Friday, June 26, 2015

NDAs at SFPUG: Survey Results

It's boomtime in San Francisco, which means we're also full swing into The Cult of the NDA.  This includes many of our venues for SFPUG meetups; they require signing a confidentiality disclaimer before entering their office.  While I question the utility of this, since these hosts are providing us with free space, food, and drink, I'm really not in a position to argue.  So I launched a survey a month ago to see how much of a problem this is for our members.  I thought it might be useful to share the results with other PUG leaders so that they can also develop policies around this.

Here's the results. First, let me give you the overall results in a pie chart.  Scroll down to the bottom of my post for my suggested policy conclusions.

Incidentally, these are all graphed using iPython Notebook and Pylab, which is awesome way to do one-off graphs.  Here's the code for that graph:

    %matplotlib inline
    import psycopg2
    from pylab import *

    conn=psycopg2.connect('dbname=sfpug host=')
    cur = conn.cursor()
    cur.execute("""SELECT att, count(*) as members
        FROM ndasurvey GROUP BY att ORDER BY att""");

    labels = []
    fracs = []
    explode = []
    for rec in cur:

    figure(1, figsize=(6,6))
    pie(fracs, explode=explode, labels=labels,
                    autopct='%1.0f%%', shadow=True, startangle=90)
    title('Attitudes Towards Venue NDAs: Overall')

So overall we have a somewhat split distribution.  BTW, here's the definitions of the attitudes:

  • won't attend: I won't go to a meetup which requires signing
  • needs review: I/my employer must review the agreement first
  • depends on text: depends on what agreement says
  • go anway: I don't like them, but I'll still go
  • don't care: I don't care, whatever
Does this differ for which of our three divisions (San Francisco, East Bay, and South Bay) it is?

So, East Bay attendees don't seem to care in general, and South Bay attendees are much more concerned about reviewing the text of the confidentiality statement.  Which makes sense, if you think about it.

The other division we have is how frequent of an attendee someone is; is there a difference in attitude about our regulars?  Apparently there is:

... so the "won't attend" group is also, generally, a group which doesn't regularly go to SFPUG meetups.  What does this tell us for a policy for SFPUG? 

Well, the 5 options actually fall into three broader groups: those who will go regardless, those who need to see the text of the agreement, and those who won't go.  What if we group it that way?

So from the look of things, 83% of SFPUG will go to a meetup with an confidentiality agreement, provided that they get to review it first.  This suggests that a good policy for SFPUG should be:

"Venues which require confidentiality agreements are acceptable, if not preferred, provided that the text of the agreement is disclosed to the group beforehand."

It also suggests that I and the other leaders should be dilligent in finding out about such agreements whenever booking a venue.

Oh, and for full data, here's the population breakdown of the above: