HOWTO Keep i3 Safe

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This is based on Noisebridge's page, they seem to be a bit farther along in knowing how to do this well.

Go read that in full, cause this is what we're currently doing here, which is only kinda working!


what is the purpose of this page vs HOWTO Deal With People Not Being Excellent, there is a lot of overlap but also distinct differences, and I don't think the names are very reflective of that

How we keep a healthy, safe, i3 community

NOTE: This is a living document that attempts communicate to newer (and older) people in our community how our tools and patterns work around dealing with issues in the space

Those that have been around a while should feel free to update it, but please try to keep it as a description of what we actually do in practice, versus what we aspire to do, to avoid unnecessary codification.

i3 has unfortunately learned a lot in the past few years about how to keep our community healthy and safe. We've tried a lot of things that didn't work. This is an attempt to catalog what we currently do so we can learn from it and get better at this.

i3 is a very unique community in many ways. We want to be able to have nice things, and a space that everyone feels safe and comfortable to hack, learn, and teach in. But we also want to be radically inclusive and as open as possible.

Here are some of the ways we try to ensure things are good:

  • Ongoing discussion and spreading the culture around how we maintain a safe, healthy, welcome space and community.
  • onboarding quest
    • It's intentionally not trivial, to filter out people who aren't motivated to learn to use a wiki or ask for help
  • guest sign in, nobody can be in the building without having a responsible member be responsible for them
  • Harassment Policy

Ongoing discussion

An important mechanism of keeping i3 safe (and keeping our i3 culture alive and thriving) is an ongoing discussion within our community of what is, and is not, excellent. Thus, our one rule -- Be excellent to each other -- which is purposefully subjective -- stays continually meaningful.

Some conversations come up easily on their own(like the one true text editor (hint: it's vim)), but less readily with topics hackers like less, like how to handle interpersonal conflict.

We need to intentionally have the same ongoing conversations, particularly with newer community members, about how we greet people, what we consider acceptable behavior, and how we deal with problems when they come up.

Admittedly this one is a little aspirational, we've been slacking on this conversation. This page is part of fixing that :)

How we handle people causing problems at i3

Participation in i3 is a privilege, not a right.

We attempt to keep a balance between being fair and attempting restorative justice, and preserving the precious energy of community members. When trying to formulate and apply rules, the health of the i3 community comes first and foremost. (Preventing damage to members counts as the health of the community. That includes emotional and psychological damage!) All the rules and how they are applied are in service to keeping i3 alive and well; i3 is its members!

At our core, we run on trust and "be excellent to each other".

We aren't going to make a formal list of "this is the exact list of ways to get banned". This is a deliberate choice. Mostly, such lists are impossible to make exhaustive, and tend to be too easy to rules-lawyer. People who feel like "getting away with" stuff, or trying to push limits, or "hack the rules" are essentially acting in bad faith. Making systems that can tolerate bad faith is something we avoid, because systems like that (i.e. robert's rules, the US tax code) suck to use, rarely function as intended, and just lead to a bunch of gaming. Fuck that.

Channels for dealing with people that are causing problems in the community may include (but not necessarily):

  • In person 1:1 discussion between community members
  • Conversations with the problematic person
  • Discussion among Advocates and Board
  • In person group discussions


  • Anyone can ask someone to leave
  • the board can:
    • give "official" warnings
    • put someone on probation
    • ban someone, temp or perm

The board will do a pretty linear warning->probation->ban.

Red and Yellow Flags

Red and Yellow flags are small signs that someone might be doing or going to try and do something that hurts the i3 community.

We talk about red flags when we see them to figure out if there's a larger pattern of behavior that no one person is seeing.

Seeing one warning sign is a reason for concern, but not a problem in and of itself. Ie, someone found someone asleep on the couch, but didn't think too much of it. They mention it, and find out that three other people have woken the same person up, and a fourth person saw them stashing clothes in the wood shop. Now there's a much different story, which makes it pretty clear that this person doesn't belong at i3.

BEWARE OVERFITTING Some people may just be having a bad day or just not really know how i3 works yet. Lists of behaviors should not be used as excuses not to be excellent to someone. Even someone who seems to mean to do i3 harm should still be treated a whole person.

