PASS Is Not The SQL Community

PASS Is Not The SQL Community

Alright, so maybe the title was inflammatory. Let me explain what I mean. This is a thought that has been brewing for a bit. Reading Andy Leonard’s recent post about SQL People and then his post from August (somehow I missed it when it came out even though I regularly read his blog) brought the feelings back and I wrote this up.

What Is The SQL Community?

It is a group of people from different walks of life. Different communities. All with different specializations, all with different interests, desires and passions but united. United by an interest for SQL Server and an interest in keeping in touch with other people aligned by that interest.

Who Leads the SQL Community?

No one person or group. You have Steve Jones and SQL Server Central and its amazing success in bringing great content (blogs and articles), newsletters and helpful forums to people. You have Paul Randal and Jonathan Kehayias spending tons of their own time answering questions and helping people, encouraging others to do so in the process. I think of Brent Ozar and his blog posts full of great info, controversial thoughts and questions with tons of comment feedback. I also think of the people like Brent encouraging others to give back and blog, speak, share. I think of Jorge Segarra with his SQL Universityproject that is lumping a lot of SQL Server professionals into targeted blog posts with one goal in mind – to share knowledge and encourage new people to learn. I think of the various MVPs who don’t do what they do in giving back because they wanted to become or stay MVPs but instead just like sharing. I can rattle off at least 50 names of bloggers I read, have read or know about helping others in the SQL community. I look to the growing number of SQL Server User Groups. I have great interactions with a lot of SQL professionals I still haven’t met in person (Brian Kelley, for example) yet but already feel a bond with. I look back to the tweets where folks have offered positive thoughts, prayers or concern for each other. I think of the 35 “Congratulations!” tweets I just received when I tweeted that I passed Microsoft exam 70-432 and obtained my first MCITP certification. I look at the tweets pouring in congratulating Aaron Nelson on the anniversary of his idea – the #sqlhelp hashtag. That is the SQL Community –  made up of a lot of different towns and neighborhoods within those towns.
I don’t think any of these groups or individuals “lead” the SQL community. I don’t think you can. Which brings me to one group I didn’t mention above –

So Where Does SQL PASS Fit In?

I’ve asked this before a few times and I’ve mentioned that I feel like PASS is struggling to have an identity and mission/direction. I didn’t include them above only because I knew I’d talk about them here. Yes, PASS is definitely a part of the SQL community. I don’t think they lead it, though (no one does). Sometimes, I get the impression that PASS is tilting at trying to be the SQL Community. I also get the feeling sometimes that the organization of PASS doesn’t know what it wants to be in the long run.
Don’t get me wrong. I really enjoy my interactions with PASS but when I stop, and think about what I enjoy about things that have something to do with PASS, I think of (in order):
The Summit – This is great. It is the highlight of my SQL Server self persona year. But when I explore this further I ask why?

