STC memberships?

Subject: STC memberships?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 4 Apr 2003 14:13:34 -0500

ASUE Tekwrytr wondered: <<Is anyone on this list a student member of STC?
Anyone have information on the attrition rate of new STC members?>>

I joined when I first entered the profession, without having ever gone to
school to become a techwhirler, so I can't comment on student memberships.
I'm not aware of any stats on attrition rates, though STC's office probably
has statistics. My personal experience is that the attrition rate depends
mostly on the economy; if your employer pays the shot or if you're a
contractor who's overwhelmed with business, it's far easier to remain a
member even if you're unmotivated than if you're suddenly unemployed and
need the extra bucks to feed your kids. Then remaining a member becomes an
important decision indeed.

<<That is, how inflated is the membership "growth" by omitting figures on
the number of student members who join for a year and then drop out?>>

I don't recall seeing any "membership growth" figures per se in my 10+ years
with STC, though they do periodically publish total membership numbers. For
a reality check, I look at the statement of circulation for the journal
(Technical Communication) and the magazine (Intercom) to get a clear idea of
how many members there are: nobody wants to print many more copies of a
publication than they need, so these numbers should track membership fairly
closely--if you allow for the fact that they usually print a few hundred
extra "freebies" to hand out as a recruitment tool and so on.

Bruce Byfield opined:

<<One of the first imperatives for any organization is to look good in

You have to remember that Bruce was scared by an STC member when he was a
small child, so he tends to look upon such statements as somehow sinister.

<<So, naturally, you can't expect the STC to have any figures on the numbers
of dropouts>>

On the contrary... you can bet that they track this very carefully indeed.
But you'd certainly be right if you said they don't go out of their way to
advertise these figures.

<<I suspect that the attrition rate is quite high - if not over the first
year, then after the first two or three years. It's been
several years since I was an STC member, but, when I did belong, newcomers
predominated at meetings.>>

Whereas my experience has always been the opposite: there tends to be a
large and stable core of oldtimers, with new faces appearing and
disappearing regularly and some of them becoming the new crop of oldtimers.

<<To judge from seminar offerings and topics at announced meetings, that
hasn't changed much.>>

One of the things I certainly plan to bring up at the annual business
meeting (if I can attend) is just how true this statement is. One place
where STC tends to fall down is the lack of highly technical sessions at
their conferences, and I suspect that decreases their attraction to many

<<I also note that experienced writers tend to be either running the STC or
not involved in it all.>>

Count me in the former camp.

--Geoff Hart, geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada
580 boul. St-Jean
Pointe-Claire, Que., H9R 3J9 Canada

"Wisdom is one of the few things that look bigger the further away it
is."--Terry Pratchett

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