better. We cleared the way for some great new members, old members are happier, and I realized that letting things go that long was the worst decision. We were uncomfortable kicking someone out (it was our first one), but after doing it I realize we should have done it much sooner. You aren't calling someone a bad person by kicking them out, you aren't taking their livelihood or anything major. You are just telling them not to show up anymore. Your members trust you to make the space a good one, and sometimes you have to be the bad guy for a day.

The other local space here gave us some good insight when we discussed the situation with them - they have had to make the same decision a few times, and gave the same advice I'm giving now - if you've tried a few times to get someone to play nice, and they won't - ask them to leave. Just that simple, and once it is done you'll wish you did it sooner.

Sam Ley
Phoenix Asylum, Boulder, CO


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Re: [hackerspaces] Question regarding member dispute

Shirley Hicks

On Jan 4, 2016, at 10:01 PM, Silence Dogood <[hidden email]> wrote:

Frankly, if you are thinking you might need to call the police to deal with a member... that member needs to be gone.  You have no trust in them, and that is not a healthy member of a community.

We’re not at that point. Both members are grown up enough that I don’t think it get that far. The issue for the board and the makerspace is working through our first conflict in a way that is reasonably productive (that we deal with it, learn from it and then get member buy-in to set rules in place to prevent it from happening again). 

— Shirley

Another question about process:

What are your internal steps? Are they to verbally counsel, then go to a written warning, or go to a written caution right away? I saw Dalla’s sample language (thanks Robert). What do you keep confidential and what may be made public as part of board minutes? Am also looking up US legal practice and governing laws re information privacy. 

— Shirley

-Matt

On Mon, Jan 4, 2016 at 8:01 PM, Sam Ley <[hidden email]> wrote:
On Mon, Jan 4, 2016 at 5:21 PM, Mark Rosenblitt-Janssen <[hidden email]> wrote:
It's simple, either they behave as the community asks, or they forfeit
their membership.  You have to bite the bullet and be willing to do
it.

This is dead on.

We had a similar set of disputes with one member who wasn't breaking any of the big on-paper rules, but was very prone to conflict with other members, bad about working things out, always contacting the board with complaints instead of speaking with people directly, playing "mommy said/daddy said" with multiple board members when they didn't get answers the liked, prone to angry outbursts instead of discussion, etc. They managed to drive out one member, then another, over the course of a 6 month period.

We direct mediated a TON of conflicts over this time (including with other members who are trained mediators), but new issues kept popping up. When the third member (a very long-time and respected member) contacted us and said they were leaving due to this person, we knew we finally had to take action.

It was tough, but we do have a term in our lease/membership agreement where we can kick someone out immediately for breaking any of the rules, or with 30-days notice for no reason at all (we have a bit of a delay since the members keep large pieces of property and tools at our shop - if it was a more traditional hackerspace model we would have both time frames be "immediately"). We met with the member, gave them notice, and that was that. It was hard to do, and the member said every toxic thing we thought they would about us (I'll call my lawyer, its because of so-and-so isn't it?, its because of my gender, its because you don't respect REAL creatives, etc.).

But they left, and things have been MUCH better. We cleared the way for some great new members, old members are happier, and I realized that letting things go that long was the worst decision. We were uncomfortable kicking someone out (it was our first one), but after doing it I realize we should have done it much sooner. You aren't calling someone a bad person by kicking them out, you aren't taking their livelihood or anything major. You are just telling them not to show up anymore. Your members trust you to make the space a good one, and sometimes you have to be the bad guy for a day.

The other local space here gave us some good insight when we discussed the situation with them - they have had to make the same decision a few times, and gave the same advice I'm giving now - if you've tried a few times to get someone to play nice, and they won't - ask them to leave. Just that simple, and once it is done you'll wish you did it sooner.

