Minutes of the SIG Chairs Meeting held on Saturday, January 10, 1998

Lidtke opened the meeting at 8:45 am. She summarized the goal of the meeting; to adopt the bylaws as proposed by the bylaws committee and review the new SIG related policies. She thanked the Bylaw Revision Committee particularly Mark Scott Johnson for taking the lead on such a difficult, time-consuming task.

Lidtke provided some background for the group on the issue of bylaw revisions. About 2 years ago, SIGCHI proposed there be ACM societies. Several committees were appointed to review this idea and make recommendations to ACM Council. Reports have been given to the Chairs on the activities of these committees during the past few meetings.

The SIG Reps were told that they wouldn+t see the word society in their back-up nor would they see the word SIG. The use of the words Technical Communities in their back-up would allow for both SIGs and Societies as well as other structures that might come up in the future. Some people have commented that they don't like the term TC so, Lidtke challenged the group to come up with a better term. After review of the society concept it was clear to ACM+s leadership that the suggested requests for change would benefit the entire SIG community not just those seeking to be called societies. The proposed bylaws affect the ACM Constitution and will require changing the Constitution. This means that in order for the Bylaw changes to be approved, the membership will need to vote on changing the Constitution.

Two of the most important proposed changes include:

  1. Greater SIG Participation in ACM Governance - It is proposed that 4 representatives of Council come from the SIG community.
  2. Fee formula

Lidtke thanked the group for taking their Saturday to be there and requested that Johnson take over the proposed bylaw presentation. Council did in fact conditionally approve a new set of bylaws but the 2 sections to do with SIGs they did a cursory pass and asked the SIGs to refine even further. A number o things were involved in the rewrite including making it consistent with the Constitution, Bylaws and the current SIG Operating rules.

Johnson's plan was to tackle the major issues first and follow that with a linear pass and then look at the policies. He was not as concerned with getting to the policies since that was not as critical as getting the proposed bylaws approved by this group.

Johnson presented an overview of the proposed Changes:


     Current                                   Proposed

special interest group (SIG) [generic]  Technical community (TC) [generic]
SIG Chair [generic]                     TC Chief Executive Officer [generic]
SIG Chairs group                        TC Board (TCB)
SIG Board                               TCB Executive Committee (TCB EC)
SIG Board Chair                         TCB Chair
SIG Board Chair on ACM Council          4 TCB Representatives on ACM Council
SIG Board Chair on ACM Extended EC      TCB Chair on ACM EC

Note: Individual TCs will retain their current names and officer designations. A major change in the proposed bylaws flip the authority of the SIG Board and the SIG Chairs. The SIG Chairs become the TCB, the governing body of the TCs and the SIG Board becomes the TCB EC responsible to the TCB. The TCB EC would be the operational arm of the TCB.

The group was asked to note the differences between ACM Member with an upper case M and ACM member with a lower case m.

ACM Member = constituent allowed to vote in ACM-wide elections

ACM member = constituent (e.g., associate, student, SIG-only, r chapter-only member) who pays dues and adheres to ACM Code of Professional Ethics, but not allowed to vote in ACM-wide elections

Prior to discussion of what Johnson termed as major issues, the group touched on the naming. There was no agreement on the term Technical Community. Some members suggested keeping the term Special interest Groups. Under SIGs there could be societies, SIGs and other sub-units. It was decided that this would be the last issue discussed in order to give the group the day to consider. Summary of major issues and the decisions made by the group:

ACM vs. TCB Nominating Committee - The group was given the option of having the ACM Nominating Committee select the TC candidates for Council and the TCB EC or having a separate nominating committee. The group decided that there should be a separate Nominating.

TCB Representatives on ACM Council - The Bylaw Revision Committee proposed that the TCB Chair should be 1 of the 4 representatives on Council. The other 3 should people representing the TC. They proposed staggered 2 year terms with an election each year. In addition, all candidates and all persons elected to these positions must by ACM Members and current voting members of at least one Technical Community. The group agreed with the proposed revision and requested that the election for the three representatives to Council be more explicit as follows: one in each even-numbered year and two in each odd-numbered year.

TCB vs. TCB EC duties - Johnson indicated that for the most part, reference to the SIG Board was changed to TCB EC. This was not done in matters of elections or policies. The Bylaw Revision Committee believed that the TCB should be responsible for those issues. The TCB EC would be responsible for the operational details of running TC Management, much like the SIG Board is now.

With regards to the life and death of TCs, currently chartering of a SIG requires SIG Board approval. The Bylaw Revision Committee suggested that the TCB be formally involved in the approval of a TC. Details of formation, chartering and merging would be moved to the policies. Some SIG Chairs felt strongly that the approval for formation, merger and dissolution be symmetric, either including Council or not. Johnson and Lidtke felt that Council would want to be involved if a TC Society were chartered but not necessarily a TC SIG. In addition, Council has always been involved in dissolution and for fiduciary reasons the Bylaw Revision Committee suggested that this continue. Members of the group voiced concern over differentiating the formation of a society and SIG and asked what the differences were. Lidtke requested that Jim Miller respond. He indicated that the notion of society is the naming issue, has a higher structure and perceived as more of a stand alone organization. The leader would be President rather than Chair.

K. Miller suggested that the group look at societies as a new flavor of SIG and not make special rules for them. He suggested that the group restrain themselves from making arguments for segments of the organization. The group agreed that since it is not clear as to what a society is, Council should have a role in the experiment and a role in the evolution. It was also agreed that for fiduciary reasons Council continue to be involved in dissolution. It was agreed that the TCB should be the specified governing body for these issues at the TC level.

STRAW POLL: A straw poll was conducted to determine whether there should be symmetry in the formation, merger and dissolution. The majority voted that there should not be symmetry for these actions.

