Why I’m Disappointed in the PASS Election Process


A little time has passed since we found out PASS didn’t allow Steve Jones (Blog@Way0utwest) on the ballot for the Board of Directors election, and I’ve heard a lot from friends of mine on both sides.  There’s a lot of passionate disagreement when somebody who’s done all this can’t make the cut:

  • Steve Jones helped build SQLSaturday as a regional event, something PASS had failed at repeatedly
  • He runs SQLServerCentral, the biggest SQL Server community online (blows the doors off SQLPass.org in more ways than I can count)
  • He’s led the way by blogging and recording webcasts several times a week for years

Steve leads by example, full stop.  It seems incomprehensible that a man this community-oriented can’t make the PASS Ballot, but let’s take a step back.  Let’s pretend this wasn’t a community election at all, but a database outage.  Let’s put this discussion in a different light, an imaginary conversation between a database administrator and the boss:

Boss: “I just got a call from the users.  They’re screaming because one of their favorite databases is down.”

DBA: “Yes, but five other databases are up.”

Boss: “What?!?”

DBA: “They’re great databases, and I think you’ll find they’re – ”

Boss: “So?  The one they want is down.  What’s the story?  Is it corrupt?”

DBA: “No.”

Boss: “Well, what happened?  Was it some kind of accident?”

DBA: “We followed a process.  Here’s a copy of it.”

Boss: “Where’d you get this?”

DBA: “From the board over there.  It’s been posted for a long time.  You could have said something before we followed it.”

Boss: “What?  And you just followed it word for word?  Didn’t you stop to check it or ask for help from others in the community?”

DBA: “The team got together and discussed it quite a bit privately, but we couldn’t change the process.”

Boss: “You couldn’t change something?  You?  Last week a vendor tried to get you to install software using the SA account, and you flat out told them no, even though it was a part of their written process.  Why did you follow this one?”

DBA: “I can’t tell you that due to security and privacy reasons, but let’s just say that database wasn’t the right fit for us.  We really believe that database should not have been part of the organization.”

Boss: “Wait – didn’t we have a problem around this time last year when you followed a process?”

DBA: “Yes, but let’s focus on all the improvements I’ve made.  And I’m here voluntarily, you know.”

See how ridiculous this sounds?

If wanting Steve Jones to bring transparent communications to PASS is wrong, I don’t want to be right.  I’m trying to see both sides, but I just don’t get it.  I have personally asked Steve repeatedly to run for the Board because he has a solid track record of doing things that PASS needs to do – not just talking about them, but doing them.  I went so far as to tell a Board member, “If you don’t believe in Steve’s ability to lead the community, it’s not Steve’s problem – it’s yours.”  I really wanted PASS to learn and grow with Steve’s help.  I am so bummed out that PASS chose not to let Steve on the ballot, and I care a lot about this issue.  The only way to express my passion is with a 1980s music video:

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79 Comments. Leave new

  • It seems like there is a serious lack of cojones to change the status quo, doesn’t it?

  • Brent,
    Classic. I love the database outage scenario…I am in tears because I am laughing so hard.


  • At first I snickered at the idea of explaining this by comparison to a DBA and database story, but wow, does that ever work.

    I really appreciate PASS, and my favorite feature of the organization so far is SQL Saturday. My entry into the SQL Server community was SQL Server Central. What do they have in common? Steve Jones.

  • To a large degree, I think this sums up my feelings on this whole… process. Thanks for posting it.

  • I don’t know if I like the DBA analogy or not yet. I mean it was enjoyable to read 🙂 I see your point through it and can’t think of a substitute analogy so it works.

    I think PASS could make a fix really easily here and show the community they are listening and have the ability to adapt and overcome problems like this… Just add Steve to the Ballot. Heck add Jack back to if they were worried about slighting Jack (though I know Jack would be fine seeing Steve back on the ballot even if he weren’t)…

    Yes, work on fixing the process and seek input (My vote is still for “Nominating Committee makes sure the candidates are qualified for the minimum requirements expected, interview the candidates for public display and that is it…” They simply weed out those that should not have applied because they don’t meet the basic minimum standards. The rest go to us, the PASS membership that actually vote, and we select the candidates… It isn’t complex. It actually makes the “NomCom” have an easier job in many ways…. It makes an open process where we have real competition… Perhaps even a runoff could happen.. Maybe that brings more people to vote if there are a more diverse group of candidates..

