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Vint Cerf on Why Programmers Don't Join the ACM

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the other-than-that-how-was-the-parade? dept.

Programming 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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where's the money?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47572479)

Ain't no money to be made by joining the ACM. People like money.

Re:where's the money?! (5, Funny)

speedplane (552872) | about 4 months ago | (#47572563)

Change the acronym to Applying Computers to Money and you'd have a popular organization.

Re:where's the money?! (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 4 months ago | (#47572807)

Ain't Chargin' Much
And Code's Making
Amazingly Classy Millionaires.

Re: where's the money?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47572639)

People need money. Without money we cannot eat, cannot have a roof over our heads, cannot have any healthcare when we're sick. Without money we're nothing. It's as important as oxygen.

Re: where's the money?! (4, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | about 4 months ago | (#47573113)

Thank God money evolved before humans or else we would never exist.

Re: where's the money?! (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | about 4 months ago | (#47573305)

Thank God money evolved before humans or else we would never exist.

True Dat.

Before money, the world population was less than a million. Now it is growing by millions a day.

Re: where's the money?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47573645)

And yet, to an untrained observer (i.e. android anthropologists after the robot uprising) the concentration of wealth suggests that money is inversely correlated with survival/reproduction.

Re:where's the money?! (5, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 4 months ago | (#47572787)

There is as an academic. Apparently being a member of the ACM has a negative value, because in exchange for the $99/year membership fee I typically get a $100-150 discount on attending ACM conferences. If you go to a couple of conferences a year then that's a good deal. For people outside academia, there's less relevance. ACM Queue [acm.org] , which provides material for 'practitioners' section of Communications of the ACM, generally has some good material, but it's all free whether your an ACM member or not.

I like the ACM as an organisation, but they're hard pressed to justify the cost of membership.

Re:where's the money?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47573127)

...in exchange for the $99/year membership fee I typically get a $100-150 discount on attending ACM conferences.

That's why my employer used to cover the membership costs. Ten years ago, they decided they would rather just pay the higher conference fee, so the savings are to the employer while the costs would now be to me. A number of my colleagues let their memberships lapse when that changed.

Re:where's the money?! (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 4 months ago | (#47573147)

This is, unfortunately, the case with a number of funding bodies in academia. For example, DARPA won't pay for my membership, but will pay for the conference. My institution decided to pay for membership out of a different pot of money that doesn't have these restrictions, which ends up with a saving of a few hundred dollars on one account and a cost of a hundred dollars on another.

Re:where's the money?! (5, Informative)

Vic Metcalfe (355) | about 4 months ago | (#47573303)

I am a long time member of the ACM, and I've always thought the value for money was excellent. I'm not an academic and I don't go to conferences. The Safari and 24/7 Books Online subscriptions, plus the skillsoft training is where I see most of the value.

Re:where's the money?! (1)

butalearner (1235200) | about 4 months ago | (#47573355)

I am a long time member of the ACM, and I've always thought the value for money was excellent. I'm not an academic and I don't go to conferences. The Safari and 24/7 Books Online subscriptions, plus the skillsoft training is where I see most of the value.

That's good to know for future reference, though every company I've worked for has offered those things to its employees and contractors.

Re:where's the money?! (4, Informative)

Slashdot Parent (995749) | about 4 months ago | (#47573359)

I thought about joining a while ago for the group health insurance plan, but they dropped that. So I did not join.

It Costs Money (5, Informative)

kramer2718 (598033) | about 4 months ago | (#47572527)

I can get every thing I need from Google. Why would I pay money to join the ACM? A 25 year old bottle of Scotch is a much better value.

Re:It Costs Money (2)

Dirk Becher (1061828) | about 4 months ago | (#47572825)

If you're an academic and you're writing a paper you have to check on the accuracy of the quotes you used. If the quote happens to be in a premium paper you're screwed.

Re:It Costs Money (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 4 months ago | (#47572849)

Not necessarily. In most cases at least respectable researchers have a tech-report variant on the web. Also, who checks quotes in CS?

