About the Foundation

Goals, structure and operation of the Hackspace Foundation

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Notes from Telegram Conversation

The following will be documented as copied from people's personal opinions and inputs, others will be documented as collected observations if they are more like decisions.

The conversation on Telegram started with the intention of using the examples of Hackspaces to help one another to lead by good examples to document, adopt and share.

The UK Hackspace Foundation can now be better supported by people whom have experience running a Hackspace for a number of years and it can now be time to collect this knowledge together to help each other and new Hackspaces.

Intention is to have files supporting these areas to be stored inside a git repository, that way it can be tracked, version controlled and kept up to date with pull requests guiding on 'how to build a Hackspace', supporting a Hackspace and maintaining a Hackspace.

Observations that there needed to be a way for people to allow their voices to be acknowledged and heard, without hindering the progress of project owners.

Acknowledged, Repeated Barriers to 'Get Stuff Done'

  • Difficult requirements analysis of a task because of lack of experience
  • Deciding on a lead action while acknowledging suggested actions and opinions
  • Encouraging continued development of the task or finding/handing over the task to enthusiastic people to completion

A Suggested way to handle tasks:

  • Lay out solutions
  • Assign someone to be the main person, pick a solution, go for it
  • Give people an outlet for feedback when it's requested

Tools to 'Get Stuff Done'

  • Planning:
  • Trello
  • Google Drive
  • Hackpad
  • Gantt
  • Discussion
  • Telegram
  • mattermost
  • Discourse
  • Google Groups
  • IRC
  • XMPP
  • Executing:
  • Github
  • GitLab
  • Documenting:
  • Wiki
  • Communicating
  • Helpmonks
  • phplist
  • Share of login details:
  • LastPass
  • Keepass

Use of telegram always prompts discussion of making the chat accessible to everyone. Some prefer Slack, IRC, etc. There is currently no easy way to synchronise them and Telegram should be logged and recorded somewhere.

  • It has been suggested that a chat room:
  • Exists for the 'public' aka member of Hackspaces that mix with the Foundation members/trustees/directors
  • Also exists for the representatives selected to be part of the Foundation on behalf of the Hackspaces
  • Potentially another which mainly has the directors, if such a tier is to exist
  • It may need to be redecided what this chat method would be (slack, etc)

There typically should also be a rule that all decisions should be at least posted to a mailing list, meaning everyone is notified and at least has a chance to respond.

  • Telegram to IRC
  • https://github.com/FruitieX/teleirc/blob/develop/README.md
  • Discourse Mobile Apps
  • https://meta.discourse.org/t/beta-testing-the-ios-mobile-app/49662

It has been observed though, that a technical minded group tend to use Wiki, however it has a barrier to entry. People prefer to use chat rather than document.

Also the technologies used should take into account when and where people use them, sometimes public or work internet connections restrict access to cloud services.

There was discussion about sharing of login details, and that password manages such as LastPass and Keepass exist, though not everyone could understand the need for such a utility, it tends to boil down to:

  • Making sure no singular person has sole access over everything
  • That where systems do not have the ability to share management/administration, that this can be shared (eg. Twitter can share access to an account, however a free Hootsuite or website admin is a singular login)
  • Security of the account, if something like LastPass is used, the password doesn't have to be divulged to the person accessing the account, and access can be revoked without having to reset the original account password and all of its security questions

