SPUG: Re: Happy Birthday to SPUG!

Tim Maher/CONSULTIX tim at consultix-inc.com
Mon Mar 19 01:47:53 CST 2001

On Fri, May 18, 2001 at 09:28:17PM -0700, Richard Anderson wrote:

>At the risk of starting a flame war, I would like to differ with
>Tim's statement that "this is our group".  Actually, Tim has veto
>power over all SPUG decisions, as he controls the web site and
>mailing list. 

It's true, I do exercise "Supreme Control" over these things, but
I try to exercise that in a *benevolent* manner.  For example, I
have always sought opinions from the membership (the SPUG-list
subscribers) on important decisions.  You may recall that, for
example, we have had email-voting for different prospective meeting
locations in the past, which dictated the final outcome.  On the
other hand, I've never asked for anybody's opinion about whether or
not I should book Damian Conway as a speaker.  I wouldn't see any 
point in polling the membership or having a special Board Meeting
to decide such a thing - that's a decision I can make on my own, 
on the basis of what I think is best for the group.

>Tim has exercised his veto power in the past. (I
>have transgressed his rules twice now and been flamed by him for
>doing so - details available upon request).  I'm not saying that

I'm sorry if you felt "flamed"; my recollection was more along the
lines of a mild rebuke, along with a statement of policy.  I'm acutely
aware of the personality conflict between us; perhaps that's affecting
your recollections.

>this is a bad thing, as no one is more qualified than Tim in terms
>of time, expertise and motivation to lead the group.   However,

Thanks for throwing me a crumb 8-}

>if Tim wants others to begin putting significant amounts of effort
>into running the group, I think he should consider sharing some
>of the executive authority.  Methods for doing this might include

I'm not aware of any current shortcomings in the group that could
be alleviated by adding additional decision-makers and layers of
bureaucracy, or any significant new benefits that such changes
might allow.  My overall impression is that most members are
perfectly content with things the way they are, and that the
last thing on their minds is finding ways to slow down decision
making and increase administrivia.  But if I'm misreading the feeling
out there, please speak up and let us know!

>bylaws (which would legitimize our nebulous tax-exempt status),
>electing a board of directors, etc., etc.   This may not be
>appropriate for the free-wheeling nature of a Perl users group.

I'm proud to say that I'm not a lawyer, but AFAIK, there's
absolutely *nothing* nebulous about our tax-exempt status; IMHO,
it couldn't be more secure.  

Although we've never had a Board of Directors, the major decisions
have always been reached through deliberations with core members.
Back in '98, these included (the late) Marty Cudmore, Matthew Bustad,
Andy Sweger, Greg Heil, Sandy Morton, and others.  This past
December, a more current core-group of members assembled for a
"Steering Committee" meeting, in which we reviewed the past year
and talked about goals for the future.  (One outgrowth of that
meeting was the decision to focus more on beginning-level topics
in a percentage of future meetings.)

>I recall that the group that originally set up the  www.perl.org
>web site fell apart after too much bickering on process.  Perhaps
>SPUG could adopt the model of the group that spawned it three years
>ago: the Seattle Unix Users Group: a board of directors that meets

	** Huh?  What history books have you been reading? **

The Seattle UNIX Users Group had *ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO* with
the formation of SPUG!  I did get lots of ideas about "alternative
ways of doing things" by attending its meetings and serving on its
Board of Directors, and some early SPUGsters were also affiliated
with SLUG, but as I've related previously, I got the SPUG idea on
top of a volcano in SE Asia (no kidding!) and started the group
on my return to Seattle.  It is *entirely misleading* to say
that SLUG "spawned" SPUG, and, if you'll pardon me for saying
so, such a view unfairly diminishes my initial contribution.
(Now, Richard, I suppose you'll accuse me of flaming you again,
but I'm just setting the record straight on a factual matter; this
job doesn't pay much 8-}, so I hope you'll excuse me for insisting
on at least getting the credit for starting the group!  Sheesh!)

>once a month or quarterly at a time and place separated from the
>general meeting.  This would keep the general meeting focused on
>teaching / learning Perl, which is what the organization is all
>about, yet create a forum where those (like myself) with beefs
>can air them without disrupting the general meeting.

> Richard Anderson, Ph.D.          www.unixscripts.com
> Perl / Java / Oracle / Unix       Richard.Anderson at raycosoft.com
> Raycosoft, LLC                        Seattle, WA, USA

I'm all for the provision of "beefing venues", and the solicitation
of constructive criticism and frequent feedback.  However, as
this exchange clearly shows, the list seems to be doing a pretty
good job of providing these services!

I think you're proposing solutions that don't have corresponding
problems.  E.g., what significant benefits can we hope to obtain
by electing officers and holding more meetings?  Okay, at least
one person (you) might feel a greater feeling of ownership in the
group, but would the ensuing benefits be worth the costs of such
a change in structure?  I wonder.

What do the rest of you members think?


|  Tim Maher, Ph.D.           Tel: (206) 781-UNIX        |
|  SPUG Founder & Leader      Email: spug at halcyon.com    |
|  Seattle Perl Users Group   HTTP: www.halcyon.com/spug |

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