back to article BCS trustee threatens rebels with libel action

Rebel members of the BCS have been threatened with libel action unless they withdraw claims that appear to question the probity of the organisation's Trustees. The BCS is the midst of £5m 'transformation' programme that includes re-branding to "BCS: the Chartered Institute for IT". Such moves have not gone down well with some …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    The BCS's reputation

    When I graduated, a few years ago now, people said even then that the name sounded quaint - like some kind of club (reminiscent of the British Interplanetary Society which doesn't actually do any travelling to other planets, either, but it sounds more fancy) - so you can see what people are getting at. Having said that, the BCS and IEEE's computing arm have been comprehensively outmanoeuvred by people they still dismiss as amateurs: the open source software movements, people actually exchanging knowledge in the open, rather than going through the gold-plated members-only gateway.

    I'm just surprised the BCS is still going in this day and age. That someone would sue for libel based on someone else exercising some kind of democratic institutional right says it all. I thought there was some kind of ethics programme in the BCS, but I guess there isn't after all.

    1. SDP

      Ethics Programme

      There is an ethics programme, but the person heading it up is clearly subservient to the CEO

      - oh, and also a trustee!

    2. Craig (well, I was until The Reg changed it to Craig 16)

      I partially agree...

      I've been a BCS member for many years now and have the shiny Chartered Status badge but I'm increasingly seeing little value in my membership.

      I'm genuinely struggling to find value out of the £135 annual fees beyond the post-nominal letters that get "what's that?" queries from the 95% of the industry that isn't up-to-date with the society's lingo.

      Some notes though: The society itself is no longer The British Computer society, it is simply BCS now as the manglement do not like the terms British, Computer or Society. It is no longer a member's society for the advancement of IT, it is a training provider pretending to be a professional society.

      My membership renewal is due next month, if the EGM backers fail miserably then I'll simply say goodbye to my MBCS CITP certification and probably not notice any difference in the attitude of my clients. That £135 can go to a far better use.

      The title says "I partially agree" because I have completely different attitudes to the IEEE CS. If you read their Computer journal you'll see plenty of top-end technical articles written by people at the top of their technical profession. Their other journals also make very good reading for those interested in their narrow remits. I'll keep my membership there as it's still a very valuable professional society that makes the BCS look like a bunch of pimply faced youths pretending they know how to repair a PC.

  2. Dogbyte

    Dad's Army of IT

    "Your name vill also go on ze libel action. Vot is it?"

    "Don't tell him, Pike!"

  3. Turtle

    Info needed please.

    This looks as though it could be an interesting story. Now, I understand that the article should not go into excruciating depth and minute detail about the issues in dispute, but shouldn't there be something about them? After all, other than noting that issues do exist, this article essentially ignores them completely! I see there are some links, but some explanation needs to be put in the story itself.

  4. Rogerborg

    Wait, lawsuit?

    Things have changed. The git-wizards of the BCS used to settle disputes with PDP-8 assembler competition, with the winner getting a pint of real ale and the loser being forced to hand in his wizard-beard and rainbow suspenders.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "He said it was a democratic organisation and the direction would be decided democratically by its membership."

    But he seems to be saying that should any members call for a democratic vote he will sue them. Strange.

    Or am I missing something?

  6. jonathan rowe


    Elbow patches at dawn...

  7. Tony S

    "model railway fanciers"

    For a number of years I worked with people that were involved in both model railway and preservation railway projects. Many of them were actually highly skilled engineers, with very impressive lists of qualifications. The reason that they did the work was because they enjoyed it so much. One person I knew was a former air crash investigator - his comment was that he was getting back to the basics of engineering. What was very clear was that the people involved knew their subject and there was tremendous respect between everyone.

    I actually want to see an organisation in IT that sets the standards for prefessional behaviour for people in the industry and promotes high quality in all aspects. I think that we need this - with the growth of IT, how do non-IT literate people know how to tell who is really skilled from those that talk a good game but can't deliver?

