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Announcements / Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
« Last Post by Sci on February 13, 2019, 06:08:42 pm »
I'll compile these into this post as they're asked.

What stage are you at so far?

As of February 2019 we have about 90% of a business plan, 50% of a marketing plan, a very good access control system, and about £17k of equipment to contribute to the project.
Announcements / What is Workbench Alpha?
« Last Post by Sci on February 13, 2019, 04:42:41 pm »
What is a makerspace?

Makerspace is a broad term covering many types of multi-purpose communal workshops around the world. They self-define under many different titles, but are all in one way or another a place you can go to make things you otherwise could not on your own due to constraints of space, material, understanding or equipment. They are places for creativity, community, reuse, and self-education.

But what is Workbench Alpha?

In February 2018 I got involved in a long discussion about in what ways the setup of a makerspace could be improved. What were the ideals and end-goals of a space? I'd been a member of the London Hackspace for about 7 years, but its Bethnal Green location had recently closed and begun a move far West to Wembley, meaning it was no longer viable for me to get there. The idea of starting a new community workshop for East London was very appealing.

We came to several conclusions:

One was that most of the day-to-day issues of a makerspace could be resolved (or largely mitigated) by having someone on staff full-time. Someone to sign tools in and out, to check for damage and repair them, to clean up at the end of day, to offer advice, to address conflict and enforce rules of behaviour. It would also provide the option for extra income streams by providing internal sales of material, or cutting services to non-members.

Though it would necessitate having set opening hours, unlike the 24hr access many tend to adopt as they grow, it would still only effect a small proportion of the membership. It would also in turn reduce instances of theft and prevent people using it as a cheap hotel.

Many spaces seem to work only to immediate goals. They begin as a reaction to the need for shared space, they continue growing as a reaction to increased membership. They acquire on demand but rarely plan far ahead. Part of that is because of their volunteer-run nature; it's hard to push a set goal when it can only be done in your spare time. Another part is because there is usually no end-goal for a space as a whole beyond sustaining itself.

Philosophically, a makerspace is somewhere anyone can go to make something. So its end goal should be to become a place where anything can be made (though perhaps not as efficiently as a dedicated factory might). It's as simple as a 5-year plan of facilities to provide. To provide for that widest scope of bespoke, then to start paying it forward.

We noted that makerspaces tend to be started by groups in computing fields, which at present heavily biases the initial demographics toward straight white men, and causes the subsequent membership to self-select on whether feel they'll be comfortable with that group. We also noted there was often very little engagement with local communities, with membership tending to remain within particular creative industries, spreading by word-of-mouth.

If you have the option to change things for the better and do not, then you are supporting things remaining bad.

Getting a diverse and sociable initial membership on board will go a long way engaging with a wider group of people. As will engaging with, or hosting, local community events. And as will having clear and uniformly enforced rules of behaviour.

A lot of these conclusions were supported by a survey I conducted during the same period, the summary of which can be found here: 2018 survey of expectations

I've spent a lot of the intervening time making estimates and costings toward a business plan. Many aspects of a makerspace like this requires a lot of initial investment, but with the multiple income streams having an attendant staff affords it should be achievable with a simple business loan. There are many aspects still to cover however. I need your help and advice to bring this to fruition.

Actually I was just curious about the name.

Why "Workbench Alpha"? It's a working title that stuck. We felt it was suggestive of both an intent to provide the fundamentals of material work first (rather than prioritising computing and gadgets), as well as hinting that it's an attempt at doing it all in a new way, or maybe that it's the first of more to come.
Introductions / Hi!
« Last Post by Sci on February 13, 2019, 04:01:16 pm »
My name's Peter Turpin, but a lot of you will know me as Sci. I'm a jack of all trades with a particular interest in tool-making, space travel, ecology and robotics. I like finding elegant solutions and helping others approach problems in new ways. I'm hoping to make Workbench Alpha my full-time job as a workshop attendant, maintaining tools and helping people with their projects.
Announcements / Forum plugins (WIP)
« Last Post by Administrator on February 12, 2019, 01:23:46 am »
Admin & moderation
Option to hide expired/disabled bans - Ban list viewing extension OK
StickyTopicsOrder - Set the order of stickied topics OK
Unapproved Posts on Moderate Button - Displays number of unapproved posts on moderate link OK
Split and Move - Option to split a topic to a different board OK
Topic Locked Message - Adds message explaining why a topic is locked Missing language file - OK
Who has Read this Topic - See who has read particular topics OK
Word Censor List - Pre-made list for default censor function OK
Advanced Censor - Automatically flags posts with censored content for moderation OK

Post History - Saves original versions of edited posts. Anti gas-lighting measure. OK
Label for banned members - Make it readily apparent when a member has been banned OK
Log Karma Actions - Useful for logging potential karma spam/abuse OK

Akismet Spam Protection - anti-spam OK
Bad Behavior for SMF mod - Additional spam & robot prevention PENDING
Hide SMF Version - Make searching for forum exploits a little more difficult OK

Appearance & usability
Replace Board Title With Image - Lets us use a banner image OK
Unread Messages For Title - Unread post count on titlebar OK
Resize Attached Images - Prevent attached images from being oversize OK
Move Topic Notification - Automatically notify author if topic is moved, and to where. OK
Super Simple Thread Tags - Adds tags to topics for easy categorisation Requires alterations to Core template to work
Caps Lock Detection on Login - Don't forget if you've left your caps lock on OK
Mobile Device Detect - Let mobile users use a dedicated mobile theme OK
SMF Mailing List Mod - Email integration PENDING

Stars and Badges - Similar to above. Alternative option. RC1, manual install - OK
Happy Birthday - Puts a cake in the posts of birthday users OK
Spoiler Tag - Include spoilers safely OK

Need easy topic/post share options

Possible additional mods, with issues
Enhancements to re-attribute posts - Allows posts to be attributed to different members (EG, guest posts to later accounts) Maybe useful in the long run.
Share This Topic - Too limited a selection?
Social Bookmarks - Overwhelming selection. Pare down?
PaypalDonations - Adds a paypal link. Patreon would be better.

Profile gender option has been disabled and an option to fill in your own pronouns or desired titles has been added.
Items wanted / Direct-drive washing machine motors
« Last Post by Sci on September 27, 2018, 05:30:22 pm »
I'm interested in playing with the large diameter pancake motors for a robotic walker.
Off-topic / Test topic
« Last Post by Sci on May 24, 2018, 09:59:11 pm »
Just testing

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