Recently Tony Davis posted some thoughts (almost a rant) about his opinions of PASS, and there is a great follow up comment by Karla of the Pensacola SQL Group that I think shows a positive side, and a really terrific blog post linking to it by Grant Fritchey. I encourage you to read all three.
To me, I thought Tony was on the mark in some places, off in others. I'm mildly tolerant of the minor snafus that happen before/at events, and from my perspective being at the PASS Summit the past eight years have seen very few problems. It's a great event, and I recommend it to all that can afford to go. But I've long argued that PASS needs to be more than a once a year conference and they've struggled at that. The .Net guys really hit a home run with their Code Camps and that's what prompted me to start SQLSaturday early last year. Local community events reach people that just won't get the training otherwise, and they are a lot of work (no sugar coating that).
Just about a year ago I posted Suggestions for PASS, my list of ideas that I thought would move the organization forward in a positive way. Since then we've seen some change including the new web site and changing to allow memberships to be free. So maybe we're making headway, but as I sit back today and think about what I wrote then, the biggest single thing I think needs fixing is the issue of transparency - there isn't any. Why not tell us a new web site being built, give us status updates? Why not talk about the reasoning that led to free memberships instead of paid? Why not post that a member of the board of directors had to exit his term early and the need for a replacement? I don't suspect them of any evil doing, but government in the sunshine is a good thing - even for PASS.
I find a lot of people think that if you criticize something, you're the enemy. I'd like to think I'm not the enemy, surely Grant isn't and I know Karla isn't, and while I don't know Tony well, I know him enough to know that he's saying something that he believes and thinks needs to be said. So, just like last year, I encourage PASS to read those posts, revisit my list of suggestions, and start doing the doable. Improving things (a kinder and more accurate word than fixing) can be done a step at a time, and engage with the members that do it.
For me, I feel like I've done what I can do to make my case and there's no sense in repeating it much more at the risk of just annoying everyone. I'll continue to work on learning how to do SQLSaturday type events and sharing that knowledge as I can - and as I've said before, I'd like nothing better than to build the infrastructure and the knowledge base to the point that we could give it to PASS as an already running setup that they could take over and improve as needed. A large dream and one that some days seems unreachable, but on other days seems both doable and a dream worthy of having.
For those reading and thinking about the issues, this is just like participating in goverment. You decide how much involvement, whether you want to take time to make your opinions known (publicly or privately to PASS), and whether you even see value in a professional organization like PASS.