Re:It Costs Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47573161)

Maybe you don't check quotes, you check numbers.
If you're system performs 28 gigadoodles per second and you compare it with the state of the art which is currently only 26.46 gigadoodles, you want to quote that figure exactly. Otherwise your gigadoodles are out of whack.

Re:It Costs Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47572871)

Many (most?) universities have access to ieee and acm publication databases.
When I'm writing a paper I use that to check the related work.

Re:It Costs Money (3, Interesting)

movdqa (1122661) | about 4 months ago | (#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.

Re:It Costs Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47572947)

And frankly if you are a professional developer the scotch will be much more helpful.

Re:It Costs Money (4, Funny)

dlingman (1757250) | about 4 months ago | (#47573177)

Only if you use it just right. http://xkcd.com/323/ [xkcd.com]

Mensa incarnate? (1)

Joe Johnson (3720117) | about 4 months ago | (#47572559)

I think the subject said it all.

Re:Mensa incarnate? (2)

Megane (129182) | about 4 months ago | (#47573597)

At least your local Mensa usually has a monthly games night.

Expensive and irrelevant (5, Interesting)

Kazoo the Clown (644526) | about 4 months ago | (#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.

Re:Expensive and irrelevant (4, Informative)

simoncpu was here (1601629) | about 4 months ago | (#47572643)

I also let my membership lapse because I couldn't read all the magazines anymore. Many of my magazines remain unopened to this day.

Re:Expensive and irrelevant (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#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.

Re:Expensive and irrelevant (2)

tibit (1762298) | about 4 months ago | (#47573551)

IEEE is both historically and contempraneously a completely practitioner-oriented organization. It's raison-d-etre is to serve enginers. Some of those engineers happen to do engineering research, but that's but a fraction of its membership.

Re:Expensive and irrelevant - don't think so (4, Informative)

DoctorBonzo (2646833) | about 4 months ago | (#47573635)

I've been a member of both ACM & IEEE for several decades. As a dinosaur, I much prefer print versions of all their varied pubs to any of the lame digital editions. I come from the academic world, but have been out of it for a long time and still find ACM relevant, especially after their revamp of Communications a couple of years ago. Practitioners? The Kode Vicious column is nearly the worth the price of subscription. I've never been interested in the Digital Library at extra cost, but it's probably worth it to some.

IEEE? Their Computer Society is marginally OK, but only for the Hal Berghel articles, as far as I'm concerned. IEEE Spectrum has become an exercise in suckitude, the bastard child of Wired's graphic design and Popular Science's "in depth" examination of current topics. Tired of this and their pimping life insurance, I've lapsed on IEEE membership and may do so for the Computer Society too in the near future.

Re:Expensive and irrelevant (1)

Megane (129182) | about 4 months ago | (#47573627)

I was a member for a couple of years back in my college days in the '80s. And what I got out of it was nothing but a pile of magazines that weren't interesting to me. So I dropped ACM and kept the subscription to Byte.

Great when you're in school (4, Interesting)

MrEricSir (398214) | about 4 months ago | (#47572571)

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.

Re:Great when you're in school (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#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.

Re:Great when you're in school (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47573283)

They built a great website. From their perspective, they kept you around longer.

You're in academia, so maybe this has escaped you: the ACM is like any other entity, it is hell-bent on ensuring its long-term survival. Were you inconvenienced? ACM doesn't care. Some of the individuals within the organization probably care, because they don't understand things either.

Re:Great when you're in school (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 4 months ago | (#47573373)

Yeah, same for me. The ACM journals IEEE Transactions were really useful reading while I was working on my Master's. By the time I got to my PhD work though, the combination of Google Scholar, CiteSeer, and papers being available over the internet (probably in contravention to author's agreements with the journals that published the paper) made ACM and IEEE irrelevant.

