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Vint Cerf on Why Programmers Don't Join the ACM 213

jfruh writes "The Association for Computing Machinery is a storied professional group for computer programmers, but its membership hasn't grown in recent years to keep pace with the industry. Vint Cerf, who recently concluded his term as ACM president, asked developers what was keeping them from signing up. Their answers: paywalled content, lack of information relevant to non-academics, and code that wasn't freely available."
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Vint Cerf on Why Programmers Don't Join the ACM

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  • by Kazoo the Clown ( 644526 ) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @03:27AM (#47572569)
    I've been a member for some time but let it lapse a few years ago because it got to the point that the benefits didn't justify the expense. Or rather, the benefits hadn't justified the expense for some time, I finally got fed up hoping that might change. I finally noticed I wasn't getting my money's worth and pulled the plug on it. Much of ACM seems designed to extract maximum income from its membership. That gravy train is over, as far as I'm concerned.
  • by MrEricSir ( 398214 ) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @03:29AM (#47572571) Homepage

    While you're taking CS courses in a university, ACM membership is great! But in the corporate world there's often not a good reason to join.

    I was president of my university's ACM chapter at one point, but I've let my membership lapse. The value proposition just isn't worth it to me at the moment.

  • by doubleplusungodly ( 1929514 ) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @03:32AM (#47572583)
    Did the blurb just say the ACM was for programmers? The only people I know who give the slightest of shits about ACM are students and professors. For computer programmers my ass.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 31, 2014 @04:20AM (#47572715)

    Turns out some recent conferences have their presentations recorded in HD video. An example is POPL. OK, so I went and downloaded a few videos on formal methods hoping to see something I cared about. I downloaded some 5 videos in one day. Next day I get an e-mail saying my ACM DL subscription has been frozen due to excessive use and I need to contact membership services to get it reopened.

    In addition to this, the ACM DL terms of use still prohibit "systematically downloading" articles which according to them means downloading all articles of an issue of a journal or all the articles of a conference. This is just plain stupid.

  • by Foske ( 144771 ) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @04:28AM (#47572737)

    Most of these organizations and associations completely fail to understand how they would be able to create added value for their potential members. As an electronic engineer I'm supposed to be a member of IEEE. I can't think of a single reason why I would subscribe, and the people and letters of IEEE didn't make things better. On the contrary.

  • by kaiser423 ( 828989 ) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @05:20AM (#47572855)
    As a CS/EE double major that has subscribed to both journals, I have to say that the IEEE is leagues and bounds better than ACM. If I need to know how to make something (an antenna perhaps) I can find a couple dozen articles about exactly how to build one and exactly how they performed in the real world. If I need to know about some algorithm to do X, ACM can give me a bunch of crap theory without a sing/le line of implementation or anything more than how it performed in the lab. In fact, I find that IEEE tends to have more software algorithms in its papers than the ACM. The ACM is really that bad. I was implementing a neural network as a hobby for the first time ever, and the IEEE papers had no kidding empirical data about what worked and didn't and the ACM at the time had a bunch of wonderful theory papers about how one could implement a neural network, but no info on how they actually implemented the one that they tested (maybe I had not properly picked one of the dozen options each costing as much as an IEEE membership about which societies to join to get access to the right papers). Totally useless; total ego driven publishing of papers rather than helping advance the state of the industry. Needless to say I still subscribe to one, but not the other....
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 31, 2014 @05:28AM (#47572865)

    Yes, but then just try leaving.

    I joined while working on my MSc, and used some of the articles as sources of research for my master's thesis. I was immediately bombarded with irrelevant newsletters, and their byzantine website made it all-but-impossible to cancel subscriptions to said spam. You'd think that those in charge of the Association of Computing Machinery could manage to build a good website, but apparently not. Once I let my membership lapse, I was bombarded with requests to re-subscribe. It just doesn't get any worse.

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @06:04AM (#47572959) Homepage

    The problem is that people on the internet in their garages are doing more for the advancement of "machinery" than the ACM has ever done in it's lifetime.

    The ivory towers are crumbling, the staunchy University model is becoming irrelevant.

  • Re:It Costs Money (Score:3, Interesting)

    by movdqa ( 1122661 ) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @06:28AM (#47573023)
    If you're an academic, then you should have access via your institution via your library. If I really need something from ACM or other research journals, I can just ask one of my kids to get it for me through their universities. I could also drive to a local university with public access to computers with journal access.
  • Why I joined: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wirefarm ( 18470 ) <`jim' `at' `'> on Thursday July 31, 2014 @06:42AM (#47573063) Homepage

    I listed my membership on my résumé, along with the ACM logo.
    This was 15 years ago and I was a contractor around Washington, DC, doing many short-term contracts.

    Yes, it was effective.
    In the course of interviews, the interviewer would often tell me that they had been meaning to join, or had heard of it, but not once that they were themselves a member. Just a little psychological advantage, I guess. This helped,too, because I never went to college.

    That said, I got absolutely nothing from their articles or other content.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 31, 2014 @07:46AM (#47573263)

    Same here. As a student, I helped organize the EMU (Eastern Michigan University) chapter of ACM, but since entering the workforce, it ceased to remain relevant.

    It's far too focused on academic concerns and CS pedagogy (I.E. broadening the appear of computer science programs). There is literally nothing in their monthly Communications that acknowledges that practitioners actually exist, let alone that we're actually important to the field as a whole.

    I'm considering joining IEEE instead, but I fear they may have the same problem.

A committee takes root and grows, it flowers, wilts and dies, scattering the seed from which other committees will bloom. -- Parkinson