All aTwitter about PASS Nominations

Lots of interesting conversations about the PASS nominations happening on Twitter today; if you are not up to speed, you’ve got a lot of reading to do.  I’ll try to sum up as best I can:

  • Some people applied to be nominated for board positions; a nominating committed approved 4 applications for 3 open positions.
  • 3 of the 4 positions are well-established members of the SQL community; one is a bit more controversial.
  • All 4 candidates have been invited to express their opinions on various forums, and all have been “interviewed” by Brent Ozar on his blog.  Links are below.

If you haven’t read these interviews, you need to.  For the most part, they’re pretty insightful, and they suggest what direction each of the candidates is moving in when it comes to PASS.  Matt’s candidacy raises some interesting questions about the nomination process, and the role of the Board in determining the direction of PASS.  It also raises some definitional questions about what PASS is, and what it should be.  I applaud him for his comments on Brent’s blog, because it takes a lot of guts to stand up under fire (even though I disagree with some of his positions). 

EDIT: I should have also stated that I applaud ALL of the candidates for their willingness to engage the members of PASS, including the first step of applying for the job. 

Before I go too much further, let me say that this post is intended to be an indictment of myself; I did not apply to be on the Board, nor did I even express much interest in the nomination process before today. I also didn’t even blink before I voted; I picked the three candidates that I felt comfortable with, and was going about my business until the conversations began on Twitter today.  I will not be so lax in the future.

What bothers me most about Matt’s candidacy is not his position, nor his background, nor the responses he gave to the questions asked of him; it’s the fact that he’s the only candidate that the community seems to have engaged in this fashion.  Granted, many of the questions asked were for him to clarify how his professional expertise would make him a good fit for the Board, and those are legitimate questions.  There were also other questions that were asked to help clarify his vision of direction for PASS which would have been suitable for the other candidates as well.  All of that’s fair game, but why didn’t we challenge the other candidates as well?

When I asked the question on Twitter, the general response I got was that “we know the other candidates; we don’t know Matt”.  That may be true, but even though we know someone, that should give us the opportunity to engage them on a deeper level than the “dark horse” candidate.  Instead, we as a community let 3 out of 4 candidates express themselves with little or no interaction from us, and instead focused on 1 controversial candidate.  I am not suggesting that Matt should not have been questioned; I am suggesting that we should have taken more advantage of the opportunity to get to know the other candidates better.

EDIT: As pointed out in the comments below, Matt was not the only candidate to engage with questioners; I didn’t mean to overlook the efforts of the candidates to make themselves approachable, but I did want to point out that many of us didn’t take them up on that offer.

Again, I’m pointing the finger at myself as much as anyone else.  I should have applied for the position; at the very least, I should have asked more questions before casting my vote.

October 16, 2009 · stuart · 13 Comments
Posted in: PASS, SQLServerPedia Syndication, The Social Web

13 Responses

  1. SQLRockstar - October 16, 2009

    Stuart,

    I thought I had made myself available for questions for the past three weeks.

    I chose to use UStream as a way to respond to questions rather than use the comments section of a blog post. I thought it was important to take the time to engage people face to face, if you will, rather than from a keyboard alone.

    I am available for any question you have, all you need to do is ask.

  2. Brent Ozar - October 16, 2009

    I was rather surprised that I was the only one who interviewed the candidates, and that publications didn’t do any interviews either. I was also surprised that only Tom LaRock and Jeremiah Peschka wrote anything about their platforms on their web sites. Tom also did a great job taking questions from the public during video chat sessions.

    I hate to ask this question, but did the other two candidates expect to win solely based on name recognition? Why didn’t they campaign?

  3. stuart - October 16, 2009

    This is gonna sound like I’m breaking up with you, but…

    Tom, it wasn’t you, it was me. We had our moments, but…

    Seriously, though; I think all of the candidates did a good job of making themselves available to answer questions (some more than others), but many of us (I know I’m not alone in this) in the community didn’t take advantage of your generousity. I just saw the names and mentally went “I know that guy, that guy, and that guy” rather than asking in-depth questions of you.

    My fault; I should have accepted your offer to ask questions BEFORE I voted. I may have found the skeleton in your closet, the Bat(man) in your belfry, but I didn’t. My post wasn’t intended as an indictment of any of the candidates, but rather an admission of laziness on my part.

    Won’t happen again.

  4. Chuck Boyce - October 16, 2009

    Stuart,

    That Feedjit widget is beyond annoying. I had to copy and paste stuff from your blog to a text editor just to read things.

    I think when Matt characterized legitimate questions posed to him as “slander” (in fairness, Matt has apologized) that made the community a LOT more interested in who he was. I entered the conversation merely to answer a simple question and was somewhat peeved at how difficult it was to get a simple answer and I felt Matt’s tone was dismissive (not something I look for when I vote for someone to serve me).

    As far as the other three candidates, I worked for Brian as a Solid Quality mentor and consider him a friend. I work for Tom now as a consultant at ING. Jeremiah was a customer of mine when I worked at Quest Software.

    Despite my familiarity with all three, I read the interviews Brent gave and participated in Tom’s UStream forums.

    I also talk everyday with Tom and Jeremiah on twitter (and obviously, with Tom, at ING).

    Chuck
    @chuckboycejr

  5. stuart - October 16, 2009

    Chuck,

    Sorry about the Feedjit; to be honest, it could be my provider. They’ve been noticeably slow, even before I added the widget. I’ll give it a few days and see if I notice anyd changes.

