Recent Issues with members storage - members meeting

Meeting

Hi All,
Recently we had a members meeting on the 03/04/2021
One of the topics of conversation at the time that came up was the one surrounding members storage. This might be perceived as a bit of a rant, although I’ve tried to be as respectful as possible with the below, since I know the board is purely done on a volunteer basis (they don’t get paid for it) and is a lot of hard work.

Safety

One thing that worries me somewhat is that the new shelving is wall mounted.
I do not believe this is safe, I think it’s inheritntly unsafe and short sighted since we’re going to get all sorts of “members”
putting stuff up there without bothering to judge / evaluate the weight. (which I think it limited to 40Kg per slot), bearing in mind the weight is accumulative per column.
and no way to police or restrict the weights of items put up there.
Also I see no clear advantage over the traditional metal shelving we already have (not the tiny crappy wooden cubicles) or practical reason to do this.

Another problem is that you’re going to totally wreck the plasterboard against the wall of woody dusty with stuff being pushed / shoved into it constantly.
Ideally you need a sheet of OSB or something to protect the plasterboard.

Something to bear in mind it’s that it’s not just the weight the shelving will support, it’s also what the wall will support as well
(I’m talking about the woody dusty plasterboard wall).
Ideally it should be something free standing and away from the plasterboard wall or at least protect the plasterboard.

Box Size

Some of the board members such as Rossy came across as quite apologetic which I’m happy with (I’m trying to be sympathetic after dealing with office politics myself)
but one of the attitudes that was presented by certain members that irked me quite a bit was
“we’re not going to recommend a specific size of box in case we need to shrink it down again in the future”
which comes across as “not my problem jack”

Even if you’re not going to recommend a standard size of box (which is fine)
One of the first steps before deciding on shelving is, lets google to see what kind of boxes we “want” to fit on the shelves
even if we’re not going to recommend a specific one, just to try and encourage shit not to be everywhere loose.
Do not present this as someone else’s problem, if your going to create a problem for members by doing this then at least put some effort in to resolve it.

A lot of members simply don’t bother putting anything in a box at all and if we want to encourage that, we should be making that as easy as possible.
(even if you are not recommending a standard size box)
It’s also penalising those of us that have gone to the trouble of being tidy in the past which really really irks me given how much of a mess the place is.

I should probably add that the eco crate might fit on the new shelving but we’re not even sure of that at this stage
Some uncertainty was expressed about the overall volume that will be available
Let me make a suggestions here, put on 2 or 3 of those shelving pieces, but them on or just rest them on the brackets, take a tape measure then measure that.
Then put it on an official announcement as quick as possible so some of us can plan ahead.
Also try and make that a priority given all the dicking about that’s happened so far.

Also please don’t even suggest we’re gaining space from this such as 119.34%, those tiny crappy cubicles in the existing storage were just what we had lying around, they did not represent any official “standard” to the best of my knowledge.
If you want more of a hostile reaction to an official announcement (if you want to annoy and piss people off) then by all means put that in the mail because it’s really not true.
From my own personal experience, first I was told to ignore the draft email on the mailing list, then I was told not to worry on telegram and that a 64L box was fine, then more recently I’ve been told actually it is going to be an issue in the latest members meeting and that I’ll have to move to a tiny box.
We really need some clarity on this in terms of actual sizes.

Thoughts moving forwards

Next we have a ton and I mean a ton of space more compared to what we used to have in hacman2 in the northern quarter
It’s also true we have more members, but when I look around at all the crap piled in corners in the space such as the old radios on a shelf left by Britain.
This begs the question why not just make members storage bigger in the first place?
Take the existing metal shelving units we have behind the bar and put them opposite the new wall shelves in the middle of the room.
I’ve not seen anyone use the area in front of the bar for things other than a dumping ground ever since we moved snackspace out of that area.
The approach of “we have more members so are going to shrink the storage down” is not acceptable when we have all this space and junk we could remove.

I most definitely will not be moving to a 35L box as was suggested in one of the draft emails on the mailing list.
At this stage even a compromise of trying to get something for the new shelving isn’t possible since we’re not even certain what space is going to be available yet.
I would encourage some form of official announcement and deceleration of actual size as soon as possible

although given the way this has handled and so far I’m tempted myself to make no effort to change out of protest, not even bother to compromise at this stage
I’m also tempted to give some serious considering to being a member of the space moving forwards.
bearing in mind some of the existing members have even more crap than I’ve got piled up, not even in a box but completely loose lying around all over the place / all over the floor.