It seems to me that the only part of ACM's publication system that's still relevant is the selection and vetting of good papers for their journals. So maybe they should just continue that editorial process, and periodically publish those papers as PDF's on their website. Heck, I bet Google or Amazon or MIT would host that for free.

I think that would test whether or not ACM is focused more on advancing computing as a science vs. maintaining its own bureaucracy.

Why would I? (1)

XaXXon (202882) | about 4 months ago | (#47572573)

I haven't heard about ACM since I left school and I wasn't interested then.. so why join now?

"For Computer Programmers" (5, Interesting)

doubleplusungodly (1929514) | about 4 months ago | (#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.

Re:"For Computer Programmers" (2)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 4 months ago | (#47572795)

I suspect also that "Machinery" suggests a society for hardware nerds rather than software nerds

Re:"For Computer Programmers" (1, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | about 4 months ago | (#47572959)

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:"For Computer Programmers" (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47573487)

You might want to learn the difference between its and it's before commenting about crumbling ivory towers. Oh, and "staunchy" isn't a word.

Re:"For Computer Programmers" (2)

grub (11606) | about 4 months ago | (#47573479)


"Machinery" is from 1947. Back then you didn't type your code, you wire-wrapped it.

Complexity (4, Informative)

LostMyBeaver (1226054) | about 4 months ago | (#47572587)

ACM is a great resource and I regularly borrow journals from friends.

My issues are simple.

1) I'm self educated. ACM discriminates against people like me. It doesn't matter that I have 20 years experience in protocol and codec design or that I've designed algorithms which they have published articles analyzing.

2) price. ACM is too expensive for individuals and programmers who are actual scientists and actual engineers as opposed to Python coding web site developers have a hard enough time getting bosses to pay for RAM upgrades. Things like "club memberships" are generally out of the question.

3) Too many journals to choose from and each one costs more. Professional programmers probably want 3-5 different journals. I haven't checked in a while, but I would want the journals on compilers, machine vision, signal processing and probably AI (if those are all categories) but I wouldn't want to pay for all 3. A downloadable printable version of the actual journals or at least an ebook would be welcome. Last I checked, they only offered article by article.

Finally, I never see ACM articles linked from Google. You'd imagine searches for things like "reduction of inter block artifacts in discrete wavelet transforms" should nail 5 ACM articles on the first page. Instead, I see mailing lists.

Re:Complexity (2, Insightful)

HuguesT (84078) | about 4 months ago | (#47572655)

Actually, searching for "Reduction of inter-block artifact in DWT" should produce IEEE articles, most probably from the Transactions on Image Processing journal or Transactions on Signal Processing.

And indeed they do. My technical searches always include at the very top the most relevant academic papers from scholar.google.com

Blocking-artifact reduction in block-coded images using wavelet-based subband decomposition
H Choi, T Kim - Circuits and Systems for Video Technology, , 2000 - ieeexplore.ieee.org

Inter-frame wavelet transform coder for color video compression

S Zafar, YQ Zhang - US Patent 5,495,292, 1996 - Google Patents

Embedded image coding using zerotrees of wavelet coefficients
JM Shapiro - Signal Processing, IEEE Transactions on, 1993 - ieeexplore.ieee.org

Blocking artifact detection and reduction in compressed data
GA Triantafyllidis, D Tzovaras - Circuits and Systems for , 2002 - ieeexplore.ieee.org

Perhaps the solution is for you to make a Google Scholar profile and you will get those as well?

Re:Complexity (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 4 months ago | (#47572793)

Finally, I never see ACM articles linked from Google. You'd imagine searches for things like "reduction of inter block artifacts in discrete wavelet transforms" should nail 5 ACM articles on the first page. Instead, I see mailing lists.

They'll show up if you use Google Scholar. If you're using the main search engine to find papers, then you're probably doing it wrong...

Re:Complexity (1)

Misagon (1135) | about 4 months ago | (#47572811)

The few times that I have needed to read an ACM or IEEE article for something, I have visited my alma mater's library.
I have usually found the article using a web search engine or in some article database.

