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SQLAndy

I'm Andy Warren, currently a SQL Server trainer with End to End Training. Over the past few years I've been a developer, DBA, and IT Director. I was one of the original founders of SQLServerCentral.com and helped grow that community from zero to about 300k members before deciding to move on to other ventures.

Petitions on Change.org and Thoughts on Changing PASS

I tried this out – Change.org that is – recently as part of a post about PASS and wanted to post a few comments about the experience.

Setting up a petition was very easy and they do a good job of walking you through the process. The total time is maybe 10 minutes to set up, but that’s not counting the time you spend getting the idea into a clearly written state. They offer ideas on publicizing the petition as well. Each day I received an update on how many people had signed, and on days when no one signed I got a reminder to get out there and push. Toward the end of the first week they sent an email showing how many were referred by email, Twitter, etc.  One feature I really liked is that people can enter a reason why they are signing. I think that’s incredibly valuable to someone looking at it trying to decide if they want to sign, or as someone trying to decide if the signers are – for a lack of a better word – credible.

The default goal is 100 and I left it at that, and I didn’t do more than the one blog post – didn’t take their advice on marketing it intentionally. I said bit my bit, offered a solution and a means of supporting it, and let it go – I wanted change, but was wary of being seen as having an axe to grind, and no reason to push, if it had merit,people would find it. The final count was 47 – not as many as I had hoped,but not a failure either.

I don’t know that it is the best way to drive change in all cases. For the example I tried related to an issue regarding appointments the discussion is complex, and the petition doesn’t do discussions – it’s basically only “agree” votes, you can’t see the dissenters and why they don’t agree. It’s a bit of a tactical choice for someone that wants to drive change. If you can state your case/change clearly and think you can get “enough” signatures I think a petition is smart – easy for people to digest and assess. Otherwise I think a discussion and an up/down vote might make more sense. I think the MS Connect model might be a good one for PASS to adopt – make it easy to submit ideas and let the community decide which ones have merit. It wouldn’t be binding, but it would give the Board a single source for ideas for change and a way to understand the level of interest.

The other part of this that was interesting was thinking about how people perceive the ones who sign. I had someone tell me that it would have been more impactful if there were more non-Texas/non-Sri appearing supporters. I get that point of view, I just think it’s not the only way to look at it, for example:

  • Doesn’t it also count that those people know him AND think enough to support the idea?
  • Most people vote on things that impact them directly or can feel the impact in a personal way – someone in Orlando may look at it and not knowing the people, decide that it’s not something they want to engage in. The sample of supporters will always be skewed in scenarios like this.

Not up to me to say that one point of view is more right on this than another, and to be fair, it would have been more impactful to have a wider sample, more votes, or both. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have value. I don’t envy any leader trying to decide what to make of a petition and which view to adopt.

Finally, as I think about what I want PASS to be, I want to make sure that we the members can drive change and to be candid, that has to be more than just voting on the Board. Something like Connect would be a good start, and I’ll add a tweak – add a rule that any idea that gets more than the number of votes equal to 50% of the max votes cast for the vote getter in the most recent election (or some formula like this) automatically goes on the agenda at the next Board meeting for discussion and a vote. Needs some thought, but it would put all the ideas in one place, would restrict it to members, and would let us see the yes/no votes.

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