Well I enjoy helping out with a few volunteer initiatives like the Birds of a Feather lunch that I’ve helped for the first two years of its life and hope/plan on continuing to help with as long as asked. The sessions are great and the chance to interact with the folks from Microsoft who write SQL is awesome. The Women In Technology luncheon was a good time of listening to a perspective I hadn’t really heard and I learned a lot. That isn’t it though. The main reason? It’s like kids summer camp (I Blogged about that from the Summit this year)- You see all of your friends that you haven’t seen in person in a year. I get to meet folks I’ve been helped by, have helped or interacted with on twitter. I get to meet people I’ve prayed for and ask them how they are doing. I get to have more meaningful conversations over sushi with new or old friends from the SQL community. I get to discuss technical challenges with others who are in my shoes and at my experience level (or, usually and thankfully, well above that level).
Virtual Chapters/Online Training events like #24HOP – These are neat. Good way to learn and an excuse to have some interaction with on twitter which happens organically each time an event happens.
User Groups – As a Chapter Leader of a PASS affiliated User Group, I can’t say enough about local user groups. They are an awesome way to interact and grow with local peers. Relationships are forged and problems are solved with those local resources who care enough about career growth to head out to them.
SQL Saturdays – These are mini conferences. Free for the community and full of PASS Summit quality sessions given by a lot of talented and knowledgeable professionals (well for the most part!) on their own dime and time. Cool!
Misc – There are little things. A BoD member invited me to take an MS exam on Microsoft’s dime in exchange for some honest feedback about the content of it. I get newsletters and surveys sometimes. At the Summit feedback times were organized for some people to provide feedback to Microsoft. PASS Tried to aggregate a bunch of blog posts and articles on their site, they may still be trying to do it but I just don’t check that out much.
I want to pick each one apart here…
Conference/Summit– To me this is where PASS and its volunteers, headquarters staff, etc. excel in. They put on a great time. They listen to feedback on trying to convince Microsoft to make Keynotes more geek friendly, they do great events designed to foster communication and introductions (The Birds of a Feather lunch, Chapter Leaders Lunch, Ask The Experts/Bloggers Area, Welcome Reception, Orientation Committee started by a newer board member (Tom LaRock) this year, etc.). They make a fun event. Sure people whine about this or that and when you get so many people together there will be complaints but they do a great job here. There are other such events though. Having not been to a SQLBits, SQL Connections, TechEd, etc. I can’t speak to them and if they foster the same “get to know people AND learn” atmosphere or not.
A lot of people still don’t go. When I ask at my User Group who is going or has gone to a Summit (even after extolling benefits), I just see 2 or 3 hands out of the 20-50 there. They raise their hand about SQL Saturdays, code camps or online events, though.
Online Events – These are cool. These are available in a few places with things like SQL Lunch, vendor sponsored events (I really think of Quest here with a lot of free training with great content here), MCM Training videos from SQL Skills experts, etc. PASS does a lot of them and they use twitter and e-mail reasonably well to get the word out.
User Groups – My User Group is a PASS affiliated chapter. So? I get a free Live Meeting account and a few other things but not much more benefit. If I were to take a step back and give an honest assessment of where I’d be without PASS at my User Group? I’d be in exactly the same place I am at. The group is a success because of the great sponsor (Alexander Technology Group  – a local recruiter who really understands the value of User Groups and who knows that the best candidates are those at the meetings trying to improve their skill set) and help I have with the group. I haven’t once used the Live Meeting account and haven’t received any benefit from PASS. They could stop sponsoring chapters today and no one would even hear the noise at my User Group.  In fact, I think I do more for PASS by reminding members about events, selling the Summit, etc. to them. (Not complaining because I sincerely believe that is a huge benefit to them, otherwise I wouldn’t sell it)
SQL Saturdays – PASS received this as an already successful concept from Steve, Andy and Brian. I’ve been to some before and after PASS involvement. I was there when the key was passed to PASS from Steve Jones in Charlotte. Is it any different? No. It is still local folks doing a ton of work, reaching out to sponsors themselves and working on the event. In fact, now that I am helping organize a SQL Saturday for Boston in April (Shameless Plug) the only differences I see are PASS can hold our money for us in a bank account that we can request three distributions and we will be getting some help from someone on staff (Thanks, Nancy!) and some IT support (Thanks Wesley!). Otherwise it is still the same event it just has a PASS logo on it now. I wonder, if in the long run, it will become less agile and less locally and community driven being run from a large organization with a board that moves at its speed.
Misc– The MS Exam thing was fun and a good use for what I thought PASS’ original charter was supposed to be (a way for SQL professionals to organize, learn and provide feedback as one organization to Microsoft. Not sure where I got that but from the time I first heard about them 7 or so years ago, that is what I thought of them). The blog syndication/cataloging and articles, though? I don’t know. To me it seems like one more place to have to check. SQL Server Central, SQLServerPedia, SQLBlog.Com, SQL Team, etc. already do this and do it well.

So What Am I Saying?

I don’t know how to form the thought for what I’ve been thinking since even before the nomination gate struck earlier in 2010 but it goes something like this:
PASS does conferences well, they do online events well and maybe they’ll do a good job with regional events (we’ll soon see with SQL Rally and how they do with the SQL Saturday franchise) but what else? What does PASS want to be? Where are they spending time and money to little impact (User Groups? Setting up blog/article sites?) I sometimes get the feeling that the organization has an institutional thought that it is trying to be the SQL Community and I think they need to instead focus on contributing to the community. Finally, what is and what should be their mission statement? Are their founding partners getting what they wanted to get out of PASS?
I don’t know the answers to all of these but I feel that if the answers aren’t figured out and some soul searching isn’t done by PASS, it really will just become only what it does well – Two conferences a year, some online training and maybe some regional events. I don’t even know if that is so bad.