Hackspace vs Makerspace

  • Makerspace is being associated with schools / libraries
  • http://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/makerspaces-explode-in-popularity-in-schools
  • Makers/Makerspace is also associated with a wide range of background of knowledge
  • Hackspace is mainly associated with electronics
  • A Hackspace can be a Makerspace, but a Makerspace isn't necessarily a Hackspace
  • Many people associated 'Hack' and 'Hacking' with information/cyber security
  • 'Hackspace' is a form of 'Hackerspace', a definition from Germany
  • "As for hackspace, as the person who actually coined it: It's because "hackerspace" sounded extremely german and we thought hackspace sounded better in english."
  • 'Hackspace' is sufficiently unknown to some extent that we can lead with it as something to define ourselves
  • Larger companies are familiar with 'Hackspace'
  • Make Magazine are trying to own the word 'Makerspace' along with introducing 'Maker Pro' with mixed success
  • http://web.archive.org/web/20041109020920/http://makezine.com/
  • http://makezine.com/tag/maker-pro/
  • 'Hackspace' doesn't necessarily have good SEO value and has somewhat stagnant recognition
  • This may mean we can more readily define and trademark Hackspace
  • "Our previous discussions with lawyers indicated that we should be fine trademarking it as it was in exclusive use to mean hackspace as we use it in the UK, and we have the evidence to show that."
  • https://www.gov.uk/how-to-register-a-trade-mark/what-you-can-and-cant-register
  • A company in Germany attempted to trademark 'Makerspace' but was denied as the definition was too generic
  • Leeds Hackspace has some information/introduction about Hackspaces
  • https://leedshackspace.org.uk/what-is-a-hackspace/
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sQx2kTScH4
  • Some businesses / persons have issue with 'Hackspace' and have refused to work with such companies
  • "We did actually try to do a sigma aldrich order and get turned down before I did the legal entity registration iirc. "
  • It's been observed anecdotally that:
  • Group of 40+ yr old males, engineers devoutly couldn't understand that 'Hackspace' wasn't associated with hacking
  • Group of 20+ yr old females, programmers, also couldn't.
  • General comments:
  • "As for not calling things "hack": I am utterly sick of this discussion, yes there are sporadic objections but there are to any name you care to choose. In the almost eight years since we started using the name and promoting it, the complaints are nearly always from people who are already involved being concerned about putting people off, rather than people who are actually put off. I am aware of two issues with banks (both easily resolved) and the LBL was setup before they even tried to get supplies with "hack" in the name. (They needed a company to do it, so they just chose a name without hack anyway) NOTE: When I set out the guidelines for What Is A Space, they don't have to have hackspace in the name or anywhere near it. Call yourself Big Daves Fiddling Emporium for all it matters, it's about saying "yes we are part of this scene". "

Website interface to help automate some steps

  • Production of a front-end website
  • Github back-end
  • https://github.com/UKHackspaceFoundation/UKHackspaces.github.io was born
  • Could allow Hackspaces to tailor content and then store them locally
  • Discussion about having a 'website in a box' for a new Hackspace to spin up from a VM

Trademarking 'Hackspace'

  • Company in Germany attempted to trademark 'makerspace' however it was deemed 'too generic' / 'lack of distinctive character'
  • https://register.dpma.de/DPMAregister/marke/register#stammdaten


The logo is to undergo a redesign again, with the help of Matthew Irvine Brown, current for reference:

  • https://dominicmorrow.org/tshirts/gallery/uk-hackspace-foundation-tshirt/
  • http://www.irvinebrown.com/?p=242
  • We have access to the hack.space website domain thanks to Ian Norton.
  • There are concerns over the current logo and potential redesign:
  • Its angular and diamond shape nature make some think it looks like a swastika in combination with being red and circular
  • The addition of 'hammers' make it similar to communistic symbolism
  • If we use spanners instead of hammers, it's similar to Hackaday's logo
  • The current logoo has been adopted, adjusted, altered by some Hackspaces at present and helps unify in a way

Any logo redesign should hopefully be: Monochrome-able CNC route-able / 3D Printable

It was also commented that each Hackspace should have their own logo that's visually different but have a connection.

Collaborative inter-hackspace activities

  • Hackathon to work on Hackspace beneficial projects such as entry systems or member management
  • Inter-hackspace phone network
  • SpaceAPI / SpaceFED / SpaceNET / HackspacePBX
  • Questioned as to their worth, however a concerted effort could bring value back to them
  • https://spacefed.net/wiki/index.php/SpaceFED
  • https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/interhackspace-pbx-project


  • A survey should be setup to identify the current state of Hackspaces and what they want to see in a Foundation or be a part of it
  • This survey should be sent out within a small group first as a test for questions / example answers

Identified Needed Items to 'Start and Maintain a Hackspace'


  • So the "just joining to use a tool" thing can be partially solved by introducing a one­time joining fee that resets if your membership lapses
  • This varies depending on if the Hackspace allows commercial activities
  • Pay as you feel lowers the barrier to joining compared to what people get out of a Hackspace

