From HacDC Wiki
This is a draft document which has not been voted upon by the membership as of 4/10/2018. Intended for guidance and revision. -mirage335
AWESOME THINGS TO DO!
HacDC offers exceptional access to high-tech expertise, tools, and supplies, for education and research. Many of our guests, members, and research projects are where they are today because people can, and do, collaborate, operate tools, and use supplies, effectively, without formal training, without certification, and without purchasing supplies outright.
HacDC members, and their guests, can dive right into advanced techniques, with or without prior experience, by self-learning or exploring, often interacting with expensive tools or one-of-a-kind research equipment. Many of us learned CNC milling or 3D printing just by reading the wiki page, and were proficiently operating within less than a day. Some of the best tools in existence were built by us, then freely shared with others, both in the space, and on the internet, as open-source projects. Much, if not most, of our equipment was developed by our members learning every step of the way!
- USRP Software Radio
- Amateur Radio
Our tools and supplies are generally free of charge to members and guests alike. Likewise, borrowing our stuff is ok too. Even though we are a non-profit, some personal use is acceptable. You can even use the 3D printer, consuming some filament for free! (Though of course donations are always welcome - our big expense is rent.)
We have not had major problems with such open policies, proving that they can work, and can be highly productive for public benefit. Permanent injuries have not happened, tools have not been damaged in operation, and minimal supplies budgets have not remotely been drained. Meanwhile, typically hundreds of events per year, typically including thousands of guests per year, have expanded the public's technological proficiency, and many dozens of successful research projects (most notably Project Byzantium) have gone on to provide real benefit to the real world.
Be polite. Be efficient.
We are of course not an uptight group, we are not going to revoke your membership (not even dues-waived) when you obviously could have meant well, and could make things work. These are just some bits of advice to minimize confusion and learn good habits.
If you do have a dues-waived membership, please do not feel "obligated" to contribute. Generally, these have been granted on the basis of inability to pay, rather than specific expectation of contribution.
Tryhards in general are not really helpful. Far better to contribute when you can, or just have the patience to slowly learn how to do things, than to play the hero, taking control, blowing a trumpet at every opportunity, alienating volunteers. Remember, in the open source world, benevolent dictators hold their positions only because they have learned to do what they do so well.
Some equipment and projects may be labeled "do not hack", "do not discard", or similar, ideally with a date and a phone number. If in doubt as to what the label states, it is best to contact the person written on the label.
Our community members are all familiar to each other. If someone who works on a project or tool at the space is not available, just reach out to other members in the space, #firstname.lastname@example.org , email@example.com , firstname.lastname@example.org , and email@example.com .
In fact, the world of technically inclined people is actually quite small. Most HacDC members are one or two degrees of freedom from "famous" people you may have heard of - core Linux kernel developers, core Implicit CAD maintainers, core LulzBot 3D printer developers, core SeeMeCNC developers - and others. Really, you might be surprised how accessible these people are at hacker/makerspaces, conferences, and more formally, through GitHub, IRC, and email, in contrast with more traditional "celebrities".
Please consider updating the appropriate wiki page when borrowing tools (not supplies). Not only is it polite, it provides a record of your intention to bring it back.
If somehow, someone builds something you do not like, it is much better to ask for what you do want, than to attack their work. Remember, we are all volunteers, we are here because we want to be, which means if the community is hostile, it can't work. As a specific example, if someone successfully recommissions a broken tool, and it doesn't look as user friendly as you might want, consider asking for user friendly features you might want, such as an enclosure, rather than attacking the project itself.
We have rarely, if ever, have had to enforce this. Just remember HacDC is a public space.
Members of the board of directors and event organizers will happily help members and visitors contact building security or local law enforcement, provide escorts, or otherwise assist those experiencing harassment to feel safe and prevent harassment for the duration of their visit at HacDC. We value your attendance.
- Building security guard hours: Monday - Thursday 6pm - 10pm; Saturday 9am - 2pm
- DC emergency services: 911
- National sexual assault hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (800-656-4673)
- DC Rape Crisis Center: 202-333-RAPE (202-333-7273)
- DC Yellow Cab: 202-TAXICAB (202-829-4222)
- Howard University Hospital: 202-865-6100 / 2041 Georgia Avenue NW
- GWU Hospital: 202-715-4000 / 900 23rd Street NW
What you cannot do, or allow your guests to do, or allow anything else you are responsible for to do, in the space.
HacDC does have a specific non-profit mission to provide education and research, as an official 501(c)3. We do not have the resources to support off mission activities.
Don't worry though, there is a huge gap between reasonable, on-mission, and not. The vast majority of human beings, acting mostly or entirely rationally, would never even think of perpetrating such major incidents. However, describing them may help illustrate just how much latitude legitimate activities do have in practice, as well as provide a sense of fairness to those who may claim not to understand having gone too far.
- HacDC is a public space, a 501(c)3 non-profit, for education and research, with just enough resources to support collaboration and exceptionally open access policies.
- HacDC is not a homeless shelter, a mental institution, a place for exclusive self-promotion, a place for threats, or a place to make others do your bidding.
- HacDC cannot have members or guests who refuse to, or are incapable of, following a few basic safety rules, or the most fundamental common sense. HacDC's few explicit rules are mostly part of our lease, and provide a good illustration of their seriousness. Overnight sleeping (without permission), compromising building security at night (putting minors at risk), and smoking (fire hazard, no sprinklers), are absolutely forbidden.
- HacDC, as a 501(c)3 non-profit, has a specific mission. Our resources are optimized to provide expertise, tools, and supplies on-site, to enable all ages to achieve competence in the modern real-world of research and development projects.
- HacDC's resources are not suitable for other purposes, even other charitable purposes.
- Not a homeless shelter. While we do not discriminate against homeless, we must require their specific needs be met elsewhere. We cannot allow overnight sleeping (lease restriction), our space is limited (obstacle to volunteers), and our resources cannot be diverted to personal use (maintenance hours on big display going to daytime TV reception).
- Not a mental institution. Again, while we do not discriminate against people with mental illness, we must require their specific needs be met elsewhere. Our lab is not a safe padded room, our tools cannot be productively rearranged for magic, our members have at least minimal requirements for order, and our lease prohibits smoking in the building, among other considerations.
- Not a place for exclusive self-promotion. Non-profits are owned by the public. Anyone refusing to attempt to include current project leadership while representing that project's operations/schedule cannot be allowed to claim to represent it as a participant (meaning access to participate at the space must barred). Improperly scheduling someone else's event in particular can reflect extremely poorly on the community as a whole. Refusing to attempt to coordinate with current project leadership, misrepresenting the project's operations/schedule, and alienating the workforce behind the project, is not a contribution to put on a resume.
- Not a place for threats. Anyone showing live ammunition, bragging about the ability to destroy things in the space, must leave. Likewise, political discussions about serious physical injury needing to happen to someone you disagree with, must be stopped immediately.
- Not a place for flaming volunteers. Not cool to start a flamewar because, after over a year, volunteers succeeded in doing something for you, just not quite the way you thought would be pretty. Ask for features, don't slam good work.
Actionable problems are quite rare, mostly far in the distant past, and we have been improving our ability to enforce reasonable conduct.