    For now?? Just put Steve on the Balllot, durnit! (Sorry, Andy Lenoard… I didn’t ask for permission before using it 😉 )

    • Mike,
      Totally agree with your read of things. Although I think getting Steve on the ballot this year is probably not going to happen. However, I think that everyone keeping the pressure on PASS to change it’s ways is definitely making an impact.
      I just pray that next year turns out better than this year….otherwise there will be a lot more of Andy’s durnits! flying around…


  • PASS just missed a huge opportunity to make it globally.
    I’m in Argentina and Steve’s work influences me (I want something like SQL Saturdays here!).

  • Pablo,
    Now THAT’s the talk I like to here. SQL Saturday Argentina would be an absolute blast! You need to hit up Andy Warren or Steve…I am sure that they would gladly offer up some advice to you.


  • Brent, did you look at the situation from the business point of view? PASS is a business, they need to pay their bills. Sure this decision has disappointed quite a few people. Surely at least some of us will remember that when we choose whether to attend PASS or to spend our money in some other way. But maybe this decision is actually good for PASS as a business, profitable for it for some reason?

  • Ed Leighton-Dick
    August 30, 2010 4:52 pm

    From what I’ve seen on this issue, most of the disagreement seems to stem from one requirement set by PASS: a certain amount of experience within PASS itself. For the most part, I agree with that. We must have people leading PASS that have been involved in the community. If we start getting a lot of outside “experts” on the board that do not understand our community, PASS will lose its energy and will begin to look like other tech user groups I’ve seen that have passionless members. I think the problem is that there was no way provided for someone like Steve who has a great deal of experience in the overall community but less in PASS itself to meet the criteria.

    And about the improvements? The process could still use some more improvements, but at least this year we can see enough to know what needs work. 🙂

    • You seem to be confusing “PASS” with “the community”. If you want someone with community involvement, then you should be out there demanding to know why Steve Jones wasn’t allowed to run.

      PASS isn’t the community. The community is the community.

      • Ed Leighton-Dick
        September 3, 2010 4:40 pm

        On the contrary: I know that PASS is a subset of the community.

        I know why Steve wasn’t allowed to run. I don’t personally agree with it, but I understand it. My point was that we need to find a way to acknowledge involvement in the larger community when deciding whether someone has the experience necessary to serve on the PASS board.

  • Paranjai Sharma
    August 31, 2010 3:09 am

    For any new entrant SQLServercentral is the first stop , and i hope we could have SQL Saturday’s in India too

  • SQL Saturday’s in Ontario Canada would also be great!

    As for PASS. Maybe it’s time to make a competitor to PASS? Why not create a new one?

    I agree with Brent, Steve Jones has be a great influence on me and all 100+ DBAs that I know.

    Hoping that Brent could mention my idea to Steve. Who knows, it could become even bigger that PASS!

  • Amen Brother!

  • This whole electoral process is a somewhat puzzling thing..from what i have seen, unless you know the candidates personally it is very difficult to judge who is better than who. This time around i only know Andy, that too by way of SQL Saturday. Yeah you can browse their blogs and may have even attended a session or two at the conference but that only tells you how good they are technically. There are people who are great community contributors but are not prolific bloggers and vice versa…there is no telling..Steve is one candidate whose reputation for community contribution is very well known all over the world. Can’t think of any reason why that would not matter. I hope all this noise adds up to him being nominated next year. Just given the dignity he accepted the board’s decision with increases my respect for him. I don’t think we should throw PASS completely under the bus and push for a competitive organisation, those who volunteered still have much to gain from PASS and am one who is grateful for that. I just hope this will be taken note of and corrected in the years to come.

    • Malathi, I think your point about not knowing candidates is fair and hard to fix. Not everyone will have the reach that Steve has. Doesn’t mean they aren’t good candidates, just means they aren’t as well known.

      I think the interview questions are a good start. What I hope happens over time is that people spend more time planning their campaigns well in advance, doing things to make themselves more visible and trying to meet more influential leaders in the community. I think in general we don’t want candidates that seem to come from no where, we want someone that talks about their interest early, takes time to understand things beyond their local reach, and gives us the chance to get to know them.

  • Dear Brent,

    I am a big fan of yours. I have attended many of your web presentations and I subscribe to your blog on my Kindle. However, I must point out that this post is political. Steve Jones, himself, when he speaks on “How to Blog” says that a blog must be purely professional. It must not be political, ideological, religious, ranting, etc. No matter how strongly you feel about the subject, please don’t do this again. As someone wisely advised me, “Never put anything negative in an e-mail.” The same principle applies to blog posts.

    I’m still a big fan of yours. I’d just hate to see you hurt yourself.