Rules and regulations and wording

  • 'Don't be a Dick' as a rule should be scrapped
  • 'Well Volunteered' as a retort should be replaced with questions and an outlet for getting involved productively
  • Regulations around storage are difficult to enforce, especially for large items and people like to hide things. This gets worse with multiple floors
  • This stops working with more than 350 members
  • We should check other groups for examples and rules, eg. e Handforth Model Engineering Society rules and constitution has been collected but it is in .dtf (dead tree format, aka paper)

Handling difficult people/persons

This is a controversial topic and as such is one that should be taken on a case by case and contextual basis. There may not be a 'hard and fast rule' for this, though there are 'bottom lines' that can be followed. An idea: https://opensource.com/tags/six-degrees-column An idea: https://opensource.com/life/15/3/how-to-fire-community-members * It was commented that 'lowering the bar' doesn't cause problems, it apmplifies existing ones * It was also commented: "TL;DR version: each community is different and it's leaders have different values. If someone goes against what those leaders are doing in a non constructive way, remove them and send them to another community" * There are also notes at the bottom of this document in the 'Thought Dump'

There should always be a Code of Conduct and this should apply to both members and directors/trustee/the board. There should also be consequences for breaking the Code of Conduct and rules, and these should always be enforced.


  • There is a requirement to help drive new members to a Hackspace, this requires some element of marketing understanding
  • This could reach a saturation point for smaller hackspaces in remote locations, villages, or suburbs
  • Suggested marketing are online tools such as:
  • Meetup
  • Social Media
  • Local Newspapers (some do have websites)

Financial Management

  • Good Banks:
  • Barclays has a good relationship with some Hackspaces, including London, Teesside, Manchester and EMF
  • Triodos (https://www.triodos.co.uk/en/business/)
  • Avoid Banks, due to Hackspace experience:
  • Co-Op
  • HSBC


  • An easy way is to sign up to a wholesaler for snacks/drink
  • Costco works well for individuals
  • Makro is suitable but only as a business, but can have multiple cards
  • Then charge a markup on purchases, but charge less than typical shops
  • Membership fees are highly controversial
  • The concept of a 'premium' and 'standard' membership is frowned upon
  • No one should pay more to have a 'higher quality' experience
  • There are potentially funds which can be applied to such as:
  • http://www.aviva.co.uk/good-thinking/community-fund/
  • https://www.nationwide.com/about-us/apply-now.jsp
  • http://locality.org.uk/our-work/community-grants/
  • Guidance:
  • http://www.thepowertochange.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Community-Business-Fund-applicant-guidance-Round-2.pdf
  • Approaching councils has produced different results and should be undertaken by individual Hackspaces rather than by a Foundation on their behalf
  • Foundation may be able to provide support to those whom are uncomfortable to public speaking
  • The Foundation should have its own fundraising activities, that way it can aid Hackspaces that are in difficulty or need to start with the ability to buy equipment, services, etc.
  • Whether or not these are loans are to be discussed

Health, Safety and Security

Member Management System

Some Hackspaces use some type of the following: Manually tracking members with a spreadsheet and looking at payments in bank accounts FreeIPA for data storage and management with a script checking GoCardless and bank transfers and then manages access Auth0 and GoCardless with DynamoDB table, API endpoints use AWS lambda thanks to AWS free tier Database for registrations, maps access for the door and knows if they've paid No Hackspace management system appears to be documented thoroughly See also "Hackspace Entry/Access System" below

Hackspace Entry/Access System

  • Each Hackspace has enacted its own
  • Most are not completely documented so it's difficult to adapt
  • It should be possible to document the basis for an entry system with common recommendations such as electronic door locks
  • It may be possible to repo a 'starter entry system' for a Hackspace that is beginning though this will require a dedicated team, decision has been made to put together more of a guide than specifics.
  • There exists https://www.facebook.com/MakerSpaceManager/ though it is currently vaporware
  • Even Universities have trouble with card access systems:
  • https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/static/5007/llspdf/about/PRN175.pdf
  • http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/iss/info/supplierdocs/network/LU-Access-Control-Spec-v1c.pdf

The Foundation should have some fundamental guidance for such systems as new Hackspaces may not have the persons with capabilities or knowledge to put their own in place.

Hosting access control servers outside of the space is a bad idea, mainly as the internet is not reliable, but also because communications with it is not entirely securable.

