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Re: Maybe this will help, maybe it won't

From: Susanne Ebrecht <miracee(at)miracee(dot)de>
To: "Joshua D(dot) Drake" <jd(at)commandprompt(dot)com>
Cc: pgeu-general(at)postgresql(dot)org
Subject: Re: Maybe this will help, maybe it won't
Date: 2008-01-26 03:49:45
Message-ID: (view raw, whole thread or download thread mbox)
Lists: pgeu-general
Hello Joshua,

we just have had a longer discussion on IRC, and I think, I have to 
leave my background and comment this.

Consider, the European User group was my idea, after I needed help from 
our neighbour countries. And then the Italians needs help from their 
neighbours, and after we discussed the idea we founded the group. We 
discussed details for the group at a special meeting in Italy. There 
were agents from lots of European countries. After this we go to the 
whole hog and finished the concept.

Joshua D. Drake wrote:
> Hash: SHA1
> Whenever I make a comment about the succinct nature of PeterE's
> responses, the response I get back is, "He's German". It's not
> derogatory, it's a statement of a particular cultural perspective.

Peter E. is a Saxon. That's a special race which you can't compare with 
Bavarians, Swabians, Westphalians, Hessian or Northern Germans.

> One of the responses I got back was, "Why do Europeans care about an
> United States conference?" My response to that was and still is:
> "It is not an United States conference. It is a PostgreSQL conference
> being held in United States". 
> Because we are all members of PostgreSQL you should care.

Sorry, but this is typical US arrogance. Of course you are right. There 
is only one PostgreSQL community. I once made a picture about the PG 
There is only and I hope will ever be only one big PG community, which 
is communicate to each other in English. Because we have lots of users, 
who are not able to speak or understand English, native speakers of 
other languages forced that we also have mailing lists for other languages.

The active community guys who are able to understand/speak the language 
and wants to do this, take care of these lists. They answer user 
questions, translate and paste the question in English, when they don't 
know the answer, translate the answer back. This is good for the English 
lists, because the native language lists are filters for the English 
lists automatically.

Others or the same (thinking to Peter) translated and still translate 
the documentation.

We have languages, where we have so many native speakers, that we have 
own IRC channels for this language. For example: German, French or Italian.

Conferences, talks, booths, exhibitions ...
We have to make propaganda for PG too. I remember and also I read and 
heard it. During the past lots of guys traveled a lot to countries far 
away, to make a talk, to make PG more popular at this country. But, we 
are an only community project, this means, nobody will pay the travel 
costs, besides you will find a sponsor (which is really difficult in 
Europe). It's much easier, when you have locale guys, who are doing this 

Because of all this, we have lots of language based groups. But they are 
all part of the "main" English speaking PG community.

The European group was founded as the group of all European language 
based groups (including UK and all other native English Europeans of 
course). The European Group is not for support or technical stuff. For 
all this stuff we have the language based groups and of course the 
English mailing lists, IRC channel and so on.

Back to the: "why is a European care of an US conference":
A simple example from last year: The French guys asked me, why I'll take 
care to the FOSDEM at Brussels, why didn't ask the organisation the 
French guys. Therefor were two reasons: 1) I am living a 3/4 hour car 
driving far from Brussels, 2) the organisation team knew me from other 
German open source events.

I often get offers for booths/talks and so on. I always look first, who 
is living next to the location. I always inform the community and ask, 
who wants to do it. Sometimes, the events are so small, that's not 
necessary, to ask the whole group, it's more then enough, tho ask only 
the German speaking group (for German/Austrian/Swiss events).

Every  event also is a kind of meeting point. I am really looking 
forward to the FOSDEM this year, because I know, that I'll meet lots of 
PG guys, who I didn't have seen since a long time or who I never met before.

Last week in Orlando, we figured out, Americans are better in traveling 
to Europe, then Europeans to travel to the US. It seems, US guys like to 
have the pain, sitting 10 or more hours in a plane :)

Seriously, of course, when I get the possibility to visit a US 
conference, I would do it. And I am always happy to meet US PG guys at 
European events.

Also, there is another thing, that I really like at the PG community. We 
always take care of each other. I think nobody of us is able to read all 
mails. But I know, when there is an email and other know, that this 
email will interest me, I'll get this email 30 or more times, because 
lots of guys will forward it too me.

Also lots of us share their informations and the stuff that they are 
doing. PG is a hobby for most of us. And it always can happens, that you 
don't have time, that there is more important stuff in your life then PG 
... I never saw the tower breaking down, when somebody turns out. 
Usually, there is a second guy, who knows about the stuff and can do it 
further on.

Last but not least, of course, we all are interested in: what happens 
with PG in other countries.

> If we take the idea of no boundaries to PostgreSQL we have
> (initially) three distinct cultures that will end up applying:
> 1. EU
> 2. JPUG
> 3. NA (north america)

Aren't 80% of NA original EU? *just kidding*

> I believe it makes absolute sense to have legal organizations in
> place that represent the community in a regionally. They should however
> be representing the PostgreSQL community as a whole, strategically
> located within their particular geographic region. 

For what?