    Certainly, there are a lot of people working in OSS that are highly skilled, well motivated and work to very high standards - there are also code monkeys that I wouldn't allow to wipe down my keyboard. This is also true of many other areas - a lot of people have drifted into IT with limited knowledge or experience, and no formal assessment of their skill level.

    I think that it is sad that we are seeing this dispute between people wihtin the BCS - I don't think that anyone will win, whatever the outcome.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You know, I first looked at the BCS when I was a student and I considered it irrelevant then. Just as i believe the RPS is irrelevant now is to photography. I don't think BCS membership would have had the least impact on my career and I'm still of that opinion now.

    Judging by the low number of comments here, it might be possible to conclude that others think the same. Time shall tell.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      This really is one of those "does anybody care?" subjects.

      In fact... why am I reading this?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    Can we have a vote of no confidence in it's very existence rather than just it's leadership?

  10. Anonymous Coward


    Blimey, they still going? When I was at uni, we had a lecturer banging on and on about joining the BCS and how you won't be able to get into a career in IT with being a part of the BCS. 10 years later, I sit here deep in my IT career and have not gone anywhere near them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Big Brother

      and yet strangely...

      ...certain organisations *require* BCS membership. Try getting a job at GCHQ - it's one of the first questions you get asked on their web based job application process.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        Erm...don't think so. They may ask the question, but they also ask if you are married - it's a question not a requirement.

        I think your confusing it with the ITPC/IISP - which at least ARE relevant.

  11. Disco-Legend-Zeke


    ...could someone please tell me what "BCS" stands for?

    Google points me to Barklays bank (probably not) And some kind of football championship.

    Their website gives no clue. How much credibility can one assign to an organization which does not even know it's own name.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      re Umm

      BCS used to mean Beer Consumption Society.

      Now, Blind and Completely Stupid.

      As a BCS member, I'm dismaid by the self destruction that is going on. I've almost decided to resign and just carry on with my IEEE membership.

  12. Chronos

    I left...

    ...because of all the paradigms, synergies and leveraging. In all the years I was a member, I can count on one hand (even after the accident with the tape safe door) the number of interesting technical aspects of membership but I'd need to be a conjoined twin from Norfolk if I wanted to tot up the touchy-feely, team-building, self-improvement blurb. Don't we all get enough of that crap taking up valuable time at work?

  13. heyrick Silver badge

    "[...] a democratic organisation [...] would be decided democratically by its membership."

    Except when it doesn't go to plan, then come legal threats. Oh how Bush-like.

    [title edited for size constraints: original was "He said it was a democratic organisation and the direction would be decided democratically by its membership."]

  14. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    @The BCS's reputation

    Unfortunately they are in charge of IT teaching in schools and universities (supposedly) and they do run the vital e-citizen and e-typing accreditation.

    Apart from that they are a largely irrelevant old boys club/closed shop "Chartered IT Professional should have 10years senior experience although this can be reduced to 5years with an IT degree .... degree in a non-IT subject must have 9 years experience"

    Further validation of why you never hire anyone with an IT degree.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Don't you do it, Porgy!

    Thank you George LeRoy Tirebiter.

  16. Ian Chard

    Sounds familiar

    An organisation reinventing itself and suing everyone... hmmm, sounds SCO familiar.

  17. Richard 26
    IT Angle

    Re: Umm

    It doesn't stand for British Computer Society, in the same way that BP doesn't stand for British Petroleum.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    model railway engineering

    model railway engineering done well can be a very very serious subject.

    Courtesy of, have a look at (no German required).

    Or for a briefer writeup of the same 150-employee exhibit try:

    See also for a half hour programme from a model railway exhibition (sorry, German only).

    Why don't we get this kind of thing on UK TV?

    Oddly enough, German TV also has techy programmes with a bit more content than Click Online.