What do you think? Am I off? How so? What else does PASS do? Is there a Community Leader?

p.s.  – Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy helping out where I can with PASS. I really enjoy working with the people at PASSHQ  and enjoy working with members of the BoD.

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40 thoughts on “PASS Is Not The SQL Community”

  1. Well said Mike!

    I’m surprised, and somewhat disappointed, that I agreed with your views on PASS involvement in the local user groups. I’ve heard a lot of the same gripes from other chapter leaders and SQL Saturday organizers. Considering what they spend on the Summit and what a user group actually needs to run, it’s really disheartening that they don’t do more for them.

    • I am not even sure if it is a bad thing that they don’t do more or not to be honest. I get e-mails, there was a conference call, there are slide decks they send that promote PASS but they don’t do much else yet. There are talks of helping with sponsors/speaker bureau’s etc. I don’t know if they need to be doing that. For me, the local MS Developer and IT evangelists are a huge help with books, reaching out to people, etc. GITCA helps as well. Maybe they should just let us affiliate and spend the energy they try and pour into User Groups on other ventures, I’m not sure?

      • You’ve both hit on some key points. We don’t do a huge amount for chapters. We also get criticized for not doing enough for chapter *AND* because we ask chapters to do things. I’m not sure what the right answer here and I’m not sure we’re going to make everyone happy. I think this is just something we’re going to have to work our way through.

    • Rob, if you look through our budget you can see exactly how we spend our money. Should we spend more on chapters? Less on chapters? Should we short-change the Summit experience to spend more on chapters? Should we spend the money differently?

  2. I am a relative newcomer to the bigger picture of PASS and the global SQL community (outside of SSC, etc) but perhaps PASS just needs to do the things it does now, and do them well. The variety of stuff out there is what makes it fun. A virtual meeting, an MCM video, a question on twitter, a great blog post by Paul White on SQLBlog, etc.

    A local attorney’s catch phrase may apply “its all I do and I do it well”. Of course, perhaps by not growing, the perception might be that they are shrinking.

    • Hey Zach – You were one of the people I was ecstatic to get to meet and chat with. We have a lot in common on many fronts. That’s what I was getting at when I asked towards the end if it would be so bad if PASS just became focused on only conferences – Just doing SQL PASS Summit’s really well, Doing regional events really well and some online events. Do they have to be more? I don’t know.

      • It was great to meet you as well. The hard part of getting to go to PASS is now I want to go back every year. I would think a large part of that organizations mission would be tied to that sentence. Hopefully that revenue can be churned back in meaningful ways like they are doing now with localized events, which seem to be successful, MN’s sure was.

      • This is an interesting comment. Years ago we were all but ignored (and even criticized) as “only a conference”. Now we’re starting to branch out and do more. It will be interesting to see the feedback and we try to figure out our place in the vibrant community.

    • WIDBA, I personally think you’ve hit the nail on the head. Keep in mind I’m speaking for just one Board member (me). I really think we need to focus on doing a few things very, very well. We’ve jumped on lots of different activities over the last couple of years. It might be time to slow down and work on execution.

  3. PASS does realize that it needs to do more with supporting the user groups. That’s why it rebooted the Regional Mentor program with two in each region. The Regional Mentor areas are aligned with the Microsoft areas so we’ll hopefully be able to connect with Microsoft to help out the user groups. John Welch and I cover the Mid-Atlantic region as its Regional Mentors.

    Now with that said, most of us are off to a slow start. Part of it is cleaning out the debris and dust from systems and records that haven’t been kept up to date over the years with respect to user group records. And part of it is when the reboot happened, 4Q, which is always a slow time.

    So give us the 1H of 2011 and see how we do. We’re also actively working PASS over to figure out what else we can bring to the table for user groups. After all, many of us have been local chapter leaders or are local chapter leaders, so we know your pain. And we’re working to ease it for all of us.

    • Thanks for comment, Brian.