Current systems: Swindon: https://github.com/swindonmakers/AccessibleThingController HACMan: https://github.com/HACManchester/haccess-code Leeds: https://github.com/leedshackspace/lhs-marvin NottingHack: * https://github.com/NottingHack/hms * https://github.com/NottingHack/hms2

Other systems: Open Access COntrol: http://www.accxproducts.com/content/ CarontePass: https://github.com/torehc/carontepass-v2


  • Should be installed 'from day one' if possible
  • There are legal requirements surrounding the external publication of live recorded video/pictures which can be found on the uk government site
  • Precautions particularly surround being able to identify individuals as it falls under privacy and data protection.
  • https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-data-protection/cctv/
  • Helps protect the Hackspace
  • Provides evidence for if and when crime does happen in or outside the Hackspace
  • Recording CCTV is useful, live access is also useful, especially if a member is potentially a criminal and you want to spot when they're in the Hackspace to get the police onto them
  • LondonHS gives access only to trustees

Conversation on Junior/Minors in the Hackspace

  • Children at the age of 12+ often have exposure to equipment in schools after suitable induction and have an adult around
  • This can include band saws and pillar drills
  • The 'Traffic light System' (see below) helps to guide people of any age on suitability to use equipment rather than stating an age bias
  • Do items need supervision for the safety of the child, or the expense of the item? This should partly govern the decision.
  • Taking an opinion from a small person can help to understand what guides them best, for example:
  • "She says age ratings don't make sense as it's down to skill and experience, instead her feeling is that a scale like a volume button slider with 0 being "free to use" and 10 being "adult hands­on (helping you) supervision" and other tools along that scale. She also likes the idea of labelling with an eye (adult within eyesight) and a hand (adult within arm's length) to show the level of supervision required. The little person really appreciated being asked her opinion and thought about it carefully before answering. I would recommend involving any young members you have when writing guidelines etc. as they will be best placed to say what will work for them. And they will have a greater commitment to the outcome by being involved. Kids & teens are often far better at doing this than adults give them credit for.. :) (Apologies if I have just spoken to any grannies about eggs, I've spent a long time working with 11­18yr olds and they still surprise me!) "

Maintenance and Tidying

  • Box rota for items lying around
  • Goes in box one for 1 week, then moved to the next box, and the next box, then it's been around for 3 weeks it's either taken as a donation or scrapped/charity shopped.


  • In 2016 a master scheme was setup and is available
  • http://www.hackspace.org.uk/wiki/Starting_a_Hackerspace#Insurance


  • Reduce the space you have to keep warm
  • Curtains
  • Partition walls
  • Tarpaulin
  • Plastic sheeting as a secondary window glaze layer
  • Industrial gas/paraffin/electric/infrared heaters
  • Gas heaters typically require certain ventilation criteria
  • If you can't insulate, make it stable by reducing heat egress
  • Expanding foam to fill any gaps / reduce drafts
  • Draft excluders
  • Thermal imagers, if available, can help to identify risk areas

Induction to hardware

  • Certification could be created to verify 'completed induction'
  • Documentation:
  • how to use equipment
  • memory joggers after induction complete

Risk Assessments

  • Required for purpose of insurance
  • Needed to help people realise how to be safe when using equipment
  • Members from Hacman suggested they could export wiki contents for their assessments to a git repo
  • Example for Fire Risk:
  • https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/422175/9449_Offices_and_Shops_v2.pdf
  • https://drive.google.com/open?id=13QL0UZcEi_qZ1L7o35ox1MHhMu2CtC5nlrCYzKIrvnU


  • Traffic light system
  • Red being 'Must not use when alone in space'
  • Amber being 'must be cleared/trained for usage'
  • Green bring 'anyone can use without specific training'
  • Could be created by a program
  • Using CSS or SVG
  • https://github.com/swindonmakers/documentation/blob/master/signage/WarningSigns.html
  • Automated via app/database with images/standard text
  • Created with json files, one for universal, other for unique, linked with risk assessment

