Saturday, May 17, 2008

SLSA Elections (Part II) - Why should you care?

The Second Life Surfing Association (SLSA) is the body that organises Second Life's calendar of independent surfing competitions, tallies the results and calculates the season's standings. It was established for, and only recognises the votes of, competition surfers. However, as the only open, non-commercial surfing association with a established constitution, the association has a number of other important leadership roles to play in Second Life surfing. Its rules and practices provide a standard by which other competition organisers stage their own events. The SLSA is also the voice of Second Life surfing and is really the only representative of the surfing community with any authority because it has an elected board of directors.

The surfing community needs a voice, as anyone who witnessed the lack of recognition for surfing in the recent Havok4 roll-out must surely agree. There is certainly room for improvement, but the SLSA is the body that can represent the surfing community on big issues that need to be visible on Linden Lab's agenda and others. This was never the SLSA's primary objective, but the need is there and sometimes the unwritten, unagreed duties to Second Life surfing as a whole can actually get in the way of its core business.

With SLSA membership growing by about 7% per month, and now over the 300 mark, representing the wider surfing community is not an easy responsibility to avoid. Surfing is one of the fastest growing pastimes in Second Life. If SLSA membership growth continues, it will be a 500-600 member association by early 2009. Surfing contributes more and more each month to the Second Life economy and surfing is an activity that actively helps to build economically viable communities in Second Life.

The SLSA is undoubtedly at a turning point in its history and under great pressure to change and change it should: with all due care and attention. Expanding its activities and interests risks weakening the association's core focus on competition surfing. Failing to expand its activities and interests risks making an increasing number of SLSA members irrelevant to the association. Exactly how the association should change, who it should represent, what interests it should put first and who should be allowed voting rights is the responsibility of today's eligible voters. Whether you agree or disagree with the current SLSA rulebook, today only the votes of competition surfers count.

Surfing and politics rarely mix and so perhaps surfers have a natural aversion to the process of elections, sitting on committees and arguing points of policy. Meanwhile, the weight of running elections, competitions and other SLSA activities
, let alone debating points of SLSA future policy, falls on the shoulders of a few brave individuals that volunteer to sit on the SLSA board. There are remarkably few of them and, given that most people come to Second Life to have fun, they sacrifice quite a lot of their fun time in order that others may enjoy their 'drama free' surfing.

Voting is a small price to pay for having the SLSA around.

SurfWatch: Election voices 2 (15 May 08)
SurfWatch: Election voices (14 May 08)
SurfWatch: SLSA Election Up-date (13 May 08)
SurfWatch: SLSA Elections (Part I) - What's going on? (10 May 08)
SurfWatch: New SLSA directors announced (2 Mar 08)

URL: SLSA Rulebook
URL: SLSA Season Standings

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