    All the Best,

    David Moutray
    Seeker of Knowledge

    • David – thanks for your comment. I appreciate your advice and I understand where you’re coming from. Thing is, I see my blog more like a newspaper op-ed column. These kinds of columns do indeed very frequently post negative opinions. If it’s done right, it can turn into a very powerful brand – take Glenn Beck’s recent ascent, for example. Of course, the danger with this type of brand is that your readers are passionate – either they’re passionately for you, or passionately against. Check out Seth Godin’s book Purple Cow for more insight about why I might choose to build my brand this way.

      I hate to lose you as a reader, but I understand if you need to unsubscribe. I will continue to post my feelings on issues, though – that’s been a central part of my blog in the past, and will continue to be going forward.

      I do appreciate your advice in looking out for me though. Thanks for taking the time out of your day to let me know how you feel. I know you’re not the only one – I got several unsubscribe notices after this post went live. 🙂

      • Brent, I think op-ed is a very good description of what you (and most) bloggers do, and I think it fills a valuable niche – makes sure we see both sides of an argument and looks at the implications of decisions. Probably easier for me to say in this case because we largely agree, but even when we don’t, we need those ideas and the discussion.

        I believe it’s possible and necessary to disagree with many decisions that PASS makes and still support PASS, and I think you do.

      • Brent,

        did you get as many new subscribe notices as you got unsubscribe notices? You got at least one (mine).

        • Tom – it doesn’t work that way. That post wasn’t to bring in new subscribers. I do have other posts designed to do that, and they’re doing pretty well – I’m sitting at just over 3,200 RSS subscribers this morning.

    • Steve’s advice is solid advice if you want to keep that professional air, never rub anyone the wrong way and never lose any customers or readers who are easily offended/intolerant of differing points of view.

      For me,I do blog a bit about my walk in the Christian faith and about my relationship with Christ on my SQL Server blog from time to time. I keep most of it in private areas or on my facebook/a separate personal blog that I’ve been neglecting or just in my own head. All the same, I enjoy sharing my faith on occasion. I also share my own opinion about issues and it could sometimes be seen as negative. Oh well, I suppose. It is my blog and if I lose one of my 3-5 reads, I guess its a price I have to pay 🙂

      With this issue here, I appreciate Brent’s opinion on the matter. Even if I disagreed I’d still appreciate hearing it. I would actually think a seeker of knowledge wouldn’t mind hearing various opinions on issues 😉

      • Mike – I’m glad you brought that up. I remember when I first read your blog and caught a couple of the Christian posts. I’m a recovering Catholic myself 😉 and I remember thinking, “Wow, I admire his courage and devotion for posting that on his blog.” You definitely will lose readers for that, but on the flip side, the readers that you keep will be that much more devoted to you for your strength, courage, and beliefs.

        The book Raving Fans first got me started thinking about this approach. I’d rather have a core set of readers who really, really, really align with me than a wide group of readers who only share just a little bit in common with me. I know that if someone likes my blog, they’re going to like me as a person, and that’s a great way to get started connecting to people. If they don’t like my blog, they won’t like spending time with me. It’s better to get that filtering out of the way first before we meet in person.

        • Hah. We’ll have to talk about that recovering Catholicism sometime 😉 I’ve never been a Catholic but have plenty of friends who are or were and would be interested in just chatting about your experiences there.

          I say, I’m only here for 70-85 years (closer to 70 if I don’t start getting in better shape 😉 ) at the maximum. Why hide who I am and how I feel about something out of fear of offending someone (I do try not to offend on issues where it is a mean offense or a purposeful offense… but if someone wants to take offense to a core set of my beliefs or opinions on life then oh well.. I may disagree with their beliefs but I’m comfortable enough in my own to not take offense).

          I also don’t choose the blogs I read based on a 100 point agreement to beliefs, politics or even opinions on the PASS fiascos. I choose them based on utility to me, entertaining read, challenges to my own core sets of beliefs/principles (nothing wrong with being challenged in where you stand.. Sometimes it can lead to course corrections, other times it can lead to a solidfying of your stance), etc.

          P.S… You mean people actually pay to read your content?!?! Well then, I can’t blame David 😛

          • Mike/Brent, Definitions of personal/private and professional/public vary widely from culture to culture. In this country somehow privacy has been equated to shame or something you dont disclose because you are ashamed or afraid of what others think. In many other cultures it is just respect for sensitivity. To take the religious example for instance many religions believe in exclusivity of their path, it is unrealistic for someone with another path to take that positively so you might want to share that kind of stuff with others like you and not everyone out there.Again if it is unfair to expect your technical followers to be of the same religious path also 🙂 If you look at majority asian or even european bloggers those areas are almost always avoided on technical blogs.

            I hope have not offended you all just sharing my two cents.

          • Malathi – absolutely, different cultures respond to these issues differently. It’s hard to please everyone while building raving followers, though. You end up writing bland, boring stuff like Books Online.

