What the hell, I'm just a volunteer at PASS, so the pay cut when I get fired isn't going to be too bad.
I think a lot of these are very good suggestions. Andy knows, but anyone who wasn't there doesn't, the volunteers at PASS who attended the conference had a meeting on Tuesday, prior to the conference. We had panel discussions about an internal survey that asked exactly the kinds of questions that Andy has put forward here, and, in the comments, a lot of similar suggestions were made (Although I'm seeing some new ones here). We had a good discussion about it.
I belong to several non-professional organizations, Scouts, Masons, North American Hunters & American Legion. There are several things each of these organizations offer, but for most of them you can boil it down to two things, training & a magazine. That training falls into two categories, free and cost based.
PASS has a magazine, SQL Server Standard. Being a volunteer on the editorial committee (and more than a little bit hungry to expand my own writing career), I know that group is trying to expand both the worth of the magazine to the PASS members, and it's ability to communicate what is going on within PASS. I think some of Andy's suggestions for the PASS web site could also be applied to the mag.
PASS does offer training through the Summit and a couple of other large scale events overseas & here in the US. But, that's only the cost based side of the training. The free part of the training can easily be defined as the Chapters. But, and here I'm speaking as the Program Director of a new local chapter, we're getting little to no recognition or support from PASS. As anyone who has tried knows, starting a user group is difficult. Presumably our association with PASS should hook us in to an existing network of speakers and sponsors and all kinds of great resources. The reality is, some of that is there, but it's difficult to find or hard to get, or it's just no there at all.
I like the suggestion for more communication mechanisms for the Chapters that Andy has suggested. Both to get the word out about the local Chapter and to the Chapter about other stuff going on. I think the idea of a SQL Saturday would be great, but I know that I'd have a heck of a time getting speakers on my own (I need speakers for December, January, February... you get the idea). Some kind of "SQLSaturday in a Box" would be a good idea (see Andy Warren for ideas, I've heard he put one on before).
I like most of the ideas for PASS members, but the PASS certification idea has already been kicked around. It'll be expensive to set up & maintain. More, it'll directly compete with Microsoft certification.
I also agree with the idea of not trying to compete with SSC, Simple-Talk & the others in content. On the other hand, there's got to be a way to get the idea of PASS out to people better than has been done in the past, and a web site with good content is one way. Partnerships might be a good idea and could run both ways, especially since PASS does have a content generator in the SQL Server Standard.
Hopefully, none of what I've said is going to get me kicked out of being a volunteer at PASS (I promise guys, next round of Jager is on me). I think the potential for the organization is really great, but I can't disagree with Andy, we're coming up a bit short.
Thanks for the forum.
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Theodore RooseveltThe Scary DBA
Author of: SQL Server Query Performance Tuning
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Product Evangelist for Red Gate Software