Right now these are 99% directly taken from noisebridge, we should talk about customizing these lists for i3, but also it is very close to my personal internal list so

Red flags include, but are not limited to:

  • Name dropping to invoke privilege.
  • Bolting past the person opening the door for them and heading for the back of the space
  • Lying... (not lying like "my mom's calling me" when they need an excuse to tap out, but lying like "I'm on the board" when they are not.)
  • Giving people a hard time when someone questions their behavior or asks them to leave.
  • Only taking from the space - e.g. direct theft of tools/materials/etc or constantly bothering people for no productive purpose.
  • Only giving to the space - this is also known as the Savior/Martyr pattern (see below).
  • Storing personal items/clothing at i3, particularly in out-of-sight places
  • Repeatedly sleeps in the space (treats i3 as a squat)
  • Shows up obnoxiously drunk/high.
  • Invokes anarchism as a reason why they can do whatever they want and don't have to listen to anyone else.

Yellow flags: could mean the person is having a bad day or doesn't really understand i3 yet, so take this list with a grain of salt and use kindness first! Never use this list as reasons to kick people out in and of themselves.

  • Immediately heads to a hidey-hole - a dark, unpopulated corner of the space
  • Immediately rummages through things right after coming in (graveyard, other people's projects, etc)
  • Immediately asking about the 24 hour access policy.
  • Immediately tells you "I've been coming here for years."
  • Doesn't seem to respect "Do Not Hack" tags or boxes labeled as people's projects.
  • Demanding help/attention when first coming in to the space (ie, fix my laptop/phone)
  • Reacts poorly when people introduce themselves or want to chat.
  • Napping in the space.
  • Repeatedly ringing the doorbell late at night or early in the morning (when i3 is not typically open).
  • Showing a sense of entitlement - an attitude that i3 exists solely for their benefit
  • Not making sense - racing thoughts, paranoia, etc
  • Argues about how i3 should be when brand new to the community
  • Gets argumentative quickly vs discussing when things don't go their way
  • invoking the "don't talk to me"

The Savior/Martyr pattern:

  • Shows up at i3 incredibly enthusiastic to "Make i3 Better!"
  • Almost immediately starts working on the i3 infrastructure, often making unilateral decisions about major things (e.g. setting up new spaces).
  • Makes lots of suggestions for what i3 is doing wrong and how to improve it without getting to know the community first
  • Doesn't explore or do any of their own projects
  • Doesn't make use of the i3 classes/workshops/other resources
  • Develops a sense of propriety at i3 - they are SAVING i3 by making a huge personal sacrifice [is this trying to say they think they "own" the space, more than others who they don't see as sacrificing as much?-jody]
  • Gets frustrated when they aren't in complete control, or resents that people don't recognize them enough for their sacrifice
  • Doesn't change their behavior when people give them feedback
  • Eventually gets unwelcomed or banned in a spectacular explosion

Often people that exhibit this pattern start out as very good contributors to the space, and are often well liked within the community.

Left unchecked, the Savior/Martyr individual inevitably creates factions within the space just by virtue of being seen to be attached to the outcomes of an impossibly large array of things that happen at i3. These factions inevitably get into unresolvable conflicts until the Savior/Martyr person is either asked to take a break or they wind up banned. We hate banning people, but if someone isn't willing to listen to feedback and update their behavior, that someone usually ends up on the wrong side of the Banned List.

Someone asked me to leave, what should I do?

Note: the i3 "ask someone to leave" process is not well defined. This is stolen pretty directly from noisebridge, and maybe isn't fully applicable, but I would like it to be so I'm not removing it yet.

Here are some things for you to consider:

Wow, sounds like you probably fucked up pretty bad. You should leave without arguing. Now is not the time to make a stand. Refusing to leave or arguing about leaving is not excellent, and reflects very poorly on you. Once you've left, reflect on why you were asked to leave.

The starting point for resolving problems within the i3 community is having a genuine willingness and ability to:

  • Hear feedback on how your behavior is affecting others
  • Engage in productive/constructive dialog about the feedback
  • Change your behavior based on feedback

If you really feel like you didn't do anything wrong, reach out ASAP to the Member Advocates! They can get the whole story and will either explain to you what the problem was, or else will address the issue of someone abusing their membership privilege.

It's not really defined as to when you're allowed back! We *really* need to work this part out!

jody - My understanding is that someone who is asked to leave should, at the least, have someone sign them in if they need to come back right away (same day, or about 8 hours). After that, they're welcome back, but should probably be on alert for whatever it was they did that led up to the leave request.

inaudible — My thought about this has always been that the askee should remain away from the space until the asker has left.