          • Brent, i may be splitting hairs here, but i believe it is possible to avoid religion and politics the two known hot buttons, blog on PASS politics since it is the community we are part of (or atleast most of us) and still stay more interesting than books online! Not sure you agree or not.

            Putting it diffeently i would still follow you if you were to blog on catholicism or being a republican on this blog, the reason is not that it makes it spicy but that i have much to gain from your technical knowledge and can just skip reading all that. But am not sure i would rank you high on someone who respects my sensitivities 🙂

            Thank you

          • Malathi – this blog is about me and the things I like to write about. It is not about you, your sensitivities, or anything else. 😉 Sorry, but I feel really strongly about that. If there’s a subject I want to cover, I’m going to cover it here, period.

          • And I also had to add the point about the same religious path and the sensitivities. If I expected my readers to be on the same “religious path” as me, I’d might as well stop blogging and just send an e-mail to a handful of people who intersect with me on faith and technical interests.

            That isn’t what I was saying. I was saying I share my faith openly. I won’t ever glue anyone’s head to the monitor to read it and I even put a quick disclaimer at the top letting folks know it is about my faith and even then my perspectives on my faith. If someone is so worried about sensitivities or so insecure in their own belief system that they have to stop reading, get angry, etc. then that really becomes their problem.

            Yeah, you are right, many faith systems claim exclusivity. That doesn’t mean I am not going to read interesting technical content (I don’t claim to write that either! At least not interesting) from a Muslim, Atheist or Hindi because I am offended by their faith system. I may believe they are wrong, as someone who would read my blog might believe about me, but will still read them for the relevant content to another interest area of my life. I may even read, with outsiders interest, a post about why they are on the faith road they are on. I would like to know more about what makes them who they are and why they have chosen that path.

            I am Not trying to force folks into a belief system. Though I actually find it immoral of me to not share a quick blurb about my walk with Christ. If I sincerely believe what I believe (the Bible), and I didn’t share the hope that lies within it, I would be no better than someone who sincerely believed he found a cure for cancer but kept it to himself for fear of offending someone.

            Folks have a few choices when they come upon one of those posts on my blog:

            1.) Ask me more about it offline and I’d be more than happy to share more.

            2.) Ignore it (I tag the posts with Bible generally) and move on to some other target

            3.) Stop reading my blog forever

            4.) Get angry and tell me how I am wrong in the comments.

            Any of those paths are perfectly acceptable and encouraged. One of the reasons I love living in this country. I can walk down a street and pass the buildings of radically opposed belief systems that each are legally allowed to exist. I can become friends with someone of a totally different faith than myself based on other shared interests without worry of beheading, imprisonment, etc. from either direction of that friendship.

            Someone can even spit on my thoughts in the comments section and I won’t even take offense. It isn’t me they are offended with anyway 🙂

            That’s it. Back to the topic at hand (Sorry, Brent 🙂 and anyone else subscribed to comments)

      • Thank you, i’d follow David’s path, i had respect for you and did not expect such a high handed response. I didnt think for a minute that the blog was about me, i did think it belonged to someone who had basic respect for how others feel and keep certain subjects where they belong, that is all.

        Thank you for letting me post.

        • Malathi,

          but that raises the obvious question, “Who determines what belongs on the blog?” I’m of the same mindset of Mike and Brent. While my SQL Server Central blog is primarily related to IT, it isn’t always. If that isn’t your cup of tea, I understand. No hard feelings from my perspective. But since I’m the one who puts the extra time in to blog, I will write about what I want to write about. I’ll take suggestions, and I’ll certainly listen to reasoned arguments about why a certain subject wasn’t a particularly good idea, but at the end of the day, it’s my decision. If it was your blog, and you were putting the time in, you might determine that you don’t want to blog about certain subjects. That’s fine. That’s why I have two other blogs. And they have distinct purposes. But between SSC and one of the other ones, there’s occasional cross-over posts, and not always IT related.

        • Malathi,

          I don’t consider Brent’s response high-handed, it’s honest. This is Brent’s blog and he gets to choose what to write about. Don’t read the posts you don’t like or only read technical posts.

          Like Mike Walsh I include reference to my faith in my professional blog. Why? Because my faith is part of who I am and affects every area of my life from home to work to community. If people are offended or disagree I can only say it is not my intent to offend, but to share about me and what I’m learning. That’s my prerogative and Brent’s as well.

          Brent also allows comments on his blog so you can share your disagreement and dissatisfaction, but you can’t expect it to change how Brent does things.

        • i did think it belonged to someone who had basic respect for how others feel and keep certain subjects where they belong, that is all.

