[Talk] AUUG'S Declining Membership

Conrad Parker conrad at vergenet.net
Mon Jul 29 15:47:24 EST 2002

On Wed, Jul 24, 2002 at 02:39:42PM +0930, david.newall at auug.org.au wrote:
> The recent discussion on AUUG and LUGs prompted me to write this:
> How do we reverse declining membership?
>  o Mailing lists should be available to everybody
>  o Conference CFPs sent to all Asia Pacific universities
>  o AUUGN on web, not on paper
>  o Exec to meet electronically
>  o Can we afford a business manager?


I just wanted to chime in on this last point. To make a comparison, outside
of AUUG, I've been involved with SLUG and linux.conf.au, and with AUUG I was
on the board last year and helped with AOSS4 which was earlier this month.
Having a business manager makes all the difference. It means that if you
decide to do an event or chase up sponsorship or whatever, it gets done.

Often in a purely voluntary (eg. LUG) environment, good ideas get passed over
because there simply aren't enough motivated people to go around, especially
to do all the non-technical work that is involved in organising events etc.
LUGs do a lot of good work, but its hard to guarantee consistency or that
you will properly cater for all members -- fun, interesting stuff tends to
get done well but there are always tasks that fall by the wayside.

What we really should be doing is exploiting the fact that we have a business
manager who can help with sponsorship and venues and so forth. To reverse
declining membership, I suggest we need to simply do stuff (and more visibly)
that potential members would want, and having a business manager makes doing
that a far more realistic proposition.

Getting such stuff happening requires nothing more than people who want it
getting off their backsides and making it happen. If someone, or even a LUG,
wants a symposium in their town, its far easier for them to get in touch
with AUUG and and let AUUG take care of the business hassles than to go it
alone. This is the message we should be sending out, and offering to help
LUGs etc. rather than pretending they are some kind of competition.

AUUG has a lot to offer that differentiates us from LUGs, and which would
allow us to cooperate, not compete, with them. Differences include these
three things:

	* a printed quaterly newsletter, with an ISSN and a real live

	* a board that meet regularly (in a non-sterile "IRL" environment)
	and can coordinate things nation-wide

	* a business manager, which provides assurance that business
	stuff gets done, and allows the geeks to concentrate on being

Rather than cutting these things back, let's first make an effort to
actually let people know they exist. AUUG does great stuff and complements
what is offered by LUGs -- we'd all be better off if we cooperate and offer
to share resources. If we cut these things back instead, I reckon we'd very
quickly become irrelevant.


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