Good Ideas vs. Conflict of Interest

This is an interesting dilemma. If I subscribed to the a magazine with an ethics column, I'd suggest this as a topic.

Joe Welinske (who, in full disclosure, I am not a big fan), has started a Yahoo! Group called Reform STC. The group is a place where STC members past and present can discuss how STC should reform itself to appeal to people better. Joe, as a member of STC, has an interest in seeing STC continue to succeed. STC is hemorrhaging members faster than the Titanic and they certainly could use the reform. In this light, I applaud Joe for giving a central location for people to come together for meaningful discussion (hopefully) about an organization many feel very passionately about. I was to be a President of one of their chapter less than a year ago, and now I'm no longer a member. Net effect to my career? Zero. Obviously, a discussion needs to happen.

However, there's a little wrinkle. Joe is President of WritersUA, who's highest profile income generators are their conferences. Given that the technical writing community is fairly small in number, and most writers don't have funds they can use indiscriminately to attend any and all conferences they want, Joe has a vested interest in seeing STC falter or lessen, if not fail, in order for more people to attend his conference. The shadow of a conflict of interest starts to creep into the picture.

No one seems to have raised this on the list, and I'm loath to do it for nothing other than the flame war it would start on the list. But I know a few of you reading are STC members. What do you think?

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