    I’d agree that there were things that Matt posted (and the way he posted them) that left me uninterested in voting for him (even before the comment thread). It just seems to me that you are an anomaly; you know them all well, and you did take advantage of their offers for interaction. I think, however, that most of us in the PASS community didn’t do that (myself included). I’ve met all of the candidates (except for Matt), and just made a snap decision based on that relationship.

    Would I have voted differently if I’d had deep, meaningful conversations with each of the nominees? Probably not, since I have serious doubts about the benefit of having an “outside” person on the board. That being said, I think I SHOULD have taken advantage of the opportunity, and the controversy which spawned the interaction with Matt made me wonder where the passion was for the other candidates?

    Stu

  6. MarlonRibunal - October 16, 2009

    It is not that my vote matters but…

    It was easy for me to make the decision to vote for #1 and #2. I have had hard time looking up info for the spot #3.

  7. Tim Benninghoff - October 16, 2009

    I think part of the problem is that the structure of the voting itself promoted this behavior. If there are 4 candidates, and 3 positions, and each voter gets to choose 3 candidates, the best use of your time is to find the person NOT to vote for.

    Now, having said that, would we have seen different interactions with all candidates if we were forced to do a ranked voting for the candidates? Or, get to only vote for 1? Maybe, but I’m not terribly convinced.

  8. Matt Morollo - October 17, 2009

    Stuart,

    Thanks again for your comments, posts and pointing out that in many ways I was “under fire” (which is fine) However, I may be a PASS “outsider” (and would suggest having an experienced outside voice is a good thing – but think it puts many people outside their comfort zone – as it would me). The truth is, I am an industry insider; for example I see adds from Red Gate on here, Google ads from Intense School, App Dev; these are companies and businesses we’ve help build and grow and support We work as I’ve mentioned on the other side of the fence. My point is that this is a market that I partake in every day. So, my challenges is having IT pros recognize that I’m not really an outsider, simply someone who has a different occupation in this market, but someone that brings a unique skillset, background, track record that the PASS nominations committee (all “insiders”) have the confidence that my nomination can bring something to to the table. Please consider that – I did the work, the insiders liked it, cleared the interview process, and am now keen to volunteer my time to help PASS. If we don’t try new things, leave our comfort zone, then is that living, is that creative, is that not turning down an opportunity? Believe, I understand the sentiments and have been in a similar position myself, but change and diversity can be a good thing, and I dont mean changing PASS, but rather improving it with the direction and feedback from the community. Thanks Again! Best, -Matt

  9. Chuck Boyce - October 17, 2009

    “Please consider that – I did the work, the insiders liked it, cleared the interview process, and am now keen to volunteer my time to help PASS.”

    Hi Matt,

    I’m stuck inside with a nasty sinus infection this weekend so I have little to do this weekend and I’m following our community’s elction with interest. Would you mind elaborating on the above remarks you’ve made?

    Here is the thing that I cannot understand and I have seen this question posed to you before and you haven’t answered it sufficiently in my opinion:

    WHY does someone who is a Publishing VP and not a technologist with no prior history of PASS community involvement (please note that I said “community”) want to be on the Board of our technical community?

    Two questions that good friend and PASS Board member Joe Webb have asked us to take into consideration when we vote are:

    “Has the person served as a volunteer with PASS?”
    “Has he demonstrated a love for the SQL Community?”

    You have not served as a volunteer with PASS and as of two days ago you were publicly stating that PASS was a Media organization.

    I just don’t get why you want to be on our board?

    If you could answer that to our satisfaction it might help us to consider you as a viable candidate to lead our database professionals community.

    Thanks.

    Chuck
    @chuckboycejr

    p.s. – I did not get your email. Feel welcome to send me a twitter DM.

  10. Jon Crawford - October 20, 2009

    “Please consider that – I did the work, the insiders liked it, cleared the interview process, and am now keen to volunteer my time to help PASS.”

    …and aside from Chuck’s comment above, the PASS community respects the board and nomination committee, but (I feel safe in speaking for the group here, but feel free to dispute) the individuals who make up that community are not about to let *anyone* make up their mind for them. The nomination to the election slate is inconsequential to the discussion, the discussion is about how you convince the community itself.

  11. Jon Crawford - October 20, 2009

    Oops! Sorry Stuart, I thought you had an excellent point, this dialogue that is taking place with Matt should be taking place with all candidates, and the imbalance may not be completely fair to any of them.

  12. Chuck Boyce - October 20, 2009

    Hi Jon,

    The comment you quoted and attributed to me as not respecting the Board and nomination committee wasn’t made by me. It was a quote by Matt I had hoped he might elaborate on. Unfortunately, he did not. I’ll leave it it him to discuss your expressed thoughts on it.

    I do respect the nomination committee and in fact have friends and colleagues on it. I do have thoughts of my own, though, as do many – some are shared by you. I agree with you that all future nominees should interact with the community.

    If you would like to see my thinking on this more fully, I have blogged some observations here:

    http://chuckboyce.blogspot.com/2009/10/its-transparency-stupid.html

    Best,

    Chuck
    @chuckboycejr

  13. Jon Crawford - October 20, 2009

    Sorry Chuck, didn’t mean to attribute that to you, merely to refer to your post just above it (poor wording).

    I should also clarify that I was not saying that the committee was not respected, exactly the opposite.

    However, despite our respect for them, that is not a deciding factor here. All candidates were “cleared by the insiders” (paraphrasing).

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