          Oh, but this blog still does belong to someone who meets those criteria. You meant to say, “belonging to someone who can read Malathi’s mind, never provoke an emotion in Malathi, and can always avoid topics Malathi doesn’t like.”

          I can’t write that blog, either.

          • The argument on whether or not you can bring in religion/politics and other sensitive issues into public discussion especially when your majority audience is here for technical information – is just about as old as time. I am merely only stating what lots of other people like me believe in, it may not
            be what some of you others believe in but there are lots of people who do. I don’t think Brent has to tailor his blog to me or anyone,but i would have been happy if he had expresed some sensitivity perhaps like Jack or Brian and say sorry if you don’t like certain things i say you can read just technical stuff (of which there is less and
            less of these days :))and move on. Instead he has explicity stated that “I’d rather have a core set of readers who really, really,
            really align with me than a wide group of readers who only share just a little bit in common with me. “Honestly i dont know where that puts me or many others i know.I have learnt and followed his technical posts a long time and expressed my thanks to him several times for what I learnt. I am not a catholic and not a republican and don’t believe those are things to be ashamed of. Since he does not clarify I understand people like me don’t matter and am moving on that is all.I must say as a sql server enthusiast that makes me very sad since his blog was among the best there is. But nobody likes to be told that they don’t matter on their face and I am no exception.

            Thank you, i thought i had unsubscribed fully but got the post again on PASS politics and got dragged into it somehow.

          • Malathi –

            I don’t think I’ve ever read a post by Brent about politics or religion that I can think of.. This was discussed in the comments as an example of how I don’t just stick to technical content. Brent’s posts have usually had something to do with technical comment or about the communities surrounding SQL Server. Not sure where you are coming from with your rationale, but hey…

          • Malathi – it’s not that you don’t matter, but I am not going to change what I write about in order to satisfy you. It’s just that simple. It’s not that you don’t matter as a human being – you do, and I don’t want anything bad to happen to you. But if you think that you only matter if I’m willing to change what I write, then you’re wrong.

          • Malathi, Brent,

            I know you both well enough to think well of you, not well enough to discuss politics or religion on a public forum with you. It’s ok to disagree, but I think here might not be the best place. You probably won’t ever agree on this and that’s ok, but I think it might be worthwhile to meet at the Summit and shake hands and realize that there are is a nice person behind the typing on the other side.

            I will return to the bleachers now, and hopefully have not made or worse – or have started anyone yelling at me!

          • Thank you Mike and Brent. I think the line of argument started on what was acceptable as a technical blog subject that is all. Mike I’d love to say more on your post on religion but I dont think it is appropriate here, Brent may not mind but I do.

            Brent am sorry like Stu said below on another subject i lose the battle with words. I am not in the least bit asking you to change what you write for me, was only tryign to see if there is any room for more inclusiveness and sensitivity or whether you thought those thigns are important. Like when i pointed out cross cultural differences given the fact that so many of your readers are non american was trying to see if you thought it was important to see the differences, not just say ‘ah yeah i know those things exist and cant’ please everyone’. You don’t know me personally and i dont expect the kind of concern friends and family have. As Mike said you have not written anything highly sensitive either so this may be a wholly premature debate.I was just trying to understand some of your points of view and how that adds up to you as a person. Again, lost the battle, sorry. Stopping here.

          • Malathi – I hear what you’re saying, but I don’t understand what you’re asking me for. I got the impression you’re asking me not to blog about something I haven’t blogged about, so I’m kinda stumped here. Did a blog post offend you or something?

          • I will take Andy’s suggestion and defer this to meeting you at the summit, i have some questions already on some (great)technical advice you gave me while you were t Quest so will talk to you surely. For the record you did not blog on anything to offend me (yet):).


    • David – I forgot to mention that if you unsubscribe from me on Kindle, I’ll lose 10% of my Kindle reader base! 😀 I can count my Kindle subscribers on two hands, heh. I’m honored that you subscribed. I wish there was some way I could publish it for free on Kindle – I’d rather have the readers than the money, given how little is involved.

  • You should also post some of your favorite recipes on the blog, or I’m unsubscribing. 😉

  • If I wanted to read purely technical drivel I’d read my own blog. I come here for the excitement!

  • My idea for your next blog post is that you should cover the conflict between the various interpretations of the stories around the Battle of Little Big Horn. Was Reno accurate during his testimony or just a drunk? Did Benteen shade the truth or outright lie due to his personal conflicts with Custer? You need to blog about this stuff right away.

    And if you don’t, I’ll unsubscribe, angels will begin to cry, and Paul Randal will start keeping his sheep in your bed.

