Noisebridge is run by Do-ocracy, but the constraint on this, the only rule that Noisebridge has, is
Be excellent to each other!
What does it mean to be Excellent? There is no precise answer. Everyone has their own interpretation, and it fluctuates over time as the community changes.
Wikipedia uses a somewhat similar rule, which they call "the fundamental rule of all social spaces. Every other policy for getting along is a special case of it." Unlike Wikipedia, Noisebridge takes a positive approach, and avoids the practice of officially enumerating the myriad potential special cases; "be excellent" is enough.
Despite this, some aspects of Excellence are so widely agreed upon in the Noisebridge community, both at any given moment and over the entirety of Noisebridge history, that we've decided to write these down in the form of our Anti-Harassment_Policy. The short version is that -ism's are not Excellent at all: No racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, fat phobia, etc. And reverse -ism's (e.g. reverse racism) are bogus and we're not interested in people arguing that "White people are the most oppressed group in America" and other such things.
Check out our Community Standards page, which also has a lot of information.
A Fictional Conversation
- Why isn't there a list of unexcellent things?
- One problem with formally defined lists of social rules is that it makes it extremely easy to game the system. People who have no desire to really cohere with a community will find ways to mistreat others that fall within the things permitted by the strict delineation.
- Formal rules can't capture the entirety of how we ought to treat one another, and the nuances with which social norms are applied.
- Many arguments have been made, in the world as a whole, and in Noisebridge history in particular, about why a person's nasty, problematic behavior wasn't breaking any formal rule, and why they therefore shouldn't be called out, etc. People who make such arguments tend to be bad for Noisebridge, and are often escorted out the door.
- But I've been accused of Unexcellent behavior!
- Relax! It's not the worst thing in the world to be accused of! But you really should reflect on whether or not that behavior was necessary. Probably it wasn't, and if it makes other people's use of the better, why continue? There's no need to be a dick.
- The Wikimedia article on their Don't Be A Jerk rule has some good tips.
- Also, if you want to continue coming to Noisebridge, you really ought to make your peace with the community. You might be asked to leave temporarily, or permanently. Even if you think you were right, and you're actually Excellent, communal spaces like Noisebridge aren't defined by one person.
- What if the community is wrong? They suppressed Galileo, you know!
- Sure, it might be, who knows! Usually you can have fun, productive conversations without being a dick, tho. It's one thing to disagree, it's another thing to be Unexcellent.
Tips for Excellent Critique
Giving criticism can often be a tricky prospect. Sometimes people don't take it well. Sometimes it's not effective because people feel hurt, other times your approach comes across as hostile.
One way to avoid this, and to give compassionate critique that is received well is by using Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process (CRP).
This can be especially useful when you need to tell someone to address Unexcellent behavior. No one wants to hear "you're being Unexcellent", and it rarely goes well.
The Wikimedia article on their Don't Be A Jerk rule has some good tips.
I had one girl friend who was totally obsessed with my boobs growing up, it was just this fascination with the size, the bounce, etc. and oddly enough she would always be commenting on them which I never really knew how to take, should I laugh and play along or be totally weirded out. When we went to parties, she'd quite often at some stage in the night, often after a few drinks, just grab a hold of them or rub her hands against them (often at this stage I was drunk as well) but it always just kind of left me feeling conflicted, didn't know what to do about it or be the party pooper for ruining every one else's fun.
The other thing is bars or busy public transport, I can't help it if my chest takes up more space than the usual person and especially on trains or buses, I've had times people have slipped, fallen or just reached for the rails and grabbed a whole lot of boob instead, often by mistake but I swear some have done it deliberately as well, and I just kind of weirdly laugh and shake it off like it's some accident.