[svlug] Argument in Favor of SVLUG continuing as a SIG of sbay.org

Ian Kluft ikluft at thunder.sbay.org
Wed Feb 15 17:07:50 PST 2006


This is also at http://corp.sbay.org/board/svlug-pro-20060215.html

We think you should hear both sides.  See the pro- and con- arguments and
rebuttals at
   http://corp.sbay.org/board/svlug-sbay-20060213.html

Reasons for the Merger

   The initial inspiration for the merger of the organizations was because
   there have historically been and continue to be so many participants in
   common between them. They gravitated together in the late 90's. Ever since
   then, many of the core volunteers of both groups have been the same
   people.

   SVLUG's previous parent organization, the Silicon Valley Computer Society,
   was always at odds with the way SVLUG operates, since SVCS required its
   Special Interest Groups (SIGs) to force participants to join SVCS and pay
   dues. SVLUG never found a way to fit that in. As SVCS began to collapse a
   few years ago, they wouldn't even respond to SVLUG, and then eventually
   disappeared.

   Around the same time, sbay.org recognized that several of its projects
   were going to make it necessary to incorporate in the near future. SVLUG
   members and leaders (most of whom were also sbay.org participants),
   particularly Steve Traugott (then SVLUG's speaker coordinator) and Heather
   Stern (then SVLUG's webmaster) saw an opportunity and helped to co-author
   the By-Laws for the new organization that had been started by Ian Kluft
   (sbay.org founder, and an SVLUG member and former VP), so that it would
   fit the way SVLUG actually operates. By being involved at the ground
   floor, SVLUG tailor-made a new umbrella organization to fit itself. This
   avoids having SVLUG incorporate itself and ruin the informal nature
   everyone likes about the group. Similarly, all of sbay.org's informal
   activities were allowed to continue working as before, such as monthly
   tech-talk gatherings over pizza.

   SVLUG has always been by far the largest SIG wherever it is. In SVCS that
   made SVLUG an 800-lb Gorilla, because there were no SVLUG members among
   the SVCS board or officers. Contrast that to sbay.org, where SVLUG is a
   majority of the participants, which has given it 100% representation on
   the sbay.org Board of Directors, including the officers. Though some
   members of the Board and all the officers have more than one SIG
   affiliation - so no one is shut out either.

Reasons Why It's Still Relevant

   Starting with the original idea, the structure bringing the various geek
   groups in the Valley together encourages each of the SIGs to recruit new
   members for each other. Silicon Valley's technical community is a massive
   web of friendships. All the organizations in sbay.org are likewise a
   social web where people are often in more than one SIG and encouraged to,
   or at least know people who are. That isn't something easily torn apart.
   Trying to do so would cause unnecessary pain all around. (It already has.)

   Another point which comes up from time to time is insurance.
   Hypothetically SVLUG might need it some day. When it does, it will need to
   incorporate or be part of a non-profit corporation. It already is part of
   a non-profit - it wouldn't make any sense to throw that away only to do it
   all over again.

   If participants want to make contributions toward SVLUG, the corporation
   gives a place to keep them. Simple accounting can keep such donations
   earmarked toward the SIG that the donor intended. (Note: as a 501(c)7
   hobby club, though the organization will be exempt from paying taxes once
   the IRS confers this status, donations to a 501(c)7 are not deductible
   from the donor's taxes. You'll hear us make this point repeatedly because
   we have to.)

   The structure of the organization also provides a useful advisory and
   emergency resource. The Board of Directors is elected from among all the
   SIGs, and currently all of them are SVLUG members. When any SIG, including
   SVLUG, has an urgent need or even just an important question, the board
   can draw upon the resources of all the SIGs as necessary to find help or
   an answer.

   --------------------------------------------------------------------------

   If you think it's a good idea to encourage local Open Source and
   electronic communications groups to work together, then say so when the
   poll comes, which will apparently be by a voice vote at the March 1 SVLUG
   meeting. These are some of the coolest geek organizations in Silicon
   Valley. Common participants and common interests are the reasons why they
   gravitated together. Those are still valid reasons today.




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