[Talk] Re: [AUUG-ANNOUNCE]: AUUG moving forward

Greg 'groggy' Lehey Greg.Lehey at auug.org.au
Fri Mar 22 14:30:28 EST 2002

On Thursday, 21 March 2002 at 21:24:09 +1100, Greg Rose wrote:
> At 07:29 PM 3/21/2002 +1100, D A Vincent wrote:
>> Help.
> Yes, indeed, that is the problem in a word. And I'm glad to try.
> It's funny how threads come together... AUUG, national, is having trouble
> moving forward, and at the same time AUUG SA has a quiet mailing list. I
> think these problems are related.

Well, possibly, but not in the manner I suppose you suspect.  The
national mailing list is pretty quiet, too.  The SA Chapter died off
about 10 years ago and was revived only recently.  At the moment, it
appears relatively active, and SA is the only state which is showing
membership growth.

> I'm afraid that the "other services" are now provided by other
> people, lots of them, and the newsletters are of value to an
> increasingly limited audience,

Nevertheless, when asked what people liked most about AUUG, a large
proportion of those who responded said "AUUGN".  That doesn't
necessarily reflect the views of the membership as a whole, though.

> since almost all of the information is available on web pages.

Yes, but where?  Con pulls the stuff together and puts it in a form
that is easy to handle.  How many of us have the time to go looking
for stuff that we know is there?

> But the conferences are still of value, for all three of:
> 1. a venue for speakers to pass on information
> 2. a venue for people of like interests to get together and pass on
> information to each other
> 3. a venue for people who *used* to get together to pass on information, to
> get together again anyway, because they want to have a drink.
> I don't see why you need to be a member of something for any of these.
> Overheads such as web pages to promote the next few conferences, and run
> mailing lists, could easily be donated.

Indeed, they are now.

> The effort to organise the conferences is already mostly donated.

We get a lot of sponsorship for the organization, but you shouldn't
underestimate the amount of work we pay our business manager to do.  I
don't think that the conference would be as successful otherwise.  And
without her efforts, sponsorship would be much less.

> Advertising and management would need to be paid for but should be
> paid for out of the existing pool of money (well, that might be a
> real problem...) which gets replenished by the proceeds of the
> conferences.

Our financial state is relatively healthy.  It just won't stay that
way if membership continues to decline.  Note that conference
attendance is also declining.

> What I think I'm suggesting, without trying to be too serious about
> it, is that AUUG should perhaps go down a route of charging nearly
> $0 for membership, not produce a newsletter, and just run
> conferences and mailing lists open to all and sundry. (There are
> probably legal wrinkles to be worked out regarding incorporation as
> an association, but I'm sure we could find 20 people to pay $1 per
> year for membership, or whatever it takes.)

This is an idea we've played with a lot in the past.  It obviously
makes a big difference on paper: LinuxSA has more members than AUUG.
The question is, what's a "member"?  An entry in a mailing list?  That
doesn't make you an active member.

Another interesting statistic is that AUUGN costs approximately 40% of
what we charge for membership.  These are printing and posting
charges, not the cost of getting the material together.  As I said
above, I greatly appreciate having the AUUGN, but does it have to be
distributed in this form?  If we were to release AUUGN only via the
web and lower the membership fees to, say, $50, would we get more or
less members?

At the last committee meeting we decided to release the entire text of
AUUGN via the web 6 months after publication.  The March and June 2001
editions are now available at http://www.auug.org.au/auugn/.  I'd
appreciate comments.

On Friday, 22 March 2002 at 10:33:33 +1030, David Lloyd wrote:
> Luigi Cantoni wrote:
>> What does have to be remembered is that if there is not the money
>> to pay a staff member then it has to be done by the members and
>> then the entire picture changes. People need to ask themselves
>> could they really spend whole days at a time on organising the
>> conference? Other events? Maybe take a week off work to spend doing
>> things. Once upon a time that appeared to not be a problem but
>> today I would be hard pressed to take that sort of time out. Do not
>> get me wrong this may be the way we go but we have to think hard
>> about it also.
> I'm not sure about the time off, however it would be something that
> I would consider doing during holidays. 

Unfortunately, that's not how conference organization works.  I'm on
the programme committee for this year's conference, and even this far
from the conference, it still takes an hour or two a week for those of
us who aren't paid to do it.  I'll let Liz comment on the amount of
time it takes her.

> a) "organised AUUG-2003" looks good on my CV

You can do that anyway :-)

> b) AUUG benefits by my contribution

Yes, of course, that's why we're all doing what we do.

> On the other hand, having a full-time staff member is very useful
> and, in my opinion, justified. The question is, really, can we
> afford this?

We still can.  But if membership drops further, we're going to be in

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