New Member experience

At a recent members meeting, I said I’d write something about being a new member, with a view to it going on the website to help others.
Here it is:

You’ve joined Hacman, but now what? Here’s my experience of being a newcomer.
People are friendly and helpful, but Hacman can be difficult to navigate at first.
It consists of several physical areas such as woodworking, metalworking, electronics, visual arts. Woodworking, for example, has a group of people that run it. However Visual Arts is a collection of equipment located in the same space, but different groups run different equipment - the laser cutter and the sewing machines are run by different groups.
After joining, you need inductions before you can use most of the equipment. This is for good reasons (legal, insurance, protecting you and Hacman). There is a place on the website, under “Tools and Equipment” where you can say which equipment you’d like an induction. However this isn’t usually enough to get one. It’s better to go to the relevant Telegram group and ask there. If you don’t get a response (Hacman is volunteer run, so people can be busy, or leave Hacman, resulting in gaps in teams) it’s fine to ask again after a few days. It may take a few weeks to get the inductions you want.
You should set up Telegram on your smartphone or tablet. It’s not a requirement, but a lot of discussion and communication takes place on Telegram. There’s a Hacman group, called “Hackspace Manchester”, and there are also groups for the different areas, like “WeldyGrindy” for metalworking, “Got Wood?” for woodworking, “Laser Training” for the laser cutter. If you ask for something in the wrong group, someone will generally point you to the right one. Don’t be afraid to ask.
Telegram has a feature called “Pinned Messages” which group admins can use to pin a message so it’s always visible. Pinned to the “Hackspace Manchester” group is a list of all the Telegram groups we use. As I write this, “Got Wood?” has one about upcoming induction sessions, “WeldyGrindy” has one about risk assessments, “Laser Training” has one about buying a new laser cutter.
Hacman is a fantastic place. As well as the equipment there are also lots of people with all kinds of knowledge and expertise. Come along to an open evening. If you’ve joined already, come to a members meeting, announced on Telegram. Hope to see you there.


Thanks for this perspective, Martin. I think from the likes, people relate to this experience. I know I do, even though I went through it more than 3 years ago.

I still don’t think we’ve nailed the onboarding process (to borrow a corporate term), but in some ways it’s quite apt: it’s a messy process that rewards people who are persistent, self-starting and eager to learn. And the Hacspace is a messy organisation that rewards the same behaviours.

I suppose the problem is that it can be quite intimidating for people who are less confident to seek help. Hopefully the digital team are making some changes to make the digital interfaces really clear for new users especially. I know the workshop teams try and keep info up to date and coherent, but it can be really hard to reflect reality at all times :wink:

If any other new or newish members are reading this thread, please feel free to add your thoughts. And if you want to contribute to making the space more newcomer-friendly, even better! There is no dividing line between those who ‘look after’ the hackspace and the membership. It’s one and the same. So if you want to see changes, the best way is to get stuck in.

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Thanks for the write-up Martin!

I have been looking at changes we can make to the website to make some of these steps easier to both learn about (as a new member), and then act upon. I’m hoping to reduce the need to explain these things to new members, and just make it apparent what new members need to do.

For anything that remains, I’ll definitely look at updating our “General Induction” page on the members system and integrating your write up with it.

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