      User Group thing wasn’t as much a gripe as it was a realization that the User Group is fine even with limited support from PASS. I guess my point was an overall, “What is PASS and what do they want to be when they grow up?” kind of post.

      I look forward to seeing who my Regional Mentor is and hearing what they can do to help, though. In the meantime I get great support from Microsoft and between that and the help of a nearly constant sponsor things are going well.

  4. I’ve had this question as a relatively new member. I joined thinking it was a “professional organization”, wherein I would find some benefit of membership. I was astounded at the time that membership was free. Naive.

    I am looking forward to the day when I can attend the Summit. I join several different chapter meetings via LiveMeeting, and I attend the Virtual Chapters when possible. However, I also attend many presentations virtually that are NOT affiliated with PASS, and my first resource for information is NOT

    If membership were costing me money, I doubt that I would still be a ‘member’, as I’m not sure what I have to gain or lose by being a part of the organization? I am confused as to why ‘membership’ numbers are even measured, as I passed greater requirements to be a ‘member’ of any of my linkedin groups. Perhaps PASS should try to provide some value that others are not (e.g. enhanced interaction with Microsoft?), and then charge for membership to fund the organization, creating another revenue stream from the Summit (and if they feel that this would not be greeted cheerfully by the current membership, then doesn’t that say something?).

    I would like for my membership in PASS to mean something, but I’m not yet seeing that. If I knew what PASS intended to be, as you suggested above, then it would be more meaningful to be a part (or not a part of) the organization.

    • Jon –

      You bring up an excellent point. I still remember when I “joined” PASS early on and listed it on my earlier resumes under “Professional Associations” thinking that it conveyed something to an employer about the resources I had available if necessary, a committment to learning, etc. Now? I really think of them as a great organization that does a great job organzing some great Summits, Live Meetings and has User Group chapters affiliated.

      I agree with you on what do you gain. You pay to go to the Summit. I suppose if the recorded and live streaming events were only open to members it would be worth a fee for sure but what else? From their “about us” web page:

      “The Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) is an independent, not-for-profit association, dedicated to supporting, educating, and promoting the Microsoft SQL Server community. From local user groups and special interest groups (Virtual Chapters) to webcasts and the annual PASS Community Summit – the largest gathering of SQL Server professionals in the world – PASS is dedicated to helping its members Connect, Share, and Learn by:

      Facilitating member networking and exchange of information through our websites, Chapters, annual Summits, regional and local events, and virtual communities
      Working with Microsoft to influence the evolution of SQL Server products and services
      Delivering high quality, up-to-date, technical content, presentations, and other educational material for professional development
      PASS was founded in 1999 by Microsoft and CA and continues to enjoy executive level endorsement from both organizations. As the number one user community for Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft looks to the PASS community for valued feedback, input, and inspiration.”

      I don’t see the Working with Microsoft much. I saw it through giving feedback on the certification exams but not sure how many others helped there, etc. I see the MVPs as doing more with influencing the future of their product through their blogs, tweets and relationships within the community. I’d like to see a vision statement and a plan to realize that come out of PASS in 2011 if they want to be more than the Summit, Live Meetings, SQL Rally, SQL Saturday now, etc. Maybe they only want to be those things and I think that is fine.

      It almost seems like some of the original founding purpose of PASS with MS involvement was from a time where there was no way to easily solicity feedback from SQL Server professionals, when there was no self organization and independent “communities” voicing concern, no connect, etc. I wonder if Microsoft needs an intermediarly like PASS to get that feedback (or if they even use the organization or just simply camp out at the PASS events to get the feedback) anymore.

    • Jon,

      In the past we had a paid membership. There were few if any real benefits associated with it. Everyone who attended the Summit got a free one year membership. It just finally got to complicated to keep explaining and we simplified membership as much as possible. It’s free and all we ask is an email.

      I hope that we bring back a paid membership and make it meaningful for people. I don’t know when that we be or what shape it will take. I know that we need to take our time and do it right. I believe there is a role for membership in a professional organization that means something. But we need to listen to our members and understand their needs.

      I think a paid membership would be greeted positively if carried actual benefits and stature. I don’t expect anyone to pay just to say they’re a member of PASS.


