Association of Online Professionals Frequently Asked Questions
The following are the questions that have been raised about AOP, the professional association for system operators and their responses as prepared by the AOP staff.
If this information does not answer your specific question, please contact AOP in one of the following ways:
Voice: 202-265-1266 CIS: 70631,266 Also, AOP messages and files are carried in the IBMBBS Forum on Compuserve. Type "Go IBMBBS". AOL: Go AOP Also, AOP messages and files are carried in the "BBS Corner". Type keyword "BBS".
InterNet: Address mail to "firstname.lastname@example.org"
Slow Mail: 1818 Wyoming Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20009
We are in the processing of setting up newsgroups and echoes on the major communication networks, and the AOP BBS will be up (though only open to association members) shortly.
Q: Where can I get basic information and/or an application for membership? A: There should be a file called "AOP.ZIP" where you found this faq. It
contains information and an application.
Q: Since AOP is doing legislative and public policy work on behalf of
system operators, how does it differ from the EFF.
A: EFF is a fine organization, and we plan to work with them on issues
where our interests coincide. But there are three major differences in the two. First and foremost is that AOP is a professional association whose focus is on delivering services to members. EFF is primarily an education and lobbying organization. Different structures, goals and agendas. In addition to its public policy work, AOP will deliver a slate of services, from resource guides and discounts to certification programs. Second, EFF has a **lot** of ground to cover. They do not focus exclusively on the needs of sysops, as AOP does. Third, its broader focus means that sometimes EFF focuses considerable time and resources on issues of little direct importance to sysops. AOP focuses **only** on the needs of our industry.
Q: There have been other efforts at associations for sysops. Why is AOP
succeeding where others have not?
A: We had some advantages not available to the other efforts. The timing
is right -- and even critical -- today. We have the benefit of experience in starting and managing an association. We have a full-time executive director managing the association, so we are not reliant on volunteers who have other commitments (like running their own companies and systems!) to meet. And we started off with strong support from companies like Hayes and from leading sysops nationwide.
Q: Why does AOP charge dues at the level it does? A: Because it is not possible to do the job without funding. Lobbying takes
money. So does providing the kind of services that sysops need --like reliable legal advice and interpretation. . .discounts on product and services. . .and so does running a BBS. We rely on a little bit of money from each member to pay for the staff and resources we need to do the job. And we take pride that AOP's dues are far below those of many other professional associations.
Q: But shouldn't the companies who make a living pay to support this? A: They do. But there are two issues involved. The first is that companies
pay more ($5,000 per year, for companies with more than $1 million in annual sales) in dues. For this, they will get some services needed only by companies. And they get to demonstrate a commitment to the well-being of our industry and the professional sysop community.
But they are also looking for sysops to show that they are responsible enough to act in their own best interests. Frankly, some previous efforts at association have failed because sysops simply didn't join or get involved. If we are to be credible in asking companies for money. . .or in expecting Congress and the media to take us seriously . . .we must show that we are willing to work together as a profession.
Q: But doesn't it make sense for sysops to wait three or four months
before joining, to see if AOP continues to grow?
A: Sure, that's a prudent approach. And it's time to send your check!
You see, AOP did not begin at ONE BBSCON this year. By that time, we were already a going concern. . .duly incorporated in Washington, DC and actively tracking legislative issues. We have been operating for almost five months now. . .getting organized. . .lining up support. . . soliciting corporate donations. . .and keeping an eye on Congress. We've already done our job. Now it is your turn.
Q: Why is it so important for me to join? Isn't that the job of the bigger,
more profitable BBS systems?
A: Two goals are critical. The first is that we show we are professionals.
And the hallmark of a professional is a willingness to shoulder the responsibilities of our industry as well as ourselves. Unless we can show that, we'll be viewed as anarchists and pornographers (but only for as long as it takes to pass laws to put us under FCC control or out of business). The second goal, equally critical, is to get to 1,000 members as quickly as possible. At that level we will still need strong financial support from our corporate partners. But at least we will have sufficient numbers to be credible as an association. And to do that, we need you as a member. Today.
Q: Why haven't I seen this information on my network or the InterNet? A: Because we are still sorting out the rules. Some members have been
to send our information along their networks for fear they will be "flamed" for "advertising" AOP. We are slowly getting sysops to understand that this is not a commercial ad, and it is beginning to get out on the networks. But any assistance will be appreciated.
Q: I've just sent my application, but this is important to me and I want
to do everything else I can. What more can I do?
A: Three ideas come to mind. First, become an advocate for AOP. Tell
other sysops that you are joining and why. Spread the files to every BBS you frequent, and along the networks. And make sure it is discussed by your local user groups and regional sysop organizations.
Second, check your vendors to see if they are supporting AOP. If they are not (and a few are still waiting to see what **you** do), let them know clearly that you expect them to support the sysop community by supporting AOP.
Finally, be as active as you can. Not everyone will want to join committees or be active on our forums and BBS. But it is important for use to work together as well as pay dues. There are still plenty of open positions for sysops who want to make a difference.
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