Equipment Specific

  • 'Long Term Loan' from member should be discouraged
  • If 'long term loan' isn't optional then documentation should be signed and kept laying out the terms and that the Hackspace isn't responsible if the item is damaged or misused.
  • Any donated items to the space should be clear that they're then owned by the Hackspace
  • Best solution is to member pledge for items with fund-match from space funds
  • "Ideal circumstance is that the hackspace buys its own things with support from pledge drives, early hackspaces can't necessarily take this stance and it can be easier for a member to supply their own hardware, and that's when the agreement of liability, maintenance and use comes in, in writing covers you legally in case the person isn't as nice and trustworthy as we'd all like. Hardware on loan should likely have the process of asking if people have a purpose for it, first, or have asked for it. Which may reduce the risk of "this is nice to have" and it becomes an ornament. Really needs to see someone set a "reevaluation period" on all tools and donations Then when it comes up, see if you should bin it"

Free Things

  • Companies are receptive to being approached by Hackspaces
  • Discounts
  • Free hardware
  • There are at least two tiers of company that would be interested:
  • Customer facing (Pimoroni, CPC, Adafruit, etc.)
  • Business facing (Avnet, Arrow, RS Components, Mouser, Digikey, element14, etc.)
  • Consider approaching companies that supply other things, like wood, metal, boxes, kitchen supplies, etc.
  • Universities often go through a lot of equipment every year, it may be worth approaching Engineering departments or the Students Union

Sewing / Embroidary Machines

  • Software

Laser Cutting

  • Un/Suitable materials
  • Control boards
  • Advisory information

Lathes (Wood / Metal)

  • Safety steps and precautions
  • Guides
  • Un/Suitable materials
  • Reference:
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kx-mcfd7FwU
  • Celtic grind is effective learning tool

CNC Router

  • Guides
  • CAM Toolchains
  • Un/Suitable materials

Software Specific

  • Open source software every Hackspace should have
  • GIMP
  • Inkscape
  • Hackspaces shouldn't be afraid of adopting non open source software, and where possible should have an 'escape vector'.
  • For example CNC design software is typically not open source, but is free for non profits and currently open source software isn't great
  • In true spirit of Hackspace/DIY it is understandable to treat the dependable nature of these propitary tools (be it hardware or software) as a bug that needs fixing.

Relationship with companies

  • If the foundation lists particular companies they come with the clear warning that it is not an endorsement.
  • But what about A&A ISP?

Engagement Community Activities

  • 'Destruct-a-Day' inspired encouraging children and others to get involved and take things apart.
  • Seasonal activities, eg. Pumpkin carving
  • Events such as this also give an opportunity to sell snacks/drink for extra monies
  • Thanking super active and supportive members
  • Difficult to do without disenfranchising those who can't afford to give so much to the space
  • Some consider free membership for limited time
  • Possibly vouchers for the tuck shop
  • Discussion of a 'reward scheme'
  • Suggestion of a karma kredit system that equates to cash, 1 kredit is 45 min worth of work, 1 kredit is £1, this was decided against as it's effectively employing staff and discrediting/devaluing membership
  • A 'kredit' system also puts more focus on the kredit than the task, making it negative
  • Determined that infrequent, public rewards work better as incentive than a regular, known reward.
  • Encourate members to do 10 minutes of tidying when they come in, doesn't take long, cleans things up
  • Encouragement and involvement inspired by Hacman
  • https://hacman.org.uk/we-need-your-help/
  • Often it is the case that people find problems, though do not feel they have the authority to do anything about it, or the confidence to do so.
  • Notes on difficulties 'getting stuff done' and participation:
  • https://docs.google.com/document/d/1qtRAT_xYd0l3piPjPFxzghJyoTu-8pTSK-_hCMsYUlI/edit
  • Blog/log daily activities:
  • http://wiki.richmondmakerlabs.uk/index.php/Blog_2016
  • http://wiki.oxhack.org/wiki/Daily_activity

Implement gamification in the Hackspace. * http://www.chorewars.com/ * https://openbadges.org/ * https://docs.google.com/document/d/18gspIWJXMOaR76cABrRgFu0FBEFx1EeMBcUNsAqWkpg/edit * Hacman are considering Badges: https://docs.google.com/document/d/18gspIWJXMOaR76cABrRgFu0FBEFx1EeMBcUNsAqWkpg/edit * Consider badges carefully, especially for repeatable tasks, bronze, silver and gold tiered badges may also not be appropriate for all tasks and judging how something is mastered is 'difficult' * Also consider that badges could or should 'degrade' in their tiers to be maintainable for repeat tasks * habitrpg sounds like fun.