  • Brent, the problem with analogies is that they exaggerate some details while downplaying others, and therefore fail to accurately capture the experience they are being used to portray. While I appreciate the fact that the members of the Nom Com are not being portrayed as “The Man” trying to keep our boots on Steve’s neck in your version of the story, I’m not sure that I like being portrayed as a “switch flipper” following a cookbook either.

    I realize that you (and several other people) are disappointed in the decision; I also realize that you want more information than I am comfortable giving. However, just as you and others have commented on how unfair the process seems, please remember to be fair in your assessment of the members of the community that did participate in the decision. Seven of your colleagues (including myself) had an opportunity to review confidential material and come up with a judgement; you may not agree with that judgement, and you may not agree with how process of that judgement was planned and played out. However, that judgement was neither preplanned with nafarious intent nor was it the result of a mindless following of the rules.

    To be honest, I keep trying to walk away from these conversations because it’s easy to get my blood boiling, and I’m afraid I’ll burn more bridges than I’ll build. However, I do want to keep reminding people that seven members of the SQL Server community debated what it took to be an effective Board member, bringing all available knowledge and resources to the table including an interview with each of the applicants. It was not an easy decision, and nor should it have been (IMHO); in the end, the candidates that made the slate were people that the majority of the Nom Com felt comfortable endorsing.

    I’m not arguing that the process need not be changed, and I’m not saying that if you were in my shoes, you would have come to the same conclusions. However, I am saying that the seven of us on the committee (Wayne, Denise, Rick B, Rick H, Tom, Judy and I) did not make the decision lightly.

    • Stuart – absolutely, I agree that I’m writing a caricature here. The only way to tell your story in exactly the same way that it happened is for the NomCom to actually tell the story, but like you said, you can’t give that information out. If you could, then you wouldn’t have to deal with other people telling your story, but…well, that’s how a lack of transparency works. When nobody else can see what’s happening inside the box, they’re going to come up with versions that don’t agree with what really happened.

      I completely agree that you didn’t make the decision lightly. I know there was a lot of debate going on.

      I’ve been asked repeatedly by people inside the process, “How do we get the people to understand what happened?” There’s only one simple answer – you have to tell them, and that means revealing the truth. If you don’t, well, you probably won’t be satisfied with the story that gets told.

      The part that gets me, though, is when you say “bringing all available knowledge and resources to the table” – there’s one very big resource that didn’t get brought to the table: the community. When these debates and interviews happen behind closed doors, you miss out on the most valuable knowledge of all. There was much, much, much more knowledge and resources available. It’s not your fault that the process was closed, that information was declared confidential, and that the community was excluded. I don’t think it was anybody’s nefarious plan to keep the public in the dark, either. The bottom line is the end result though – the public was kept in the dark, and a decision was made that people don’t understand and don’t agree with.

      • Brent makes a good point here, you can’t really say “all available knowledge.” I know, semantics, but it’s important here, too. The things I put as positives towards Steve you acknowledged you didn’t know some of that stuff, even though it’s publicly available out there. So that says there could have been more research done. Now that raises the question of how much research do you do? At what point does it become counter productive to keep researching? And that’s why I didn’t say anything about that before. Steve has a lot of material out there for anyone who cares to spend some time reading, so this is especialyl true with respect to him. I don’t expect anyone to have dug through all there is to see about Steve. That’s unreasonable. But you can’t say all available knowledge. That’s not even close to being a defendable statement.

    • Stu, in reading Brent’s post, I don’t pick up that he’s making any accusations about the competency or motive of the NomCom. He is saying he completely disagrees with the decision and he has issues with the process. I’ve gone so far as to say that unless someone can show me proof that the NomCom didn’t do their level best, that’s what I believe happened, and yet you’ve gotten defensive towards me, as well.

      We know what the decision was. We’ve heard the reasons. And not wanting to reveal more, I can complete understand that and commented on why that’s all that should be put out there. But understand we disagree with the decision. We have a different opinion on Steve. So please give us the benefit of the doubt with respect to our viewpoint and accept that we passionately disagree and we do so for very good reasons, that there’s not motive against any potential candidates or the NomCom, nor did we reach our conclusions without a good deal of thought, just as you want us to accept that you guys worked hard, there was no false motive, and you came to a hard decision. Fair is fair.

      • Brian & Stuart – I agree with what Brian said, and continuing with that, there’s something else I should say. Throughout this, I haven’t heard anybody call for the NomCom to be thrown out. I haven’t heard (privately or publicly) anybody say we should throw away the NomCom and start over. It never even occurred to me until now that someone might think the NomCom didn’t do their level best. I haven’t met everybody on the NomCom, but I have huuuuge respect for the folks I’ve met. Before the decision, I wouldn’t have switched out any of the members, and after the decision, I *still* wouldn’t have changed anybody out. The people aren’t the problem.

