Flex User Groups and Conflict of Interest

First of all, to add a little more credibility to what I’m about to write, let me just say that I’m running Princeton Java Users Group (JUG) for years and have a pretty good idea of how organization of the meetings and sponsorship work in such gatherings.
Java community is huge, well established and has a loyal following of leaders and enthusiasts that are willing to spend some of their evenings meeting with their peers and attending presentations by either well known or by no so famous yet presenters.

As a leader of this JUG I often receive emails asking to promote among our members a commercial training event. I do it on one condition: our JUG members have to get some additional benefits from such a vendor, for example, discounted price, free speakers coming over to our JUG, free software licenses…something.

During the last several years, I spent a substantial portion of my time working with Adobe Flex and often fly with my colleagues around the world running either commercial training sessions on behalf of our company or just speaking at the user groups or technical conferences.
While promoting our events I started approaching the leaders of the local Flex/Flash user groups asking them to spread the word about our training session and/or offering to present at their user groups while I’m in town.

To my surprise, pretty often they either just ignore such offers or give a polite response with some lame excuse for not doing this.  Things started to clear up when at one city I was allowed to talk, but was asked not to promote our Flex training because the company that provided the room and pizza was running their own training classes in Flex and were afraid of competition. No problem. Sounds fair.

One of the Flex user group leaders never responds to such offers. Ever. And I tried it multiple times.

In one city, I didn’t get any response to my first email, sent another one and the leaders of that group got back to me – thank you for the offer to speak at our UG, but we are not running any sessions during summer. Fine. You didn’t want me to deliver a technical presentation for free, but why not spreading the word about our technical training and offer a discount to their membership? When we were running the training class in that city, one of the attendees explained me the reason – the local Flex UG is being run by a consulting company that offers Flex services and doesn’t want to allow any competition in the Flex space.

The recent response from yet another UG was very upbeat: thanks for this great offer, we’ll post the information about your event on our Web site. Needless to say that it never happened…

The Web sites of some of the Flex/Flash users groups don’t even provide contact information and the comments to their posts are closed.

It seems to be a trend. This leaves a bitter taste in my mouth given the fact that I often get emails from Flex developers from around the country asking if our company is planning to run a training event in their town. Our events are pure technical, we are happy to share with you pretty advanced tricks and techniques learned while developing our open source projects of during work on real-world projects. We don’t sell anything during these events, and typically, the tuition just barely covers our expenses. Guys, we don’t mind flying to your city, but please talk to your Flex/Flash UG leaders to open their doors.

We’ll keep running our advanced Flex training events anyway. Let’s see if the local Flex User Groups will cooperate in spreading the word about our upcoming training sessions in London (enter the code FLUG at the registration page to get £150 off the tuition) and Atlanta.

Yakov Fain

One thought on “Flex User Groups and Conflict of Interest

  1. Nah, again you removed my comment. It’s a shame as it makes it pointless commenting here if you can’t weed out the proper comments from the spam.

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