The President and Elvis are not the same person

I have proof!

Elvis and Nixon

There have been suggestions from LUG Radio and Nik Butler that the project needs a President. The further suggestion is that Alan Pope is the man for the job. Whilst Alan has all manner of personal qualities that would suit a leadership role, the wider question is whether such a role is needed. has survived, even thrived, since 1998 without a formal, democratically elected leader. Sure, Mark Lewis was essentially in charge in the early days because he was paying for the service to be set up and doing a lot of work on it. But for a few years the team has basically lead itself.

That’s not to say that shouldn’t have a “leader” internally. Having someone who could make management decisions if opinion is split between the admin team could be a good thing. However, at the moment, with only a handful of people actively involved in administering the system and developing ideas there’s no urgent need. It may also be useful to have a named press contact to redirect incoming enquiries. Certainly at points in the last few years some internal leadership might have beneficial in motivating the sysadmins and speaking to potential hardware donors.

But what isn’t needed is some sort of President to speak forth on behalf of LUGs. Most LUGs are essentially anarchies. Fill a room with geeks and you’ll get as many different opinions on Free Software topics as there are bad haircuts. Presenting a consolidated view of one LUG is hard enough (I’ve been there), but doing so for all UK LUGs would be an impossible task. Many LUGs would object to being spoken for in this way. It could lead to LUGs who disagree with “the viewpoint” leaving the service and going it alone. Rather than bringing the community together under one figurehead, it could split it.

There are practical problems in electing any sort of “President” too. There is no formal definition of a LUG, no formal definition of what LUGs should be able to vote on matters (what about LUGs who don’t use the service?), no formal definition of membership of most LUGs, no formal definition of who represents a LUG to other LUGs (sometimes this is elected, sometimes a Benevolent Dictator), no formal definition of how different size LUGs should be represented within the community (does a large LUG deserve more votes?) and most importantly no formal definition of an electoral procedure for any such post. Because it doesn’t exist.

Perhaps most importantly, there hasn’t been a clamour for such a President. One or two voices have championed the idea, but there doesn’t seem to be any demand from the LUGs themselves.

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