Re:Complexity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47572837)

The problem is that when this stuff required printing, the middleman actually helped to disseminate information. With the internet, however, it does exactly the opposite, guarding that only people in universities get their hands on it legally.

ACM is for old geezers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47572589)

Bunch of crusty greybeards still coding in FORTRAN.

I've been a member for years & now lifetime me (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47572591)

I joined for life a few months ago, both ACM and their Digital Library. I've been an annual member for many years. Decided to go all in. Their digital library is worth it when seeking obscure research papers.

I've got an answer! (2)

bytesex (112972) | about 4 months ago | (#47572619)

Because of Internet.

Re:I've got an answer! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47572625)

They have the Internet on computers now?

Re: I've got an answer! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47573129)

Even better, they have the Internet on computing machinery.

Hahahaha (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47572641)

You want people to pay for information?

You can't stop the signal Mal.

One word (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47572649)

Ben Gauzy

Low grade code monkeys don't need to know (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47572663)

There is nothing in there that low grade code monkeys, which is the vast majority of the software industry, need to know. I mean, how much skills do you have to have to run a mom and pop web store, publish the jillionth fart app, or maintain a payroll system?

Of course, these code monkeys get swamped whenever the next major technology change comes along but, hey, we can't all be good enough to work for Google or Apple, etc.

Re:Low grade code monkeys don't need to know (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47572681)

There is nothing in there that low grade code monkeys, which is the vast majority of the software industry, need to know. I mean, how much skills do you have to have to run a mom and pop web store, publish the jillionth fart app, or maintain a payroll system?

Of course, these code monkeys get swamped whenever the next major technology change comes along but, hey, we can't all be good enough to work for Google or Apple, etc.

Oh, and you can call the above a troll if you want but, really, read the responses in the thread and it's pretty undeniable that that's what people themselves are saying. "Derp, I don't need to know about database advances, GPGPU, or any of braniac CS stuff. I r self-edumacated!"

Re:Low grade code monkeys don't need to know (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47572851)

On the other side of the spectrum you have academics doing often irrelevant research because it was connected to their thesis or their background. Multiply that by all the academics which must crank out a paper a year to be competitive and often the quality of the content must be low, just simply due to lack of time and original ideas (including the lack of creativity). If the ACM could improve the signal-to-noise ratio with the academic papers, avoiding the typical wankery over "my data is bigger than yours" or "lets summarize what people have done, we are random morons", we might be able to have something useful. I suppose that is why people write books, perhaps investing in books can help avoid the ACM noise.

Low grade code monkeys don't need to know (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47573035)

maintain a payroll system?

You, clearly, have not worked on a payroll system before (or at least not in Germany, which is where I'm located). A payroll system must implement a zillion laws invented by insane politician which have no clue about programming (or basic math) and can't even work-out that their "algorithms" are non-functional. It's got to the point that the government agents that should validate our system every year ask us "how did you solve this ...?" because they themselves cannot work it out.

what? (0, Offtopic)

SuperDre (982372) | about 4 months ago | (#47572667)

What the hell is ACM and why would it benefit me to join them?

Re:what? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47572727)

What the hell is ACM and why would it benefit me to join them?

If you were a halfway competent software developer, you'd already know, and if you were an elite software developer, you'd already have joined...

Re:what? (1)

ThePhilips (752041) | about 4 months ago | (#47572893)

What the hell is ACM and why would it benefit me to join them?

If you were a halfway competent software developer, you'd already know, and if you were an elite software developer, you'd already have joined...

I'm no elite, but as a competent software developer, all I know about ACM is that they are a paywalled website.

Why would I chose to spend time investigating one particular paywalled site over the dozen others? They all look the same to me.

Most of computer science research is published publicly on Internet anyway. On several occasions, when my friends from universities were getting paywalled articles printed for me, I was finding out that I have seen the article already freely before on the internet.