Sam Ley
Phoenix Asylum, Boulder, CO


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Re: [hackerspaces] Question regarding member dispute

Sam Ley
Don't worry about laws - you are a private organization, you can kick people out whenever you want for nearly any reason. I'm not saying you definitely have to do it at this point, but don't forget that your board, or whoever the legal owners/managers of your organization are have nearly ultimate power over who is present. Even non-profits don't have to make their board minutes public in most states, and even if you did, the minutes are "Voted 4-0 to revoke membership of <screwball>." Nothing wrong with that at all. It also largely doesn't matter what your current bylaws say - because you can just vote to amend them. I recommend something like, "Members may be removed with [x] days notice, at the sole discretion of the board."

Our process is roughly:

1. Encourage disagreeing members to work it out on their own, perhaps with a helpful suggestion of how to do so.
2. Direct mediation if needed - we have members who are trained mediators who volunteer to help out.

If an incident escalates, or isn't resolved with a nice chat, then:

1. One written warning.
2. Dismissal on the second.

That said - we reserve the right to act as we feel is necessary for the health of the group - some situations may warrant a second warning, others may not make it to the first. I strongly recommend your bylaws giving you two paths - the normal, calm, equitable path for when the process is working, and a second, immediate path for when it isn't. Some people are masters at walking the line, playing board members against each other, and otherwise being a pest without breaking the letter of the rules.

As far as discussing privately with the board vs. publicly with the membership:

1. We alert the membership at large if their property or safety may be risk (only happened once when a new member background check came up with an armed robbery conviction - the membership wanted to give the person a chance, and hey, they've been an awesome member)
2. Or privately discuss with just the board (if property or safety is not at risk) - this accounts for most of our "what should we do about <so n so>" discussions

If the board votes to dismiss a member, we can then do so. If they broke a "big rule", then the dismissal would be immediate, otherwise our lease terms give us a "with 30 days notice for any reason" (our members get space of their own as well as common space, hence the lease agreement). Our board is also given individual power to kick someone out without a board vote at all if a member physically harms or threatens someone in the space (deputized to act on behalf of the entire board on matters of physical safety).

-Sam
Phoenix Asylum, Boulder, CO


On Mon, Jan 4, 2016 at 9:28 PM, Shirley Hicks <[hidden email]> wrote:

On Jan 4, 2016, at 10:01 PM, Silence Dogood <[hidden email]> wrote:

Frankly, if you are thinking you might need to call the police to deal with a member... that member needs to be gone.  You have no trust in them, and that is not a healthy member of a community.

We’re not at that point. Both members are grown up enough that I don’t think it get that far. The issue for the board and the makerspace is working through our first conflict in a way that is reasonably productive (that we deal with it, learn from it and then get member buy-in to set rules in place to prevent it from happening again). 

— Shirley

Another question about process:

What are your internal steps? Are they to verbally counsel, then go to a written warning, or go to a written caution right away? I saw Dalla’s sample language (thanks Robert). What do you keep confidential and what may be made public as part of board minutes? Am also looking up US legal practice and governing laws re information privacy. 

— Shirley

-Matt

On Mon, Jan 4, 2016 at 8:01 PM, Sam Ley <[hidden email]> wrote:
On Mon, Jan 4, 2016 at 5:21 PM, Mark Rosenblitt-Janssen <[hidden email]> wrote:
It's simple, either they behave as the community asks, or they forfeit
their membership.  You have to bite the bullet and be willing to do
it.

This is dead on.

We had a similar set of disputes with one member who wasn't breaking any of the big on-paper rules, but was very prone to conflict with other members, bad about working things out, always contacting the board with complaints instead of speaking with people directly, playing "mommy said/daddy said" with multiple board members when they didn't get answers the liked, prone to angry outbursts instead of discussion, etc. They managed to drive out one member, then another, over the course of a 6 month period.

We direct mediated a TON of conflicts over this time (including with other members who are trained mediators), but new issues kept popping up. When the third member (a very long-time and respected member) contacted us and said they were leaving due to this person, we knew we finally had to take action.

