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By Andy Warren,
I'm still amazed at how many people have not heard of PASS, the Professional Association of SQL Server (www.sqlpass.org). They have existed since 1998 and today their membership is perhaps 25,000 (combined paying and free members), a small portion of the available pool of SQL Server devotees as compared to the number of members that SQLServerCentral (SSC) reports. I think that lower membership is caused by a few factors; insufficient marketing, lack of perceived value of membership, and too much focus on the yearly conference at the expense of other objectives. In this article I'm going to present some ideas that I think would address some problems I see and how I think they might be fixed. I hope both current and non members will add their comments to the discussion about what a real first class association might bring to our profession.
Now I think in articles like this is it's fair to acknowledge any bias, so let's start there. First, I've been a member of PASS (www.sqlpass.org) and a speaker at their annual conference since 2000. Along with my business partners, Brian & Steve, we have and continue to provide free web hosting for any PASS chapter that needs it, and we negotiated a relationship that resulted in The SQL Server Standard being first co-branded as PASS/SSC, and following the sale we gave PASS full control of the magazine at no cost. I know most of the board members and quite a few of the volunteers, and over the years have had opportunities to discuss ideas and challenges with them. So in most ways I've very pro-PASS, but that doesn't mean that I'm not one of it's critics as well! I see a lot of things that I think PASS could do better and I've been quietly vocal about pointing those things out behind the scenes.
This isn't meant to criticize the volunteers that make PASS run. They put in a lot of work for zero pay and I appreciate what they do. These are suggestions that I think can make PASS a better organization for all DBAs.
I manage the Orlando Chapter (www.opass.org) as a volunteer, and I know quite a few of the other chapter leaders. All work hard, and I think we share to a degree goals and expectations. Chapters really represent the grass roots of PASS.
Only a couple of these suggsetions require additional funding; the rest I think could be accomplished in 60 days.
This comes down to a big question; what should PASS be? I personally think too much has been made of direct benefits. Twenty years ago joining an association did mean some real discounts on things like travel, but in today's world any discounts are likely no better than what can be found on the internet. That doesn't mean there should be no benefits. PASS is not a charity, if we elect to give them money it's fair to expect some sort of return on that investment. Right now PASS has two classes of members; free and premium, with the primary difference that only premium members can vote. Premium memberships are $150, or $60 for chapter members. What changes do I suggest?
It looks like some good progress has been made with the conversion to Sharepoint for serving up the site, but it's content that matters!
That's my list. Maybe you will agree with some, and probably disagree with some. I hope you'll comment regardless, and even consider sending Steve your own list to be published. A strong professional association can be a huge asset, but it takes work and the willingness to look at what remains to be done rather than what has already been done. I look forward to your comments.
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