Usefull/non-useful ratio on the paywalled articles IME isn't sufficiently different from the plain web search to justify the price. I still have to waste my time grepping through all the junk.

I might pay for somebody to actually select the founding and important articles. But I'm yet to hear about an organization which offers such service. (And the academia where being published still bears the highly exaggerated value, and 90% of articles are nothing but the quoting of the quoted, almost guarantees that the service wouldn't be affordable.)

Re:what? (1)

CadentOrange (2429626) | about 4 months ago | (#47572943)

What the hell is ACM and why would it benefit me to join them?

If you were a halfway competent software developer, you'd already know, and if you were an elite software developer, you'd already have joined...

If you were an elite software developer, you'd be too busy to join a jumped up organisation like the ACM.

Re:what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47573377)

I'm an academic and have considered joining the ACM once, just to get cheaper conference attendance fees. What would an "elite" developer stand to gain from access to articles that address problems they don't have?

Fun for students (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47572711)

You get to meet people and talk about fun things. ACM was good, but the free Linux club was even more enjoyable. Chemistry had the best field trips. Physics ate the most pizza. Geology drank the most alcohol.

After graduation I stayed with SPS/APS for a while because Physics Today is a good magazine. However, I miss the Linux group the most.

They don't even know what they're offering (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#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.

Re:They don't even know what they're offering (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47573389)

I would much sooner see people cancel ACM subs and buy stock in/donate to a non profit publisher that doesn't paywall articles it receives for free than keep feeding the parasite. You might be able to get the same experience for free by emailing the authors of work you're interested in, or by making friends with someone at a college with an ACM subscription. They effectively steal from authors, so I think stealing from them is perfectly justified.

Re:They don't even know what they're offering (1)

tibit (1762298) | about 4 months ago | (#47573575)

Write to them, using snail-mail, sent registered and with receipt confirmation. Tell them what you think. Tell them that they are to serve you, their member, not the other way round.

Nothing of worth (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47572729)

I had a free membership as a student, not one of the resources were of any use to me, there were 'free' books but none of them were for subjects that were of interest to me. So once it came time to pay to stay on I did not.
I suspect this is probably the story for most people, nobody is signing up because there is no actual benefit to doing so, it really is that simple.

Re:Nothing of worth (1)

geminidomino (614729) | about 4 months ago | (#47573341)

Same story, with the addendum that my obvious lack of interest hasn't stopped them from spamming me every 3-6 months to try to sign up again.

Benefits ? What benefits (4, Interesting)

Foske (144771) | about 4 months ago | (#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.

Re:Benefits ? What benefits (4, Interesting)

kaiser423 (828989) | about 4 months ago | (#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....

Re:Benefits ? What benefits (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47572897)

I used to subscribe to IEEE, but I have access to all ieee published papers through my university, so I really don't get the added benefit.
And yes, ACM does seem to have a lower standard or something.

Re:Benefits ? What benefits (1)

evilviper (135110) | about 4 months ago | (#47573153)

Here's a quick list of Wikipedia articles which probably cite ACM publications:

https://en.wikipedia.org/w/ind... [wikipedia.org]

Re:Benefits ? What benefits (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47573527)

Academia doesn't serve industry, it serves itself. The gap between the two isn't by coincidence, it's because solving invented problems is easier than solving real problems.

Re:Benefits ? What benefits (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47573469)

I was an IEEE student member throughout my college years. It was basically a $30 magazine subscription. Once I was no longer a student, it became a $200 magazine subscription, and I dropped it.

The only thing IEEE has that I would be interested in for $200 a year is its journal archives. However, journal articles are paywalled off to everyone, including IEEE members. My only conclusion is IEEE is nothing but a ripoff.

Value for money (2)

Fotis Georgatos (3006465) | about 4 months ago | (#47572789)

ACM carries a historic name, but subscriptions cannot justify buying just that. IMHO, most techie people do try it out and then have their memberships lapse.

