Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Growing PASS Step One - Communication

My History with PASS

Over the last two years I have become more involved in the SQL Server community through attending local user groups (OPASS), forum participation, blogging, SQLSaturday attendance, and attending my first PASS Summit last fall.  As part of my blogging I've been fairly outspoken about what I think PASS should do and how it should operate.  Here are my editorial blog posts to date:

  1. What Should PASS Strive to Be?
  2. SQLSaturday Acquired by PASS - Reactions
  3. A Swing and a Miss by PASS (this one probably created the most reaction)
  4. PASS Releases Survey Results & Summit Location- Reactions
  5. PASS, Microsoft, and Certification

I had a teacher that used to say, "If you aren't part of the solution, then you are part of the problem."  This post is part of my attempt to be part of the solution.

How Does PASS Communicate?

I know of seven methods PASS uses for communication:

  1. PASS Web Site.  They do a pretty good job at keeping this up to date, but, to be honest, it's not a web site I check regularly (trying to do it more), so I'm not sure a web site is the best means of communication in this day and age.  If an engaged member of the community like myself is not checking it regularly, who is?
  2. PASS Connector Email.  This is a good method of communication, if people read it.  One issue I have with it, is that every article requires a click-through to the web site.  At the very least the Main article should be included in full.
  3. PASS Blog.  I have to be honest, I didn't even know this existed until about a month ago.  This is basically the place where the lead article in the Connector is posted.  The problem with this is that the RSS feed does not work currently.  As I mentioned about the web site, I don't go there every day, but I have my feed reader open every day, so I'd get everything if that feed worked.  This should be a priority. Note: I received an email from PASS while writing this post that a new RSS feed was published, so I’m monitoring it.
  4. Twitter.  Blythe Morrow (@BlytheMorrow) is on twitter and there is a PASS account, @SQLPASS.
  5. PASS LinkedIn Group.  This is fairly active, but it looks like less than half the posts are by PASS HQ staff or Board.  I also don’t see announcements about the availability of board meeting minutes or blog posts.
  6. PASS Facebook Group (or is it a Fan Page?).  I know I joined this, but I don’t recall seeing much happening with it.
  7. PASS monthly Chapter PowerPoint deck.  This is a slide deck sent to chapter leaders monthly that contains A LOT of information, in fact, probably too much, but it is PASS trying to keep us up to date.

So it’s not as though PASS is not trying to communicate, but are they giving us the information we want?  PASS is doing a good job of promoting and producing learning events like the Summit, 24 Hours of PASS, Virtual Chapters, and Articles.  Perhaps this is what most of the membership is looking for, and in that case this is fine, but here are a few things I’m looking for:

  1. What are the goals of PASS for this year? Douglas McDowell has actually done this for the Chapter Portfolio for 2010.
  2. What is being done to accomplish those goals?
  3. What are PASS’s five year goals?  Are there any?

Perhaps this information is out there and I just haven’t found it.  This is what I want to hear about, events, and articles are great, but tell me where you want to take me and then show me the progress we are making.  This is what is going to draw me in and keep me engaged, I have to think I’m not the only one.


  1. PASS has 2 seperate sets of people that they are catering to, people like you and me and other active members of the community who want to know what pass the organization is up to (small %) and the rest of the world that want/expect PASS to produce value(training for SQL Server & a community)

    Im not saying these two things are seperate because they are very much tied together but, I think with limited resources PASS has to make decisions about where to spend its time(& $) and at least for now, its decided that the majority of that limited $ is best spent on things like local chapters, 24hop, sqlsaturday, and the annual summit.

    I think many people in the community at large are simply not that interested in whats going on behind the scenes (perse). Most are only interested in where the next training is going to come from, or where the next meeting is etc.

  2. PASS is a great annual conference that desperately wants people think it is more than that.


    It's not.

  3. Allen,

    I agree that there are 2 groups of people, but don't we want to grow the smaller group? I think sharing the goals/vision could inspire (for lack of a better word) more people to become more involved.

  4. Chuck,

    That's the issue. PASS does want to be more and I think it can be, the issue is how to get from being a conference to being an Association of Professionals.

  5. I'm not sure that we (the SQL community) need PASS to be any more than being a great conference?

    The SQL community already has great resources on twitter, blogs, etc.

    I don't see what need there is that PASS should (let alone can) fulfill?

    If PASS went away user groups would still flourish, blogs would still be published and read, and SQL people could still connect and help each other on twitter.

    The only thing that would be noticed if PASS disappeared would be the absence of an annual conference (one in Seattle and one in Germany or Spain)

    In my opinion, PASS should scale back, spend less money, and with the savings gained by scaling back try to run the most inexpensive conference that it can. THAT would truly be a benefit to the SQL community.

  6. Yes, I think its important. We need to work on both sides of the coin, I think now that the education side of things is starting to pick up some steam, the smaller group of leaders will start to see some love from PASS as well.

  7. Chuck,

    I'd like to see PASS be more. I'd like to see PASS provide guidelines (not regulations) about continuing education, perhaps tied to maintaining a certification. Or a code of conduct/ethics. I'd also like to see PASS be more of an advocate with MS for features that the community would like to see in the product and at what version.

    I think there are a lot of areas where PASS can be more.

  8. Allen,

    I think PASS, through the board, is definitely starting to take steps towards where I'd like to see it go. I think the board has had some good discussions and made some good decisions recently, but they still have some hard decisions to make.

  9. Jack,

    As you hear the same things from PASS year after year, you begin to get jaded. I applaud your optimism. Let's talk in seven years.


  10. Jack,

    Your three questions are very pertinent. We've been discussing all 3 of these. We've done a little work to get these documented but we still have a way to go. Hopefully we'll get some time to address them further at the next Board meeting.



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