Proposal: Accelerate Membership

I would like to propose that we accelerate the process of Membership by shortening the meeting-announcement process to 2 weeks.

We currenly have an “Oh Shit” clause that allows for a 2 week period in which any Member can take the opportunity to cancel the new Member.

So, if we shorten the Membership vetting process to 2 weeks, we still effectively have 4 weeks in which to vet the new prospective Member.

I believe shortening the time to become a Member will encourage more interest in Membership, which will create new Members, which is something I would like to see.

I have a suggestion: allow philanthropists to sponsor a prospective member. Perhaps 4 philanthropists in place of two members.

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Why bother with the “oh shit” period at all if we’re just shortening the entire process to the previous length?

Really if we’re going to be rushing people through - which seems rather irresponsible - we need to be announcing on all our communication channels that they’re up for membership.

Because I don’t think the sheer length of time is actually all that salient to whether we vet people properly.

Psychologically speaking, people arrange themselves on different ends of a spectrum of preparedness (++ Conscientiousness) to reactivity (++ Openness to Experience).

In a 4-week lead-up process, a couple of suboptimal things seem to happen like clockwork:

  • The prospective Member doesn’t show up to every meeting in which they are announced. (We don’t ask them to, but it would be better if they did, because then people would be able to attach the face to the name.)
  • Existing Members don’t pay a lot of attention to who might become a Member. (We should fix this whether or not we change any lengths of time.)
  • Sometimes we collectively forget to have meetings. (How does this affect the prospective Member’s eligibility in terms of proper vetting?)

People who are more driven to preparedness than to reactivity are, in actuality, few and far between in a hacker culture. (I can probably prove this using a Big 5 survey if people are up for it.)

People driven more by reactivity aren’t paying much attention to the 4-week vetting period. I have honestly never seen people pay that much attention to someone’s Membership except at the first week or at the 4th week of being read aloud at the meetings.

To me that means that those 2 weeks in the middle are dead time in which people are more or less invited to stop paying attention. I truly don’t know what we gain from those weeks. I actually think we have something to LOSE during those weeks: enthusiasm.

The 2-week “oh shit” period, to me, solves the question of whether we’ve had enough time to vet a new Member properly. And it places the ball into the court of the greater weight of hackers who are more reactive than conscientious.

I think “rushing” is a matter of perspective. “Too fast for what” is the question I would ask. It’s very worth considering the consequences of continuing to go too slow.

Right now I think we are doing a very poor job of minting new Members, both in terms of bringing many worthy people I can see around Noisebridge in as part of the trust network, and in terms of doing truly attendant work when we vet new people.

Part of that issue is just the simple dearth of Members around to do that work. It takes Members hanging around to show people what Membership actually looks like and means.

No one can be told what the Membership Matrix is. You must be shown.

Noisebridge’s bylaws stipulate that the Membership holds the reins to changing how Noisebridge works. This means that we should be providing adequate ramps to people becoming Members, because at times like these when truly few Members exist who are paying attention, Noisebridge cannot truly be making informed decisions.

You’re absolutely right, though, we would need to start announcing who is up for Membership as soon as the application comes up at the first Meeting. That seems like a great improvement no matter what else we decide to do.

As one of the few members (still the newest member, so I am in no position to Express what membership has been like longer then the past 6 or so months (I think)) who has been at meetings consistently for the past few years, I do think some suff might be needed to change. When I tried to run the meeting last week in a true fashion (not an un meeting), I had a lot of pushback to the standard meeting method, and the people who volunteered to explain different sections of the meeting, did a good job, but often explained things in the wrong section, or with a few critical mistakes (I might be a reason for a few of those mistakes because sometimes no one was there to correct me). People kept asking to speed up the meeting, (which never used to be a problem). And consistent note takers have been harder to come by these days.

I also noticed that about 90 percent of the people at last weeks meeting had not be noisebridgers for more then a year.

I dont know if we should accelerate membership, or redefine parts of it, or redo something in the meeting to help make them go faster while still having the same info.

I do agree that membership has become stale, and that changes should be discussed, but I ask @nthmost that until we’re moved & settled in a new space or decide to stay in our current space, that we not take any action in changing how membership works such as moving forward with consensus items.