    And they also seem to take their "Continuing Professional Development" and stuff like EurIng a bit more seriously than we do in the UK.

    We could learn a lot from over there.

  19. zedenne

    i want to join!

    the people on their website look so professional and prosperous and even sexy!

    oh, they're stock image you say? really the bcs is all about trying to emulate lawyers and doctors in creating a closed system of patronage?

    maybe i'll carry on being a startup monkey then and help create entirely new businesses no certified professional thought would exist rather than taxing existing businesses for my "professional services".

    (disclaimer: 15 years in IT and still no formal qualifications other than a couple of old MCP passes in the 90's)

  20. h 6

    no model trains

    Having no clue what BCS is, and seeing the subhead, I was disappointed that there was no mention of model trains whatsoever.

  21. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    First football, then this

    Not content with attempting to hog TV money for a select few schools, the Bowl Championship Series goes on to threaten to sue British hackers? Terrible--what did they do, expose the weaknesses of its ranking algorithms?

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Both sides need to get real.

    The management need to get some perspective; the members are entitled to call for an EGM, according to the rules, it's called two-way communication.

    The stick-in-the-muds need to wake up and realise that many computer professionals regard them as irrelevant, because they are just a club, with no real clout!

    I have never seen any benefit in doing the work and paying money to join the BCS, given it is rare to even see them mentioned; I already have letters from my degree, and theirs are effectively worthless!

  23. Kate Craig-Wood

    BCS is still relevant

    It is really sad to see BCS in-fighting so much. While it has its flaws, it is still a good organisation and for the most part it is about serious, expert professionals coming together and sharing knowledge for wider societal benefit.

    An exemplar case is the Data Centre Specialist Group ( of which I am an officer. We have over 1,000 members, many of which are over seas, who have been able to work together to create global thought leadership in energy efficiency in the data centre.

    The main outputs of the group are our vital contributions to the EU Code of Conduct for data centres, and more recently the open source cost and energy simulator which has been developed in partnership with the Carbon Trust. Britain has truly world-leading expertise in this field, and that is thanks in no small part to the DCSG.

    I think this is a storm in a teacup over a minority not liking their old 'club' evolving. There is fault on both sides I'm sure, but the bottom line is that this is doing real harm to an organisation that does do good work.

    Kate Craig-Wood, aka. Famed skydiving hosting-biz queenpin

    MD, Memset

  24. Reg Sim

    I am a member of the BCS, have been before I got my IT degree and still am.

    O'yea and it stands for British Computer Society.

    I have been a member for quite a few years now (MBCS encase your wondering), and I have on the whole found it a useful organisation.

    The most irritating thing was there rubbish website, which is now significantly improved, and there massive hike in membership costs, which did make me think long and hard about the value of membership.

    However since I started using the BCS, I have found they have two things I find very important.

    The first, is the number of variety of forums, talks, introductions and presentations you have free access to as a member (and you can also usually take a non-member mate with you). At these things you get to network with other IT folk/organisations, get a handle on new technologies, historical information and get to ask questions. If you have an active interest in IT, there very good and very good value for money.

    The second, relates to ethics training mentioned above. What it essentially means to be an MBCS member is that you have a formal approach to resolving issues of ethics, and a formal manner in which to deal with (in most cases) your employer. Should this fail, you have the backing of your professional body and its much easier should it become necessary too defend your self if you have followed a formal method endorsed by your own professional body.

    Now regardless if these two points interest you or not, essentially I am very glad this article was here, as it caught my attention and having read the 'rebel' link, which I have to say is significantly more useful than the 'BCS links' to them I am going to support the EGM.

    Essentially this EGM is about Trust. Regardless of the direction of the BCS, the directors have not released documents asked for by the council, such as showing due diligence in a number of areas, specifically in pressing ahead with a £5m plan. Even now the EGM has been called (a year after they were originally challenged) this information is still not forth coming.

