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Chris G. Williams Beware: I mix tech and personal interests here.

So today, on Twitter, I asked what I thought was a simple and straightforward question.  It went like this:

Poll: For those of you with .NET UGs. If there was never an INETA, would you still have started your group? tag replies #INETA

For the most part, I got some pretty good responses. No real surprises. Most people who started user groups hadn't even heard of INETA prior to starting their group.

There were a few exceptions, of course, a couple of folks said that they might not have started a user group had they not already heard of INETA. This implies (to me) that they perceived INETA as provided them the resources (or at least encouragement) necessary to start.

Lastly, a few folks said they had heard of INETA prior to starting their group, but would have likely started a group whether INETA existed or not. This wasn't really a surprise either, and mostly overlaps with answer #1.

I also got a couple of "interesting" replies. One was from one of the original founding fathers of INETA. He misunderstood the wording of the question, we chatted and all is good. Nice guy. 

The other reply was not so nice, IMO. He too is involved with INETA, and apparently misread the question (or just took it as an opportunity to whip out his soapbox full of self-righteous bullshit) and proceeded to inform me that his user group "was created for our members not INETA." and that  "INETA should exist for it's members not the other way around."

Gee... Captain Obvious, Ya Think??

My initial reaction to his response was perhaps not very diplomatic, so I discarded it and replied with "who the hell ever implied the UGs exist FOR INETA? Not me. I just asked if our existence impacted the decision to start one."

Not content with my reply, he responded by questioning the very motivation for my query. I thought (perhaps incorrectly) that my question was fairly on point, and said as much, while also trying to clarify as much as 140 characters will allow.

We did eventually resolve our differences, but honestly his reply still irked me. Not necessarily with him specifically, but with the smug self-righteous nature of his position. It irritated me most of all because it's not the first time I've heard it.

For the life of me, I can not understand people who think this way. In the history of INETA, not once EVER (to my knowledge) have we imposed any demands on the user groups. We do have a few procedures and policies, mostly revolving around how we reimburse groups for pizza, how much we can spend on speaker travel, and stuff like that, but we have never EVER (to my knowledge) made demands on ANY user group ever for any reason.

We've also never denied membership to a legitimate .NET developer focused user group (yes, we've had some scammers... and people who try to game the system by double registering so they can get more speakers per year... which deprives the rest of you by the way.  We've even had a few that succeeded for a while.)

Over the years, we've seen our funding slashed to ribbons... along with a massive upsurge in new membership, and what I can only categorize as Hostile Takeover attempts from various folks within Microsoft. Buy me a beer and ask me about THAT some time.

For those of you that haven't figured it out yet... NO we're not a part of Microsoft. No we don't have infinitely deep pockets. We are a nonprofit organization, founded on the idea that wouldn't it be great if we could find a way to get speakers out to the various lesser known user groups instead of just the ones in major metropolitan areas? All things considered, we've done a pretty damn good job of it too.

Over the years, times have changed... the economy has shifted, priorities have shifted and INETA isn't quite the same organization it once was. Faced with a budget crisis that would make most of you puke, a mixed bag of volunteers (some of whom are FANTASTIC, and some of whom couldn't be bothered to do anything beyond listing their title on a resume) and of course being faced with having to do WAY MORE with FAR LESS, we're still managing to get speakers out to groups. Maybe not as many, and maybe not everyone... but we're attempting to do it in a fair and impartial manner. I know, because at the moment I'm the guy who has to make those decisions. The last guy quit. No notice, no warning... he walked.

I don't mind. I actually enjoy the job. BUT... that still doesn't change the fact that some people just don't get it and never will. I've heard folks complain about the swag sent to their user group. (For the record, that's UGSS not INETA) but seriously... Microsoft is trying to give you over $500 worth of free stuff to give away, and instead of saying... "hey that's pretty cool, thanks!" you get your tighty-whities in a bunch and you bitch and whine that you dont like what's in the kit. (I'm looking directly at you Larry Linson.)

Well... guess what Sunshine, there aren't enough kits to go around either... so instead of taking one and then whining about it, how about sitting this one out and letting someone who would benefit from it grab one instead?? That's almost as pathetic as the guy who bitched at Microsoft about the CARBON FOOTPRINT of his MVP Award being shipped overseas to him, but then had the balls to ship back and ask for a replacement because it was broken. (TRUE STORY... I can't make this crap up.)

I've got more questions about INETA, and I'll be asking them over the next few days. I'm genuinely curious about the public perception of INETA, and it's future. I'm also interested in clearing up the various misconceptions and half-formed notions that people have about INETA. My favorite one is that we (the board members) all have dollar sign shaped pools full of Microsoft money (it has Bill Gates face on it) in our back yards.


Disclaimer: I am affiliated with INETA, but my views do not reflect the views of INETA as a whole. In fact, it's a safe bet that I'll be catching hell for this blog post. Such is life.  (Rob... they already knew about the pools, what was I supposed to do?)

Posted on Thursday, January 7, 2010 5:48 PM | Back to top

Comments on this post: The answer you get doesn't always match the question you ask...

# re: The answer you get doesn't always match the question you ask...
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Your style is unique compared to other folks I have read stuff from. I appreciate you for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I'll just book mark this web site.
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