Paywall (2)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | about 4 months ago | (#47572843)

Yes, whenever I've been googling for something and run across a paywalled ACM article on the subject I think "f*** those guys" and get my info somewhere else

Re:Paywall (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 4 months ago | (#47573429)

Same thing for me. I'm naturally biased against paying exorbitant prices for papers that the publisher received for free. So for my PhD work I basically avoided using papers that were only available by paying ACM, IEEE, or Elsevier.

Fortunately, in the age of CiteSeer, Google Scholar, and authors who publish their own papers even if they've submitted them to journals, I was able to boycott those publishers and still get my PhD done. Also, having a good team of technical librarians goes a long way.

5-10 years ago though, I'm not sure I could have so easily avoided paying money to those publishers.

While we are at it? (0)

ruir (2709173) | about 4 months ago | (#47572901)

Why not join the catholic church and the muslim brotherhood too? I do not see any value at all joining all of these organisations, much less paying for the privilege.

You have to do more than pay the membership fee (1)

sjbe (173966) | about 4 months ago | (#47573255)

I do not see any value at all joining all of these organisations, much less paying for the privilege.

There can be lots of value to them but getting that value requires actual work on your part. If all you are doing is paying the membership fee to list it on your resume then there is no point to joining. However if you actually attend events, meet colleagues and talk with them, get involved in the organizations, etc you can actually get a ton of value out of them. I'm a member of two professional organizations (not ACM) which I actively participate in. I've gotten job interviews, excellent contacts for specific expertise, a certification important in my profession, contacts for funding, and even made some friends. You can get the most value often by being an officer in the organization (they always need help) and actually working hard to do a good job.

In other words (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47572931)

"We're all bro-grammers that want free stuff."

The ACM shouldn't bother trying to attract that type.

and a job (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47572997)

I feel hard done by and feel sorry for myself and I don't have a job, even though I've a CS degree and I'm a competent programmer.

Clearly the jobs are for the Bill Gates wannabes (dropouts) because they're all geniuses just like him and MS never copied Apple, who never copied Xerox etc.
Then I'm from Ireland...and feel the pinch of this global recession more than others...

the real question is... (1)

mythix (2589549) | about 4 months ago | (#47573055)

Why does ACM still exist? what does it offer a programmer that he can't get for free?

Why I joined: (4, Interesting)

wirefarm (18470) | about 4 months ago | (#47573063)

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.

Their incentives weren't enough? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47573131)

In college, I got a lot of free pizza in at their meetings!

Still a member (1)

laffer1 (701823) | about 4 months ago | (#47573179)

I agree with a lot of the comments here about how it's got declining value. I usually catch up on issues during vacation each year and it's always enjoyable to read some RMS or PHK rant. That said, it's not really worth the $100 for the digital library on top of the yearly dues. I only have it at this point because some of the old content is helpful when working on my hobby.

I like the ACM... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47573187)

...but, it's too pricy for me. With how bad the economy continues to be, we're pinching every penny. Discounts on conferences don't help, since I'm not going to any of them anyways. "Clubs" and magazines in general are hurting these days. There are so many free options out there that it's hard to get people to pay.

Money and professional organizations (1)

sjbe (173966) | about 4 months ago | (#47573237)

I'm a member of a few professional organizations. Most of them are kind of money grabs when it comes to anything education related. To maintain a certification I have to get 30 hours of continuing education each year and wouldn't you know that the professional organization is just all too happy to sell it to me for vaguely unreasonable amounts of money. Or I can attend about 15 meetings and conferences a year, also costing $ each time. I try not to get too worked up about it but it isn't cheap even if it sometimes is useful to be a member.

There are basically just a few reasons to join professional organizations. The biggest one by far is networking. These organizations can be a terrific way to get yourself known in your profession and sometimes get opportunities if you do it right. There also for some professions is accreditation and credentialing. I don't just mean joining the organization to have it on your resume. I have an accounting certification which has been very useful to me professionally. Sometimes there are learning opportunities which can be helpful though usually they are just pointless money grabs by the organization.

