Handling Immediate Issues in the Space

I just read about 4 years of #space-guardians history on slack. It seemed to have worked well at some point not to far off in the past. It did have it’s own problems talking about involved parties, but no one is perfect.

Now, however, it seems to work for about 2-4 hours before diving head first off into the shallow end of speculation and arm-chair logicianism. Within 24 hours, discussions hit the “Two people no-where near the immediate issue bike-shedding some minor point unrelated to protecting the space or the victim.”

I’m fairly certain <insert last issue here> ended up with people who didn’t know the victim, perpetrator, or immediate witnesses trying to decide what appropriate punishment should be based on 3rd hand info.

The channel also tends to interrogate victims, messengers, and witnesses during or immediately after an issue. This demonstrates an overall lack of sympathy, empathy, or knowledge of how to handle situations, which yields poor outcomes. You know, the same criticisms against the police for handling sensitive issues.

The interrogations are done firing squad style which are stressful and it makes victims not want to come forward. At a community level, we end up with more assholes and less amazing people who just showed up to make life more beautiful.

There are a few individuals who stand out and rise above the bullshit. I am not among them. However they disappear or get tired as with any other emotionally taxing endeavor.

One solution may be that people who participate in #space-guardians (as a group) get some education/training. This shit is more important than the laser. Anyone can participate, but you have to have sensitivity training or conflict resolution or mediation or something before engaging issues or involved parties. And I do not necessarily mean trained by someone at NB, but perhaps a set of hand-outs could work with a quiz by some “trainer-trainers” Some kind of review of quality of participation could also be done.

This is probably not the best solution but i do want a discussion to find some better solution than the current one. Something that doesn’t further harm victims or people trying to actually fix problems which are the most stressful faced by the space. I’m not looking for a set of rules to follow, just something to fix this situation.

A mildly complicating factor is that there’s confusion on 86 vs banned vs asked to leave, even though these are documented (not that a document is law here but still) on the 86 page.


yes please! we used to do this during the reboot, but that has pretty much dropped off since 2015. conflict mediation and deescalation isn’t something people are born knowing; its a learned skill!


I went ahead and posted this in space-guardians, which is a TLDR of the takeaways of my post

As a reminder - if you don’t regularly come to Noisebridge’s physical space, please don’t be in this channel. This channel is for practical information sharing amongst those people who either physically protect the space or are experiencing issues at the space. It’s not for ideological discussion about how we protect the space or second-guessing the people who are physically there.

In addition, I’d like to encourage people to share problem behavior with this channel when they first witness it, if possible, so we can share notes and intervene before the behavior escalates


From my perspective, bringing issues to space guardians has often been pretty negative; it’s not a supportive space for dealing with issues in the space. It’s become more and more a place for people to judge situations out of context. Right now, there are 138 people in the space guardians channel. The sheer number of people in it predisposes it to having armchair (judging without much context) responses. I think the same sort of hot tubbing of the community that this forum is an example of will be necessary for there to be a useable channel again. Starting a new channel that is heavily moderated as suggested by Lady Red and requiring training as Rando suggests sound like great ways to set the tone of this new venue.


I think that channel is necessary for historical studies, but too intimidating for people to come in and report issues if they read any back history. not sure if we can lock it as opposed to archine.

but yeah, I think a new, not cool name channel would be good. something like #911 or whatever. clear tthat it’s for emergencies relating to issues in the physical space.

I agree with moderation.

The collective memory (great term btw, I’ve been looking for it) is a problem but we have a handful of ppl and we have logs. we can make due. reading the logs was super insightful.

I think we start the moderation team here, now.

I want to boot everyone from that channel. maybe dump the channel to a log linked to inspace only and archive it. I donno. but we can action all this stuff now.

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maybe tell a few more ppl the plan like Ruth and Henner but I really don’t want to shy away from a very small-c on this. too important and there is well recognized right and wrong.

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I’d appreciate some more voices before we take a definite action. I’d like Jarrod’s opinion and Ruth, and probably especially Naomi. Oh, I can tag!
@nthmost @ruthgrace @hicksu We are discussing hot tubbing and other things we can do to the space guardians channel to make it a better tool for protecting the space


re: Archiving vs locking - I think archiving is a good solution. It’s what I did for that community-wg channel and it makes it inaccessible-but-viewable.
EDIT: I was attempting to reply only to Rando’s post. I guess this forum doesn’t have threading!

