User group questionnaire


Thank you for taking the time to answer this questionnaire about the history of user groups.

The purpose of the questionnaire is to create a permanent record of first-hand, personal views of user groups. Stanford University's Department of Special Collections has an extensive collection of user group newsletters, donated by Apple Computer and Washington DC user group Apple Pi. Those papers provide a wealth of basic information about the formal operation and activities of user groups, but like all official documents they have their limits. By sharing your perspective on user groups, their operation, and influence, you can help historians better understand the motives and inspirations behind the user group movement; the value of group meetings, publications, and software distribution in encouraging interest in the Macintosh; the movement's broader role in shaping the Macintosh (both as a platform and as a cultural artifact) and personal computing; and the place the user group experience holds in the lives of its members.

The questionnaire

The questionnaire consists of sixteen questions, most of them open-ended. Feel free to be as brief or expansive as you like. However, detail and specificity are always valuable to scholars.

At the end of the questionnaire, you'll be asked for your name and e-mail address, and you'll have the option of specifying whether your responses should be quoted anonymously. Providing your name is entirely voluntary, but it is helpful if you have some terrific comment that I desperately want to follow up on.

It goes without saying that your confidentiality will be respected at all times, and of course any information you share won't be made available to private companies or solicitors.

The responses

Here's what will happen to your responses. After receiving them, they'll be put into HTML, cataloged (using an adapted Dublin Core metadata scheme), and added to our electronic database on the history of Silicon Valley. Extracts from some responses will be worked into the "Making the Macintosh" site. However, even those responses that we don't use immediately will be preserved for other researchers, or used in later Stanford-supported exhibits on Silicon Valley.

Please feel free to contact if you have any additional questions.


What user group were you a member of?


When did you join, and how long were you in it?

Year joined: 19 Number of years in group:

Had you previously been involved in organizing or running other kinds of groups? If so, what kinds?

What kind of computing background-- college courses, graduate work, work experience, self-training, etc.-- did you have when you became involved with your user group?

How did the group get its name? (If your group's name was something straightforward like "[Name of City] Macintosh User Group" feel free to skip this.)

Who were the important figures in your user group-- not just the leaders, but the people who kept things running, the ones who contributed the most to meetings, newsletters, and shareware disks? Do you know anything about their technical backgrounds or previous organizational or volunteer work?

What happened at a typical meeting? (i.e., How many people attended? How carefully was the agenda prepared? Did the meeting follow the agenda? Were some kinds of events more of a draw than others? Did the more interesting things tend to happen by chance?)

How regularly did you attend the meetings? Were some kinds of events more of a draw than others?

Did your user group run a bulletin board? If so, was it heavily used? Was it expensive to maintain? Was it a controversial thing for the group to do?

How close-knit was this group? Did any marriages, businesses, or other enterprises come out of it?

What did you read in the group newsletter? What features were most useful?

When did you leave, and why?

What made the Macintosh worth this level of attention?

How did Apple Computer view user groups? Did the company encourage your growth, send people to demo new products or answer questions?

What influence did the experience of being in the user group have on your later work?

Any additional comments on a subject not covered in previous questions:

Please provide your name and e-mail address (in case we have any follow-up questions):


Do you wish your comments to be cited anonymously? Yes No

When you're finished, click on "Submit." To clear your comments and begin over, click on "Reset."