Membership Bylaws

SpaceCrafts Group Membership Guidelines

November 16, 2003

 A. Purpose

A.1  The overall purpose of the SpaceCrafts group is to support each others’ journeys towards becoming more skillful, published, “rich and famous” writers of fiction. We therefore set the following guidelines.

B. Membership

B.1  SpaceCrafts has the following categories of membership:

  • Active – People who come to all meetings and critique all stories even when they miss a meeting. (B.2)
  • Sabbatical – Active members who have [3,4] absences in a row, generally planned but possibly inadvertent.[1]  Returning to active membership from sabbatical is an automatic yes. (B.3)
  • Waiting list – People who want to join when we already have a full house, plus sabbatical members who were away more than [3,4] meetings in a row.  Both new and rejoining members are expected to present work at their first session. (B.4)
  • Limbo – Formerly active members who have been away for more than a year. (B.5)

C. Group size

C.1  The SpaceCrafts group maximum size is [10,11,12] active-plus-sabbatical members.  The group can decide to add new members from the waiting list at any time that active-plus-sabbatical membership is less than the maximum, or at any time that the active membership drops to a minimum of [8,9,10].

C.2  If the group drops to [6,7,8,9] active-plus-sabbatical members, we would start outreach recruitment.

D. Criteria for membership

D.1  Goal: Members shall be active writers of science fiction and fantasy (or similar genres, e.g. mystery, horror, suspense). People who want to focus on non-scifi/fantasy genres may be eligible to continue with the group and/or to join the group on an individual basis.  (We want to enjoy reading each others’ work.)

  • Members shall give constructive critiques of each others’ work. (D.2)
  • Critiques are seen as useful, valuable and welcome by the person being critiqued. (D.3)
  • Members shall treat each other with respect and with the intent of being supportive of each others’ lives and work. (D.4)
  • Members shall not take their place in the SpaceCrafts group for granted but continue to earn membership by following the guidelines above. (D.5)

Related criteria for joining, rejoining, and continuing with the group are:

  1. A new or rejoining member shall present one short story or section of a novel (roughly 30-50 pages) at their first meeting. (D.6)
  1. Members shall present a minimum of [3] short stories a year — or [2] sections of a novel — or [1] story plus [1] section of a novel.  Members who do not meet this guideline shall be asked to go on sabbatical and come back when they can meet the minimum criteria. Members who do not return with a story or novel section by the end of the sabbatical period shall move to the waiting list. (D.7)
  1. Moving from the waiting list to active membership requires either a consensus or a vote of the membership that includes both currently active and sabbatical members.  Generally speaking, for new members, the vote would be after the third meeting; for returning members, the vote would be before the meeting at which they propose to return. (D.8)
  1. On an annual “anniversary” basis, all currently active-plus-sabbatical members shall vote on whether they continue to welcome each of the other active-plus-sabbatical members into the group.[2] (D.9)
  1. At any time that a currently active member has an “I can’t stand it” problem with another active member, they can call for a vote on choosing between which of the two will continue to be an active member and which will leave the group.  One hopes that various discussions and attempts to resolve the matter amicably would take place before matters reached this point. (D.10) 

E. Critiques

E.1  Goal:  Members will provide written critiques of each piece submitted and read these comments at the meeting.

  • Critiques will be honest but not brutal. (E.2)
  • Critiques will be specific and give examples when appropriate. (E.3)
  • Critiques will focus on the work, not the author.  (E.4)

F. Voting

F.1  Goal: Ideally, we would reach a consensus through discussion of the various merits and disadvantages of having a person join or rejoin the group. However, this is not always feasible, and may not always be the best approach.  Thus, we must also establish methods and criteria for voting.

  • Membership votes.  Members can vote Yes, No, or Veto.  A veto reflects having an unresolvable “I can’t stand it” problem with a person. (F.2)
  • Conflict resolution.  Members can resolve “Veto” conflicts (where the group must choose between one member and another) by voting for which person they want to stay in the group. All active-plus-sabbatical members are eligible to vote in conflict resolution — except for the two members involved. (F.3)
  • Privacy.  Having some form of “secret ballot” ensures privacy for members while voting and protects members’ self esteem. (F.4)

o   Private voting can be accomplished with pebbles colored white=yes, black=no, red=veto during a meeting, including “proxies” for sabbatical or absent members.  This would be the simplest method. Or we can vote on a password-protected section of a website; members who do not have access to the Internet could vote during a meeting or at a library. (F.5)

  • For a person to become or to continue as an active member, a “yes” result would be [51,60,67,75,80]% rounded up — and zero Vetos. (F.6)
  • Alternatively, for a person to become or continue as an active member, a “yes” result would mean no more than [2,3] “no” votes and zero Vetos. (F.7)

The following chart shows how many votes would be needed for various percentages of “majority vote” and group sizes.

Group size 51% 60% 67% 75% 80%
8 5 5 6 6 7
9 5 6 6 7 8
10 6 6 7 8 8
11 6 7 7 9 9
12 7 8 8 9 10


The advantage of having a high percentage required for membership is that it most closely resembles reaching a consensus. With a low percentage for membership, the group could lose cohesion.

[1]  If you are away this long, you probably have some personal issues or professional demands that you need to resolve before you are ready to become an active member/writer again.

[2] This would be an opportunity to weed out people who, for one reason or another, do not meet the criterion of “supporting each others’ journeys towards becoming better and published fiction writers.”

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