It was tough, but we do have a term in our lease/membership agreement where we can kick someone out immediately for breaking any of the rules, or with 30-days notice for no reason at all (we have a bit of a delay since the members keep large pieces of property and tools at our shop - if it was a more traditional hackerspace model we would have both time frames be "immediately"). We met with the member, gave them notice, and that was that. It was hard to do, and the member said every toxic thing we thought they would about us (I'll call my lawyer, its because of so-and-so isn't it?, its because of my gender, its because you don't respect REAL creatives, etc.).

But they left, and things have been MUCH better. We cleared the way for some great new members, old members are happier, and I realized that letting things go that long was the worst decision. We were uncomfortable kicking someone out (it was our first one), but after doing it I realize we should have done it much sooner. You aren't calling someone a bad person by kicking them out, you aren't taking their livelihood or anything major. You are just telling them not to show up anymore. Your members trust you to make the space a good one, and sometimes you have to be the bad guy for a day.

The other local space here gave us some good insight when we discussed the situation with them - they have had to make the same decision a few times, and gave the same advice I'm giving now - if you've tried a few times to get someone to play nice, and they won't - ask them to leave. Just that simple, and once it is done you'll wish you did it sooner.

Sam Ley
Phoenix Asylum, Boulder, CO


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Re: [hackerspaces] Question regarding member dispute

\0xDynamite
In reply to this post by Shirley Hicks
> Another question about process:
>
> What are your internal steps? Are they to verbally counsel, then go to a
> written warning, or go to a written caution right away?

Not that you asked me, but since it's a common issue, I tell you that
you shouldn't use recipes for conflict resolution:  such recipes never
have respect because it means those that are following a recipe have
no authority of their own.

You either have to earn the authority or appeal to higher-level ones.
This could mean higher, commonly-held *ideals*, but there's a limit to
what you can sell and ultimately it usually comes down to your own
personal power.  For that there's no recipe.

Mark
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Re: [hackerspaces] Question regarding member dispute

Sam Ley

On Mon, Jan 4, 2016 at 10:33 PM, Marxos <[hidden email]> wrote:
Not that you asked me, but since it's a common issue, I tell you that
you shouldn't use recipes for conflict resolution:  such recipes never
have respect because it means those that are following a recipe have
no authority of their own.

Well said - this is a better way of stating what I was rambling about - it is OK to have a formal process to set the baseline expectation, but always give yourself the freedom to act as needed to resolve any given situation, up to and including immediate dismissal. No need to be trigger happy, but if people know they can force you to dance through a little formula in order to hold them accountable, they will mess with you.

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Re: [hackerspaces] Question regarding member dispute

Edward L Platt-3
I have a slightly different perspective to add.

From an organizational best practices perspective:
Boards meet too infrequently to deal with these things in a timely manner. Also, boards are best suited to addressing organization-level questions. So in general, I suggest that it's better to have the board (or members) decide on a policy and delegate the power to apply it to an officer or committee. It's important that the policy is clear and simple so that it can and will be followed entirely, while still giving enough flexibility to whoever applies it.

From a community-building perspective:
I second the above commenters who said it was important to deal with the issue quickly. It's also important to deal with it fairly. There are two reasons groups often fail to handle conflicts fairly: 1. laziness and disorganization: they don't know the details of the events, the history of the members, or even the organization's policies; 2. bias: conflicts like these can be an excuse to act on personal grudges, and they are also subject to unconscious bias. Also, I always advocate focusing on judging behavior rather than character (i.e. "you did an unacceptable thing" vs. "you're an asshole.") This is because it's more fair, and it's also a way to enforce community norms. On that second point, it's a good opportunity to identify norms that aren't widely understood, and send out more information, post signs, etc.

Happy hacking,
-Ed

--
Edward L. Platt
PhD student, University of Michigan School of Information
KC1DYK

Tips for stopping email overload: https://hbr.org/2012/02/stop-email-overload-1

This digital electronic mail message was sent from my general-purpose desktop personal computing machine.  Please forgive any overly-verbose, long-winded, rambling prose.

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