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Silicon Valley Linux User Group: Editorials
"Who's the Largest LUG in the World?"
by Ian Kluft,
Putting the Issue to Rest
Update January 31, 1999
San Jose, California
Well, it looks like I started an international incident with my
editorial on Saturday. It opened saying there are two groups who have
competing claims to be the largest LUG (Linux user group) in the world.
They are the Silicon Valley Linux User
Group (SVLUG) in San Jose (Silicon Valley), California and the Skåne Sjælland Linux
User Group (SSLUG), which spans across Denmark and (southern)
The issue never was so important, about who is the largest LUG. The
question really was acknowledging or ignoring others who made the same
claim. After a weekend of misunderstandings, we've come full circle to
the initial idea of cooperation -- though cooperation is now proposed as
an alternative to arguing, rather than ignoring each other. Hopefully,
this will put it to rest.
Background: Where Did This Come From?
The makings of this situation go back several months. When SSLUG
told SVLUG that they claimed to be the largest LUG in the world, SVLUG
began acknowledging that SSLUG also made the same claim we did.
But, we needed time to check the numbers. Over the course of several
weeks, we decided the groups were just different, and would acknowledge
both as competing claims.
We kept seeing cases where SSLUG claimed to be the largest
LUG in the world. It wasn't a big deal at first, but the friction grew
over time. Things "hit the fan", so to speak, when a BBC
article blindly repeated SSLUG's claim.
We'd never asked them to drop their claim, because there are some
criteria by which their claim is legitimate. As is ours.
Even though it was fairly late at night when the discussion started
on the SVLUG list, you could tell people weren't happy about the BBC
article. In response, I put an editorial up on the SVLUG site. (That
used to be in the location you found this document. I moved it for historical
reference and put this update in its place.) Something we had not
succeeded in doing earlier, this did get SSLUG's attention. One of
their members/webmasters posted a response. Of
course, I also got a bunch of e-mails about the subject, as one can
expect after posting an editorial on the Net. :-)
Competition or Cooperation?
You can always count on Murphy's Law to apply when, you post an
editorial like this. I was surprised that most of the responses from
SSLUG members were disputing little details that I thought were mostly
insignificant to the main point, but were sore points of inaccuracy for
them. And each one of those points I had gotten directly from their
Web page. Fortunately, some polite SSLUG members (including one of
their founders) helped talk through this, and they realized they hadn't
updated their English Web page in ages. So, they understood where I got
my info from. And now we know why some unintentional hostility started
for nothing. Both SVLUG and SSLUG are making corrections on our Web
sites, as a result of parts of this.
Unfortunately, the point we'd been trying to make was completely lost
in the confusion.
Something else drowned the point even further... . We had suggested
considering SSLUG and SVLUG to be different categories, since each appeared
to cover a different geographical area, national or metropolitan. (This
was exaggerated by the English version of SSLUG's page.) But, we've now
heard from members of Japan's JLUG and the North Texas Linux User Group
with numbers that could challenge in both categories. The idea of
checking things like "How do you measure those numbers?" would be
counterproductive. (That would be the next question, if this were
allowed to continue.)
So, now everyone's tired of the argument. It's been going on all
weekend. We can all reach the conclusion that there are too many
variables to claim to be the largest LUG any more. As we already knew,
several groups could claim the title under different
criteria. It's time to drop it.
I'm going to change SVLUG's claim on its Web pages to be "one of
the largest" Linux user groups. And I'll encourage the others to do the
same. (Actually, by the time I wrote that, SSLUG had already done
so. And we have now too.)
I'd like to give credit to all the people on both sides who refrained
from flaming each other. Even though some flamage seems inevitable on
the Internet, it looks like enough people kept cool heads, so that we
quickly found out where the differences and misunderstandings came from.
Many responses included the question, "Can't we cooperate instead of
compete?" Well, yes, of course. Actually, there was a third option of
ignoring each other, which was happenning before. We'd be glad to
choose cooperation over that too.
We already know we have plenty to cooperate on... For example,
coming soon is the February 15th Windows Refund Day. Many
LUGs are arranging their own local events.
Feedback to SVLUG webmasters.