Discussion and Consultation

  • If there's any change in Hackspace tools, utilities or policy it's always good to have an open and transparent discussion
  • Even if you don't enact what people say, people appreciate being respected and acknowledged and considered
  • This can aid tolerence of transitions, such as mailing lists
  • Resource for understanding motivation and people behaviour:
  • https://www.thersa.org/discover/videos/rsa-animate/2010/04/rsa-animate---drive
  • https://www.bostonfed.org/-/media/Documents/Workingpapers/PDF/wp0511.pdf
  • Talk about CIC vs LtD and Asset Locks:
  • http://socialenterprisehelp.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/why-asset-locks-matter.html?m=1
  • https://russ.garrett.co.uk/2009/10/25/starting-a-non-profit-in-the-uk/
  • Discussing what to do "when having to ban people"
  • Banning people for 2 weeks is effective and forces a cool-off
  • Communication in the first instance resolves a lot
  • When banning outright it is best to encourage them to seek out or start a new Hackspace
  • There will always be a replacement for a banned person
  • People can be manipulative in various ways: Physically, emotionally and psychologically
  • Membership should be capped at 150

Foundation Progress Thought Dump

Identified potential setup steps: - merge Russ/Jonty's 2014 pass at articles into the structural stuff discussed here - align on the voting rights/power of individual members vs spaces (e.g. doesn't seem right individual members having equal rights to entire spaces) - Actually start on the website, - Get some kind of mailing list that works for asynchronous long­lived communications. - Collect contact details for all spaces so we can approach them, - Start writing an approach email, - Ideally have a decent onboarding document describing what we're trying to achieve - Write all the rest of the guff around the foundation, who we are, and what we do.

Management of Telegram conversation so far: ­ We need a summary of everything that has gone on so far ­ this is to be a working document

  • once we have that. We need to re­open access for orgas of other groups so as not to disenfranchise people straight away.
  • It can form part of the where­we're­at for the website

  • Create human 'accessible' versions

How the Foundation could function

  • The HSF needs its own board. I also think for elections, every recognized space gets one vote ­ they should nominate a person who will vote on their behalf. (They are free to instruct that person to get a vote of the space's board and vote accordingly, but that's an internal matter.) Possibly also it should be possible to become an at­large member / personal member by paying a subscription fee.
  • Like the idea that the HSF is a foundation of hackspaces and not a foundation of people. It keeps it from being captured overly much by one space.
  • Consideration:
  • Is it also worth suggesting that members of the HSF should either be current or alumni hackspace organisers? Though I guess that gets flattened out in elections if there's an unknown
  • Don't form a company until we need to, but we can adopt an appropriate structure from the beginning.
  • It's not entirely clear how people will be voted into being on the board for the Foundation, however it should mainly be focussed on people from member Hackspaces, there should also be capacity for individuals whom aren't members of Hackspaces (but perhaps used to be or have helped with Hackspaces)
  • Thanks to EMF there are good contacts with the media that could be leveraged
  • Pushing multimedia of one Hackspace or the Foundation can help raise awareness for every other Hackspace in the country, which has been noticed when mentioning London Hackspace
  • Organisations should also be approached such as IEEE, BCS, IET
  • Should the Hackspace Foundation be an unincorporated member association or a CLG? And/or a Charity?
  • The working definition of 'Hackspace' for the purpose of the Foundation is not meant to imply what is right or wrong, it's setting the terms of engagement for the Foundation and what we're attempting to promote and support.
  • There might be a large foundation hosted install for new spaces who want a discourse list
  • https://meta.discourse.org/t/multiple-discourses-multiple-containers-one-server/35367
  • https://meta.discourse.org/t/multisite-configuration-with-docker/14084/26
  • How will member hackspaces 'sign up' and what will they use to authenticate with?
  • What platforms could be used to store and share stuff with member hackspaces, rather than the platforms used to plan?
  • £1,000 has been donated for Hackspace Foundation use
  • It has been suggested that, short of directors, the Hackspace Foundation could run like Valve Software: http://www.valvesoftware.com/company/Valve_Handbook_LowRes.pdf