2006 Safari (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | about 4 months ago | (#47573257)

Starting in the middle of the naughts, Safari was replacing ACM/IEEE as being the choice for practitioners. By the Great Recession, when choices had to be made, the replacement was cemented.

Why? (1)

PC_THE_GREAT (893738) | about 4 months ago | (#47573281)

ACM never helped me learn anything when i started.
ACM's article usually asked for fees to access their documents/papers.


Thanks to the above two, i had always in my head tagged ACM and ieee as associations of people who are not really interesting in perfectioning the art, but rather making money out of it. So yes, i viewed them both as dangers to the art of computing.

Member of IEEE & ACM (1)

Diss Champ (934796) | about 4 months ago | (#47573293)

I'm a member of IEEE (Computer Society) & ACM. My employer pays for the first, I pay for the second (although being in each gives a small discount to being in the other). I'm not an academic, but I usually find an article or two worth reading each month in both Computer & in Communications of the ACM.

Of course, since I primarily design hardware rather than software, this might not count as a programmer joining the ACM:).

The prices for each don't seem out of range for the quality of the publications, and for a working professional they are certainly not hard to afford even if your employer doesn't cover them. IIRC those not working can get student or hardship discounts as appropriate.

Of course, I'm not buying a bunch of Journals in each. In the past knowing people who get each of the Journals I might need worked OK. Now the corporate library serves that need with subscriptions to the digital libraries.

ACM is irrelevant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47573327)

I was a member through school, and early in my career. Those were different times. Now, basically everything I'd ever want to read is available online elsewhere. Why would I pay a large sum to the ACM? The ACM is a relic of eras gone, and while it's not too late for them to modernize, their time is likely limited.

Nice photo heading the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47573335)

Does anyone else think it makes Cerf look like a Dr. Evil-esque character?

Professional body... (1)

shic (309152) | about 4 months ago | (#47573361)

I've recently thought again about potential membership of professional bodies. I used to be a student member of the ACM - and, despite a steep discount, I felt there was little value there... so dropped it as soon as my discount eligibility changed.

The idea that a professional body should prosper by restricting access to content might work in academia, but it does not represent a compelling proposition to me.

I would consider joining a professional body if it were:

1. Relevant to professionals who work with software - neither pandering to esoteric academic nor lowest common denominator content.
2. Needs to involve (fairly local) physical gatherings "Conferences" - at which I will meet relevant people and discover interesting things beyond what can be found on the web.
3. Needs to be recognised widely as conferring an active interest - to bolster academic credentials and professional engagements.

Not only does the ACM fail to meet even one of these criteria... I can't find any other organisation that does much better. In fact, I came to wonder if membership was actually counter-productive... does it suggest someone who is not sufficiently confident in their other credentials... someone who hopes to buy recognition.

Re:Professional body... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47573447)

In fact, I came to wonder if membership was actually counter-productive... does it suggest someone who is not sufficiently confident in their other credentials... someone who hopes to buy recognition.

No but it does hint of someone who is easily fooled into buying things of no value.

ACM doesn't get it on (C) (3, Insightful)

bzipitidoo (647217) | about 4 months ago | (#47573407)

I am an ACM member, but I'm not happy with it. My biggest complaint about the ACM is their failure to understand why copyright is bad and needs massive reform or abolishment. Instead, they jump in bed, ideologically, with copyright extremists! $100 membership isn't good enough for access to the digital library, have to pay another $100 for that? What a total money grab, locking up knowledge and for what? To coerce membership fees from researchers? Aren't they supposed to be a non-profit organization? The digital library should be public! Freely available to all, including non-members. Some years, CACM has had a "special" issue in the summer devoted to intellectual property issues. Some of those CACM articles are downright shameful in their unquestioned support of the current system, preferring to dive into how to use copyright when they haven't discussed why. It's like the whole fake "teach the controversy" debate between Evolution and Creationism. Any science magazine that dared treat Creationism as if it was valid science would quickly lose all respect and become a laughingstock. But the ACM still soberly talks as if copyright can somehow still work. It's like listening to some cranks say that they can fix the problems with the Theory of Intelligent Design, just have to do more exploration and research.

