Venue location

Paul Richards paul at originative.co.uk
Thu Jul 13 12:46:53 BST 2000


jimsinn007 wrote:
> 
> There are many people in this group who are neither funded
> students or waged.
> They are still members of this group, as such they should
> not be steam rollered in to missing meetings..
> Lets hold on to our horses for a few moments and think about
> this ............
>
> INPUT IS NEEDED FROM ALL MEMBERS OF THIS GROUP NOT JUST A
> FEW WHO CAN AFFORD TO ATTEND MEETINGS.
> IS THAT NOT THE PHILOSOPHY BEHIND FREEBSD AFTER ALL
> PERHAPS I HAVE UNDERSTOOD INCORECTLY THE REASON I FOLLOW
> THIS LIST.

I'm well aware of the financial situation that many people are in around
the country as I hope I made clear in my previous email. Certainly for
me personally, it is very important that we do not fall into the trap of
assuming that all FreeBSD users are as well off as those who work in the
SE.
 
> Meetings need to be attended by the masses not just the
> lucky few, I do not have the answer to the problem of
> location and mass attendance as such but I do know without
> such a king pin to revolve around this group will need to
> change ....... what came first the group or the meeting?

I'm not clear what point it is you are trying to make, are you concerned
that a lot of our focus is on organising meetings at the moment?

The UKUG can be many things to many people. As a mailing list we provide
a focal point for the discussion of FreeBSD in the UK. The list is also
read by most of the UK developers so it provides a valuable resource for
getting free help from those who know the system best. I think that is
one very valid service it provides to the FreeBSD community that is of
benefit to all users, regardless of their financial situation.

As a user group though, there are other things that we can also do that
may not be as accessible to all members as we would like. It is an
unfortunate fact of life that hiring venues costs money and travelling
and accomodation costs can be expensive. However, these meetings play an
important role in developing the use of FreeBSD in the UK, they both
provide training and an opportunity to get to know other FreeBSD users.
We are also attempting to grow FreeBSD so that it is accepted as a
viable commercial solution for UK businesses. To some extent there is
therefore a need to organise more commercially oriented events, such as
trade shows.

These conferences are not intended to replace the low cost social events
that we have seen up until now or to in any way change the nature of the
UKUG from what it is currently. I would actively encourage people to
continue to organise events such as the recent one in Newcastle but
there is also a place for the more formal event where technical sessions
are included. The latter requires some financial outlay because it is
not the sort of event that can be held in the local pub on a Saturday
night.

Although I contract now I spent many, many years earning virtually no
money and attending conferences was totally beyond my means so I
appreciate the position that many UKUG members will be in. We made every
effort for the Oxford meeting to ensure that it was accessible to all. I
had a full house of people staying and there were offers from others as
well to provide free accomodation. There was also the offer to fund the
cost of travelling to anyone who required it. I realise that for many
people it does not feel right to be subsidised in that way but it is a
difficult situation and making the offer was the only solution we had.

In the future I hope that sponsorship will help to cover the cost of
organising the event so that the only cost to people attending is travel
and accomodation. That might not be practical but it is what I will aim
to do. It is possible that we can provide financial assistance again in
the future for travelling to the event and I'm sure, as was the case in
Oxford, local users will be willing to provide free accomodation.

As a group we are all here to help each other out and my experience is
that extends to helping people attend events as much as it does to
helping them with FreeBSD problems. I think it would be wrong to stop
trying to hold such events though when they can provide a great deal of
benefit to the community as a whole, whether everyone can attend them or
not. A great many people can attend such events and I don't think that
organising a conference type event is a bad thing or one that goes
against the sense of community that is the FreeBSD UKUG.

What we need to ensure is that the UKUG continues to provide a service
to all its members. That doesn't necessarily mean that all members will
always be able to benefit from all services, but it does mean that the
services that we offer should be balanced so that all members benefit
equally from the UKUG as a whole and that we not become focussed only on
things of benefit to those that can afford them. At the moment it may
appear that we are spending a lot of time talking about expensive
conferences but that is just the issue of the moment and I do not
believe it reflects a fundamental change in direction of the focus of
the UKUG.


Paul.




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