Most of this discussion now exists on https://forum.hackspace.org.uk

Origins of the Foundation

The below documents some suggestions and thoughts from those involved in the original Hackspace Foundation group, it is worth reading as a back story and includes useful information, including comments on dealing with troublesome person(s)

  • Prototype Articles of Association:
  • https://www.irccloud.com/pastebin/Lhxokuip/
  • https://github.com/UKHackspaceFoundation/foundation/blob/master/structure.md

I have a vast amount of reckons and things on all this, but it's not a thing I can unload while at work. We already have most of the things on paper/notes for sorting out things I can see in the backlog (and solutions for some of the problems), it just needs implementing. Russ and I were planning to take a proper run at it once he resigns from LHS in a couple of months time at the next AGM and has some headspace. Frankly I should apologise that it's taken so long, but all the LHS stuff happened, then EMF, and there's only so much time in the day. We had a meeting mid last­year with a load of people about how to formalise things and made decisions, then the world fell apart for me. Brief summary:

  • We'd like to sort out the foundation as a non­profit association with a limited set of guidelines for joining (so it doesn't end up being loads of random parties).
  • We'd like to publish a set of tools and guidelines that spaces can optionally use to get started, but nothing is mandated ­ they don't even have to join the foundation unless they want to.
  • We'd like to actually trademark "hackspace" and assign it to the foundation, so all spaces own it together. This is because O'Reilly and other companies have started using the term for other purposes in other countries, and we definitively have the right to use it here because we coined it. We also spoke to the Newcastle Makespace about trademarking Makespace for similar reasons and they're keen. (We'd not likely act on misuse, but it's a safety thing, just in case)
  • There's already been stellar work on sorting out group­rate insurance, and the foundation should work together to enable more things like that. We've got a list of contacts three miles long who want to deal with the foundation and not each space individually.
  • We'd like to use our existing contacts with councils, property owners, and government to actually foster starting new spaces in meanwhile space ­ short lived spaces lasting a year or so, constantly fluxing but with persistent community and good links between them. (FYI, I am intending to start a new (small) space in London experimenting with different models of governance and membership to see if we can improve it)
  • We'd like to organise a hackspce conference at some point in the next year to actually get everyone together to talk about things, and to forge new connections.

  • We'd quite like the foundation to actively seek grants and funding to help start new spaces, refurbish existing ones, and help out those spaces in need. Because it would be a distributed organisation we all get a say in how it's allocated and used, but we need to formalise the structure to make this clear.

To be EXTRA CLEAR: We aim for the foundation to be run by all spaces as a meta­organisation that helps tie us together and promote the cause. It's not about being on top and dicatating. I should also point out that this is what Russ and I have been trying to do since 2009. We actually aimed to do this in parallel with starting LHS, but when that grew faster than expected we had to devote time elsewhere. FWIW: Both Russ and I have agreed sorting the foundation is our top priority once he's extracated himself. We're restructing EMF at the same time so we're going to have a year of formalising more organisations. Basically saying we're happy to take on the load as neither of us have to worry about running spaces, and holy hell do I know how much work that is. Oh, I should also say: If the lot of you just want to go off on one and Do A Thing we won't stop you ­ I'm not saying we are The One True Way. But this is literally what we've been planning for a number of years. It would have happened a lot sooner if we didn't start EMF. FWIW until we aim to actually have money or things owned by an organisation, there can be a formal structure and membership but it doesn't need to be a legal one. This is why we've not done it before now Any legal link between spaces should be avoided if possible. I'm not entirely sure pushing liability out of spaces is wise. Basically: If a concrete case can be made for having a legal entity, form one. Until then defer it for as long as possible. That works for trivial bits, however there's a fair bit I'd l'd like to do around registering interest in starting spaces and linking people together, which requires actually having code running. I've got about 15 pages of details from people who want to be involved in hackspaces collected from various events. We've got some money that belongs to the HSF, and we have servers for free for it.

We wrote a definition that included all existing hackspaces, I need to dig it out along with everything else. Not exact, but it was something like: Must be not­for­profit, must by member owned­and governed under a one­memberone­vote system, must actually describe itself as a hackspace or hackerspace but doesn't have to have that in the name. My point being that they themselves have to describe themselves as being analogous in order to be members. It stops some of the things who use the name "makerspace" to seem cool but aren't at all from joining. We were going to say any space meeting the criteria default has two people on the board/directors/whatever it's called, but anyone can pay a nominal fee to join as a member and take part in discussions/get advice. Lots of people want to help but aren't actually directors of spaces.

