local UNIX groups

John S. Quarterman jsq at longway.TIC.COM
Wed Aug 24 11:39:37 AEST 1988

As I mentioned previously, I will bring up the issue of local chapters
at the next USENIX Board of Directors meeting, which is in mid-October.

However, it would be useful if there were specific recommendations for
what people want local chapters to be (or whether they want them).
There are two main aspects to consider:
	Benefits and detriments to local groups.
	Benefits and detriments to the USENIX Association.
In addition,
	If there are several groups in an area, which would be the chapter?

Unfortunately, such words as ``chapter'' and ``affiliation'' are vague,
and mean different things to different people.

Things people have said that chapters might want:
	Use of the USENIX name.
	More members because of use of the USENIX name.
	Publication of chapter details in ;login:
	Meeting organization pointers.

Possible advantages to USENIX:
	More members.
	Better communication with technical people.
	Potential sources of experience people for workshops and conferences.
	Local implementation of USENIX projects.

Of the first list, use of the USENIX name is the biggest hurdle for the
Association, I would think.  It implies some sort of control by the
Association over what the local group could use the name for.  How could
this be done?  What form should it take?

Publication of chapter details is already being done:  chapters aren't needed
for that; just send your information to the USENIX office and ask for it
to be published.

Regarding money,
	>They send [ /usr/group ] us money for every person who is a member
	>of the national group,
I find it hard to imagine USENIX doing this.  Grants for specific projects,
on the other hand, are not inconceivable.

Meeting pointers are either easy or difficult, depending on how you look
at it.  USENIX doesn't run the same kind of meetings as local user groups,
so it's not clear that the Association has the right expertise to provide.
But there are some rather useful written pointers for running conferences
and workshops.  There is also a tentative plan to have a short tutorial on
such material at the San Diego USENIX.  There's no need for chapters for this.

As for speakers, it's not usually too difficult to get a USENIX board member
to talk at a local group meeting.  Coordinated plans to delegate speakers to
many local chapters would be a major undertaking, however.

>I can find no reason why you would believe that you would be responsible
>for debts, etc.  From your point of view, there would be no OBLIGATION
> to do anything for the affiliate groups, other than that which you decide
> should be done

Exactly.  Part of the question is:  what should the obligations be?
Affiliation could, for example, take the form of USENIX directly paying
local staff to coordinate local chapters.  It seems likely that this
could entail legal obligations for debts of such groups.  Affiliation
could also take the form of simply publishing information about local
groups.  Apparently there is some desire for something between these
two extremes.  But what, exactly?

>	The tax-exempt status is NOT affected by local groups.

That depends on the nature of the affiliation.  Tax exempt status is
very important to the Association, as many things would be much more
expensive to do if taxes had to be paid.  This has to be considered.

>Perhaps you could contact someone at /usr/group to discuss it?

It is interesting to see what /usr/group has done, but, as is pointed out:

>The technical people NEED a readily recognized gathering location.

This is in reference to a state where a /usr/group chapter exists.
So USENIX is wanted to provide something different from what /usr/group
provides.  There's no reason to believe the methods of provision would
necessarily be identical.

Of the list of potential benefits to USENIX above, the only one mentioned
previously in this newsgroup is more members.  But USENIX does not go to
great lengths to recruit new members, for various reasons that are too
lengthy to go into here (if I even understand them correctly).  The other
items on the list are my speculations, and they are very speculative.

The USENIX Board of Directors has a responsibility to the existing membership.
Protecting the uses to which the name is put is part of that responsibility.
If you want to use that name, you need to convince the board that such use
is to the benefit of the Association, to the local groups, and preferably
to the technical community at large, and that there are no overriding
problems with such use or with other aspects of chapter affiliation.

It's an interesting idea, but I know that I, for one, am not yet convinced.
>From talking to Debbie Scherrer, she doesn't sound convince yet, either.
We're not likely to convince ourselves without assistance from those of
you who want this.

I suggest the following:

Those of you who want local chapters of USENIX, please try to address
these questions and issues and provide a short (page or two) proposal
for the board to discuss.  You can send it by electronic mail to usenix!peter
or peter at usenix.org.  By the first week of October would be fine.

I will ask the USENIX staff to inquire of /usr/group, ACM, and perhaps
IEEE as to why they have chapters, what are the benefits and detriments,
and what is the nature of the affiliation.

Meanwhile, more discussion in this newsgroup would be useful.
I've dropped the former usa Distribution from this article, both
because Canada is just as much a participant in the USENIX Association
as the U.S., and because there might be interest or input from elsewhere.
For example, EUUG deliberately fosters development of organizations in
member countries by holding conferences in them to draw attention and
local participation.  This is not so easy to do with USENIX, because the
size of the conferences makes it necessary to schedule them five years
in advance, and greatly limits the places they can be held.  But workshops
might be useful for this purpose.

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