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HackerspaceSG Rules

These are the house rules.1

They’ve been drafted to set expectations and guide civil behaviour. In order to be flexible we’ve left as much as possible as a guide, and very little as hard rules. They’ve largely been accumulated over several plenums and list discussions and the guiding principles have generally been:

  1. Prevent behaviour that threatens the survival of the space
  2. Avoid putting the legal entity’s officers in a bad position
  3. Protect the privileges each member is paying for
  4. Ensure member accountability

Where possible we’ve put some rationalisation in the notes but whether you agree or not, the rules remain. If you’d like a change please raise it at plenum.

tl;dr

(summary here but no excuse for not reading the details)

  1. Access - No PIN or access card sharing.
  2. Guests - Must be welcomed, become your responsibility. Not to be left alone in the space.
  3. Dues - O$P$ or member tio kantong no pang chance.
  4. Consumables & Cash Donations - Tip jar for drinks, help resupply printers. Toilet paper FOC.
  5. Donated Items & Shared Property - Everything is shared, treat all items with respect.
  6. Cleanliness - Clean up after yourself and others; you may be billed for damage.
  7. Hosting Events - Add to calendar. No exclusive events. Hosting member must be present.
  8. Vouching - Vouch only for people you’d welcome in your own home.
  9. Use of the space - No sleep-overs. Respect others. Address use has restrictions.
  10. Outside - Public space, residential neighbourhood. Please be considerate.

See also the hackerspace wiki at http://hackerspacesg.pbworks.com/, which has plenum minutes and rationale for many of these rules. Before challenging any of the policies please do a quick search of the [email protected] archive to see if the matter has been discussed before.

1. Access

Access (not to be confused with membership) is unique to an individual. No sharing of PINs or access cards, not even for temporary convenience. If your PIN has been compromised or card lost, please inform the member in charge to be assigned new security credentials.

We take this seriously for two reasons: Membership is only valuable when the associated privileges are protected by members. Furthermore, Hackerspace strives to maintain a casual, safe yet open environment. The only way this works is if you know the person sitting next to you is either a member or a responsible member’s guest.

If you’re part of a membership tier that allows multiple individual access (such as meet-up group host), please ensure that access is transferred to the next person in a responsible and accountable manner.

2. Guests

You’re welcome to bring guests. In fact, you’re obliged to open the door for anyone (within your comfort level) who wants to visit, and host them until it becomes inconvenient. Guests are the responsibility of whoever opens the door for them, and secondarily the responsibility of the person who invited them. If you invite someone to visit and are unable to be present, please make arrangements for him/her to be received as a courtesy to members in the space so they are not unnecessarily interrupted.

If you need to leave please ask politely for the guest to leave or find someone else to be their host. Guests may not be left alone in the space at any time. You may have signed an indemnity form when you became a member; the guest almost certainly hasn’t.

You’re not obliged to interrupt your work to entertain guests. You may just introduce yourself, tell them you’re busy, to make themselves at home and let you know before they leave. Before you leave, check that they haven’t unpacked their toiletries and prepared to settle down for the night at the back of the zone. Yes, this has happened before. If they have nowhere to go, [email protected] (a hostel) is just down the road.

If someone for whom you opened the door turns out to be a nuisance, feel free to ask them to leave, or find another member willing to be their host. Because you’re the responsible member, we trust your judgement on who to welcome.

3. Membership dues

Membership fees are due on the 1st of every month. The advance month payment is non-refundable, and will be consumed as your last month’s payment. Once this is consumed, you may be denied member privileges (such as self-access and event hosting.) You will need to return to a member in good standing by paying any outstanding dues, as well as the advance month if consumed. In the meantime you may still access the space as a guest.

4. Consumables & Cash Donations

The drinks, cleaning and food-related consumables in the space are replenished using donated funds. Hackerspace requests a donation for drinks - donation guidelines are pasted on the donation cup. We do not have a Food Shop Licence and so are unable to sell food and drinks.

If you’re hosting a paid event, a donation is also requested - see the section on hosting events for a guide.

Some items such as printers may be maintained by their owners rather than the space. You should contribute in kind for the use of these items, such as buying ink/toner or paper for printers.

