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Oldham Meeting 2017-10-12

Attendees (listed in order of surname)

  • Iulian Arcus (Oxford Hackspace)
  • Gustavo Carreno (Lancaster And Morecambe Makers)
  • Bob Clough (HacMan - Manchester)
  • Matt Collins (Leeds Hackspace)
  • Russ Garrett (London Hackspace / Hackspace Foundation Director)
  • Tony Goacher (Hack Oldham)
  • Chris Hilliard (HacMan - Manchester)
  • Lauren Hutchinson (Oxford Hackspace)
  • Claire Jackson (Lancaster And Morecambe Makers)
  • Tamarisk Kay (HacMan - Manchester)
  • James Mastros (Swindon Makerspace)
  • Andres Muniz Piniella (Richmond Makerlabs)
  • Ian Norton (Unaffiliated)
  • Andy Powell (Hack Oldham)
  • Kathryn Reeve (HacMan - Manchester)
  • Jess Robinson (Swindon Makerspace)
  • Christopher Stanton (Leeds Hackspace)
  • Andy Tidman (London Hackspace)

Apologies

  • Jonty Wareing

Definition of a hackspace

Consensus is that this heading has caused some confusion and is badly worded. This will be changed to 'Requirements for full membership’.

Discussion ensued regarding this and potential future implications were discussed.

Unincorporated spaces? These cannot be members, and are probably in the setup stage, so we’d more likely be giving them money rather than the other way around.

Can members of a space be companies? This is a decision for individual spaces. As long as the one member one vote requirement is maintained, the foundation would have no issue with this. The suggested model is that used by the Co-operative of secondary co-operatives. Companies can also be members of the foundation, however cannot then be members of the board (as company reps will be transient)

Board should have three members? This is an ideal and often a requirement for grant applications for external bodies, thus it was felt this should remain as a representative of best practice. (One space spoke up who had only two though.) Concern was expressed that the ‘democratically elected board’ definition be expanded to encourage regular director elections/re-elections to ensure that the board remains representative of the membership.

Votes for members under 16? One member, one vote. This is specifically in relation to elections, any formal general meetings and such official votes as deemed appropriate by each organisation. We should clarify the bullet point on votes to reflect the minimum standard of votes being held at elections. Each space is its own entity on the details of what they do beyond that, and UKHF is not here to adjudicate complaints on that kind of thing.

The current definition was deemed mostly good enough for now with the intention to review it once organisational membership has opened and we have reviewed the applications. One observation was that we should look to better explain the bullet points of the definition, to be clearer.

Benefits of membership

Many benefits of membership are already listed on the foundation website.

Loans? Either micro or macro could be a possible service offered to member organisations. This could be for small community projects that need support through to purchase of large equipment. Any interest gained could then be rolled back into the scheme. Initial funding could be from member spaces.

Grant funding? A requirement could be added requiring organisations to be working towards meeting the membership requirements. This could unlock a staged release of funds.

Central pool of tools? Either owned by the foundation or perhaps just a register of tools that can be shunted around the country to spaces that need them. Many spaces have surplus tools due to being donated or purchasing replacements. There was some concern that UKHF might need some level of staff to maintain them, though.

Help setting up a company? Model articles of association were requested and this is certainly something that we would look to provide as part of the ‘Hackspace Owners’ Manual’.

UKHSF staff member? Too early to have that discussion. Not needed at the moment and we don’t have the money to fund this at this time.

Charitable status? Pursuing charitable status for the foundation itself could potentially open up funding opportunities which would allow us to pass this funding on to organisational members, which might avoid them having to go the charitable route themselves and thus save volunteer capacity.

Commercially-focussed hackspaces? Whilst many in the community dismiss this kind of organisation, there are undoubtedly some benefits to the approaches used.

Help gathering, or standardizing the collection of local impact statistics? We could consider providing advice and help on the recording of sensible statistics and justifications that would enable organisations to apply for funding in their own right.