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Sorta. If you reply to a person’s post with the reply button on the post, your post will get listed under the post you’re replying to. You can also click the wee arrow next to your avatar in the reply UI and pick “reply as linked topic” when you’re very clearly about to go off on a tangent. I’ve also found it helpful to highlight the text you’re replying to which then provides a Quote popup, which is how I got your quote added to this post.

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Oh, hey.
Long before the messes of 2017 and 2018, I could see #space-guardians slipping into the realm of knee-jerk policing and groupthink.

Healthy community guardianship involves real energetic effort in the form of having an investigative attitude towards everything that comes your way. I see that happening only rarely.

The thing is, it takes emotional energy to do this in an honest way. It is very tempting to take on each problem in a routinized way, because it doesn’t cost as much energy. But this is a garbage-in-garbage-out kind of equation.

Perhaps Victoria is right in her belief that when we use this platform, the introduction of a little friction will make it obvious that to really communicate about the safety of the space, it will require a true and honest investment of energy.


I’d like to continue this conversation.

I really believe we need to archive that channel and start a new one, but we also need to determine who should and shouldn’t be there.

I have some discriminants im not at all passionate about, just listing them, and some other points about behavior of people during an issue. I’m just continuing the discussion, some of these might be pretty bad ideas.

People who should be involved in an issue and join perhaps temporarily:

  1. People dealing with the immediate issue in the space.
  2. People who “actively” come to the space.

People who should be on the channel who have recognized experience dealing with:

  1. the space
  2. deescalation
  3. harm reduction
  4. sympathy for victims
  5. empathy
  6. communication
  7. grace under pressure

3-9 are the ones who stay on the channel regularly.

All discussion during the issue that is not related to protecting the people in the space is to be silenced, possibly by a short term deactivation of the account.

All discussion after the issue is to be handled elsewhere. Violators are removed from the channel and the system and perhaps asked to leave for some period of time for chronic offense. Zero tolerance, this is about space safety, not the place to display your logical acumen.

If a victim or handler is not comfortable speaking, that is respected, period. No one here is owed anything for any reason. There is a massive difference between interrogating a victim and a suspect. In either case, however, one should be sensitive to trauma including PTSD. Tossing someone out on very little information is not a violation of rights. Traumatized people should not be questioned by people who have no concept of empathy.


I’m really, really uncomfortable with the idea of making it explicit what types of people should/shouldn’t be participating in #space-guardians.

One of the forms of bullying Lizzie and Beka excelled at was making longer-term members (like myself) feel bad about expressing qualified opinions on situations based on what we’ve seen before. That was an implicit rule, but a rule they managed to turn into a mob regulation all the same.

As for explicit rules, Ruth and Trent and you, @rando, seem to make a sport out of strict overenforcement.

“All discussion during the issue that is not related to protecting the people in the space is to be silenced, possibly by a short term deactivation of the account.”

That’s insane.

These are all shoddy stand-ins for the honest work of calmly communicating with people. Yes, even people we think are standing in the way of justice, bikeshedding, etc.

If you want to have different behavior emerge, create a system that reroutes the behavior you want less of, well before you get to anything like Policing.

“Zero tolerance, this is about space safety, not the place to display your logical acumen.”


There’s immediate physical safety, and then there are complex issues that deserve a lot of thought.

If we can’t tell the difference between these – and calmly ask via Restorative Communication for people to act differently when physical safety is at stake – then we fucking suck.

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Please note I did say the points could be bad, they are for restarting the conversation. The current laissez faire attitude to safety has failed, so this is another approach.

For clarity, my points are meant to apply only during the current issue or restart a policy already in place which is not enforced.

Shoddy communication has no place during an immediate issue, and if people are making a situation worse, they should wait till the immediate issue is over. If they don’t stop when asked, they are harassing people and have become part of the immediate problem.