5. Donated Items & Shared Property

Donated items become property of the space and may be used or discarded without consultation with the donating party. You may request that you are given the right of first refusal when an item is to be disposed of, but you have to be there to collect. If you were the donating party you may be prioritised ahead of others who have made similar requests; regardless this is just a request and may not be honoured (typically due to forgetfulness rather than by intention.) You may also request return of a donated item, but this is similarly treated as a request and may not be honoured (again typically due to inability, such as when the item has already been disposed of or is in regular use.)

Items purchased for or donated to the space are for the use of all members and their guests. No item may be exclusively claimed for the use of an individual member.

Anything personal property left in the space may be used by members or their guests. The only exception is where items are locked in personal lockers available for rent by members. If you leave anything around, be prepared to find that it is not in the same place or has been (mis)used or tested by other members. This does not excuse them from liability in case of damage (nor excuse invasion of privacy), but if you do not want anyone touching your stuff please do not leave it in the space. Note that your items may be handled even if you have your own dedicated space, as the area may need to be reconfigured temporarily due to an event.

Unless it has been donated (in which case the owner is the space), the owner of an item retains priority privileges, including the right to take it back. If you’ve left your keyboard at the space, expect that it may be borrowed, and if you’ve borrowed someone else’s keyboard please return it when requested, even if you are then left with no HID.

You should not habitually leave items in the space unless you have paid for (or are in a member tier with) the privilege. Items are regularly discarded during cleaning; personal items are not exempt unless they are marked with the name of a member who has paid for the privilege of keeping items at the space (like a dedicated desk), or are in a designated off-limits area (such as a personal locker.)

All food and drinks left in the fridge become shared property, unless they are marked with an owner’s name. Being marked with an owner’s name does not exempt the item from being cleared out or consumed by someone else (although considerate behaviour expected of members minimises chances of the latter occurring.)

Please treat all property with respect.

6. Cleanliness

All members are responsible for the cleanliness of their immediate space as well as the overall cleanliness of the premises. This mean no food/drink in the work areas (due to insects and the possibility of spillage that may cause damage), no food-waste in the space, taking the trash out once it’s full, rinsing glasses, loading the dishwasher and immediate and proper cleanup of any spillage.

6.1 Damage

In case of major damage or spillage which cannot be cleaned up without professionals, please notify the member in charge to request special attention at the next scheduled cleaning, or that a professional be called in. Spills and accidents may be unavoidable, but lack of attention in repair or clean-up is irresponsible. We realise that wear and tear occurs, and you will not be made to pay for accidental damage if you’ve made a best effort to immediately rectify the situation.

6.2 Toilet

Please use the toilet as if it were your own (and living without a helper.) Do leave the toilet seat dry, and if you make a mess (or need to clean yourself) please flush the toilet and surrounding area with clean water (and then dry the seat.) You wouldn’t want your guests to see a blood, urine or stool sample when they visit your toilet; please don’t leave one for the next user. A small bin is in the toilet for bio-waste - please do not drench it in water when cleaning or showering, and if it needs to be cleaned please do so or discreetly seek help from someone who is willing to do so.

6.3 Food

Food should be consumed discreetly; food with strong smells should be consumed outside or in the pantry area. Unconsumed food should be disposed of immediately (in the bins outside the space) or properly preserved in an airtight container. Please be mindful of other occupants in the space, some of whom may have special dietary considerations for medical or religious reasons and others just may not be used to the smell of durian or blue cheese.

6.4 Trash

There is an obligation to separate your trash (times have changed) for recycling, and bins are provided for this purpose. Do not contaminate the recycling bins with unseparated trash, and please dispose of food waste outside of the space. Bins must be lined with plastic liners/bags before being used - there are leftover shopping bags available for the environmentally conscious and purpose-made trash bags for when they’ve run out.

Trash must be taken out every day, no trash is to be left overnight.

6.5 Dishes

Please load your empty dishes, glasses and utensils into the dishwasher immediately after use. If there’s food stuck on it please rinse it first. Should you find the dishwasher full you may want to load a dishwashing tablet into it and start it running: instructions are on the front of the dishwasher. Regardless, whatever cannot fit into the dishwasher must be rinsed before being left on top of the dishwasher for the next load. This will prevent insects from snacking on leftovers in between dishwashing loads.