      • Brian and Brent,

        I appreciate the fact that several people have lauded the Nom Com for coming to a difficult decision; I just want to continue to point out inaccuracies in the conversation. I realize that Brent’s analogy was not attempting to be unfair, but I am not a faceless DBA that decided to drop a database that the users wanted; I was a member of a committee that was faced with an unpopular choice based on the resources I had at hand.

        If you want to debate semantics, you win. I hereby surrender 🙂 I have made poor choices in my words, and I have no defense.

        • Agreeing to disagree is seldom satisfying, but often necessary. I’m entirely biased about my views on this, but I think it’s easy to forget the pain that continues along with this discussion. Replace the name of SJ with yours, and imagine how it would feel to be left off the slate (fairly, unfairly or otherwise), and then have a conversation continue that seems to imply a great failure during the interview, but no details emerge. Do you defend yourself or lay low? What if you allow the inner details to be published, but they are not?

          We don’t agree on the way things worked out. Ok. I think we should let things heal a little more, then have the values and process conversation that we should have had last year – one that I’ve admitted I should have helped to make happen. Yell at me. Yell at the process. But I think we’re at the point where we leave a good man to tend his wounds and we try to do better next year, or we have the entire conversation and let the chips fall where they way on each side. I vote for moving forward.

          Not my place to tell you not to talk about it, and much of this has been good conversation. But please remember my friend is not an abstraction. Actually, I wish I could say that better. I know that you don’t he is an abstraction, but I’m not sure that this conversation, right now, helps any of us.

          Regards always,


  • Brent, just wanted to let you know that I am not unsubscribing from your blog, and never intended to. I can see your point about your blog being a kind of op-ed piece. I just remember a couple of Steve’s presentations where warned how you could hurt yourself if you blog in the wrong way. In particular, he gave the example of a Microsoft employee who was fired for posting a picture on his personal blog site – a picture of some boxes being unloaded from a truck. I think I agree with Andy pretty much. I have no idea how the whole PASS governance thing works. They need to run it like a business, but PASS isn’t your regular business. They are a community, and most of their community members are fervent believers in Democracy.

  • I’ve ready weighed in on the issue (http://sqlchicken.com/2010/09/pirates-of-pass-curse-of-the-elections-process/) but as I keep reading more and more on the topic I have more to add (and your blog is more active than mine Brent so I might as well ride your famous coat tails!)

    Stu, I know the NomCom doesn’t appreciate being viewed as cooks following a cookbook but the way the process is setup and from what we’ve been ALLOWED to see/hear, the NomCom comes across that way and unfortunately perception can be construed as reality (even though it’s not necessarily true).

    What’s really been bothering me the last few days in terms of thinking about the whole situation is that the BOD is charged with really running a business. To me, it seems the community portion keeps coming off as more of a by-product of the business. If the BOD is going to be tasked as business leaders then great, hold job interviews and don’t involve the community. What I have issue with is claiming to be for and about the community, enforce that BOD applicants have plenty of community involvement and yet once you’re on the board it seems community communication/involvement falls eerily quiet (except for a choice few). If this is going to become an issue then create a BOD dedicated to the community side of things and “hire” a business board. I hate seeing the politics of business start mucking up the community side as situations like this tend to disillusion true community leaders and PASS (as a whole) loses out.

    • Jorge – it’s really funny you mention that, because the same thing went through my head as well. It’s interesting to me because I’ve seen enough conferences to recognize that distinction between business and community. Running any large community turns into a business because there’s so much money involved, and you need both business people and community people to make it work well.

      When Tim and I organized SQLcruise, we struggled initially because we had to do some business things nobody wanted to handle (like accounting and contracts). As we went through the process of building the event, I can’t believe how much business work we had to do, and it wouldn’t have gone nearly as well if Tim hadn’t stepped up to do a ton of it. I’m proud to be involved with him on that – he did the majority of the business work, and without somebody like him, I’d have done a crappy job. We talked about hiring an accounting service for the next one, and accounting’s probably a good example – you need accounting business services, and the people doing that don’t need any sense of community.

      I think PASS is doing a decent job on the business side of things – mostly because they’re not broke, and the Summit seems to go off without a business hitch each year. It has all kinds of community hitches – last year’s Twitter Bingo fiasco comes to mind, when they tried to tell me I had to pay them a fee in order to let people play. They’re getting better, but the fact that the majority of the Board doesn’t blog, doesn’t really tweet, doesn’t chat in forums, don’t present at events, etc tells me they need to spend a little less time focusing on business and a little more time focusing on community.

