Vital Membership Issue Raised

photo: monsoon, quai du louvre, corona

The Quai du Louvre, before the downpour changed into a monsoon last Thursday.

News About the 'Café Metropole Club'

Paris:- Saturday, 13. May 2000:- During last Thursday's regular meeting at your club, while your secretary and assorted 'real' Charter Members were lolling around - glad not to be outside in the monsoon! - 'virtual' club member Bill Hunter was busily setting his thoughts about 'virtual' club membership to paper - er, to email.

Bill wrote:

"Although I have yet to attend a meeting of the Café Metropole Club, my years of reading your pages - and I probably speak here for hundreds if not thousands of loyal readers - should be recognized in some category of heretofore unarticulated membership - such as counsel, eminence gris, founding member, category 1 member, etc etc. - you get the idea.

"I mean it is probable that at least some of the attending members are possible 'Johnny-Come-Latelies.' I bet the vast majority of long-time loyal readers have not been to Paris in thephoto: monsoon terrace corona last two-to-three years. Anyway. I only mention this because 'real' members have club benefits not afforded to 'virtual' members notwithstanding that many 'virtual' members are the backbone of the whole concept."

When the monsoon came to Paris, it looked like this. Underwater!

Of course Bill is on to something here. Some recent new Charter Members didn't even know about the club 10 minutes before they arrived at it, and had never even read the club's weekly online magazine 'Metropole Paris' - not even once in a supermarket checkout or in a dentist's waiting room.

For long-time loyal 'virtual' members stuck in some backwoods swamp or sandy desert far from any near likelihood of coming to Paris, this kind of 'instant' membership must be particularly galling.

Putting aside for a moment the totally abstract notion that the club has any 'benefits' for either 'virtual' or 'real' members, I feel that Bill has made a good point.

More Than One - Less Than Thousands

Alert members - and all members are alert in this club - and casual readers may have noted that I have recently been attributing 'member numbers' to 'real' members who have attended club meetings in Paris.

After a half-year of weekly club meetings I wondered how many 'real' members there are, so I counted up the names in the unofficial 'members' booklet.'Actual numbers were added because I only have ten fingers; with 'one' being assigned haphazardly to the first name written in the booklet.

During 'real' club meetings, if a 'virtual' member is present for the first time, I ask her or him to add their name, email address and great-grandfather's name to the list in the 'members' booklet.' Being a club without many 'official' rules, members tend to write whatever they think is suitable - including possible aliases.

The point is, I do not assign numbers - I merely add a consecutive number beside each 'new' name. This is pretty easy to do. Also there are no blank spaces in the 'members' booklet,' so a new 'real' member cannot 'jump the queue.'

Beginning a long before there was any Café Metropole Club, I have been keeping a recordphoto: corona after monsoon of all first-time writers to Metropole Paris. This is not a very well-kept list. It is currently 17 months out-of-date - so anybody who has written recently can expect no spam from here.

Readers on the list going back to February 1996 can expect no spam either, because I bet you've changed addresses at least seven times since then.

Now, I line up the 'ifs' and see they can't be eliminated one by one.

By the meeting's end, Paris had returned to normal - drying out.

'If' I can get the readers' list up-to-date, then I can assign relative numbers to 'virtual' members of the club - by comparing the date of the 'request' for 'numbered virtual' status to the approximate date of your first email to 'Ed.'

But doing this will disfavor some long-time readers who, for any one of 63 reasons, have never written. Why should you have? You didn't know, I didn't know, that sending 'Ed' a message would affect your 'number' as a 'virtual' club member some years later.

Which Is Fairest?

While I'm figuring out something exceedingly complicated - and time consuming - might it not be better for 'virtual' members to send in their requests for the 'virtual-plus' membership - and be assigned 'virtual numbers' on a first-come, first-served basis? This is how 'real' Charter members get their numbers anyway.

Darn it! This would reward the rabbits and leave the turtles in the dust - which is not what Bill has in mind. Unless someone has a better idea, doing it the hard way is the only 'fair' way. I have to bring the magazine's reader-list up-to-date. This way rabbits and turtles get treated equally - which is a fundamental philosophy of your club.

What's the Title Going To Be?

Bill has already suggested "counsel, eminence gris, founding member, category 1 member, etc etc." For myself, I don't care for 'etc etc.' How about 'virtually real?'

This will result in three classifications: a. 'Virtual,' b. 'Virtually Real' and c. 'Real Charter' members. 'Virtual' is not defamatory because it applies to just about everything on the Web; which you will remember is the reason the 'real' Café Metropole Club was created in the first place.
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