    So regardless of the future of the BCS, I think the future of the directors and board of trustee's is the door. What disgusts me more than anything else is the tone of the BCS has changed significantly since I have joined. Putting 'quick vote' options onto voting forms, and there choices of words and counter resolutions. I suspect even with out the issues of clarity, I would have little trust. The top level of the BCS seem to of been Bushed or Blair’ed, time for a flush I think.

    I also feel a slightly longer article would, or at least one that touch’s on the main points of contention would of been valuable for us reg readers.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Waste of space

    I once (foolishly) tried to join the BCS. Despite having an MSc in IT, being in my 9th year as Head of IT at a £200M company with a reputation for IT innovation in our sector, and being heavily involved in a well known FOSS project was told that I couldn't join as I "only had a passing interest in computing".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Why does that sound so familiar?

      I was told at one point that it 'might be a good idea to join the BCS (was doing a spot of greasy pole climbing..).

      Went through their BS, was basically told that even with (at that point) about 20 years of experience with systems hardware and software from micros through mainframes to running bloody networks of Suns and other Unixy boxes (with a sideline of designing micro-controller boards and all their associated gubbins), I *might* get associate that point I basically laughed (I knew a codemonkey with a Geography degree who I wouldn't trust to switch on a computer let alone allow her near any coding who had full membership - remember, greasy pole climbing..) and lost any interest in them.

      Did it hurt my career? probably - wrt that particular job, but I moved on to a better IT job without requiring the BCS membership.

      This was about 13 - 15 years or so ago, glad to see some things never change..

      Btw, would have to endorse the other comments re the Model Railway bods, please don't even mention them in the same breath as the BCS. (comparing them to Trainspotters, that I'll allow)

      The thing about the model railway bods I've come across, they don't care who or what you are, what they care about is the subject of their obsession, which they usually tend to be fairly knowledgeable about, and any interest you may (foolishly, in some cases) express in it.

      You may find them a wee bit strange, but, since leaving the full-time IT game I've run into all sorts, a common thread is that they (err 'normal' humans) think most IT people are the weird ones.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This reminds me

      When IT work was slack in the 90's I did all sorts to earn some money. One stint was in a bakery and the person opposite from me on one shift said he had an MSc in computer studies. He asked me...

      "You know the mouse ... how does it know to move the arrow on the screen?"

      I pi**ed myself laughing. Didn't see him again and educational qualifications lowered a notch in my estimation.

      I don't think his BSc was in computer studies 'cause in those days we even did Fox programming. (I think that the low level training machine was called Fox)

  26. BongoJoe
    IT Angle

    Strange outfit

    I joined the BCS in 1982 and had been to lectures well before then and the only long standing opinion of the BCS was that it was mostly pointless.

    I remember going to a lecture in the late 70s when someone asked one of the big-wigs whether they would be taking an interest in the new micro-processors rather than the Big Iron computers of the time. The man from the BSC then said that they would take no interest nor ever do so in micro-processor technology and computing.

    True to their word, they really didn't. The society because more of thing for managers to share buzzwords and the occasional paper in their Journal would be interesting. But since the 80s I have always wondered what the point of the BCS was.

    I ended up gather no end of professional qualifications from them without even trying and all they ever seem to do was to dish out letters to people at random. In one year I became chartered TWICE (good database, fellahs!), got some EU charter qualfication and a whole host of nonesense.

    Any outfit which dishes out letters like confetti really can't be said to be relevant. My career? I work for myself now and don't need anything which doles out letters after their name.

    I stopped being a member a few years ago when I realised that their relevance to the real world for the one man techie is precisely nil.

  27. Anonymous Coward

    It's all bad press...


    I actually voted a bit all over the place, but in general I am against the old fogeys and am all for creating some status for the profession.

