THE SQL Server Blog Spot on the Web

Welcome to SQLblog.com - The SQL Server blog spot on the web Sign in | |
in Search

Andy Leonard

Andy Leonard is CSO of Linchpin People and SQLPeople, an SSIS Trainer, Consultant, and developer; a Business Intelligence Markup Language (Biml) developer; SQL Server database and data warehouse developer, community mentor, engineer, and farmer. He is a co-author of SQL Server 2012 Integration Services Design Patterns. His background includes web application architecture and development, VB, and ASP. Andy loves the SQL Server Community!
Note: Comments are moderated. Spam shall not pass! </GandalfVoice>

On PASS Summit Locations, Time Will Tell

Introduction

The PASS Board, continuing a trend of more openness championed by Board members, released the results of its Location Survey. Along with this, PASS President Rushabh Mehta added a blog post explaining the interpretation and logic behind the decision to not move the location of upcoming PASS Summits.

Kudos

Less than a week ago, Rushabh and I shared beverages and talked about life, database work, SSIS Frameworks, SQL Saturdays, PASS, and business. I know most members of the PASS Board and they're great people. They give of their time and talent, share a passion for our community, and often lose money, sacrifice vacation time, and spend personal capital (money and cred) to champion our awesome community. They deserve all the respect and trust we can direct their way.

Conducting a survey was a great idea. Anyone in business will tell you customer service is important. Finding out what your customers think, using a survey, is a really cool way to go.

Sharing the results and your interpretation of the results is also a great idea. Communication is fundamental to trust and respect, and trust and respect are fundamental motivations of geeks everywhere.

We Should Know Better

Twain was probably the first person to write "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." As database professionals, we see misconstrued and misinterpreted data most days of the workweek. If anyone should get this right, it's us.

And we didn't.

The survey did not contain the question "How much longer do you intend to continue breaking the law?" but the questions were... leading. Check with anyone who wants the PASS Summit to move from Seattle every n years - their initial reaction to at least a couple questions from the survey was "What?"

This Isn't Hard

This doesn't require a lot of analysis. Responses to questions 7 and 8 tell the tale:

Click to view larger image in a new window 

Click to view larger image in a new window

To quote Foghorn Leghorn "Figures don't lie."

Don't Take My Word For It

Jack Corbett (Blog - @unclebiguns) wrote a great summary of responses to date (11 Mar 2010, AM) in his post PASS Releases Survey Results & Summit Location – Reactions. I encourage you to read all the links in that post as well as the results and Rushabh's post: Locating PASS Summit 2011 and 2012 - Connector Editorial by Rushabh. Tom LaRock (Blog - @SQLRockstar) posted his reasons for voting to keep the PASS Summit in Seattle yesterday. I'm sure I've left some out, and I apologize for that.

The Response 

The "smaller conference" idea Rushabh mentioned is interesting. I don't know how this would impact the Summit-in-Seattle-Forever perceptions among the SQL Server community, and I doubt anyone knows the answer to that question. If PASS puts together such an event, the results will speak for themselves. Time will tell.

As for their response to criticism (and make no mistake about it, this is criticism): I sincerely hope the PASS Board and staff resist the "vocal minority" argument offered last year around Board election time. That was weak.

Conclusion

Despite the intentions of the PASS Board and the hard work of the PASS Staff, this looks a lot like someone asserted a premise. Time will tell.

:{> Andy

Published Friday, March 12, 2010 8:00 AM by andyleonard

Comment Notification

If you would like to receive an email when updates are made to this post, please register here

Subscribe to this post's comments using RSS

Comments

 

SQLvariant said:

Andy,

EXCELLENT POINT!  I was so pissed on the wording of one of those surveys that I didn't even participate.  I lived in DC for 18 years and can smell a rigged contest from 10 miles away.  I feel that the PASS organization didn't just fail us in this survey; I feel they intentionally tried to mislead us.  

Just my opinion, but like you said, I see misconstrued numbers every day.

March 12, 2010 9:16 AM
 

Ralph Wilson said:

Andy,

I took the survey.  I anticipated the results.  I was right about the results.  However, I am not pissed . . . I tend to be a bit pragmatic about surveys and results.

Some time back (okay, actually a few decades ;-), I wound up assisting with a LOT of surveys and learned more than I ever wanted to know about surveys . . . and how to subtly arrange for the desired results.  As I was taking the PASS survey, I recognized many of the "features" that I had learned about using to get what you want as a result.

One point that immediately leapedto the forefront was that the choices, as presented, basically targetted the orthwest corner of the US or the NE corner (or, possibly the SE corner).  (Since I live in the "fly-over" region, I may be more sensitive to those issues than some of y'all who inhabit the east or west coast regions.)  Essentially, no real consideration was given to the idea of compromising and use a "fly-over" city as an alternative.  

