[plug] PLUG News round-up (long)

Bret Busby bret.busby at gmail.com
Mon May 16 19:21:58 WST 2011

On 16/05/2011, James Bromberger <james at rcpt.to> wrote:
> On 16/05/2011 3:31 PM, home at oranges.id.au wrote:
>> On 14 May 2011 14:25, Haydon Knight <nodyah at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> You say that only 44/370 members have coughed up the $10 annual fee.
>>> That's
>>> 12%.  Have you considered an alternative way to doubling revenue would,
>>> rather than doubling the annual fee, be to increase the number of members
>>> coughing up to 88/370 (24% - still a very small percentage)?
>> Agreed. I don't mind a $20 fee in the least, but charging more people
>> a $10 fee is better (:
> We have tried to balance this choice between head count growth and fee
> increase for some time, but in retrospect, the lack of any increase for
> close to 15 years made the $10 look even more ridiculous.  I've played
> with the RBA Inflation calculator on their site, and $10 from around '93
> would be $15.76 today. Think of the $20 as round of the inflation to the
> nearest $10! ;) Working the other way, the $10 from today is only worth
> about $6 back in 1993.
> PLUG is desperate to double membership - indeed, since January we
> (almost) have! Great news! We only had around 26 financial members just
> before the AGM.
> Note that most IT/Tech organisations/bodies charge far, far more (by
> orders of magnitude) per year. SAGE-Au: $110/year. ACS: $320.  So does
> one get $20 worth of value out of PLUG? Do you read or contribute to
> messages that help you in your job/study/hobby/enjoyment? Do you come to
> meetings and hear interesting content?

And, the IEEE costs even more again.

But, what is the point of the comparison?

I question the validity of a comparison with the ACS.

I am not a great fan of the ACS (that does not mean that I have a low
opinion of the ACS - I am just not a great fan of the ACS), but
membership of the ACS is a completely different thing to membership of
a software users group.

Membership of the ACS requires professional tertiary level
qualifications, and, is usually a prerequisite for many IT jobs ("Must
be a member of the ACS, or eligible for membership of the ACS").

I do not know enough about SAGE, other than that I understand that
that is a professional organisation (for professional Systems
Administrators), but I believe that a comparison with SAGE, is
similarly, not appropriate.

If you are going to make comparisons with professional organisations,
then, I understand that, here in Perth, a professional organisation
for Linux people, was designed to be created, some years ago, named

That is a more appropriate organisation to relate to SAGE and the ACS,
than to relate PLUG to SAGE and the ACS.

> We've also considered the reaction of some people NOT renewing
> membership from this change; versus the difference PLUG will be able to
> make with it. As I stated at the May meeting, our annual membership
> incoming equates to around $30 per month. We've been investigating using
> community halls if we had to - they are around $50/month for an evening
> of 2+ hours for non-profit groups - not that we're planning on doing
> this, but right now a plan like this is not a sustainable fall back
> should we not find locations to host PLUG events for free.

Some non-profit organisations have a membership fee, and, a separate
event attendance (you can name it whatever you want) fee, which
includes such components as hall rental and coffee/tea/biscuits.

If you are planning on having a facility rental component, perhaps,
that should be done as a "We shall cross that bridge when we come to
it" scenario, rather than trying to scare people out of joining, on
the basis of elimination of free facilities.

Also, what of the prospect, if probable elimination of free (of fees)
facilities for meetings is looming, of using the UCC?

I remember a time when PLUG used to have free monthly
meetings/seminars (hosted at SEA Bentley, when that existed, and. at
Perth Technical College, when that existed), AND free monthly
workshops at the UCC.

I do not remember why the free monthly workshops at the UCC, ended.

> PLUG's operational expenses as an incorporated organisation continue to
> be small, but they are index/inflation linked and do increase over time.
>>> Perhaps one way might be to have an easily-accessible 'donate' or 'pay
>>> dues'
>>> page on the plug website that takes members to paypal or somewhere where
>>> they can pay their money in an single-step/easy/internety way.  Right now
>>> it
>>> is actually a multi-step non-automated hassle to pay the membership fee -
>>> perhaps it is this hassle that is preventing greater numbers coughing up.
>> I'm lazy. I don't happen to visit the PLUG website. I don't expect I
>> will any time soon. I read my email regularly. If I receive an
>> automated message every year saying "click her to pay your dues" or
>> "here's the details to send money", I'll probably do it. I'm glad
>> there's some action on tidying up the process.
> We are (/Harry is/) looking at hacking Mailman to add a footer to
> mailing list messages to advertise if the sender is a /current/ PLUG
> member. It won't change/reject/requeue email messages, but it could add
> some visbility. We're also looking at getting a quick-and-dirty way for
> people to see their current status (and expiry date).