Many Thanks
Richard.

The standard for storage has been “either a cube or half a shelf” since at least the old MediaWiki documentation, and we list example boxes for both, one of which is 30L to fit the cubes, one of which is 64L for half a shelf, so the 30L standard is at least as ‘official’ as the 64L standard.

“we have more members so are going to shrink the storage down”

We’re not. We’re more than doubling it for the majority of members. The space increase of 119% I’m getting certainly isn’t going to annoy or piss me off!

That said, it’s entirely possible we could get a lot more members or move space again in the future and will have to shrink storage down; I don’t think it’s sensible to say that any storage standard we set here is going to last forever.

I agree there’s obviously been a communication breakdown between the board and members, which I’m okay with now given the board has apologised for this and explained what happened. But as there’s not been a consultation between the board and members, I can understand the frustration. The solution isn’t therefore user centered and I think that’s where a lot of the frustration comes from. A user centered design would focus on the needs of members, but the current one seems to leave members out of the equation and leave members to figure out how to fit in with the system.

In terms of sizes I find talking in terms of boxes easier as measurements are somewhat academic and imagining a box that you can just go and buy is way easier. Even if the spaces are measured in mm, it’s prudent to provide some boxes for members to get as otherwise how are people supposed to use their space? I agree that leaving boxes up to members does come across badly, the storage is only really useful when it’s contained, and the main way to contain stuff is in a box. The system needs to be designed around how it’ll be used by members, not about how members will fit the system.

What I think has possibly been incorrectly assumed is that all members want the same storage size. The old system is deeply unfair in that newer members are forbidden from having the 64L Really Useful Box, while at the same time older members continue to use their 64L box and this is seen as fine. There are people who want to use a 64L box but can’t, and there are also people who are fine with their cube. So I get why the board had to take action on this, as that system was untenable as new members join and find themselves second class to those with larger storage.

But given not everyone needs or wants the same space, why not instead let there be three storage options which people can choose from:

  • Large box (64L)
  • Medium box (35L)
  • No storage (0L)

This way people who want no storage or a medium box make room for those who want more storage, but are not forbidden from getting a larger box should they need it later on. The new shelving system with no dividers can then be used as a flexible space, and will adapt well as the membership increases. This would mean instead of having markers on the shelves which are fixed and rigid and where space may not actually be used efficiently (imaging having a standard size only to store one or two blocks of wood?), boxes would have the markers on instead. This means that no-one is forbidden from having a 64L box. We would need to, as always, prevent abuse such as one person having multiple boxes.

Speaking of abuse, it’s been an ongoing problem of people having multiple boxes spilling out and this won’t magically be solved, so we must accept that this will rely on a human auditing process. Every time we have done an audit we have made space, so by continuing occasional audits we can make sure those claiming a large box space but not using it get notified and moved to a medium box thus making way for more storage. If we get more members needing large storage, well, we make more shelf space.

We need to see storage as a smart space, not as a grid. Using discrete box sizes, an etiquette of keeping to the smallest box size you can, and occasional audits to limit abuse seems like it will solve all the practical problems, and decisions that clearly put the member first should help in the future prevent this happening again.

My 2c.

The cube or “30L standard” as far as I’m aware has only been in place since we moved downstairs
I’m assuming it’s because we didn’t have any other shelves available and no-one could be bothered to buy or make anything bigger.
I don’t consider it to be any form of standard, or even adequate for the current storage
I often found it confusing that were even using those cabinets given how small they were and that they just encouraged people to dump stuff in the middle of the walkway as a result.
often I’d see open top tubs half stuck in them / poking out that would fall on the floor spilling the contents everywhere. (50% of the tubs sticks out past the cabinet)

If we have members that need more storage space then this should be resolved as part of a wider discussion.

  1. Why are we not expanding members storage
  2. Why are we not clearing out existing stuff like the radios before this is even discussed (I do believe stuff has been put into a skip)
  3. Is there some magical plan for the area behind the bar? can we not use that for members storage in addition to the new shelves?
  4. Is there some OCD reason as to why everyone’s storage needs to be exactly the same?

There are other options or tasks we can be looking into doing before we even reach the point of saying hey guess what you’re now going to have to move to a smaller box, but we’re not going to tell you which box to get because you’re problem.