      • Brent,
        I have to agree with you it looks like a lot of PASS is focusing more and more on the business aspect and not on the community. Maybe if they engaged the community a little more we would be talking about them breaking 1 million members(like some other community site that I cannot seem to remember the name of right now…(cough)SSC!) instead of looking at doubling down to 100,000.

        My brother worked for a small company you may know about, Southern Wine & Spirits, and got to where we was in sales by challenging the status quo. He would come into a store and see a 100 unit display and challenge why not 1000. Why I remember not so long ago in my BoD interview (Wayne & Garth flashback music) when I was asked what I thought the major challenge to PASS was in the future and I said “membership”. Lol! You could almost hear the pin drop from the grenade. Yet if you look at a .NET developer group in say Indianapolis…you have 100 plus ppl at every meeting. The PASS group…about less than half of that…but you would think that the devs would like to understand the databases they program against a little more.

        PASS needs to look beyond the PASS Summit and see what it could potentially become as a community group and leave the business aspects to the bean counters(as Allen and you suggest). Although I also think from the busines side of the house they are shooting themselves in the foot by not not learning the first key business law: Perception is Reality. Big controversy last year’s BoD election, controversy this year’s BoD election,controversy with the summit survey results..Oh you want to play a game at the Summit, just make the check out to XXXX …..begins to start looking like a pattern…doesn’t it?

        They could choose to stay the course and maybe very slowly adopt changes over many years. However, I fear that there will be some enterprising group of individuals out there that decide its time for a new community focused group. I think that SQL Saturday showed the promise of how quickly a real grass roots community effort can catch on.

        Don’t take me wrong. I love the community and like Jorge have decided to try to get things rolling from the inside of the organization instead of sitting on the sidelines. Yet, I will always be vocal about what I percieve as being something that is not in the best interest of the community. At least if we are in the ‘vocal minority’ we can blame it all on Jorge:)

    • Jorge- I think you hit the nail on the head in more ways than you maybe intended 🙂

      In my opinion, too many people are getting caught up in this “business vs community” thing…
      The business of PASS, the accounting etc, is mostly handled by HQ anyway. Sure the directors all have to make business decisions, and have charge of a budget but, (I believe) the hard part of doing the marketing, reporting and such is handled by HQ.

      I personally think we need a board of PASS that is made up of community leaders and business leaders, sure many people fit both roles but, personally I think we need to make sure there is always a good mix of people in both “categories” on the board.

      More to your point though, as a PASS volunteer (BOD or otherwise), Its a tough proposition to decide whether its wise to spend time writing about what you’re doing (or not doing) or to go do something else for the community. Its reminds me of status reports for your day job, everyone hates doing them but, management loves them. in this case though, you can make a choice to not do them, and the only repercussion is the community will not know about whatever great thing you just did (or didnt do) to help them. Im not saying we (pass volunteers) shouldn’t communicate whats going on with the general pass membership but, I think there needs to be other options than posting blog entries. Im a huge advocate of PASS making forums available on the site year round solely for PASS business. I don’t think they’ll be heavily trafficked at least at first but, I do think they’d be a great way for the community to converse with one another (quickly) about PASS instead of strung out in 100’s of blog’s comments. Heck I only checked here because you mentioned it on twitter…

      From my perspective, I think we may be asking the wrong questions about some of this business vs community thing. I think a good question would be why we only elect 40% of the PASS BOD, and why the community at large has 0.00% input into the executive committee. I’ve been fully informed about the merits of the current system & Im still not convinced…

  • Steve and Brent both come across as honest, helpful and outspoken people. I am often amazed how much time both dedicate to the SQL community (not to say others don’t) they just seem to be omnipresent.

    Sadly, many appointments are political which means the best people are not always chosen. That being said, had Steve’s name been on the ballot I would have voted for him.

    Brent, Thanks for writing this post and sticking up for one of the good guys.

    • Jeffrey – wow, thanks, sir! Both Steve and I are really lucky in that we’ve hit the point in our career where we can spend more time giving than taking, and it’s truly a privilege.

  • Jorge, that is an interesting idea about having two PASS boards: one that concerns itself with community involvement and the other which focuses on the business side of things. What if the two boards disagree about something, though? Who decides? For that matter, implementing a plan like this would not be easy. I am sure it would require a change in the PASS charter, and I have no idea what that would involve. It is still a pretty good idea, though, in my opinion.

    • Thanks David! If we have a community board and biz board I think the exec board would be deciding factor (again going back to my 3 tier idea I proposed in my blog post about the process.


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