What Ben said :)

I think Balkanization is a worry. On the other hand, the Python and Ruby 
SIGs have done a good job of providing a place where practitioners can 
get more in-depth information on that specialty (and even on other 
alternatives). And the Perl Mongers and Erlang specialists haven't felt 
the need to start their own SIG or quit in protest.

Ubuntu Loco already has an organizational structure, through the Ubuntu 
web site [*], and all are welcome to post meeting announcements to the 
GNHLUG calendar. So, what services can GNHLUG provide, other than the 
501(c)(3) umbrella? (Let's be clear that we're not set up for that yet, 
and would have to ensure any monies changing hands fell within the 
context of our not-for-profit charter once granted.)

There is a bit of friction about a group that is both "within" GNHLUG 
and outside of it. Ubuntu Loco has a presence on the web and obviously a 
single-supporting parent organization from which it is receiving support 
in the way of promotional materials. That makes it fall more into the 
category of a private foundation than the charitable organization that 
GNHLUG is filing as, and could prove to be a stumbling block.

In so far as an Ubuntu SIG is following the practices of GNHLUG to serve 
as an educational resource to let people know about the Free/Open Source 
Software, Libre, GNU/Linux, et al, I think GNHLUG has been, and ought to 
continue to be, willing to share our resources, web site, calendar, 
announcements, etc. with Ubuntu Loco and any other group with similar 
purposes, just as we mention SwaNH meetings or computer-related 
activities put on by the New Hampshire High-Tech Council.

There is an aspect of competition and chauvinism (1) that needs to be 
kept in check. We all like trash-talking the "other" distro, whether 
that's Gentoo or OpenSuSE or Fedora or Debian, just like car club 
members will razz the Ford Edsel owner. At long as this is good-natured 
and doesn't drag into into endless threads of "vi versus emacs" (that'd 
never happen, right?), I think we should welcome special interest groups 
with open arms. I'd be open to seeing "New Media" and "Developers" and 
"Advocacy" groups, too, as long as they can serve as a focus for 
participants getting together and accomplishing things. Others might be 
considering Django or Drupal SIGs, where focused meetings on those 
products can be held.

There is definitely a worry about thinning the ranks through 
over-specialization. If we keep the same ~300 members and hold 16 
meetings a month, we're not going to see the same amount of attendance. 
However, I don't think numbers of attendees per meeting are as a great 
measure of success as attendees getting the meetings they want to get. 
Also, welcoming more specialties under our tent is more likely to expand 
membership than draw from the same crowd.

As more meetings are held (and gasoline continues to rise in price!), I 
think it's more important than ever that groups do a better job of 
promoting themselves, not just in a competition for member attendance as 
to make sure interested people both within and without the organization 
know of meetings of interest, and just as importantly, to provide a 
useful record of past meetings so that someone new to the group can get 
useful information presented at a past meeting, and regulars can get 
lots of information on what's coming up in future meetings. I think Open 
Source is all about Choice, so offering more Choice is a Good Thing.

What I would be opposed to would be a splintering of websites or mailing 
lists or RSS feeds such that those who wish to capture all that goes on 
within GNHLUG needs dozens of subscriptions or feeds. I, for one, do not 
  mind a lot of talk on the main -discuss list when it is on-topic 
(pretty much anything technology-related). When a person asks a question 
on how to get Hardy Heron to do something, it's just as likely a common 
question on GNOME or apt or Thunderbird, and I'd be really disappointed 
if those discussions ended up on a separate list. I've already seen 
these kinds of problems where folks are posting to the DLSLUG general 
discuss or Python list, and miss the contributions of many of the other 
members of GNHLUG.

So, to sum up an already over-long response, I'm not opposed to the idea 
in principle and think we should welcome all. However, it may turn out 
that the Loco's financial transactions may not fit under our future 
not-for-profit status, but it brings up questions worthy of review. I'd 
like to see the SIG started, and better communication on what the LoCo 
is doing. We'll have to work with our legal and accounting teams to 
determine, based on what the LoCo proposes, whether that's an eligible 
activity under our future status...

[*] https://wiki.ubuntu.com/NewHampshireTeam

(1) original semi-mythical definition, not male-piggishness, see

Ted Roche
Ted Roche & Associates, LLC
gnhlug-org mailing list

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