The standard for me has always been the metal shelving units, with enclosed boxes with a lid.
I remember at one point one of the members (I won’t name names but I think he was a board member) had 3 of those 64L boxes, which put me on the small size of things.

Part of the conversation during the members meeting was that they couldn’t advise on a particular box size
Since they may have to reduce the size again later on which seems somewhat confusing.
But as connor has said the storage needs to be modelled around what we want to be putting in it
not what shelves are available or some arbitrary standard picked at random.

Ideally the storage should be free standing and partially away from the wall ideally with some form of backboard to protect the plasterboard wall.
I’ve got a ton of palette hardwood here I could have used to build something proper in terms of shelving units if there’s had been some engagement with the members and not done in secret.
I hope something stronger than rawlplugs have been used to fasten to that wall if it’s breeze-block otherwise we’ll be in for some fun times with that.

Many Thanks
Richard

Speaking, only as a member, from when the space was upstairs in the mill the storage was not formally explained when I joined. All I saw and what was the status quo was disparity. I was basically told find a box to put your stuff in and a cube space to put it in.

It is disingenuous for anyone to suggest that at least going back 3 going on 4 years that the standard was anything more than the cubes we were offering to members at that time.

If anything was said to be recommended it has been poorly documented, communicated and maintained.

Clearly there is an engagement issue the board need to look at and I believe they will.

I’m really glad to see some constructive comments here. Disappointed to read the petulant ones also. I hope a resolution is found that works for the membership and the space at large and does not unnecessarily pander to perceived tradition or single individuals’ personal desires. It’s got to work for the majority.

I’m not saying this can’t be resolved but I am asking what the plans are for behind the bar area / the large stack of radios / the disused laser cutter / the traffic cones / the half built shed / large lumps of tree, all of which is space we could be using.
Not to mention the ton of other space more than likely now cleared out by the skip run.

Historically these sorts of discussion have always been heated largely due to the lack of space within the space. However this time around this isn’t the case, instead this is a case of we didn’t think far enough ahead to look at what might be going on the shelf.

If this was about the majority and not personal desires then I suspect there would have been a full discussion with the members, which didn’t happen,
Looking at the telegram history I can’t help but feel some of the motivation are not what they should have been.

We took a decision, on behalf of the membership, to improve things as a whole as opposed to bikeshedding and quibbles over who has what. If anybody has any further lasting and or serious issues or comments regarding member storage my polite request would be that you take it to the next MMMM.

When I asked about this I was told

As far as I’m aware this is not a problem Richard.

Then there was a board meeting

The board held a board meeting on 11th March 2021

The minutes can be found in the board_minutes repo on the Hacman GitHub and can be found at;

https://github.com/HACManchester/board_minutes/blob/master/2021-03-11.md

I looked at the wording of this and replied with

I’d like the opportunity to check my box weight before stuff gets moved around if thats ok
I’ve been told my 64L box is ok, but there are some heavy bits in it like metal parallels I’ll probably need to take out
hopefully we’ll be open before that happens so I’ll have the chance to have a proper look (also the lid isn’t on fully at the moment)

Nobody replied to this, I didn’t find out there was even going to be a problem until the members meeting when I asked to re-affirm
So clearly something has gone wrong someplace here as I feel like I’m being dicked about.

This is part of the reason why I keep saying there needs to be a clear deceleration of what the intentions are before anything else goes ahead.
I don’t even know at this point what boxes would be suitable since the last members meeting amounted to we don’t know how big the spaces will be until it’s up

I’m looking forward to an official announcement about what the new storage sizes will be. But the impression I’d got - I’m not a board member, so this is just what I took from the meeting on Saturday (3/4/2021) - was that volume of storage was going up for everyone. Size in one dimension was going down, and there are potential weight issues, and that’s going to be an annoyance for some people who previously had a specific 64l box.

But if volumes are going up for everyone, space for other projects doesn’t seem relevant. I’m very much in favour of getting rid of abandoned projects, but can we split that out into a separate conversation?

My understanding is volumes are only going up for those using the tiny cubicles.
Currently it’s a mixture of cubicles and metal shelving

The white wooden cubicles were originally used for storing non member storage stuff such as general hacking items with us just using metal shelving on it’s own originally, there’s also some smaller brown wooden ones I think which are smaller still. So a lot of it is dependent on phrasing (one of the reasons I’m asking for clarification).