STRAW POLL: A straw poll was conducted to determine whether paragraph a and b or Section 4 should be removed from the bylaws and moved to the policies. The majority agreed that this should be done.

In summary the group decided that:

  1. The TCB would be the decision makers for formation of TCs. It's was understood that the policies may detail involvement from Council for certain types of TCs.
  2. Merging groups would be initiated by the TCB EC or 1 percent of the members of a TC. Merger would require the approval of the TCB if, in a referendum, the majority of returned ballots from each TC in the group approve.
  3. Authority to dissolve a TC would remain with ACM Council based on a recommendation from the TCB EC. The recommendation would come from the TCB EC because dissolution can often involve personnel issues and should be handled by a small group. The group decided that 10% should be changed to 5% in Section 11, paragraph 3.
TCB decision-making process - Cassel proposed the Bylaw Revision Committee's suggestion on weighted voting. Rather than 1 SIG 1 vote they suggest changing this to 1 vote for each TC plus 1 vote for every 1,000 members with a minimum of 2 votes on matters of election and policy. More routine items would continue to have 1 vote per TC. A single date such as January 1st would determine the number of votes a TC would have for the year. Cohoon voiced concern about this. If a SIG sponsors a very rich conference they could declare all members voting members to pump up their membership and their votes. Some members of the group voiced concern over the voting scheme. If proportional voting is decided upon then everything should be done this way, not just policy and election. Who would determine if an issue was a policy issue.

STRAW POLL: A straw poll was conducted to determine if the group wanted to continue with status quo of 1 vote for 1 SIG or if the group wanted proportional voting. The majority wanted proportional voting.

STRAW POLL: A straw poll was conducted to determine if the group thought that weighted voting was appropriate in some circumstances. The majority felt that weighted voting was appropriate in some circumstances.

STRAW POLL: A straw poll was conducted to determine if the group felt that elections should be conducted with weighted voting. The majority felt that elections should not be conducted with weighted voting.

Lidtke indicated that non-multi-services SIGs currently are not permitted to vote. This may disenfranchize them so she suggests giving them 1 vote. This would give further rational to weighted voting.

STRAW POLL: A straw poll was conducted to determine if weighted voting were approved should it be on all matters. The majority voted yes.

The group discussed capping the number of votes that a TC could have.

STRAW POLL: A straw poll was conducted to determine if there should be a voting cap. The majority voted that there should not be a voting cap.

Other Major Issues - Johnson asked if there were other issues to be discussed before the linear pass was done. At Belkin's request, L. Johnson suggested changing Section 5 paragraph 7 from TCB EC to TCB. This related to the approval of bylaws and amendments. The group agreed that routine issues like this should be within the authority of the TCB EC. The group was reminded that the TCB EC answered to the TCB.

Oliver questioned why the details of the newsletters were included as Section 12. He suggested placing this into policies. Johnson explained that this section was required by the post office in order for ACM to secure discounted postal rates.

It was suggested that the TCB EC be replaced by TCB everywhere in the bylaws. Furuta provide proposed wording which indicated that the TCB may override actions of the TCB EC.

A linear pass of the Bylaws was conducted by Johnson. Attached is the final version agreed upon along with a version that uses hidden text and strikethru to denote deletions and underlining to denote additions since the version that ACM Council passed to the SIG Board a few months ago.

Upon completion of the linear pass the naming issue was discussed. If the membership has always dealt with SIGs there will be confusion with technical communities. If we need a new term perhaps Special Interest Communities should be discussed. At first several members of the group were against Technical Community but after a day of utilizing the term they're are no longer uncomfortable with it. Some felt that the term Technical Community was faddish.

STRAW VOTE: A straw vote was conducted to narow down 7 names.

  • Technical Community
  • Special Interest Community
  • Special Interest Units
  • Technical Unit
  • Special Interest Association
  • Technical Association
  • Special Interest Group
The group took the top 4 and conducted another straw vote to narrow it to 2.
  • Technical Community
  • Special Interest Association
  • Special Interest Community
  • Special Interest Group
The group decided between the top 2.
  • Technical Community
  • Special Interest Group.
STRAW VOTE: A straw vote was conducted and the majority selected the name Special Interest Group.

Lidtke thanked the group for their hard work and participation. The meeting adjouned at 5:30 pm.

Final Bylaws: http://www.dnai.com/~msj/acm/FinalDraftBylaws.html 



SIG Board, Bylaw Committee, HQ Staff

  • Donna Baglio
  • Della Bonnette
  • Boots Cassel
  • Jim Cohoon
  • Rick Furuta
  • Mark Scott Johnson
  • Doris Lidtke
  • Jim Miller
  • Keith Miller
  • Judy Osteller
  • Stuart Shapiro
  • Mary Whitton

Special Interest Group Representatives

  • Bob Allen, SIGMM
  • Mike Atwood, SIGCHI
  • Nick Belkin, SIGIR
  • Barbara Boucher-Owens, SIGCSE
  • John Bucher, SIGUCCS
  • Bruce Char, SIGSAM
  • Steve Cunningham, SIGGRAPH
  • Larry Dowdy, SIGMETRICS
  • Chris Edmondson, SIGCOMM
  • Jim Hightower, SIGCUE
  • Lewis Johnson, SIGART
  • George Kaper, SIGMIS
  • Ed Lamie, SIGBIO
  • Al Lederer, SIGCPR
  • Steve Levitan, SIGDA
  • Jean Loup-Baer, SIGARCH
  • Ellie Mylonas, SIGLINK
  • Ron Oliver, SIGAda
  • Meral Ozsoyoglu, SIGMOD
  • Lynn Shaw, SIGAPL
  • Mary Lou Soffa, SIGPLAN