  5. > (e.g. enhanced interaction with Microsoft?),

    I may be talking out of school here, but as I understand it, PASS “enchanced” their relation$hip with Micro$oft a few years ago. Back when you DID have to pay for membership. I’m not entirely convinced it’s been beneficial, and I feel it’s contributed to the current direction and situation with PASS, i.e. less community involvement, more focus on $ummit only.

    There was a great deal of debate about whether PASS is a business or a community organization during the BOD election fiasco. (This year’s I mean. Isn’t it sad that I have to qualify that?) As Andy stated so well in his blogs, PASS doesn’t seem to care about the community anymore.

    • I don’t know much about the relationship with Microsoft.

      I do think PASS is trying to build community, though. I look at some on the board and know fully well that they care deeply about the SQL community and give a lot of personal time to seeing it grow outside of their board involvement. I don’t know if the motive is to provide great content year round or to drive folks to the Summit but either way, folks get great content for free in the meantime.

      I don’t know if it is so much that PASS doesn’t want to foster and extend the community but I question how effective they are. I think they aren’t as effective as the organic (hate using that word but it fits best here) growth that is happening before our eyes on twitter, in local user groups and sites like SQL Server Central or through bloggers doing things together (Freecon/12 days of SQL, T-SQL Tuesday, etc.).

      • Mike,

        Do you want PASS to “foster and extend the community”? I think that’s an interesting question. We need to make sure we aren’t competing with other groups out there. I very much don’t want to step on toes. But we also need to be involved enough to be relevant. I’m not sure where that line is yet.

        Organic groups will ALWAYS be faster than we are. We just need to find a way to help them grow.

        • Great Question, Bill – Fostering and Extending is great and I do welcome that. I also agree with the balance you describe of not stepping on toes and maintaining relevance. Great goal.

          I also agree that the organic groups will be faster. It is a nature of how they are (one person with an idea – I think of #sqlhelp with Aaron Nelson for example). Larger organizations with budgets, employees and a BoD and quarterly meetings/etc. are, by definition, a bit slower. I’m okay with that as well.

    • Rob,

      I’m not sure what you mean by your first sentence. Scare quotes and a few dollar signs thrown in seem to imply that PASS somehow sold out. Are you implying some backroom deal?

      Microsoft is the largest sponsor of PASS. I think given that we focus on their product that’s fitting. If you look through our financials you can see the various ways we take in sponsorship money. The majority of their money gets spent at the Summit in the form of a really large booth and the party they threw at GameWorks. They also pay for most of their employees that attend (except for speakers). In additional they spend a huge amount on their participation that doesn’t go through PASS. They have focus groups, MVP events, their actual booth and travel expenses just to name a few.

      Back when we had paid membership nobody actually paid for it. They all got it free as part of their Summit attendance. I’m guessing we had under 100 people that paid for their membership outside of Summit. Cutting that didn’t affect he financials in any way. It didn’t cause us to focus less on the community and more on Summit. I’d argue that we focus MUCH more on community now than we did three years ago. We have three times as many chapters, many more virtual chapters, multiple virtual events and many local events.

      In terms of being a business or a community that’s an interesting situation. PASS as it exists today needs to be enough of a business to make the Summit profitable. The profits from the Summit are what pay for SQL Saturday, 24 Hours of PASS, virtual chapters and the benefits we ARE able to give to chapters. If we don’t function like a business none of those other things happen. Given that restriction we try to be as much of a community as possible.

      I guess I’m not sure what you mean by PASS doesn’t care about the community. What are we doing that makes you think that?


  6. Nice post Mike. I can’t disagree with anything you said in it. I do think that PASS is working on providing more support to chapters, I just don’t think they communicate what they are doing well enough.

    I agree that PASS needs a clear vision statement and to go along with it some clear goals. I’ve blogged about that on my blog several times. In my conversations with board members, especially, and mostly Andy, I think that PASS is trying to do too much instead of focusing resources on one or two new things or offerings until those are completed and in a maintenance mode.

    You may have hit the key point is that PASS really needs to be part of the community and not try to BE the community.

