BCS Exit Survey

Sorry for the non-security related rant. I recently recieved my renewal reminder for the BCS, I’ve been increasingly disappointed with the ‘advantages’ of being a member. Whilst I don’t like not being a member of a professional body for my craft, I simply cannot justify the cost any longer. I don’t like being negative but my response to a question on the exit survey says it all:

What, if anything, do you feel BCS could be doing to better serve it’s members?

Primarily: Better regional events. Most (all?) events are located in London, making events infeasible for members in other regions of the country. When I joined as a member there were several good events, covering a wide range of topics, held by my local groups. My local branch (Newcastle) has not ran a decent event in excess of 12months and currently do not have ANY events organised for the future (using newcastle.bcs.org as a source and point of contact).
Alternative groups in the area (SuperMondays, CloudCamp NE, among others) are free of charge and provide significantly better events, networking opportunites and information than BCS alternatives. Taking the geographical location out of the equation, the quality of discussion on the BCS’s online forums is limited, infrequent and in most cases superfical. It seems most members do not view the forums as a good source for information or discussion.
The last event I attended was finished off with a presentation and Q&A session by Rachael Burnett, at the time president of the BCS. For the head of the organisation Rachael appeared out of touch with the real-world industry, this is a situation that I’ve seen mirrored in the organisation as a whole in my experience.
When starting my career, the information provided by the newsletters, email announcements, etc. from the BCS were valuable. Lately however, the articles have been dated, with me already recieving the information from another source in some cases weeks before the BCS version. As a result the BCS emails now recieve little more than a cursory glance before being deleted.
I’m aware that there is work in progress to provide a local branch of the YPG in my region. Whilst I sincerely hope this is successful I do not have high hopes for it’s success and after several years paying membership with seeing any real benefit this move is too little too late for me.
There is a hugely active and skilled computing profession in the North East of England, but the BCS seems to completely ignore the region and fails (from my experience) to provide any benefit to the region or the region’s members; either that or the BCS is equally out of touch and poorly serving the UK’s IT community as a whole.
Andrew Waite

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  1. I am not a member of the BCS however I too have noticed the lack of events in the NE. I did try to attend one event last year which looked interesting, the speaker was the head of MS security however when we arrived we were notified he was not going to show up.
    Another thing that puts me off the BCS is how they did not give the stamp of approval to my university course because it used the term ‘hacker’ in its tittle.
    At the moment I am a member of the IET and recently a part of the IET Durham branch board. We are currently arranging events for the next academic year. At the moment I am just testing the water and trying to get a feel for the body.
    One of the body’s I do want to (and will) join is OWASP, they contribute a lot to the community with their events, tools, papers, books, ect…

    1. Think that was the straw that broke the camels back. I’d been looking forward to that event for a couple of months, only decent thing that had been organised for a while. Got ready to leave the office and recieved an email stating it had been called off. Now if I’d been in your shoes and actually turned up I definitely wouldn’t have been a happy camper.
      Did see anything too promising when I looked at the IET a few years back, just had another look and it seems promising, especially when the IT section has a walkthrough case study of a physical access pentest 🙂 [http://kn.theiet.org/magazine/issues/0913/intruders-tale-0913.cfm]. Definitely intending to give it a closer look.
      Would be interested with events in Durham as it’s my old stomping ground, let me know if/when you get anything organised.

  2. Andrew,
    I totally agree with you on this. I have not been a member of the BCS since 2002 as I really did not get any benefit, and I dont think anyone valued you for being in the club.
    I spoke with the BCS this year due to some of the work on was doing with a University, asked them why I should sign up again. They couldnt come up with anything to convince me.

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