Motion 2019.1 refers to a letter from Jonathan Fine and a response by Robin Laakso. They are appended.
From Jonathan Fine:
Date: Thu, 4 Apr 2019 19:50:39 +0100 From: Jonathan Fine To: email@example.com Cc: TUG Board <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: [email@example.com] On the usefulness, relevance and future of TUG Dear fellow TUG member I joined the TeX Users Group almost thirty years ago. It was then a thriving organisation, in a world without the web pages, PDF or mobile phones. TUG now has obvious and serious problems. Our website displays scant knowledge or love of web typography. There's no clear and helpful route for new users to follow. The tug.org/help page is about the visitor helping TUG (and TeX developers). It's not about TUG helping TeX Users, which surely is TUG's main purpose. The tug.org/twg/accessibility page is similar. In 1989 the basic development of TeX was mostly complete, and energy shifted to acquiring and supporting new users, such as myself. I remember picking up a PC implementation of TeX, through my university, on a stack of 360Kb floppy discs. However, it seems to me that today TUG is still mostly focused on TeX development. And offers little to new users, such as PhD students. Financially, TUG is also in a mess. The 2017 Accounts show an income of $93,000 and payroll expenses of $63,000. TUG made a loss that year of $15,000. The 2018 budget planned a loss of $22,000. The 2019 budget plans a loss of $15,000. TUG is about five years from exhausting its financial reserves ($131,500 at the end of 2017). I've previously served on the TUG Board (2009 to 2013). Being outside the Board perhaps gives me less power, but is better for me, and gives me more freedom of action, to serve the TeX community. So, despite the impending crisis, I've not stood for the Board this year. If the Board cannot squarely admit the website, financial and other problems, and does not ask for and obtain help from members and other friends of TUG to resolve them, then sadly the organisation I proudly joined so long ago will I fear in a few years be reduced to an empty and irrelevant shell. with best wishes Jonathan
Response from Robin Laakso:
Date: Sat, 6 Apr 2019 14:42:16 -0700 From: TUG office <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: Jonathan Fine, email@example.com Cc: TUG Board <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Re: [email@example.com] On the usefulness, relevance and future of TUG Hi Jonathan, TUG members, TUG board, Let me first say that I am going rogue here. I have not spoken with anyone about writing to this list. I just wanted to take a minute to relay some comments. I first met you, Jonathan, at TUG2000, Oxford. Even though I was brand new to TUG, and it was my first TUG meeting (and quite well attended, over 100 participants I think) you stood out, so I remember you very well. Do you know why I remember you so well? It's because you were the proverbial squeaky wheel. You picked apart topics, disagreed with presenters, challenged various during talks, and criticized TUG the organization. This was the year 2000 mind you, almost 19 years ago, before high speed cable internet was common, and TUG was quite healthy. Members looked forward to receiving not only the TeX Live software but also a frozen image of CTAN, as well as four (!) journals per year. In spite of all the good news and important developments, in spite of the amazing conference organizer and resulting stellar conference and setting, you managed to draw attention to what appeared to me to be unsupported negatives, and to yourself. I can't remember the last time I received negative comments about the TUG website. Members send comments to the office regularly, almost 100% express thanks and gratitude for the hard work and efforts of the organization, hardly ever a complaint, certainly nothing about the website. I used to refer people to the "getting started" page quite often (http://tug.org/begin.html) for exactly the help that Jonathan claims is unavailable. Those inquiries have tapered off, presumably because savvy new users find the page on their own nowadays. This board, as well as past board members, work very hard in-between their daily responsibilities to further the mission and efforts of this beautiful organization. Indeed the TUG board of directors has had an ongoing discussion to foster the health and well being of TeX and TUG, on more than one mailing list, for many years! TUG would not be as vital or relevant or as highly regarded were it not for the enormous efforts of the TUG board of directors, past and present. The actual 2017 loss Jonathan refers to is correct but without explanation. That's probably because he ignored the reasons or doesn't know them. In 2017, in an effort to spur new/renewing membership, the electronic-only option was doubled from -20 to -40. TUG annual dues dropped about $300 from 2016 to 2017, however the electronic-only deduction nearly tripled from -$5085 to -$13,580, which accounted for most of the loss in 2017. In 2018 the electronic-only option was changed again from -40 to -35, which equaled -$10,820 last year. While budgets typically forecast a conservative outlook (-$22K for 2018 as Jonathan mentions below) the actual loss was around -$10,500 last year. Last year TUG members increased by 36, compared to 2017, probably mostly due to another new board-generated idea: trial memberships. The TUG board has been analyzing costs/benefits of that new category of membership, and is speculating about fine-tuning it in 2020. Contrary to the dismal outlook Jonathan describes, there are many happenings and initiatives on the horizon, which obviously TUG president, Boris Veytsman, writes about in his newsletters regularly. Finally, I am a real person and not a payroll expense, so I think it would be helpful to know the details behind the payroll number cited. I am the only paid TUG employee. For context, my monthly wages per year: 1999: hourly 2000: $2666 then $3500/mo 2001: $3500/mo 2002-2005: $4000/mo 2006: $4080/mo 2007: $4180/mo 2008: $4285/mo 2009-present: $4371/mo I take home a bit shy of $3000/mo after taxes and an IRA deduction. In addition to my wages, TUG contributes $220/month to my IRA and pays $300/month towards my health insurance. So if you add the 4371+220+300/month x 12 plus another $4500/year or so for employer taxes, the total is around $63K. I am infinitely aware that I am a financial burden on this organization. There is no-one that understands that better than me. But your constant need to criticize, to tarnish and devalue TUG, the board, and me, Jonathan, isn't helping matters. It's just more of the same from you for a very long time now, and anyone reading your passive-aggressive diatribe needs to know that. Robin TUG office