Buying group? Group of organisations gathering together to gain discounts in purchasing through combined buying power.

Beneficiary? Spaces are unable to give equipment away to members if they need to be wound up, due to the legal implications of this. The foundation could act as a suitable organisation to name as a beneficiary should the need occur.

Reciprocal membership? This is such a massively complicated topic of conversation it was felt it too soon to discuss. Each organisation will need to assess how they implement this should we look to do this in future.

Baseline training? Related to member passports and transferrable membership, the idea that each space would base their training on a core curriculum that would allow a member to walk into any space and be able to explain their level of skill/training/experience and be understood. "I’ve completed all modules in woodworking 101, can I use your table saw for a couple of hours whilst visiting a relative in your area for a project?" This was roundly greeted as very difficult to implement safely, maybe for discussion down the road.

Insurance? Two representatives met with the broker and the owner of Export & General several weeks ago and discussed. Details are up on the forum. There have been some delays in updating the policy and it’s currently in the hands of the broker. It’s expected that this will be back again in 2018 with clearer documentation than what most of us have had to deal with so far, and a relatively turnkey "introductory package" of some nature is anticipated.

Opening to members

Whilst the website is mostly done, there needs to be some code review before the site goes live with payments.

Cost of membership? Individual members proposed to be £20 per year with organisation membership at £25 per year, with a suggested donation of a percentage of surplus to be determined.

One member one vote? The foundation is and always should be focused on the needs of the hackspaces over those of individual person-members. As such, it is proposed by Russ that voting be weighted in favour of organisational members (70%).

How many people can an organisation send to meetings? It’s suggested that each organisation nominate an individual to represent them, however more are welcome. If more than one member of an organisation is present and a vote is called for, only one vote will be counted for the organisation. Nominated reps do not need to be member-space directors.

Who can join as an individual member? Membership will initially be open to current and past directors of hackspaces. The only benefit of individual members is GM attendance and voting.

The concept of probationary membership was discussed but no decision was reached. This is something we may look to in the future. Organisations not currently meeting the requirements for membership may be permitted to join if they are working towards meeting the requirements. Ultimately acceptance to the organisation is at the discretion of the directors.

How much should be discussed in public? As much as possible! There are occasions when private discussion may be more appropriate but these should be intentionally limited. The majority of what we do should be open and it is very much the principle the foundation has been established upon.

What’s stopping us taking money right now? It’s easier to fix things up front than trying to fix them later. We’d rather take the time now to get this right rather than rushing to do it badly.

Who will approve the members? Jonty and Russ as the initial foundation directors will approve the individual members, who will then vote on the organisation members.

It’s possible that a neighbour hackspace or individual member could be called upon to visit potential organisations and provide mentor assistance if desired.

Aiming to be ready to take individual members for Christmas 2017 and opening to organisational members by the end of January 2018. We are going to make sure to carve out a quiet Christmas period for burnt out organisers though--hence the end of Jan!

Licensing of foundation resources

The "non-commercial" aspect of the current licensing was questioned. It was agreed that contributors should assign copyright for their work to the foundation which would allow the foundation to license things commercially on a case by case basis. With this in mind, all resources are planned to be freely available for use while mainly retain the ‘non-commercial’ license.

The website should contain a contributor’s agreement which any editors must agree to.

Andrés Muñiz-Piniella was strongly in favour of changing the licence to a creative Commons free culture license.

Members-only content will be considered in future but is not planned at this time.

Teams

What teams should we have? Teams should be generated as needed.

Currently a group of people are dealing with the foundation emails but it’s getting a lot of spam which is making this tedious. Options to limit this will be considered.

The website team have put in a lot of work to get the site to a good point ready for accepting members.

The Hackspace Owners’ Manual is a loose team that is happy to take contributions to the manual.

Makerfaire 2018 (28th & 29th of April) will be closing applications for stands in January 2018 and this was discussed. Russ has an idea involving a ton of MDF and a laser cutter, to make a giant version of the hackspace locations map.

