Monday, May 3, 2010

PASS Summit 2010 Content Survey

The Issue

Being involved in PASS and the SQL Server community via blogging and Twitter, I get to see and hear people’s opinions about PASS and community events regularly.  I also take part in the surveys and events that PASS sponsors whenever I can, so when PASS posted the content survey (results can be found here, requires free PASS membership) I made sure I took it.  Since I like to provide my input when I’m not asked, I believe I need to give my input when I am asked for it, so I took the time to complete the survey.  I was really interested by the reaction of people in the community to the survey.  I saw tweets about the survey being too long (52 questions) and of course the regular comments about it being biased once the results were released. 

The Community Response

A couple of community leaders have blogged about the survey already:

  1. Brent Ozar(@BrentO) has an excellent post recapping the results.  Brent also laments the lack of responses (190) which surprises me as well
  2. Steve Jones (@way0utwest) also had a post about PASS surveys and the way the release the results as well.

Each of these posts has a good discussion in the comments that you should read as well. 

The Unofficial Board Response

In response to Brent’s and Steve’s posts a couple of PASS board members responded with posts of their own (not necessarily the official PASS response):

  1. Tom LaRock (@SQLRockstar) brings up the point that you “praise publicly and criticize privately”.  While I don’t totally agree with that point in this case, I do agree with the rest of his post.
  2. Andy Warren (@SQLAndy) responded in his PASS Update #30 post by saying that, in the case, the PASS board “failed by doing more”.  In essence, the board was chastised for NOT releasing the PASS Summit Location survey results, but now IS getting chastised FOR releasing the results of this survey.  I can’t say I disagree with his point.

My Response

I applaud the board for doing the survey and getting the results out quickly.  Sure, I’d like to know how the board plans to use the responses, but I’d rather get the data first and then hear the interpretation, than the reverse. 

I also appreciate the work that went into putting the survey together, which was done by Allen Kinsel (@sqlinsaneo).  It takes a lot of time to craft a survey, maybe it could have been better, but some of us in the community have been asking for transparency and input and now we complain about how we were asked and how long it took to give our feedback?  I don’t get it.  Either we want to be involved in the process or we don’t.  Based on the lack of responses to the survey, I’d say we don’t.  My interpretation of the results is that most people don’t care, just give us a conference in November.  The real problem here is “How do we get more people involved?”

So How Do We Get People Involved?

I talked about this a little in a my post, Growing PASS Step One – Communication, where I ask the board to share their goals and vision for PASS.  I really think this is the key point, if a clear vision is shared, people can be inspired/energized by the vision.  Here are my ideas:

  1. A survey about Summit content should be made available at the Summit and immediately following the Summit.  Hit people when they are excited about PASS.
  2. Get it out to chapter leaders to use at a chapter meetings.  The attendees already show an interest in professional development and it helps advertise the Summit as well.  Many chapters have internet available on site and could provide ways to take the survey during the meeting.  You could even take it on paper at a chapter meeting.  Sure you’d need someone to compile the information, but you’d get a better response.  Let’s face it, the 200 people who responded to this year’s content survey are all people heavily invested in the community already, and you really need responses from those less involved.
  3. SQLSaturday!  PASS owns this brand now, so use it!  Set up a PASS table and get people to take PASS survey’s there.  Take a survey and get entered to win a discount or comp to the Summit, or some other incentive.  In my experience, many SQLSaturday attendees are SQL Server novices who need to know about the Summit, and need to be encouraged to be involved.

I think these same ideas work for the PASS Elections as well.


I think the PASS board is heading the right direction as far as transparency and involvement are concerned, so they should be applauded for the attempt.  Could things be improved?  Sure, but are you willing to be the one who steps up to make the improvements?

1 comment:

  1. You hit several points right on the head, especially the one about the small number of responses most likely coming from those most involved in the community. I know I was one of the 200, and if you were another, there's fully one percent of the respondents!

    I think the best idea, brought up by you and Andy both, is to hit people up at SQL Saturday. I am constantly amazed at the number of attendees to these events who are not otherwise part of the online community. If even 10% of SQL Saturday attendees were polled, I would bet the response count would be many hundreds, not just two.

    My two cents, anyway.
    David Taylor


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