It's embarrassing. On technological matters, the ACM ought to be one of the most progressive organizations in existence. Instead, they were slow to get on the Internet. Their early websites were garbage nearly devoid of content, seemingly made live only because it was even more embarrassing not to have a website at all! They were late to the party for online renewal of membership. Yes, ACM has done online renewal for years, but they weren't the first to do that, far from it. Now they're going to be late to the death of copyright.

Re:ACM doesn't get it on (C) (2)

John C. Earls (3448945) | about 4 months ago | (#47573497)

The Symposium on Computational Geometry recently voted to leave the ACM for this reason( https://sympa.inria.fr/sympa/arc/compgeom-announce/2014-07/msg00003.html [inria.fr] ), Not only is the ACM almost completely irrelevant to practitioners, it is quickly losing relevance to academics.

Re:ACM doesn't get it on (C) (1)

plover (150551) | about 4 months ago | (#47573653)

Amen. When I was at University, I used our library's ACM and IEEE access to get to lots of useful articles, so I know the value of having that access. But once I graduated, up came the paywalls, and up came my revulsion. It's not about the money - I waste more than the ACM membership fees funding offbeat kickstarters. While I'm still tempted every year by those ACM offers. I'm not going to support an organization dedicated to preventing the dissemination of information, not at any price.

There are still some avenues of research I occasionally need, and fortunately many authors retain the rights to self-publish or pre-publish on arXiv, so DuckDuckGo can still deliver them. Most surprisingly, Microsoft Research has made thousands of papers freely available.

Ironically, it's a lot like the old Windows / Linux argument, and Linux has shown that open source doesn't implicitly mean low quality.

Been programing for 28 years, never heard about it (1)

Qbertino (265505) | about 4 months ago | (#47573417)

I've never heard about this ACM thing. From the looks of the website it seems like some academic oriented CS club or something from the US. They even got a "german chapter" - suprised much I am. Don't know if I need to be in that club though. I doubt any programmer of importance I look up to is a member either. Linus Torwalds? RMS? Projekt Lead of Node.js? Don't think so. ... For example, I'd be suprised if more than 10% of the Blender crew even heard about this, let alone were a member.

My 2 cents.

For starters, their magazine format is terrible (1)

Xacid (560407) | about 4 months ago | (#47573427)

I can't speak for programmers as I'm more on the sysadmin side of things but joined initially when I came across some really interesting articles on virtualization from their magazine. Then I started to get the magazine regularly and it was a horrible, horrible read. It's not designed for effective data transmission. It just felt like a way to allow fellow-nerds to get published. I'm able to gain more information from an issue of Wired than I was from an ACM mag. But that could just be me and my background. Their digital library, however, is a little easier to digest since you're only looking for specific things and was nice to have when writing academic papers. But again, if you're casually browsing - it's awful.

never heard of it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47573615)

Been programming for decades, never heard of it.

Programmers probably don't join it because the ACM seems to mainly operate for its own benefit, charging rent on articles written by other people. How this benefits me, I do not know.

If I'm interested in learning something particular, google is usually a more efficient use of my time.

lack of information relevant to non-academics (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 4 months ago | (#47573669)

That sounds like some schools that are loaded with theroy and lacking real skills.

I know this programer who went a to a state school and I have spotted quite a few bugs / coding errors in there code when it's running and I don't even work in QA or work at the place they work at.

Political Agenda (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 4 months ago | (#47573729)

ACM lost the mainstream audience back in the early 1980's when a group from HP's PARC got involved. Before then the SCM's focus was computers and software; those guys brought in their social and political agenda. The Journal became their soapbox for issues programmers didn't care about (similar to some of the off topic flame wars we've seen in slashdot over the past couple of years). Once they lost their audience they never got it back.
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