Oxford Hackspace have a team of two technicians who can be commissioned to deliver physical (including textile) or electronic projects by specific dates, should this be needed. Various media are available. This was mentioned specifically in relation to producing the UKHF proposed laser cut map, however the service is completely available to spaces, businesses and individuals.

For details see https://oxhack.org/prototyping-products-services/ .

Trade marking ‘Hackspace’

This was an emotive discussion with good points raised on all sides. Those present were all encouraged to speak and given chance to do so if they desired. Everyone who wanted to speak was heard and this could ultimately be the greatest good to come out of the discussion. There was some trouble clarifying how these issues work, which hopefully was resolved.

This item splits into two questions.

  1. Should we trademark the term ‘hackspace’?

Whilst the idea of trademarking the term has merits, it was generally felt that on examination it would be found to be a common term and therefore not eligible for trademark. The word ‘hackerspace’ appears in the Oxford English Dictionary.

The danger of attempting to trademark the term is that it could cost an unknown amount if appeals are taken into account. More importantly, if we were to be successful we would then have to defend the trademark by challenging anyone who used it without permission.

In order for an application to succeed, a memorandum of understanding would likely need to be sought from all existing organisations making use of the term including some commercial. This would be a huge undertaking and could still be undermined by someone outside of the memorandum objecting.

Ultimately should we apply and be rejected, one member opined that we will be unable to raise future objections to others attempting to trademark the term as we have by our application stated that we do not consider it to be a common use term. However, where "us" is the foundation, individual hackspaces could still object.

  1. How can we protect the term ‘hackspace’?

By not attempting to trademark the term, we are acting in accordance with the idea that it is in common use and therefore not eligible for anyone to trademark.

Using the services available to put a watch on trademarks, we should watch for and object to anyone else attempting to trademark the term, and we should seek to get the Oxford English Dictionary to add the variant ‘hackspace,’ thus cementing its common use meaning. Simultaneously, we should begin a campaign of some kind to cause the meaning of the term in the mind of the public to match what we subscribe to it being.

This does not mean that an organisation with enough resources cannot attempt to repurpose the term and we could do little to defend it. Whilst prior art does exist and common usage is likely sufficient to allow us to object to attempts to register it, at this time it was agreed that the foundation would not attempt to trademark the term. This item may come back at some future time for discussion again, though the longer we leave it the more likely the term is to be considered common use and an application rejected.

It was strongly suggested that we should allocate some funds for an advertising campaign that would promote the term and the Foundation, to raise awareness of what it currently means and cement the common usage of the word before it gets co-opted.

Community

Dispute resolution was discussed. The guiding principle should be that we do not want to create bad blood between spaces, and as such the UKHSF will not act as an appeals board for complaints at hackspaces. We will not interfere in the internal operations of any space unless specifically requested to assist.

The only time the UKHSF would deal with an individual member of a space would be to handle a report that a space is not meeting its agreed obligations under the requirements for membership. The exact list of obligations and the process for this needs to be determined and agreed, very sensitively. We cannot act as a lightning rod for unhappy members, that needs to be dealt with internally.

It was proposed that every hackspace should have a safeguarding policy and a dispute resolution process. We need dispute resolution process and safeguarding policy templates that we can recommend to spaces.

It was proposed that a private forum be made available on request to assist directors with specific issues that may be too sensitive to discuss publicly. To preserve privacy, it was proposed that this would be specific to a given issue and group of people, with a limited life. Once the issue has been concluded, the private forum and all of it’s content would be deleted. The details around this also need careful formalizing for the health of the community.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation is launching ‘Hackspace Magazine’ and has been consulting with Russ and Jonty regarding this. They are very keen to engage the community with this and seek to gain content from the community itself. The concept of including a hackspaces map in each edition was discussed though this would need further discussion with the Raspberry Pi Foundation to work out the details.

Thanks

General thanks were given to those in attendance with specific mention to Hack Oldham for hosting the meeting at their very shiny venue and Russ for chairing.