That may be quick, but it is definitely dirty.

That sounds like a name and shame system - "This person is not a
financial member of PLUG, so their problems do not matter".

That is one way to get people to leave the PLUG list, if not PLUG.

> We do have/did
> have scripts that would email you automatically, but they broken, and
> were in the process of being fixed up when "we" (I) ran into some
> postgress issues (upgrade) last week - hope to have this functioning
> again shortly. If anyone else here has experience with working with
> Mailman internals, please contact me/Harry and offer some help!
>> I've said a variant of this a few times over the years. I think I last
>> paid my dues in 2007 or so, maybe 2005. I'm really not fussed, but if
>> you want my cash, prompt me with info I can use (:
> Indeed, I think we're agreed that the mailing list is the main point of
> contact, so we're looking at what works with that! :)
> I think the main point to express is: PLUG is trying to do more; PLUG
> needs your support. PLUG will do what you want. Please get involved;
> ideas,  time organise events, activities, projects, or as often,
> contribute on the mailing list; this is our /local/ community, and the
> committee, the active members who are helping run things, and I are
> trying very hard to bring you interesting and "fun" Linux and Open
> Source related events (fun by a techies interpretation, probably not my
> wife's interpretation!).
> Jason N (deputy treasurer) is also looking at PayPal - so far it looks
> like 74 cents of a $20 transaction would be taken in Paypal's fees (but
> that is likely to go up over time as everything does). So clearly a
> direct deposit (or cash at a meeting) is still preferable, but we can
> add additional ways to contribute. It may be some time until this is
> available as their set up for Non-profit orgs can be cumbersome.
> Thanks Greg, Haydon and everyone else for your feedback; keep it coming.
>   James
> --
> /Mobile:/ +61 422 166 708, /Email:/ james_AT_rcpt.to
> PLUG President 2011: http//www.plug.org.au
> Perth.pm Organiser 2011: http://perth.pm.org

For many years, now, PLUG has existed, and has had its financial
members, and the PLUG mailing list has existed as a community service,
to help and encourage people with Linux (or, at least, that is my
understanding of the purpose of the list).

To take action such as stigmatising people by branding them members or
non-members of PLUG, would, I believe, be counter-productive to
"spreading the word".

>From what I understand, in "christian evangelism", there is one
method, that says "God loves you all, join us and share the love", and
there are those religious people that say "If you do not belong tou
our church, then you are completely evil, and have no chance of
redemption, and will burn in heel. Join our church to save your

I believe that to brand people's messages on the mailing list, with
"this person is not a member of PLUG, is like the second option, or,
similarly, the order that all jews wear a yellow star. I believe it
will not endear people to Linux, or, to the Linux community.

Whilst people who have some experience with Linux, can join, without
any fee, and, without any implied demand for a fee, dedicated
distribution mailing lists, such as the Ubuntu, or the Debian, etc,
mailing lists, some issues are cross-distribution (?), or, maybe, not
quite so simple, as, for example, a query that I recently posted,
regarding the Debian version that runs on the FreeBSD kernel.

Therefore, a Linux users mailing list that is a cross-distribution (?)
list, that makes people feel welcome, and does not carry an impled
demand for fees, is, I believe, more in the interests of Linux and the
Linux community, than a list that carries an impled demand for fees,
and, that includes s stigma, like the yellow star that jews were
required to wear, for list members who are not financial members of

>From memory, my wife and I were both financial members of PLUG, some
years ago, and then PLUG was looking at changing, to use membership
cards and family memberships and so on, and we were waiting for
clarification on all of that, which was not forthcoming, and then the
meetings at centralised locations finished, and the UCC workshops
finished, and, with all of the changes and the lack of clarity, it
seemed no longer applicable to us.

Whilst Claremont may be only however many kilometres past UCC
(although, from memory, UCC at that time, was only for workshops, and
not the monthly meetings/seminars), and, however many more kilometres
further than the Perth Technical College, or however many more
kilometres further than Technology Park in Bentley, a line is
sometimes drawn, when the distance to travel, is too great.

So, the issues are many and complex, and simply branding, or,
threatening to brand, any poster to the mailing list with a "This
person is not a financial member of PLUG" stigma, would, I believe, be
highly counter-productive, and, not conducive to the image of "Linux,
the operating system that is free, and for which you can get free

Bret Busby
West Australia

"So once you do know what the question actually is,
 you'll know what the answer means."
- Deep Thought,
 Chapter 28 of Book 1 of
 "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:
 A Trilogy In Four Parts",
 written by Douglas Adams,
 published by Pan Books, 1992


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