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  10. From a chapter leader standpoint, even though I am not one anyone, I personally wouldn’t want PASS “taking over” or involved too much as I like the flexibility I had as a chapter leader to do what I wanted to. If an organization becomes too involved, you tend to have to follow more “rules”. Almost how I feel that now that SQL Saturdays are under the PASS umbrella, rules have been added. Whether good or bad, just preferred making my own decisions based on what I knew climate of my then region (Pensacola) was. And yes you are right, if PASS shut its doors prior to my leaving, nothing would have changed with respect to what was being brought to that community via our user group.

    I think that one, no PASS should not be THE SQL community, too many other avenues and benefits and support from other orgs out there. But I also don’t believe that is really what PASS is trying to do anyway. I do agree there is too much focus on the summit, and should be more support at the chapter/sql saturday level. But the statement that you posted above (what PASS is) isn’t really too far off of what they have been providing, IMO (outside of the MS side of things, that is being worked on heavily again now, so that will hopefully become more of a benefit).

    Being someone who is self sufficient, and not into the politics of it all, I feel that really the expectations of some on what PASS is or isn’t doing really just has become nothing more than “noise” to me.

    • Hey Karla –

      Thanks for the comment. I agree that too much involvement could actually be more negative than positive. I don’t know what PASS wants to do for the chapters, etc. but I like having autonomy and freedom to be a chapter leader in the way that works for me.

      I don’t know if PASS is trying to BE the community or not but I just see it that way sometimes. They did the blog aggregation thing. They did the articles thing. I think I’ve even heard talk of adding forums before. All things that are pushing and stretching into directions already well done.

      I also don’t even know if there is “too much” focus on the Summit or not. They do a great job at it and it shows they focus on it. I just get the feeling that PASS and those running it want PASS to be more than the provider of a couple conferences and now the host/owner of SQL Saturday and that it would be a bad thing if they were just a Summit and these other events. Well my question is really the same as I’ve asked on a couple blog posts from folks during BoD fiascos of the past couple years, etc – “What does PASS want to be? What does it hope to be?” I really would love to see the Board work on a project of suspending all non-essential business at the start of 2011 and work on figuring out what the vision and mission of PASS is. Then start working towards that. Instead it seems (from the outside) to be a Conference organization with scattered ideas that have a 50% (or worse) success ratio.

      I agree they are doing what they say in the about us page with the exception of the MS side of things (but again, I question – in 2010/2011 with twitter, a huge blogging community, MS Connect, MVPs bringing critical feedback – DAC Packs anyone???, does Microsoft really need a PASS organization to help bring that feedback to them? I just don’t get the impression that PASS is bringing it to them… If they are then there is a marketing and communication problem.)

      I agree the politics is annoying and sometimes noise. I also know from an offline comment to me that you don’t mean this post but let me say that I mean no politics by this post – I don’t ever plan on running for the board. I don’t have any ponies in the race. I just worry that an organization that I have enjoyed interacting with seems to be losing its focus and impact. i don’t even know if that is a bad thing as long as the one thing I get the most benefit from (The Annual Summit) continues. If that continued and nothing else did, I’d be alright and receive all of my community from those methods I described in the post. I’d get and give online training and knowledge through blogs, webinars, etc.

      So I guess that is the point of my post and long, rambling comments – To most people if PASS went away in every single venture they are in but kept the Summit – would anyone notice or be affected in the long run? I think the answer from most people would be “no, I won’t be affected.” Then the next question to the board at pass is – Is that okay? If not, why? What do you expect to be the important features of the organization? Now put that into a new vision statement/mission statement and work towards it.

  11. Mike, those are some good thoughts and I don’t have all the answers. I wrote about some of that in my post a while back (, though I wish I had thought to include something about the pride portion, the pride in being a member. More than that though, I guess I’m not sure what you (we) think the answer should be. If PASS was what you wanted it to be, would SQL Community = PASS? Can you define what it should be, at least to you?

    I hear thoughts like yours a lot (and think many of them myself!), a sense that PASS isn’t doing what we want, but do we know what we want? What would be a win? Key for any venture to understand that, and I think much harder for us than say the ABA or AMA which has some licensing authority. As a community we value our independence, the various community sites, and I for one don’t see PASS as any type of umbrella, just trying to fill a niche in the ecosystem.

