Commission to Reform WPLUG

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The Commission to Reform WPLUG (CRW) is an informal group created to draft proposals that fix long-standing problems in WPLUG. It was created on December 9, 2012.


WPLUG is struggling to compete against other technology groups. CRW's purpose is to expedite the reform process so that WPLUG can become competitive again as soon as possible:

  • Update the bylaws
  • Chart a new direction for WPLUG
  • Explore ways to make WPLUG less formal/political
  • Bring WPLUG's resources up to par with current technological standards


CRW has no membership requirements. If you decide to join, add your name to the membership list on this page.

Each month, CRW gathers its best ideas into a "reform package" that is formally proposed during the following month's WPLUG general user meeting. Ideas can be proposed or voted on at any time, but it is recommended to propose ideas outside of meetings and vote on them during the meetings so that people have time to think before they vote.

If an idea is approved by a majority of CRW members, it will be added to the current reform package.

Since CRW is not an official WPLUG organization, it doesn't receive official funding and is not governed by the WPLUG bylaws. Members are encouraged to apply the same "free and flexible" mindset to their deliberations: check your preconceptions at the door, be open-minded, and support the best ideas to reform WPLUG. Everyone who wants to present ideas will have an equal opportunity to do so.


  • Justin Smith
  • Terry Golightly
  • Pat Barron
  • Vance Kochenderfer
  • Joseph Prostko

Meeting Logs

Saturday, December 15

Thursday, December 20

Upcoming Meetings

None at this time

Reform Package History

CRW Discussion Archives

Reform Package 1: Bylaw changes, to be proposed January 2013.

Reform Package 1 Ideas

Justin Smith (1/1)

I'd like us to have the CRW survey ready to go by the January GUM. That's an aggressive deadline, as Pat said on Sunday, but I don't think we can afford to be anything but aggressive if we hope to turn around WPLUG.

The major sticking point is the "general direction" section. There are a vast number of ideas we could discuss; rather than go over them one at a time, I suggest that we start at the most general level and work our way down. Specific ideas will be eliminated in great numbers along the way, and we'll arrive at a basic theme that we can ask about. This will make the CRW survey easier to design and shorter to take.

The most basic question I can think of is whether WPLUG should be primarily a casual or professional group. This decision will influence our events, our relationships, and where our social media home should be (assuming that the group decides to have one).

Just so I'm clear: no matter what we choose, desktop Linux will always be a mainstay.


This is basically where we are right now. There is a market for casual Linux, but we're not taking full advantage of it because we limit ourselves to very specific usage of desktop Linux. Android is growing exponentially. Thanks to Steam, Linux may finally become usable for gamers. In short, there's a lot more that we could be doing.

Events Ideas

  • A general "open culture" event instead of InstallFest
  • Linux gaming party (with Android, Steam, Ouya, etc)
  • Presentations on how to use your favorite desktop Linux utilities on Android


  • The "open culture" movement
  • Android users
  • Gamers

Project Ideas

  • Relaunch the Open Pitt as a (regional?) netcast, perhaps as a collaboration with other casual technology groups
  • Host an Icecast (Internet radio) station that plays tracks from "open culture" or local/indie artists

Possible social media center

  • Google+. Read up on WAG ( for my thoughts on this. G+ seems to be more global than regional, however.
  • Facebook. I despise it, but it's casual, has a large audience, and contains many regional groups. We can't afford to ignore any options that would allow us to reach people.


America's business engine could put a lot of people under our roof, particularly if the economy heads south because of the "fiscal cliff" business. People will be eager to network with other professionals and acquire new skills. Work is a higher priority than hobbies for most people; therefore, people who wouldn't come to WPLUG for kicks may come to it if they think it can help them move ahead in their career.

Event Ideas

  • A representative from a local business gives a presentation about how her company uses open source
  • A professional networking event with a well-known featured speaker
  • Organize a cram session for people who are studying for some sort of certification test


  • Recruiting firms
  • Local businesses
  • Each other (professional networking)

Project Ideas

  • Invite local businesses to sponsor WPLUG
  • Working together on an open source project like LibreOffice

Possible social media center

  • LinkedIn. No ifs, ands, or buts: if you're a professional group, this is where you need to be.

Pat Barron (01/04/13)

Just a few comments...

I don't think our "focus" issue is so much casual users vs. professional users - I think it's more like, committed users vs. those who are just exploring. This is a conversation we've had on and off for a while now - do we focus our efforts towards the interests of those who have already decided to use Linux, or do we focus more on trying to bring "undecided" users into the fold? (That distinction may also overlap a lot with the notion of "casual" vs. "professional" users...) My own opinion is, we should focus primarily on those who've already chosen Linux.

