[kwlug-disc] On lowering new member hurdles & comment cards.

unsolicited unsolicited at swiz.ca
Thu May 6 18:53:39 EDT 2010

This will ramble about, so please bear with me. I'm just throwing 
stuff out here to see what, if anything, sticks. Apologies for the length.

kwlug is member driven. Understandably and rightly so. But what I 
really mean is, kwlug members create their own content, for 
themselves. The content presented reflects that. Again, all rightly so.

So, content reflects those whom are members, not those who might be or 
could be members, or new members. There is a sensitivity to some 
extent to the desires of such, but content largely reflects those who 
are members, or, more accurately - those who are willing to step up. 
[And thank you all, by the way, for stepping up.]

The topics presented consist of material the members themselves are 
willing to step up and produce. And so reflect the interests and 
content those producing members are passionate about. Again, all 
rightly so.

A sticking point with being able to be new member friendly seems to be 
to get them onto the communication pathways that already exist. I've 
never, for example, seen anything but "Hail fellow, well met!" and 
"The only stupid question is the one not asked!" on the list. But it 
seems to be chicken and egg to get them on the list (or have them be 
comfortable / not overwhelmed with it). [Sorry, nature of the beast, 
deal.] They don't use the list because they don't know about the list, 
and they don't know about the list because ...

	On a side note: I very much liked an idea put forth on the list some 
time ago, I don't remember by whom, sorry, of a page on the site 
composed basically of links to "Reference links local kwlug people 
have found to be useful." (i.e. Well, I expect most of us know how 
frustrating the web can be some times.) Especially if some links can 
point to Bob's offer to author / edit / host articles on material 
local kwlug'ers have group collaborated on to produce, for lack of 
'good' www material found. (Particularly that match Bob's standards - 
which are of a particularly excellent nature, not found often enough 
in today's technical literature.) [RouterStation Pro, anyone, yet?]

There has been some recent list discussion with respect to the nature 
or the complexity of the material available (be it meeting, 
presentation, web site, or list), both with respect to 'what it should 
be' or 'targeted towards', and to what might be more friendly to new 

It seems to me that you cannot hit a target when you don't know where 
that target is. So, hadn't we better find out where that target is?

And the only way I can think of to collect such data is to ask - say 
by meeting comment cards (a la wwitpro) or surveys.

There are two targets here: where, on average, are the current members 
at, and where are those new to kwlug at.

So, if there is consensus that meeting surveys are appropriate and 
would be useful, I'll volunteer to run with it.

I think, however, we would also need to accumulate (anonymous) member 
profiles. Bear with me a moment, the idea is not as offensive as it 
may sound. The difference between a meeting survey and a user profile 
is that a user profile likely wouldn't change significantly, so don't 
ask them about it every time. And don't create a need to track 
submissions to track / remove duplicates.

We talk about whether we are presenting the right material for the 
members. Well, the only way to know that is if we know the nature of 
our members. So, elements of the profile might be:

- what sort of user are you? Casual, internet & e-mail only, 
programmer, office suite, administrator (and type: system, network, 
- how 'comfortable' are you with computers? New to computers, new to 
Linux, short/long time Windows user, short/long time Linux user?
- current distro? (Could be interesting! And probably startling.)
   - distros ever tried?
- current Windowing system (Also interesting!) [Plus level, e.g. KDE4 
users vs. KDE3 - it was quite a step, that one was!]
- what do you do / interested in / enthusiastic about - programming 
(What/'Language'?), web creation, database, mail merge, systems, 
photography, graphic design, ???

The point is, this is largely unchanging information, and the average 
'complexity' of the users would largely drive the complexity of the 
presentations. But there can be only one record per member, and it 
must be presented in an anonymous aggregate. We're merely looking to 
find out where this complexity target is. Question: How to not 
intimidate new members?

I have absolutely no idea how to accomplish this. I could see someone 
with appropriate expertise creating a web form, and attaching it to 
user profiles, but as soon as I consider how to require complete and 
unique records, how to anonymously aggregate it, and how to present 
it, I have no idea as to the specific technical steps required.

Then there's a meeting survey. That I know I can do - arrive at a form 
everyone can live with, print them out, get the host to hand them out 
/ collect them, get them to me, and I accumulate them into a monthly 
'report'. Everything would be anonymous.

First: *Absolutely nothing* on the form would discuss the quality of 
the presentation. If you have any problems - get off your heinie and 
present, yourself, already.

Otherwise, it might have such things as:
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how was the complexity of the topic for you: 
1 being too simple, 5 being just right, 10 being too advanced.
- what would you like to see presentations on?
- what would you like to see the floss fund donate to?
- are you a member of the list?
- what would you like to see kwlug do?
- what might you like to contribute, if you were more comfortable or 
knew how?
- Comments / Suggestions / anything you can think of to say?

Which is all to say, without having to put your hand up and expose 
yourself, do you know how to get help (list), how did you feel about 
*this* meeting, but most importantly - provide a (potential?) new 
member with a mechanism they understand and have to hand as to how to 
have their say / communicate. (vs. the list that they may not know 
about, or be a member of, yet.) [Yes, some of this, presentation 
request and floss fund nominees, have current mechanisms,  but I don't 
believe entries are being populated at quite the rate desired.]

So, is there any consensus as to whether, or not, such profiles and 
surveys are appropriate, useful, or desirable?

If profiles are desired, will someone volunteer to run with effecting it?

If either profiles or comment cards / surveys are desired, what should 
be on them?

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