    Please don’t take my comments as a negative, I’m glad you took the time to think on this a lot and then write about it.

    • Hey Andy –

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, sir. I value your thoughts and perspective here a lot. Some responses and I will look at that post you linked as well. The caveat to this comment (and should have been for my whole post… I’m not saying my opinion matters here or that I am the one to consult for PASS’ direction. I am just posting observations and thoughts I’ve had and will do that below)

      1.) I don’t know what PASS should be either. I want it to continue being the conference for sure. It does 24 HOP well. It does the Virtual Chapters and their online events reasonably well also. They do a good job with the #passwit organization. I don’t know what else (If anything?) they should be doing? I don’t even know how SQL Saturday will look in the long run (but see answer to 3) and what their impact to Chapters should be when we have Microsoft, GITCA, etc.

      2.) I don’t think SQL Community will ever = PASS. PASS should always be in the set of SQL Community but never will be (nor should they be) the sole member of that set.

      3.) I wrestle with what I want PASS to be. I think we should be doing more in the way of Microsoft feedback aggregation. I think SQL Saturday makes sense and if done right it will work out well and I’d like to see them become an avenue for Microsoft to do roadshow events for SQL11 when ready, for example. I don’t want it to try licensure/certifications – Microsfot is doing much better there and with MCM we are fine. I don’t even think articles need to come from their web properties. I’d like to see a vision statement and mission statement decided on and even voted on in stages by the membership with open feedback items.

      4.) No negativity read by your comments. I think I know you well enough to know that the negativity would be directed in e-mail in private 🙂

  12. First, let me be crystal clear that I am speaking for myself and not PASS. I am just one Board member in a very diverse group. Personally I do not want PASS to be the community. I don’t want us to ever even think that we are the community. I would like us to be a community. I would like us to be part of the community.

    There are many amazing, vibrant groups and individuals that make up our community. I just want PASS to play a positive role in helping people connect and educate each other.

  13. Mike,

    Great post. Many of the your points and the comments of others echo my thoughts. I taught SQL Server classes exclusively since 2002 and didn’t know PASS existed until I started full time contracting in 2008. I found out about PASS because of my local user group which I was finally able to plug into (although finding it wasn’t easy — because I didn’t know about PASS). So, I am very new to the organization.

    Being a new chapter leader — I agree that PASS doesn’t do much but to a large extent that hasn’t mattered because the one thing they did do was give me the list of other leaders and that was all the help I needed. The community has come thru and given me many answers! (Pam Shaw, Brian Kelley and Brett Tomson rock!)

    Your post got me to the PASS website and where I poked around. Couple of interesting observations:

    1. There are no highlevel key events past 2008. (Was looking for what they had done.)

    2. Couldn’t find a list of committees anywhere. Read through some minutes mentioning various committees such as a Global Action Committee, an Election Review Committee, an Election Oversight Committee (of just board members)… That’s all I found going back 6 months…

    3. There are no goals. I would think one of them for 2011 would be international focus, but only because I sat in on the meet the Board of Members session at PASS. How does PASS drive anywhere without goals? And if they do exist why are they not on the front page so we know? Some goals were buried in the Aug 2010 minutes but they were 5 year goals, I didn’t see them beyond the minutes anywhere. I didn’t see the ever important SMART goals — Specific Measurable Attainable Results-oriented and Time-specific.

    I guess my comments all come down to lack of communication — of the committees, of goals, of accomplishments, of news (last news release was May 2010).

  14. One important difference (IMO) is that organizations like the American Bar Association, American Medical Association, etc. do not try to be a community (or I don’t perceive them to be). A community has sprung up around PASS because it provides a vehicle in the Summit that brings most of us together in one place at one time. Because it’s a volunteer organization it takes on more of the community aspects than events such as Tech Ed, Connections, etc. (Notice that I don’t include SQLBits here, because I haven’t been to one of those yet. I’ve heard great things about it, though.)

    I think PASS is doing a much better job providing services such as the Virtual Chapters than it’s ever done before. It’s moving out of “PASS = Summit”, and that’s a good thing. Will it ever BE the community? No. It should stay on the course it’s on, though, in trying to provide more learning opportunities to more people, and let the community come to PASS.

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