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New Member Questions

How do I get my newbie questions answered? NEEDS UPDATE

Refer to the new member "welcome page" that you got when you joined! The new-member form is three pages, only the last of which gets filed. The first two (usually printed on two sides of the same sheet) is yours to keep for reference.

There are also scheduled New Member orientations on the Calendar. Typically they are after the regular member meetings on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month. Most all general questions can be answered at one of those Orientations. Please gather a list of all of your questions and bring them in then. We will be happy to answer all of them in one-fell-swoop :)

What is the Google Group i3 internal page used for?

The internal i3detroit Google Group (aka "mailing list") is used for BROADCASTs to all members. It is for immediate communication with members. However, because of volume, some members don't read it in a timely fashion. Urgent stuff may be posted to -announce, but this is moderated to keep it super-low-volume.

How are Supplies (like garbage bags) purchased/handled?

Supplies are bought by members and donated. That means you. ShoppingList is here.

What if I need to pay for something I used in a Zone but don't have cash for the box?

If you use some community supplies up and don't have the actual cash in your pocket to put in the zone's box, there are a few options:

  1. Write an IOU and put it in the box with your name, contact info, and a date. When you come back to pay take your IOU back or drop another note in with your cash.
  2. Keep a little cash somewhere safe at the space for situations like that
  3. If your Zone coordinator is okay with it, you can also use PayPal to give money via the button on each zone page.

It's a good idea to speak to the Zone coordinators where your using the supplies to get an understanding of what they would prefer. When you use PayPal remember that means you've put it on the Zone Coordinator to get a reimbursement check from the Treasurer and they may have to come out of pocket now to keep the Zone supplies up. Don't just assume that's okay, especially for a significant amount of money.

Ultimately remember that trust is a huge thing in this community -- if you use supplies pay for them, and if you don't have the cash today that's okay... but if you don't pay your debts it's one of your fellow community members who gets stuck with the bill and it's not going to look good for you. As long as you are upfront, transparent, and in communication with the Zone coordinator as necessary there shouldn't be a problem.

What are Consumables and how are they purchased/handled?

Consumables are non-component articles that are used with a piece of equipment that are used up and must be replaced periodically. Such as saw blades, and argon for the welders. As you use the equipment there is a "Consumable Box" aka "Cash Box" for contributions in each appropriate Zone. Please donate as you use the Zone's Consumables. New Zone Consumables will be purchased by the Zone Coordinator with Box Funds.

What are Components and how are they purchased/handled?

Components are materials that will be incorporated into your project, such as resistors, screws, tape, paint, wood, and metal. Small components which are bought in bulk (tape, screws, etc) are bought by the member for a particular project. Excess components (the rest of the tape, the rest of the box of screws, etc.) can be volutarily contributed to the group by storing them in the appropriate zone small components area. If you use signinficant small components, please be considerate and contribute some back, either replenish with like, or toss a few dollars into the zone's Cash Box.

For lumber, there is an upright storage area. In it, the leftmost slot is set aside for members' personal wood (it should be labeled up top), and all items in there should have someone's name written on them and a date. So, don't use the stuff in that slot, but if there's something in there that would save you a trip to the store, feel free to ask the person named on it, and as often as not, you'll find that they abandoned their project idea and are happy to let you use the material.

In all cases, advise the zone coordinator if something's out of stock, or if you have something you'd like to contribute but can't find a place for!

If I want to donate tools, how do I do it?

Look at the Wishlist. Find if your tool is on the wishlist. If yes, contact the Zone Coordinator. If it is a large or unusual piece which might not have been thought of before, ask the appropriate Zone Coordinator. If no Zone Coordinator seems appropriate, such as a Hydraulic Press, ask an Officer or Board Member. If it is appropriate, please fill out a Donation Request Form.

Where is a member directory?

See the CRM.

How do I reserve the Classroom?

Invite the Classroom's calendar to an event in your calendar. It will automatically accept your invitation and your event will show up on the Classroom calendar. The Classroom calendar's address is i3detroit.org_2d34393637303330312d393734@resource.calendar.google.com

Somebody left their briefcase, what do I do?

Post on the members' google group with a picture of it.

How can I pay my dues?

By Paypal (preferred) or Amazon. See Membership Page. Or, for cash or check, fill out a payment slip and envelope and put in the dropbox by the kitchen door.

How are events publicized?

See HOWTO_Host_an_event_at_i3detroit

What does a Zone Coordinator do?

The proposed description is in HOWTO_Be_A_Coordinator

Can a Member attend the Board meeting?

Yes. Please do.

Who can write in the wiki?

You can!

If you're a member, you already have a wiki account; it was created for you during onboarding. Usernames are case-sensitive, so check Special:ListUsers and make sure you're entering it right. If you still can't log in, head over to Wiki to find someone who can help.

If you're not a member but would like to contribute, we'd love to have you! Automatic account creation is disabled for spam reasons, so head over to Wiki and we'll create one for you.

Why is the member wiki a public document?

The wiki is a public site because we are a community educational organization that tries to provide information about technology and our activities to both members and the public. Your reminder that this is publicly visible should be a reminder to everyone that we should not post personal, private information that should be exposed to the public (e.g., e-mail addresses, phone numbers, etc.). Unless you're comfortable with that, which most folks actually are.

What do I do if I break a tool? Do I have to pay for it?