Although we were going to say the spaces can nominate who the people they put forward are, they don't have to be the directors. Nominal fee stops it turning into a gobal bikeshedding mailing list.

We intentionally kept it pretty loose as all spaces are different, but those criteria fitted everyone space in the UK that we considered should join. If you can find an exception it's worth talking about.

I intend to unload onto the HSF wiki so everyone can edit, then when people are happy my plan was to move the entire HSF wiki to wiki.hackspace.org.uk and replace the main website with a shiny new one with all the finalised information. Probably the GH­pages one for now until someone has time to throw at a register/find a hackspace thing.

I've been talking about a "space website in a box" for years now, something that a space can spin up quickly and get going.

AFAIC the foundation should keep it minimal and act as a coordination point. If people want to bandy together and build that then list it as a resource for new spaces that's awesome, but it doesn't need to be a foundation "thing" unless it actually needs resources. FWIW I have noticed an extremely strong correlation between spaces having members who are willing/capable of talking to random people who come through the door & them succeeding in the long run. This should be obvious really. Also spaces using shared space nearly always flounder until they move into their own space

­ Building an actual community rather than people paying toward a goal ­ Building a community at all ­ Fostering a shared sense of responsibility & ownership of the space when you get it ­ Maintaining that community over the long run ­ Stopping bad actors from destroying it ­ Stopping unintentionally bad actors from destroying it

FWIW the best thing you can do for your space is have a strong board that actually bans people early and often based on their own view of the person's behaviour. My mistake in the past was writing rules and proceedures that protected the space against a Bad Actor being elected to the board, however that means the directors/trustees often can't take the action they need to. As I keep saying: Everyone should be able to join a hackspace, but not everyone should be able to join the same hackspace. If people don't fit, encourage them to start a new space that fits with their views and help them. More spaces rather than monolithic spaces. Not least because it makes the movement more resilient.

If you put rules in place that mean trustees can only act based on member complaints/reports, it means they can only act when people make them & are willing to make them. If you then have a member who is known for aggressive reprisals, nobody will complain about them. If the trustees don't take enough action in the long run, they seem powerless and people stop bothering to report things.

"If it's a single other person the trustees can judge the situation, but when it's a trustee themselves should they be judged as more trustworthy if they've shown themselves to be so over >5 years? "

FWIW my answer to this is "trust the trustee, ban the member for 3 months" as the ongoing lack of trustees taking action and the trustee feeling helpless is actually worse.

Also from experience, people who are banned either don't come back, or come back with a drastically different attitude. It totally works. When you get a board with drastically different views of the space it is ENORMOUSLY hard work. I have gone from being "every person should get many chances to redeem themselves" seven years ago to "ban everyone immediately for a short time but help them find another space or start one"

I am extremely aware of how much damage one person can cause to a space. I really don't think many people are. The thing to realise is that if one person is causing a problem, members who have a problem with them won't do anything. They'll just slowly drift away.

But most importantly, talk to people who you think might make a good trustee and encourage them to stand. I do not have enough appendages to count the times where I've approached someone and said "I think you should stand" and they've replied "Oh! I'd not considered it. I totally should." Oh, and I would immediately introduce a rule saying anyone who has had a warning or been banned in the year before the election is not allowed to stand.

I've been pondering a space where you have a 3­6 month trial period and two complaints about your behaviour from existing members lead to automatic ejection. Yes it can be abused, but in terms of defending the community as an organism I think that might be ok. Again, better to repel and encourage more spaces than have a hostile body in the space. When I last attended the maker assembly, I spoke to a lot of people about designing spaces to fail gracefully, so people have somewhere to go and the community persists. Without exception every person involved in a space said "but our space will last, we'll make it last". Which is utterly delusional Everything ends, and communities are incredibly fragile.

Honestly, the thing I've learned most from all this is how awful people actually are. I had never encountered pathalogical liars, sociopaths, and full­on criminals before starting a space. It's been eye­opening, especially when you realise literally years after knowing the