I think brainstorming about any kind of open source-related events is good. We traditionally do something for Software Freedom Day (which is really an "open culture" event), though it didn't happen in 2012 - I think primarily because we really couldn't find anyplace suitable to hold the event. The hardest parts of event organizing for us have really been finding venues, and finding people who are interested enough to help put events together.

I was thinking the same thing about doing some kind of netcast, though admittedly I hadn't thought about recasting The Open Pitt in that way. I don't know enough about Icecast/Shoutcast/etc. streaming type things to really comment on those, other than to say that I find them interesting, but we would need to host them somewhere other than our Linode server (because we actually have a bandwidth cap, or at least a level above which we need to pay extra - we've never hit it with mainly wiki and mailing list use, but I can easily imagine us hitting our cap with audio streaming). And, of course, we'd need to be really, really paranoid about rights and clearances.

WPLUG actually does have a Facebook group already. But, it's hardly used, because hardly anyone knows about it. We really haven't done anything to promote it; the only way people find it right now is that they just sort of stumble across it. I don't think it's even mentioned on our wiki. There are only about 15 members of the group.

We have a Linkedin group too, I'm a member of it, but I will admit that I don't use it (or even look at it) because I find Linkedin's user interface very annoying. I should investigate to see if there's any way to have group messages redirected to e-mail (rather than having to visit their web site to read the group).

I'm working on extracting "our" name out of Twitter. Whatever happens, someone should register a "wplug" community on G+ ASAP, if for no other reason than to avoid a repeat of the Twitter situation (even if we never end up using it).

We need to go full-bore on promoting the heck out of our group via social media. The reason I bring up the existing social media stuff is that all these things are stuff that WPLUG (as an organization) has considered before, and actually started making efforts with - and then, for one reason or another, they dropped on the floor, or were never seen through to completion. We really need to change that.

Pat Barron (01/04/13 - part 2)

Regarding sponsorships: This is actually something we've explored before. We did some "beating the bushes" looking for corporate sponsors last year, and only got one who expressed interest. And the interested organization was looking accommodations that I think our community would have found onerous (for instance, an ad automatically appended to the signature block of each message sent through our mailing lists). I did have some discussions last year with a friend of mine who is a partner in a local venture capital firm, hoping to leverage his connections to the local high-tech community for pointers to potential sponsors, and he had some good advice for me about what to look for in sponsors who might have some synergy with what the group is doing - but ultimately, ending with a conclusion that in his opinion, what WPLUG does would not make a good sponsorship fit with any of the local companies that he's been working with recently. It might be good to have a "fresh set of eyes" looking at this problem from different angles.

Vance Kochenderfer survey comments

Thanks to Justin for putting this together. I was going to e-mail my comments, but figured this was a better place for them.

I was thinking much along the same lines as Justin's comments on where people are coming from. On the first demographics page, it might be worthwhile to ask the following.

What is your interest in Linux and other open source software?

  • Entirely professional
  • Both personal and professional, but primarily professional
  • Equally personal and professional
  • Both personal and professional, but primarily personal
  • Entirely personal

This would give us an idea of which audience to target with our presentation topics. Pat's note on experience level is also worth asking about; a simple novice/intermediate/expert question would collect data along that axis, or you could get more fancy.

On the second page, I would rephrase the question How effective has the leadership of WPLUG been to date? to something more like How effective has the leadership of WPLUG been over the past three years? This bounds the question to be within the institutional memory of the current Board.

I'm not sure if there was more intended to be put on the third page other than the copyright status of Robert's Rules, but it seems a little lonely on the page by itself. Perhaps a question about whether you would like access to more explanation of the rules?

On the fourth page, we have a general question about the direction of WPLUG, but this needs to be fleshed out so people can give more specific feedback. I'd add the following questions.

What things do you think WPLUG does well? (free-form textbox)

What things do you think WPLUG does poorly? (free-form textbox)

What types of events are you most interested in attending? (multi-select checkboxes)

  • Hour-long pre-selected presentations
  • OpenSpace-style presentations (shorter, subjects determined on the fly)
  • Installfests
  • Tutorials
  • Professional networking events
  • Other (textbox)
  • (I'm sure you can think of other things to add to the list)

You could also add a question on what subjects are most interesting, but this may duplicate the "technology interests" question on the first page.

I think the idea of an audio netcast can be accommodated; without actually checking, my recollection is that we use a tiny fraction of our 200GB bandwidth allowance each month. There was a previous attempt at this which pre-dated my involvement with WPLUG. Unfortunately, I can't really contribute to such an effort, so it will require finding the people motivated to put it together.

Accepted Reform Package 1 Proposals

  • Eliminate distinctions between virtual meetings and physical meetings for the WPLUG board
  • Issue a statement on the new board's focus on meeting efficiency
  • Appoint a non-board member as the official timekeeper for each meeting
  • Ask everyone interested in WPLUG to take a CRW-designed survey about WPLUG's problems