7. Hosting Events

Members are allowed to host free or paying events. The recommended amount for donations to the space for a paid event is 20% of the collection, but this is just a guide. Events should not be hosted during office hours out of consideration for members working in the space.

7.1 Event policies

Exclusive events denying member access are not allowed (though they may be separately arranged as a paid space booking via [email protected]) You may not deny any member access to the space, and you should ensure there is sufficient space for members’ use outside of your event area so as to minimise member interference with your event.

The rate for private events is $100/hr as of 28-11-2009, and subject to approval.

7.2 Scheduling an event

Event bookings must follow the current events policy and booking procedure, which includes the above rules but has further procedural details and specifics on the type of events that may be hosted.

7.3 Preparing for an event

As the host you are responsible for all aspects of the event, as well as the preparation and cleanup of the space afterwards. You should arrive early to greet your guests or make arrangements to do so such that other members in the space are not inconvenienced.

Guide here: http://hackerspacesg.pbworks.com/w/page/44367892/Arranging-Events

7.4 Event guests

Guests at the event are treated as your guests, and are required to follow the usual house rules and donation guidelines for drinks in our fridge.

All guests must be shown out and the place cleaned before the host may leave.

7.5 Leaving half-way

If the host is unable to stay till the end of the event, another member may be appointed as a replacement host with mutual agreement. The replacement host must be introduced and made known to the guests, and thereafter becomes the sole responsible person for the event and associated responsibilities (like cleaning up.)

Do not volunteer to host unless you’re able to fulfil all duties - nothing pisses people off more than coming in the next day to clean up the mess of a party that they weren’t invited to.

8. Vouching

Existing members should vouch for new members when they feel comfortable. A new member requires two existing members to vouch for them. This is a privilege all members should not take lightly, as vouching for a member who turns out to be unsuitable for the space may result in both the unsuitable member as well as the vouching member(s) to be terminated or denied membership renewal. It has happened before.

8.1 Un-vouching

As a general rule you should not vouch for anyone you would not welcome into your home. If you later feel uncomfortable about someone you have vouched for, please speak to the person in charge of memberships, who will listen to your concerns in confidence.

8.2 No-vouching

Certain long-time, founding or influential members of the community may be prohibited from vouching for members. This is to prevent them from being put in a difficult position. Such members may request to be put on or taken off this list at plenum.

9. Use of the space

You should treat the space like your home (one with no parents, kids NOR HELPER). Except for certain restrictions that enable the space to be a home away from home for all members (such as living there), the guiding principle is “Would I like to come home to this?”

9.1 Address

Members may use the physical address to receive personal mail and deliveries, other than identity documents as specified on the ICA’s website. No person is permitted to register the address as a residential or guest location, not even for transient stays (such as on a tourist immigration card.) We do not have the necessary licences and exemptions to operate guest accommodation.

Use of HackerspaceSG's address to receive identity documents or as a residential address is grounds for immediate termination (such use may make HackerspaceSG liable for harbouring immigration offenders or expose us to harassment from illegal activities.) We will also notify the ICA, police and sender of the identity document.

It is a responsibility of members in the space to open the door to receive mail and packages, and put all mail received in the incoming mail tray. However no member is responsible for any particular piece of mail, and may refuse to sign for a registered delivery (but must accept the unsigned delivery attempt form and put it in the mail tray.)

You may use the address to register a business, so long as your membership remains current and the tier allows for this. This may involve an extra charge ($10/month as of this writing.) As there is no permanent staff stationed at the space, there is no guarantee that your mail (personal or business) will be received, nor that your packages will be collected.

Note that you must have no expectation of mail privacy other than as a courtesy from fellow occupants. Members should not open each other’s personal mail (particularly if it’s marked private or confidential), but may do so with good reason. Guests are not permitted to use the space to receive any sort of mail, nor to collect or open mail on any member’s behalf.

Uncollected and unsolicited mail will be destroyed. Lapsed members are considered guests, and their mail will be destroyed along with all other unsolicited mail. If you intend to let your membership lapse, please use the 1 month notice period paid for in advance to arrange diversion or a change of address.

9.2 Staying over

Members and their guests are prohibited from habitually sleeping overnight at the space. This is grounds for termination of membership, as it is in violation of URA zoning regulations being a commercial (and not residential) zoned property, without the necessary guest house license.

