Now all that’s left of our Community is Playlists and a Pile of Cheese….

I have spent the last month thinking about why PASS Summit 2016 felt so empty to me.  I loved seeing my friends from all over the world.  The sessions were hit and miss, just like always, but I left feeling empty and disappointed. Summit is normally my time to recharge and get excited about SQL Server again. This year I had to find other things to get me recharged and it left me thinking, what was different?

I talked to a few other people that had the same experience and after talking it out, I think I found the problem. There wasn’t a community party. There were tons of parties.  Every vendor seemed to have a party and I spent a lot of time trekking around Seattle to attend them.    I saw a few people at each one but I never really got the opportunity to converse with the people that I only see at the community party.  I heard (mostly through the grapevine so it could all be misinformation) that stopping the community party was a way for PASS to save money and to allow people to attend more vendor parties. I think this may have been a misstep and my parents taught me to never bring up a problem without proposing a solution.

I would suggest that the vendors that do their own party change their course and instead sponsor a section of the EMP and bring back the Community Party. But Andrea, isn’t that the point of the vendor reception? If it is, why are they having separate parties? The Vendor reception appears to me to be a time for vendors to sell things and the community party is a time to come together as a community and celebrate. I feel like this year our community was fractured all over Seattle and never really had a chance to connect.

Our Community is what sets SQL Server apart from other database platforms. I want to encourage the growth of this community and offer this humble post as a way to make PASS Summit more united in the future.

Also, in no way is this meant as an attack on any one that serves PASS. I know everyone works really hard to make it a success and I would offer a huge THANK YOU!!! to all those that make PASS possible.

*Hugs* to my awesome #SQLFamily, #DataFamily


Today’s lyrics are from Matt Nathanson’s Playlist and Apologies

About andreaallred

SQL Server and helping people is my passion. If I can make someone laugh, I know I have made a difference.

13 thoughts on “Now all that’s left of our Community is Playlists and a Pile of Cheese….

  1. Brent Ozar says:

    I worked at a big vendor before, and the logic at the time was, “We want our own private party because we want to reward specific people/companies with a better experience, and we want to be able to have some quiet time to have discussions and show specific stuff.” You can’t really do those things at one big party.

    (Having said that, you don’t see Brent Ozar Unlimited throwing private parties with booze & food paid for because they’re spectacularly expensive.)

    • andreaallred says:

      That makes complete sense, but none of the vendor parties I attended seemed to adhere to that logic. Perhaps I just attended the wrong ones. I also completely understand that they are very expensive, if I throw a small party for friends it gets pricey, I can’t imagine how expensive some of the parties I attended were.

      • Brent Ozar says:

        Believe it or not, I bet they actually did in a way you weren’t expecting. Vendors like to invite a mix of community people (bloggers/speakers/volunteers), customers, and company staff. The customers get to be “wowed” by being around bloggers/speakers/volunteers, and the company gets a better reputation for being seen as a facilitator.

        You’re actually one of those bloggers/speakers/volunteers. Your presence is actually one of the benefits of the party. You just may not have noticed that you were part of the product. 😀

        That one blew me away once I was on the inside and saw how it works. Customers and company staff really do get excited to meet the faces they’ve seen on the webernetz.

  2. andreaallred says:

    Now you are just making me feel good (It’s totally working). You also kind of blew my mind. I guess we don’t see ourselves that way, but when someone else points it out, it makes you sit back and go, “Really?”. Thank you for the kind compliments and for being so encouraging. Heroes like you really mean a lot to us small fries.

    • Brent Ozar says:

      That was EXACTLY my thought when I first heard that from a marketing person. “What the hell do you mean people are coming here because I’m on the invite list?!?” That was surreal.

      Heroes, hahaha. We gotta find you some better aspirations. 😀

  3. rob says:

    As a consultant my clients use different vendor products or more often than not, none at all. That makes it difficult to feign interest in one product or another. SQLBits in the UK does excellent parties for all attendees. It’s bad enough having to chose between sessions, let alone entertainment too! Smaller events of invited crowds seems rather elitist to me, folk always form cliques which is sad when the event should be about bringing people together. If I was to pay the not insubstantial fees and travel cost to attend the biggest SQL Server event I would expect this.

    • Brent Ozar says:

      Rob – yep, you’re not the target audience for most vendor parties. That’s why PASS getting rid of the community party hurt a lot of folks – the vendors simply can’t afford to pay for parties that welcome everyone, especially folks that don’t buy their products. Throwing a big party is really, really eye-wateringly expensive. It turns out PASS attendees can drink a LOT.

    • andreaallred says:

      The community is my favorite part of large conferences such as Summit. Without that, it is actually more cost effective of me to attend a few local SQL Saturdays.

      • rob says:

        I totally agree with Brent, I wouldn’t want to foot the bill for freeloaders.
        If I did I’d have a lavish wedding (only I like the sql community more than the in-laws). Although I don’t drink much, I understand I’m in the minority.

        Every year i’ve watched the tweets from summit hoping I’d have the chance to go. To be honest I won’t have to worry any more as travelling 4781 miles for no social if the vendors and organisation themselves can’t even provide that.

        I understand the economics, but if Pass market themselves internationally they need to be ticking every box. I could go to lots of User groups and afford to eat and drink with SQLFamily buddies too for the price of Pass.

  4. denisemc06 says:

    Andrea, thanks for sharing your thoughts on the Community Appreciation Party not being held at PASS Summit 2016. During the planning for 2016 the Board took into account feedback from both attendees and partners. As I noted in a blog post at the time the Community Appreciation Party is a significant investment. And much of the feedback indicated that, because the number of social activities had increased, people were not getting as much benefit from that investment as we’d like So we tried something different by not having the Community Appreciation Party.

    As you noted there were a number of vendor-sponsored parties; there were also more community-organized activities. We’ll be reviewing the feedback from the surveys and other sources to see how people felt about these changes in the social activities offered at PASS Summit. As always community feedback will influence what we do next year.

    • andreaallred says:

      Thank you Denise! I really appreciate all that PASS does to put on the Summit and other events throughout the year. I hope this post didn’t come across as negative in any way, it was just a highlight that I missed the community party. Thank you for taking the time to comment. I did read your blog post before Summit and thought it was a great idea to be able to attend more vendor parties. I didn’t realize how much I would miss the community party until it wasn’t there. Thank you again for all you do!

      • denisemc06 says:

        Andrea, no it did not come across as negative at all. I did want to ask what you think of the Welcome Reception. Does that provide a way to connect with others similar to the Community Appreciation party?

  5. andreaallred says:

    I love the welcome reception, but it is a little different, people are just getting going for the week and warming up to each other. Many people haven’t arrived in time to attend. It is a great time for first timers to meet the people they have been watching online. To me the community party feels like a chance for everyone to say goodbye for another year.

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