Let’s just get through this next hurdle and continue this discussion, then open up the consideration to tear down our structure so we can rebuild it in a healthier way. Does that sound reasonable?

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I agree with @gaardn, that we should focus on stuff related to moving or lease extension. But once that happens, figuring out what things noisebridge needs to consider in order to grow, change, and improve.


We can talk about it though.

Let’s take a look at “oh shit”:

Just some technicals:

  1. oh shit is in effect regardless of how long it takes to be a member.
  2. Any member can block a new member currently in “Oh shit” territory.
  3. This declaration has to be public, ie on any channel seen by others.
    3.a) Proxying can still happen of course

Basically this extends the ability to block someone to any public channel. The current procedure for blocking someone not in “oh shit” is it has to be at the meeting, in person.

This means you can block from Berlin or China or the moon.

We know a 4 week membership period worked fine.
The two week “oh shit” period is a more powerful method to block which can be exercised from anywhere, not just the meeting

Now some opinions

  1. I find it hard to believe a 4 week period is no longer adequate, especially with it easier to block someone in the final two weeks.
  2. The whole “oh shit” period is just a weak band-aid for the Schrodinger’s Block (prefer we find a better label that using people’s name…but whatever). It doesn’t solve anything except give people an extra two weeks to do something that should have been done the first day/second meeting. Someone can make it through 6 weeks and have the same situation happen again. it doesn’t resolve anything.

Shortening the Membership period to 4 weeks acknowledges that 4 weeks is a fine period as it has been for however long. I cannot imagine 6 weeks is somehow now standard that there is already resistance to change just for the sake a resistance.


I like the idea. 4 weeks is good and 2 of them being after approval so people find out about it and maybe pay more attention in the second half is good.


I believe that by not considering what Noisebridge needs to grow right now, we will shoot ourselves in the foot upon landing in the new space.

While in a corporation it would be a sane and reasonable move to try to fix more variables and then change them later, this is not a corporation.

We don’t pay people to come here. Our currencies are recognition and respect.

As we move, we are going to see a lot of people stepping up and earning recognition and respect. What I would like to do is make sure that the earned community trust that will necessarily be generated through these situations can be encoded and preserved.

Hackers generally enjoy change. You can feel it in the energy level and overall mood at Noisebridge right now. The feeling is not anxiousness but rather that confident anticipation that “We can handle whatever is coming.”

I believe there is a great deal to be gained in making some small, high-leverage changes while we are riding the wave of the energy of change.

See also:

Has the “oh shit” period been discussed as a deterrent to people considering applying for membership?

I’m just not seeing a drawback to the protection we’ve established for ourselves.

Membership is about trust, and while trust should be given in abundance until determined otherwise, there is no need for trust to be rushed. If a hacker would become a member at 4 weeks, chances are good they’d not need the additional 2 weeks, but why reduce the safety measure we implemented after the 2018 fracture if it doesn’t hinder us?

Mitch’s block did not follow the 4 week process. Mitch’s block was out of channel. For the block to be reified in the process, it had to happen at the meeting. There was no flaw in the 4 week process.

Mitch’s block failed because no one in the blocking bloc came to the meetings to make sure the process was followed. Anyone could have executed the block, it was said in a slack channel full of people. No one did. There is an outstanding objection that “Someone said they would and didn’t” well that’s what happens. If you want a thing done, DO IT, don’t ask other people to.

The power of the “Oh Shit” is that it releases this requirement. It doesn’t matter if the process is 1 minute or 1 year, the power is that you can block from anywhere at any time, not just 4 Tuesdays between 8:45p and 8:50p.

It’s your trust in process which put you in danger. What keeps people safe is participation in the community, either theirs or participation occurring in a very general sense.

How’s this for a fun one: I challenge any Member to drop membership and re-apply. Evaluate your thoughts and what that means for Membership and Noisebridge.


I think is the most salient point in the thread, although it isn’t totally on-topic. Membership should always be reroutable in the event it is dropped, otherwise the person should drop their membership.

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This proposal isn’t about removing the “oh shit” period, so it’s not about reducing the safety measure at all.

The “safety” we injected into the process isn’t about time at all. It’s about psychology, as I detailed in my first reply, and also as @rando explained.