This doesn’t mean you can’t fall asleep at your keyboard (or on the sofa) halfway through a midnight coding session - but if you do, please be considerate of fellow occupants in the space, and ensure that the environment is work-conducive during the daylight hours as others may be working, hosting guests or meetings.

9.3 Shoes, Hygiene & Dress code

There is no policy for shoes at the space, which means you may wear any shoes you like (or not) and there is no requirement for covered shoes nor that shoes be removed in the space. However you should be mindful of tracking in dirt on work boots or other professional footwear. You should also be mindful of personal hygiene, which means that you should keep your footwear on if your feet tend to smell, and even if they don’t please don’t clip your toenails in public or put your feet up on the tables.

The toilet behind is equipped with a shower, which you should feel free to use if you’ve spent the whole night coding in the same underwear. Similarly if you’ve just come into the air-conditioned space after physical exercise, please make use of the shower.

There is also no general dress code and while nudity is not prohibited you are encouraged to wear underwear and keep your legs together. Flip-flops and shorts are tolerated but please ensure personal hygiene. You should also be mindful of fellow occupants’ and neighbourhood sensitivities.

9.4 Energy, Infrastructure & Appliances

Please switch off appliances that are not in use, especially the air-conditioner. The last person out must also switch off the lights, draw down and lock the external shutters. If the space is temporarily unoccupied due to everyone going out for lunch/dinner, it is acceptable to leave the shutters up and lights on, but the air-conditioner should be switched off.

You are free to use the aircon, power, water, internet connection and toilet at the space. If any of them stop working, please request for help if you’re not professionally trained or otherwise confident of fixing the situation. Lots of people depend on these facilities every day, and we don’t want it to get worse just to save a few $. Similarly if an item is marked as faulty please do not attempt to fix or switch it on. It could cause lots of problems, like leaking water to the downstairs neighbour and causing a lawsuit (also happened before.)

9.5 Pets

No animals. Pet rocks are OK. Fish too, but only in areas where water damage would not be a problem (like the pantry and lab.) Please do not bring dogs to the area, not even to be left outside. Rats and other pests should be terminated immediately, not adopted as pets.

10. Outside

The space downstairs and outside does not belong to Hackerspace nor the landlord. Mutual consideration, neighbourliness and courtesy is the policy we’ve adopted for managing the external common areas.

10.1 Smoking

You may smoke outside, subject to the laws on smoking (and cigarette-butt disposal.) You should also be mindful of the neighbours, and remember that few businesses want smokers congregating outside their front door.

There may be laws requiring you to be a certain distance from the doors, or away from specific areas. These may take you out of the sheltered area, and you smoke outside at your own risk. Lung cancer is a slow killer, but getting knocked down by a car sucks too. Please be aware that the smoke may carry in to the space, and that if it rains it’s terribly inconsiderate and likely illegal to be smoking at the entrance leaving passers-by to choose between getting wet and stepping into a cloud of smoke.

You should also note that the outside area may be occupied by other smokers. This does not make it a legal smoking area, and you participate at your own risk. Just as you don’t want to be chased away from every shop front when you light up, we try not to care too much when other people use space we don’t own and have no control over.

10.2 Alcohol

There are no alcohol restrictions in the general area. By all means have a beer outside, but please don’t drink yourself rowdy and leave beer cans on top of the trash bin (put them inside.)

Another reason to be considerate is that our neighbours are rather friendly, some of whom offer us discounts and others that have lent us furniture and cutlery. We like to treat them with respect, as we would wish to be treated too.

10.3 Other use of the space

If you’d just like to put out some chairs and enjoy the sunset outside, you shouldn’t feel shy so long as you don’t do it in front of a shop (at least not when it’s open.)

If you’d like to host a buffet that needs setup space outside, please ensure the downstairs shops are closed or OK with it. If it’s during office hours, you’ll probably have to make sure they’re OK with your event anyway. You may also need some special permit to use the public walkway for events, but we’ve never bothered. Just don’t assert a right to the outside space when challenged and you should be fine.

11 That’s it.

I left it at 10.3 intending to come back with a proper closure but 10 years later it’s still an abrupt end.


  1. Some of these rules were originally drafted by Alvin J. in July 2012.