# Should we keep our TeX User Group membership?

I'm Pops, one of the newer Community Managers at Stack Exchange. We've once again come to the time of year when we need to renew (or cancel) our TeX User Group institutional membership. We're more than happy to continue our membership, but since it's been a couple years since the initial effort to get SE involved with TUG, I thought it would be good to check in with you guys.

Getting right to the point, then: would you like to maintain our membership status? Remember, one of the most direct benefits of membership for the community is the ability to select eight users for individual membership.

As far as the team is concerned, if you feel like you're getting any benefit out of the membership at all, that's reason enough to support renewal. This isn't meant to be a high bar. If you think the team could be doing a better job of managing the membership, please let us know. This might also be a good time to review the process for filling those eight individual membership slots.

• I know the timing of this post isn't great. Don't worry, I'm not looking for a reply in the next few hours. Happy 2014, everyone! – Pops Jan 1 '14 at 1:20
• Happy new year's to you, too! – Sean Allred Jan 1 '14 at 5:22

Paulo has given a very good answer in favour of membership: here I'll try to give some additional reasons why I think the membership is a Good Thing.

The TeX StackExchange site is currently the most active place for TeX discussion and support in English on the internet. That tells me that both the StackExchange team and the local 'community' on the site are doing good work. What the TUG membership adds to this is twofold: supporting TeX beyond the site and enhancing the benefits of the site for a group of our members each year.

TUG is the worldwide group for TeX users, organises yearly meetings about TeX and related ideas, supports TeX developments (for example font and LuaTeX coding) and provides a central point for contacts. That needs resources both in terms of people and money: StackExchange's membership of TUG helps directly with the latter, and more broadly being an institutional member shows that TUG membership is an important thing and so helps promotion within the community.

For our 'representatives', the TUG membership offers something tangible out of their work on the site, and hopefully helps them to broaden their TeX knowledge. The journal of TUG, TUGBoat, is always a good read and offers insight into lots of areas of interest to TeX users. We get to select new representatives each year, assuming the membership continues, so this benefit gets 'spread around' over time: great for newer members.

In terms of how we'll select representatives if the membership continues, the model to date seems to have worked well. The approach I think we'll take is this. I'll open a meta thread asking for self-nominations, where interested members can put their names down. I'll also ask them to delete the answers immediately after posting, and give it a little while (say 5 days) to allow people to put themselves forward. I'll then undelete all of the answers, and give a period for voting (again say 5 days). The moderators will then forward a list of 'reps' to the StackExchange staff based on the voting but with a casting vote in case of a tie and with the right to add additional names in the event that there are not 8 positively-voted nominees.

• Very good answer, mine? :) It was just a passionate answer; yours is awesome. :) – Paulo Cereda Jan 1 '14 at 11:25

Long answer: yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees. :)

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Personally, I think it's great to have StackExchange as an institutional member of TUG. This community has grown almost exponentially over the years and it's by far one of the best sites in the whole network, in all fronts: userbase and content. And we have ducks! :)

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Happy New Year! :)

• Oh, Paulo… wherever did you get that Dolan? XD – Sean Allred Jan 1 '14 at 5:22
• @Sean: Sean pls. :) – Paulo Cereda Jan 1 '14 at 8:46
• You know, I'm getting basically the reaction I expected from the community, but that duck is quite an impressive bonus! – Pops Jan 1 '14 at 17:24

The TeX.StackExchange site is a bit more than three year old and we have 50K+ questions, which means more than 45 questions a day on average, with 30K+ registered users. The TeX Users Group is the reference for worldwide TeX users and is committed into improving knowledge and software for TeX and related systems.

I believe it's in the interest of StackExchange supporting the TUG as an institutional member: the more efficient is TeX support by TUG, the more people are attracted into using the system and into registering at TeX.StackExchange (or, at least into browsing it). The figures speak by themselves.

Therefore the institutional membership is just another way to enrich TeX.StackExchange, which is a great site to be involved in, by the way.

• And a special thanks to you, egreg! You are one the guys that make this site awesome! :) – Paulo Cereda Jan 1 '14 at 12:56
• @PauloCereda You’re absolutely right, but let me say: What you‘ve written here about Enrico, applies to you, as well! – Speravir Jan 3 '14 at 18:58

As I mentioned to Paulo, I expected this response, but your enthusiasm and speed were a (pleasant) surprise. Consider your membership renewed. And keep up the good work!

I'm hoping this is an appropriate place for me to say the following as I've noticed that the above replies are not just about TUG membership but are also reviewing TeX.SE itself.

I was a secondary education teacher of maths and physics for twenty years and have returned to university and have been involved in first year undergraduate maths education in a small way for two years now. The most important feature of TSE for me is that it encourages students of TeX/LaTeX of all levels. If a question gets asked, even very awkwardly, by even a raw beginner, there is much positive encouragement and assistance to either rework it or redirect it. I may not be a raw beginner, but I'm also a long way from being an expert and have felt very welcome in this community from day one.

I think it's important that this be said because that is not the case in every Stack Exchange site. I'm not naming any but there are a couple where I've had quite negative experiences for a variety of reasons (which are readily quantifiable if anyone wants to discuss it elsewhere), even though I'm not a beginner in those topics, and I was left to wonder how intimidated raw beginners might be. They don't rate highly on the pedagogical front. Those sites could learn a great deal from this one and Maths.SE, which is a close second in my opinion.

This is my way of saying thanks but more than that I think it's important to have a closer look at TeX.SE and highlight the reasons why I think this site works so well.

In light of this, TeX.SE is a model member of TUG and should most definitely continue its membership.

• Sorry, this actually isn't a good place for this post, since it doesn't address the topic I was asking about (TUG membership). I am glad to hear that you're enjoying the site, though! And I'm always happy to discuss your experiences with any of our sites with you. I've had some similar ones, myself. My e-mail is just my username at stackexchange. – Pops Jan 2 '14 at 16:59
• Not an answer also in my opinion, but a great post nonetheless. – egreg Jan 2 '14 at 18:25
• Every answer above mine includes significant content dedicated to evaluation of TeX.SE and its appropriateness as a member of TUG. I was doing the same and have added a conclusion to clarify the relevance of my answer. – Geoff Pointer Jan 2 '14 at 23:29
• @egreg Now it's an answer. I forgot to put the notification in my comment above. – Geoff Pointer Jan 3 '14 at 4:03
• @Pops I've edited my answer so that it is on topic. And, I will at some point in the new year take up your kind offer. – Geoff Pointer Jan 3 '14 at 4:08