Pulling in others to this discussion is taking it out of that context. Having read space-guardians extensively, lizzie and beka handled issues relatively well from what I saw. I may have missed some that were not. Their participation in the after-discussion wasn’t welcome, however. Just because they acted poorly in some other context does not mean they acted poorly in the context of the immediate, on-going issue.

Yes, exactly, I’m only talking about immediate issues. Broadening the context is outside the scope of space-guardians. Or at least it’s supposed to be. I might be reading your statement wrong but thought out issues have wrecked space-guardians because it’s now normal to discuss the racial make-up of the 86 list on that channel. It should be discussed elsewhere, but it does deserve thought. On-going harassment also deserved thought, but it can’t be handled in space-guardians.

My statements were only meant for when and issue is happening in the space “right now”.

Currently further discussion isn’t for space-guardians, it’s meant to happen elsewhere, so that’s the same rule in place now. But since it’s not enforced, it is ignored and has made keeping the space safe more difficult.

It would be great to get alternatives though. I’m not opposed to discussing my ideas, but we’ll get a good outcome if many people contribute many ideas and focus them on helping meet the goal of protecting people.

It does seem like separating the handling of immediate issues and the postmortem review of how things were handled is a good idea. I think some sort of cooldown between the two could be a useful strategy if it just became a ‘thing we do’. Similar to how people know they can ask people to leave and the broader community has a rough sense of what that means.

I could see an informal tradition where when people in the space are handling issues in the space we give them trust and time to handle things as they see fit. If they come to slack or discuss to mention things or ask for advice we do our best to stick to the immediate issue until the space is safe. I like @mcscope 's suggestion that we use moderation tools, if needed, to achieve a focused conversation. We moderate our space, we can moderate our Slack.

Once the immediate issue is resolved to the satisfaction of the people in the space, i.e. they consider themselves safe, we should give them a break before having them justify all their actions and decisions.

If people feel strongly about how things were handled a discussion could be scheduled, online and/or in person, allowing people time to prepare themselves for the discussion. I also think these discussions should happen in the mindset of “I appreciate you looking out for our community. Thank you for that. I am worried about…”

The overall goal would be to 1. help people in the space dealing with things trust that they can get help with their immediately pressing concerns for their’s and other’s safety and 2. help people who care for the space but are remote from it trust that they will get an opportunity later to share their concerns and right perceived wrongs.

Maybe Slack for the immediate issue and Discuss for the followup discussion is a reasonable process. If people get off topic on Slack they can be encouraged to start a thread on discuss while removing their comments on Slack. If people on Discuss can’t work it out then they can meet in person.

wait… what are we talking about?


I also think it is important to remember and remind others that nobody wants to deal with safe space stuff. (right?)

When we’re in the space we are doing our best. Sometimes we handle things well and sometimes poorly. Sometimes we confront the person who is being a jerk but sometimes we let bad behavior occur anyway. We probably came to Noisebridge to work on something important to us and if we spend time standing up for the space, our work is not getting done; because of something happening in the space we have no control over. Maybe the issue is us, maybe the issue is the other person(s). Either way, Noisebridge sometimes needs more than we are capable of giving.

When we’re remote on Slack, or otherwise, we may be on vacation, at work, at a conference, taking a break from other stuff, checking while we wait for a ride and so on. Being away from Noisebridge is healthy but we still care about it when we aren’t there. We’d hoped to open Slack and be delighted but now we see the space is in trouble and people need help or aren’t handling things the way we believe we would ourselves. We have to step in and help, but we aren’t there and we have no power in the space without being there. How frustrating! We can’t really do anything but post messages and be distracted from what we were trying to get done outside of Noisebridge.

It sucks for everyone. Regardless of our processes, we need to encourage compassion, kindness, and empathy in general.

doh, now I can’t seem to stop typing…

[editors note: they stopped typing.]


Rando, thanks for bringing this up. It’s definitely time to reevaluate how we do space-guarding because the Space Guardians channel is really broken. I’ve written some thoughts about the evolution in the channel that I’ve seen as I’ve participated in it, and maybe it can give some hints as to how we might fix it. I think #space-guardians is a part of noisebridge that will have to stay on slack, because we do have to respond to incidents in real-time.

