An Open Letter to PASS and John Q Martin

, 2018-04-18

Dear Mr. Martin and the PASS Organization,

In the spirit of advocating for change in a public way, I’m writing this letter to ask you to revisit your policies and processes and embrace the transparency that we, members of the PASS organization, deserve with regards to the SQL Saturday events.

I am directing this to you, Mr. Martin, after seeing your tweet, with the hope that you will follow through and not only provide feedback, but conduct a root cause analysis that updates future decisions. I also am hoping these are not merely words, but also the beginning of some action that you take and about which you publicly disclose the results.

A change was recently made to the SQL Saturday site that requires speakers to register for an event before their submissions can be approved. I realized this when a fellow speaker posted a note on Twitter.  While there are potential implications here that are disruptive for event organizers and speakers, those are worthy of a separate debate. In fact, they are worthy of debate.

Today, I examined the PASS blog to look for an announcement. This what I saw.

2018-04-18 08_17_13-PASS Blog _ Community _ PASS - the Professional Association for SQL Server

The last update is from Mr. Fritchey, noting how much PASS wishes to express their affection for SQL Saturday. I appreciate the Board of Directors, most of whom are fellow speakers, may feel that way, but I’m not sure the organization believes this. Again, a separate discussion.

Early on in the life of SQL Saturday, a few people had to make decisions, but those decisions were publicized, with conversations with organizers and speakers. When fundamental changes were made, we announced changes publicly to ensure that others were informed. We setup a board of advisors to help ensure that change was made in a more open way, and to solicit feedback. Andy continued to provide updates later, even as PASS has declined to do so.

That doesn’t seem to have been done any longer. As I scan through the blog, I see no announcements of changes to SQL Saturday. The last posts were from 2016, when the 600 mile radius was announced and then a subsequent post explaining the reasoning.

Once again, almost two years later, PASS lacks transparency and vision. There are no discussions on slack that I find, NDA or otherwise, no emails I’ve received, no list of changes or updates.

What I would request is that you use this as an opportunity to improve governance at PASS. Examine the timeline of when this decision was made, the timeline, and look for opportunities to engage, or at least inform, the membership of PASS of changes. There should be milestones that require

  • an announcement of potential changes, NDA or public
  • a roadmap – is there a public one? Even one without dates.
  • a roadmap update
  • an announcement of an upcoming change
  • an announcement of the change, publicly
  • an update to the FAQ

I appreciate that there may not be funds for future changes, though there are obviously some still in progress. However, this is separate from funding. This is a process and governance issue that should be addressed.

It’s also simple common courtesy.

Sincerely,

Steve Jones

PASS member since 1999

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