[Nanog-futures] Admission for Committee Members

Steve Gibbard scg at gibbard.org
Fri Sep 30 13:00:35 CDT 2011

On Sep 28, 2011, at 11:39 PM, Joel jaeggli wrote:

> On 9/1/11 15:12 , David Temkin wrote:
>> Randy,
>> How is that "getting paid"?  Receiving services in kind?
>> Don't know if you've ever done Habitat for Humanity, but you get a free
>> lunch, paid for by those who have given cash to support the cause and not
>> labor.
>> To bring it closer to home - we give our presenters a free admission -
>> should we also stop that?
> we should avoid as we did with the question of lifetime members, the
> danger of creating a privileged class of participants.
> presenters are offered a consideration for the sharing of their
> insights. the program committee members are free to submitt material to
> the program (and many do in my experience).

Here's my problem with this line of reasoning:

We've got a serious volunteer shortage.

In our upcoming board election, we have four candidates for four open seats.  As one of those candidates, I'd like to think that this is because everybody really wants to vote for us, but the most I can really hope for is that being on the board sounds like a lot of work and nobody objects to us strongly enough to want to volunteer.

For the Program Committee, which makes NANOG conferences what they are, the shortage is far worse.  We have seven open seats and four candidates.

It seems pretty clear that the incentive structures we have now aren't working.  Those arguing here that they'd be volunteering without any further incentives are not currently volunteering, and neither are very many other people.

There are many likely causes of this.  Partly, I think we have some volunteer fatigue.  There's been a whole lot of work, done by a whole lot of people, over the last couple of years to get the new organization off the ground and to keep the old one running, and a lot of those people would be quite justified in being burned out.  But if NANOG is going to go on, we need to get people to step up and do the work somehow.

So, what do we do?

I'm not convinced that allowing people to do large amounts of work towards putting on the conference in lieu of paying meeting fees would create a "privileged class of participants."  If anything, getting to simply pay meeting fees and show up seems like a relative bargain, and charging people to attend an event they've helped to produce seems tacky.  But, given that a lot of peoples' employers pay their meeting fees anyway, and might value their employees' time more than they'd value the savings on meeting fees, I'm not sure how many new people it would get us.

Ideally, we'll get a flood of volunteers in the next few days, and this issue will become moot.  I started asking around yesterday for a volunteer to replace me as Membership Chair, and within minutes had found somebody bursting with ideas and eager to take on the role.  I'd love to see some people who would show that level of excitement towards the NANOG program.

But if that doesn't happen, I'm looking for ideas.  Are free or discounted conference fees for volunteers the right answer?  Is there some other incentive that would work better?  Are there people we should be reaching out to and trying to recruit who we haven't?

Ideas, please.


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