The primary motivation I’m guessing is for a greater member count overall.
My point surrounding the bar area and the abandoned projects is asking for justification over reducing the size when we have spare already. Unless there’s plans to put more of those white brackets behind the bar area (I have no idea). Part of the question is what is the overall plan

Just to add I didn’t know we were even using the white ones until browsing the images on the prior message thread, I could remember the metal shelving and the tiny brown wooden post it style shelves but I didn’t realise we were even using those white ones, since originally they were always used for hacking items instead of members storage

Richard nobody wants you to feel that way but I’m struggling to follow your train of thought.

You’ve copied comments over from Telegram that I made whilst working in a stressful environment. At that time I was under the mistaken impression that the wider membership knew about the changes to members storage.

I am of the belief that real time messaging platforms are not helpful for discussing complex topics. Things get misinterpreted, people respond emotionally or make mistakes trying to keep up with what’s going on. That was the motivation for suggesting the forum or MMMM though I appreciate that this was not received as intended in part because my earlier stated belief was incorrect. The tone of that message was off I apologise for this mistake. I personally will not engage into discussions about complex issues on Telegram as I want to be able to respond calmly, rationally and hopefully respectfully.

I don’t particularly like that you appear to question the truth of the sentiment — trying to make things equitable — that was trying to be expressed. I also find some of your language unhelpful. Comments about people not being bothered to do things or references to magical plans or OCD are not helpful. There is, in my mind, little point in signing off many thanks if the content of your message is derogatory remarks. You make some valid points and I thank you for that but please bare in mind the board generally want to be helpful. Obnoxious commentary on either side is counter productive let’s go forward with positive dialogue?!

Back to the topic. I’ve suggested to the other board members that we consult the membership (via survey) regarding what they value, some options regarding issues that have been raised and general feedback.

One of my latest comments in the board chat was;

We need to bare in mind that we are working for the members as the custodians of the space. We should always consider them in what we do.

I’m sorry if anybody doesn’t feel that hasn’t been the case. I can assure you all the intention was and is there even if the implementation hasn’t felt that way. For some of us we’re fairly new to the role and feedback is important. It’s even more gratefully received when it’s reasoned and civil.

Speaking personally I have a lot of responsibilities and I don’t always keep up with Telegram or even here but please do feel free to email me (jason@) and I’ll respond as well as I am able to.

2 Likes

Ok,
This is what I would like to see moving forwards

Hi Everyone,
We have plans to fit shelving on these walls (insert diagram here)
This will includes spots for X new storage spots
Each storage spot will be X wide X high X deep

The existing storage this will be replacing includes

  1. The Metal Shelving
  2. The very small wooden Shelving units
  3. The white storage cubicles.

We do / do not have plans to extend the the new shelving system within the existing bar / members storage area. Insert future plans for increasing storage slots here.

This next part I already know you agreed not to do in the board meeting and Rossy was very adamant wouldn’t happen in the members meeting. But personally I think is something we should be informing people on.

we’ve identified a box that will fit and use the most amount of space on the shelves
https://www.auer-packaging.com/gb/en/Euro-containers-with-hinge-lid/ED-6432-HG.html

I would suggest that someone at the earliest opportunity go in with a tape measure and try to verify that the size is actually 400mm Wide, 600mm Deep & 400mm High.
Simply so I can figure out if that box above will fit, if it will then that’s another £20 I have to spend but I’d be happy with that.

As far as the weight constraints are concerned I don’t think this will affect me personally
My concerns are more along the lines of how do we police this, how do we make sure it’s safe.
How do we make sure everything doesn’t come cascading down in a huge pile on top of someone. My general views on something are usually over engineer something to be safe instead of just engineer it enough.

It sounds like you’ve been heard Richard and now the board need to take things away and have a consult with the membership on options.

I still like the idea that members can at the start of each year select their preference for storage of either a large space, a medium space or no space. If all the selections can be accommodated by the square metre of shelving available, great. If not then there’s a process of either building more shelf like we will need to do anyway when we get more members, or using a fair way to give most people their first options.

Box numbers can be put into 3D printed shelf clips, that way no shelf space is wasted by someone like me only needing a small amount of space but having to take a big space.

I trust the board will consider this as the fairest approach to sharing a limited resource and trust that they will take out feedback away and come back to us later in the week.