TUG Membership

While TeX and all of the supporting ideas are free (both in monetary terms and intellectually), supporting that is a lot of effort from a range of volunteers and hard cash for parts of the infrastructure behind it. A key component of making all of that work is TUG: the worldwide TeX user group. TUG is the central point for co-ordinating a range of activities: running the TUG conference series, supporting TeX development, producing TeX Live and hosting mailing lists, to name a few.

Those of us in TUG have recently had a mail from the President pointing to a slightly concerning trend: a slow but perceptible drop in membership. That doesn’t mean there are fewer TeX users about: the accessibility of modern TeX systems means that there are a lot of TeX users (see for example the popularity of the TeX StackExchange site). That accessibility means that users don’t need to join a user group to use TeX, so there is something of a challenge.

To encourage people to take up membership, and of course take advantage of the benefits, TUG have launched a membership campaign. The aim is to encourage existing members to look out for new recruits, and of course to remind us that TUG is only as strong as its membership. So if you are a member, remind your fellow TeX users to join TUG, and if you are not in TUG: why not?

2 thoughts on “TUG Membership

  1. I’ve not gotten a membership, because I’ve never seen a convincing reason to. I don’t know if there are any groups near Vancouver for one, and don’t know how to check. I don’t know what it would give me.

    For new users, there is a solid wikibook. For people at my level there is the TeX Stackexchange. If that goes offline, there is a LaTeX IRC channel, several forums and I think a Usenet group.

    So why on earth would I pay money to join an organization to aid users? It seems kind of archaic and dinosaur-like.

  2. The need for a user group as an individual user is certainly not as strong as it once was. As you say as an individual you can get help in a number of ways. While TUGBoat does cover a lot of topics I guess it’s got a definite slant toward ‘serious’ or ‘developer’ users.

    What TUG does offer, and what is much more tricky to quantify, is the organisational and financial support for continued TeX development. Other software systems rely on one or two ‘interested’ companies to put up the cash fro servers and so on: we don’t have that. For example, the two core CTAN servers are paid for by user groups (currently DANTE and UK-TUG).

    The problem is of course that none of this is very exciting or directly a benefit to a single end user. At present there is no panic, but the worry is what happens over time if the money isn’t there for that boring back-end stuff.

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