The European group was founded because of 4 reasons:

1) grow together and now your neighbours.
Belgium has French, Dutch and German as native languages. I thought, 
that it would make sense to have French flyers at the FOSDEM. My French 
is really bad and the other Germans, who wanted to assist me at the 
FOSDEM aren't able to speak French. Nobody of us knew the French 
speaking guys. I asked for help on advocacy and immediately, I got 
feedback and at the event, we got great help from our French guys.
We decided, the next time, when there is an event, where you need French 
and German, we will do it together.
After this, the Italians guys asked for help on advocacy because of 
planning the PGDay 2007 in Italy. They also immediately got help from 
lots of others.
Because nobody of us knew, what happens at their neighbour countries, we 
decided, that we should change it.

2) help
Help each other on/with events and help the guys from smaller countries 
to make PG more popular. Often the language based groups just have less 
then a handful active guys ... together we are bigger. We can share 
stuff better in a bigger group. Nobody has to invent the wheel again. 
Lots of us have experiences, that they can share. Also we don't need to 
do double stuff, if it is not necessary.
Motivate and help, when there is for example only one single guy at a 
whole country.
Help active guys to find each other. For example, there are two active 
guys at Denmark, they both don't know from each other.  The European 
group can help, that they will get contact to each other.

3) Organisations
Do organisations like PGDay 2007 together. Share Merchandising material. 
Share organisation work.

4) Donations
Europe and donations ... a horror story. Share the less money, we will 

 Do I miss something? I think that were the main reasons.

> The problem arises when you limit who can be active within a particular
> organization. When an organization generates artificial limitations
> based on cultural divides you are not representing PostgreSQL as a
> whole. You are representing a subset of PostgreSQL which will in the
> long run creates rifts and weaken the global fabric of our community.

As I told before. The European Group is only the "summary" group of all 
European language/country (thinking to UK) groups. We needed to found an 
official group because of the laws for donations. Because the French 
already were an official group and only the French and the Germans has 
had a fundraising group in the background, we decided in Italy, to let 
this do the French guys. Also, because the German fundraising group only 
has the accreditation by law only for Germany not for Europe.

> I see this to some degree within the JPUG community already. They
> barely participate in the larger community. Now there are some even
> larger cultural and language concerns that assist in the divide but
> those concerns don't exist for the EU community.

I can imagine, that Japan is a complete different topic. Therefor 
Europeans and Americans are too similar. Americans have letters, words 
and sentences on their street signs, Europeans use to have pictograms. 
But afaik, both use to eat with forks and knifes.

> The current path of the micro community of EU is that the meritocracy
> is limited. Someone from Chile could in fact become one of the most
> beneficial members to the the EU community and yet never be in a
> position to authoritatively influence the direction of the
> micro community itself. That removes a lot of the attraction to
> crossing regional divides and create bonds between the micro community
> and the macro community.
Please, define beneficial member?
What should he do?
Organising pink T-Shirts with blue elephants made in Chile, shipping to 
Europe for Europe? 
Fighting with European lawyers, when there will be stress with donations?
Dutch flyers? Because we don't have active dutch guys at the moment.

Do you really think, a guy from Chile is able to lead a group of 
Europeans. The main groups are Germans, French, Italians and UK guys. 
All these nations fought against each other for more then 1000 years. 
And when there ever will be a non European enemy, I am pretty sure, they 
will stick together like a mother and her baby. Do you really think, a 
guy from Chile will be able to balance them?

Groups of different European nations are always like dynamite. You have 
to be extra careful. You always have to look to the special quirks of 
all of them. You have to know this quirks and accept them.

In my eyes: "authorisitatively influence the direction" <--- only core 
can do this.

Core always has to have the last word in my eyes.

Speaking for the German group (looking back) and also for the European 
group in 2007 we always informed core about our activities and our 
plans. And when they say no, we accept this. When Peter says no and Josh 
is wondering, that we didn't get active, then we pleaded Josh to discuss 
this with Peter. :)

Why should we change this?

Also, we are still a team. Nobody has more or less "authorisitatively 
influence the direction". Sometimes you need a guy with a rolling pin, 
who made the final decision. Who will say black or white, when there is 
a discussion about black or white. Who stops the discussion, make a 
summery and the decision.
But you will get killed, when you decide white and all others said 
black. Besides, core will say white.

The direction will always be made by the active guys. Usually we discuss 
all stuff on IRC or on mailing lists. When you don't read your mails and 
you don't be at IRC, then you are not really communicative. Which means, 
you agree with the stuff, that the others will do. Or you just trust the 
others, that they will do it right.

> If we continue down this path we are going to end up with a bunch of
> micro communities that have zero distinct tie to the larger macro
> community of 

We already have a bunch of micro communities. We have all this language 
based communities.  At this communities are lots of active guys, who are 
not able to speak English, who are to shy to speak English or whatever.  
Usually, you have lots of other active guys at this communities, who are 
playing the bridges.

To be honest, I can't see your problem here.

In summary:
Joshua, I think, you just miss understood the reason and sense of the 
European group.
I'll hope, that my explanations, will help you.

It makes no sense, that the European group will be leaded from non 
European guys. It's leaded from the core team at the highest instance.

The job isn't very hard, because most is self operated. The only thing, 
that is necessary for the lead is that all nations will trust him/her. 
And not loosing the trust, that's the difficulty of this job.

Time to sleep,


Susanne Ebrecht
52066 Aachen, Germany

PostgreSQL European Group
Email: miracee(at)miracee(dot)de

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