Also, since SQL Server IS a Microsoft product and Microsoft IS in the NW corner of the US, there is an argument to be made (no matter how bogus or spurious) that the world should beat a path to Microsoft's door rather than expecting Microsoft to support its product and the user community wherever the convention is scheduled.  (As a side note, that was always something I enjoyed about the Borland Conventions, aka BorCons, . . . they bounced around the country. ;-)  

My point is that the more I have read about PASS's conferences and the justifications for them being in Seattle every time, the more I have had to wonder about how closely coupled those who weild the decision making power in PASS are to Microsoft.  The argument that PASS conferences would lose Microsoft speakers and presenters if they were NOT in Seattle sounds an awful lot like something that Microsoft would threaten just to see if PASS would ask "How high?" on the way up after Microsoft said, "Jump!"  I hve to ask, Why WOULDN'T Microsoft send speakers and presenters?  After all Microsoft has major offices elsewhere in the country, don't they.  Also, Microsoft has as least a _little_ bit a vested interest in PASS promoting their product, don't they?

March 12, 2010 10:52 AM
 

AaronBertrand said:

Ralph, the people at Microsoft who we really like to see at PASS are not, for the very high majority, the folks who are located on the East Coast, in Florida, in Dallas, etc.  Almost all of those in the SQL Server division work in Redmond.  Key product contributors like Marcel, Tobias, UC, Boris, etc. work in Redmond and can attend PASS in Seattle because it's a short drive downtown - and they can commit to a few hours, or a day, without impacting them much.  (And I am not talking solely about presenters; I am talking mostly about people you can have an impromptu chat with in the hall simply because they are there.)  For them to go to Charlotte or Chicago not only costs Microsoft more money in absolute costs, but they also need a travel day on each side, and Microsoft loses that whole segment of work on the product.  Quite frankly, I would be much happier that they drive downtown on one day, and spend the other 4 days continuing to improve SQL Server.  I am more than willing to "pay the price" of traveling on their behalf, because I am going to do that no matter where the conference is held, but it's a bigger bonus to get that much more Microsoft presence.  As I've explained in other forums, yes of course Microsoft would still send people to PASS no matter where it is held.  But would the quality and quantity be the same?  Not in this universe.

Anyway, that's just my opinion.

March 12, 2010 2:00 PM
 

Eric Wisdahl said:

Repost from blog...

There has been a lot of chatter going back and forth as it relates to the official announcement that the PASS Summit will be held in Seattle for 2011 and 2012.  Andy Warren, one of the board members, has had a few different posts on the subject - PASS Update #24 and Summit Location and More.

I'd like to take the time to respond...

I personally like the conference being located in Seattle.  It gives me the opportunity to visit friends and family in the area before or after the conference.  However, I am certainly open to the suggestion of the conference being held elsewhere.  I am also certainly going to do as much as I can to show up at the conference wherever it is held. (I've gone the past two years, which isn't much, but it is essentially ever since I had heard about it).

The things I enjoy about the conference are as follows:

  1. meeting and having lively discussions and extra circular activities with active members of the community (Forum Members, Bloggers, Twitterers, Etc - Any of which COULD be Microsoft developers, most of which are not)

  2. experiencing great sessions

  3. speaking with the developers / CAT Team

  4. seeing the products of the miscellaneous vendors

I think that the survey itself should have been thought through a little bit better.  The questions, as Andy has pointed out, seemed biased.  Even with those (presumably) biased questions the response was taken in, considered, and largely ignored.  So, what was the point of the survey?

All of this leads me to wonder, how many people come to the conference year in and year out?  How many people show up once, or, perhaps once every five years, or once every release cycle?  How vocal are people in either group?  Do we know what the percentage of respondents to the survey there were compared to how often or how likely it is that they will show up to another event in the next few years?  In other words, what is the thought process, if any, for determining how moving the conference versus not moving the conference would affect the various demographics of the conference goers?  Does moving it mean that more people are not able to attend on a more regular basis?  Would the move encourage more one timers?  Knowing that the move would mean that there were less microsoft employees, would there be less people in either category who show up (if, in fact, there is a correlation there)?

How much of the process for the decision was based on the cost factor for the organization?  How much was based around the cost factor for the attendees?  Does the organization know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, what it is that draws in most participants (attendees, speakers, sponsors, etc)?  If so, which of these groups is the most important in the decision making process?

I know that this isn't a novel response.  I just think that the responses I have been seeing have been interesting and wanted to throw in my two cents.

March 12, 2010 2:24 PM

Leave a Comment

(required) 
(required) 
Submit

This Blog

Syndication

My Company


Other Blog

Check out my personal blog...
http://andyleonard.me

Contact Me

Twitter: @AndyLeonard
Email: andy.leonard@gmail.com

Powered by Community Server (Commercial Edition), by Telligent Systems
  Privacy Statement