Within 24 hours, discussions hit the “Two people no-where near the immediate issue bike-shedding some minor point unrelated to protecting the space or the victim.”

I’m fairly certain <insert last issue here> ended up with people who didn’t know the victim, perpetrator, or immediate witnesses trying to decide what appropriate punishment should be based on 3rd hand info.

This really hits the nail on the head.

There was a time 1-2 years ago in space-guardians, where it seemed to be a decent functional way to police the space. It was by no means perfect but it did seem to be operating surprising well.

My theory for why it operated so well then has a few parts:

  • there were a lot of voices, offering different views

  • a lot of the voices were from old-timer noisebridgers like Jarrod and Mitch, who added a lot of stability and practicality to the discussion

  • People would discuss issues there before they were emergencies. Like “oh this person did this thing today” and then a discussion would ensue and we would decide that it was fine. Then if they did something else weird later, we started to have a record of them. This is really different than today where people post " okay this person is completely banned. Here’s a bunch of infractions they did that I’ve been personally tracking. no discussion "

  • the whole channel was roughly on the same page on how we did ‘space-guarding’ at Noisebridge.

    • We had a long collective memory,
    • We had a good sense of what was reasonable and unreasonable behavior, and what the responses should be.
    • We had a shared understanding of the different options available to us, and the relative progression of them. From explanations of the rules of Noisebridge, to short breaks, to confrontation, to asked to leave for a month, to banning, to banning + 86ing.

I think it died during the Big Rift and then the Beka takeover.
People started space-guarding in small groups, and then posting complete cases to the channel, instead of “this person did this today, what should we do”. Then there wasn’t much discussion to be had, and I think the channel was deprived of the experience that got everyone on the same page, as before. All the discussion that did happen was mostly “I disagree with your complete case”, but because the small group had already really decided on their desired outcome, that couldn’t be a productive discussion.

In addition, due to the rift and the general nastiness of slack, a lot of people left, and even more left the #space-guardian channel. This just left a few people, who were perhaps, the people more drawn to conflict, or people involved in discussions on there. (I’m in there because I’m drawn to the conflict, I think. I do try to be useful). Some of the people in that channel seem to just lurk #space-guardians as the only way they interact with the space - like jefferyatw.

In addition, without the more experienced voices there and the practical experience of dealing with matters as they escalated, we started to get a lot of navelgazing coming up. These tend to be either ideology (and social-justice) questions like “do people have a right to due process here?” or “should we keep this person banned to make a point about white people”, or confusion about the different ways we have of dealing with problematic people, or what appropriate responses are, like “Did you explicitly tell him that if he keeps breaking machines he won’t be allowed back? You have to tell him explicitly, then wait for him to break another, or it’s not fair”. While I like ideology and it’s clearly important to noisebridge, space-guardians has to be super practical. Every time ideology intrudes on that, there’s a bad outcome.

Some people started to join, say a single thing and then leave, presumably because the conversation in there was always useless and stressful. But, the discussion was useless because people were coming to the channel with a pre-rendered verdict rather than being open to a discussion. It became a self-perpetuating problem.

Ideas for how we can fix it:

Limit who can be engaged with it. I suggest

  • anyone who is currently experiencing an issue with problematic people or behavior in the space
  • people who regularly deal with such problematic people in the physical world. Like Rando, r, Nick (before), etc. These people are the most practical, and really the point of the channel is for them to talk to eachother and people currently reporting problem behavior
  • members and philanthropists
  • NOT people whose main interaction with noisebridge is spaceguardians
  • NOT people who mainly want to discuss ideological issues instead of being practical.

We should enforce that with MODERATION. We tend to never use the slack moderation tools, but I think we should use them in #space-guardians to kick/mute people who are being uselessly chatty. Maybe if we kick them, they’ll start talking in a different channel or on the forum, which would be great.

Ask people to report problematic behavior or issues as they happen
No more “open-shut” case posts. I think those posts are a reaction to the dysfunctional nature of #space-guardians, but they also harm it by preventing the channel from being a place for productive discussion. If different people who are observing problematic behavior start to share warning signs with each other, we can address issues earlier, faster and more comprehensively, and with a more considered response.
Really that’s the only benefit of having a channel - to actually share information.