Mark it as broken with date and your name. Email the Coordinator of the zone to which the tool belongs to figure out what to do zone coordinator.

What do I do if I damage, but do not break a tool?

See above.

Does a visitor require an escort? What if someone I don't know rings the bell and asks to wait for a member who isn't here yet?

Every guest must have a member host them. The hosting member is responsible for making sure the guest fills out a waiver if they haven't previously, and for signing the guest log.

If you don't want to be a person's host, find them one or tell them we don't have anyone who has the time to show them around and ask them to come another time (and then turn off the Twitterbot, you grouch).

If they want to wait for a member not yet here, you can let them in if YOU are their escort. Don't leave until they are united with their host.

Who do I see if I need training on a piece of equipment?

Check Equipment training page in the wiki. If it isn't there then email the zone coordinator for that zone.

Pre-Member Questions

Will you build this gizmo for me?

No. We'll help you build it, but we're not a job shop. We're not an engineering firm. We're not a contract house. We're a club. You can be part of the club! You can use the group's tools, and toss ideas around with anyone who'll listen. (And maybe you could strike a side deal with an individual member, but that's beyond the scope of this document.)

What are your hours? I stopped in the other day and nobody answered the door.

We have no paid staff, and thus no regular business hours. Someday that may change, but for now, swing by during scheduled tours Friday nights 6pm to 9pm, or during a scheduled event. Members pay dues and get 24/7 card access.

So I need to be a member to come in?

Guests are welcome any time a member is willing to host you. Once you're on our public mailing list or have come by at scheduled times for a tour you can talk to members about hosting you to work on your own projects. Guests can use the tools.

How do I become a member?

See New Member Orientation.

Can I give you a pile of computer junk?

CRTs, absolutely not. See: [1]

Anything else, check the wishlist.

In general, if you have a pile of it, we probably do too! For interesting stuff (lab stuff, optics stuff), email the zone coordinator you think might be interested, and get their approval before bringing it to the space.

What do I need to do in order to hold a class?

Oh look, there's a page for that!

Is a member storage plot temporary or permanent? If temporary, for how long?

Check the Member_Active_Project_Storage for all the details on storage plots.

How does something get in the Graveyard?

See Standing_Rules under 'abandoned property'. It's not as clear as it should be, please introduce an amendment.

Advice for new makerspaces

Cautionary note

We aren't professionals at this. In a lot of ways, i3 just kind of happened. Sure it was helped along by a healthy heaping of good sense and founding ideals, but nobody sat down and wrote out a ten year game plan. This advice is just the best we have right now, mostly from analyzing things in hindsight. Take it for what it's worth, but don't take it for some kind of gospel.

Also note that every 'space is different. There are spaces with thousands of members and spaces in the single digits, and they are both equally valid ways to be, along with the whole spectrum between. Our experience is just that: ours and ours alone.

Helpful links

Most of these questions, and many more, are answered in other places, often with different takes. Some of our favorites:


How do you pay your staff?

  • We don't. There is no "staff". There are no "owners". The board of directors, the president, the treasurer/secretary/vice president, they're all volunteers, and they all pay their monthly dues same as every other member.

How do you pay your bills?

  • Dues. Right now, it's $59 a month to have a vote in the corporation and free access to the shop. It takes more than money to become a member though; go see https://www.i3detroit.org/membership/ for details.
  • We get a few donations here and there, especially from members who flog their company giving programs, but that's purely extra, used to get cool new stuff for the shop, and never counted on for operating expenses.


What's your super secret origin story?

How many members did you have to start and how fast did you grow?

  • That's a tricksy one. There were maybe 30 or 40 different people that chipped in money before the space ever opened, and about 15 who paid dues the very first time it was a thing. That jumped to 20 by the end of the first month, double that after the first year and have added around 20ish stable members a year since. With churn, we're just now having our 10 year anniversary, and just coming up on the 200 member mark, though it's estimated there have been around a thousand people who have held keys at one point or other.

What tools do you have

How do you advertise for new members?

  • Short answer: we don't. Early on, we put flyers on tables at hobby stores, electronics shops, related events. These days, it's pretty much just word of mouth and random internet searches. We don't do any SEO or spend money on adwords or whatever. Maybe we've just been lucky? Or maybe content created by members and guest more-or-less organically has been helpful. Whatever, we don't really make a concerted effort to attract members.

I still have a question

If you can't find what you're looking for, please add your question to this list:

  • The Proposal page doesnt seem to have all the proposals i see in the Minutes. What is this page for?
  • Do we do a group project for MakerFaire from i3?
  • Are all the rules listed in Standing Rules? If not, where are they?
  • How do I change the Rules?
  • What is the CRM for? Is there a description of its functionality? What data/reports are available to members? What are available to Board only?
  • What is etiquette for cleaning up stuff that isn't yours?
  • What do I do if I see a personal item that I think someone has left?
  • What are the appropriate replies in the Member list?
  • Why do members sometimes post what look to be messages to the membership in the Public List?
  • Are the equipment available to non-members? How?
  • Why isn't the PC graveyard a zone?
  • What should I do if a non-member asks me if they can donate an item?
  • What do I do if I need to have a question answered in between Member meetings?
  • Who empties the Where Do I Go boxes?
  • What is a Manta?
  • Who can write an article for the Web site? How? What is the etiquette?