    I think the current heads may have got a bit full of themselves and need reminding what they are there for and who they serve, but we do need to update. I particularly hated the 'Quick Vote' section of the voting process, came across as very 'just let us make up your minds for you, you don't understand all this as you are the little people (very New Labour)

    The BCS for me always had an image of old beardy wierdies from academia huddling together and talking about bubble sorts in assembler with no relevance to the profession. There was a alot of talk about them when I was at Imperial, but once I started working in the profession I heard nothing more. In addition, the requirement for having a CompSci degree put me off, especially when some of the brightest people I have met in this profession have nothing of the sort - at least they have sorted that now.

    Until a few years ago when asked by an old friend to help out with the DCSG at the BCS. I needed a LOT of persuading that it wasn't all old academic men talking about how things 'should be done' as opposed to just getting on and doing it (as you probably guessed I am a get on and do it kind of guy).

    The DCSG is different, and I feel we have done some good as a group and as such I am proud to be a member.

    On the wider issue, I feel that we do need some status here, similar to chartered engineer, surveyor, doctor or whatever - to be recognised wider in society.

    It does make me wonder when I cannot vouch for someone on a shotgun licence or passport application yet a vicar (who's mere acceptance of an imaginary friend could bring his judgement into question) or newly qualified doctor can. (When I was an Army Officer I could...)

    I think the BCS really can do this over a generation, and make IT as respected as any other 'profession', meaning my Jewish mother in law would talk as proudly about me to her friends as she does about her junior associate partner lawyer son who earns half as much as me and is essentially an admin assistant instead of 'Oh, Dave? He just works with computers' ;-)

    The BCS needs to lose it's model railway club image and start to cause people to naturally gravitate towards it as something they want to do to improve themselves and the industry. This kind of in-fighting is not going to help.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IT equivalent of train-spotting.

    The BCS is irrelevant.

    The Trustees are irrelevant.

    Mr Olisa is irrelevant.

    His threats are irrelevant.

    Get over yourselves people and get back to your train-spotting.

  29. SDP


    Time for the Charities Commission to intervene – you might think.

    It is bad enough that there is a rogue trustee on board suing other trustees past and present, but what makes this worse is that the President, CEO and remaining trustees are sitting back and watching the fun, thereby condoning this appaling abuse of power and wealth.

    They alone are responsible for bringing this society to its knees – not the members calling for an EGM. Shame on you for bringing your own organisation into disrepute.

    This trustee’s actions alone vindicate the members call for an EGM. It demonstrates exactly the bully-boy tactics that so many of us ACTIVE MEMBERS have had to endure from the CEO and his like for years now.

    Their actions show a complete lack of respect towards members and colleagues as well as a distinct lack of fellowship in this organisation and others affiliated to it.


    Representing less than 5% of the UK IT industry, it is not fit for purpose and irrelevant.

    It should be stripped of both its Royal Charter and Charitable Status.

    Hey, Ken – just because you’re far too rich, doesn’t mean you will always win.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle


    IT angle? (it's the BCS after all)

    PS. I've found that saying your a member of BCS in an interview is like saying you have a GCSE in Technology - and is often met with the same muted chuckles. If your over 30 and don't want to be laughed at - go for something more relevant (personal opinion).

  31. Anonymous Coward


    As stated before, they're not so much 'Dad's Army' as 'Women's Institute' of IT.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So... what is "IT"?

    I've got to ask. I've been in this business - hardware and software - for ~30 years and I've got no idea - what actually *is* IT?

    My only clue is my daughter's half-GCSE, which leads me to believe that it's some sort of working knowledge of MS access, MS frontpage, and MS-another-program-I've forgotten-about.

    So, what do you have to do to become a member of "The Chartered Institute for IT" and to rise up the greasy pole? Have a working knowledge of 6 MS programs? Surely not 9, or even 10??

  33. Tom 13

    Hah! At last a chance to laugh at some foolishness* in the British tort system!

    A comment like that would PROVE he should be immediately removed from office on this side of the pond. You must necessarily be able to call for the emergency meeting to have a debate about the properness of their decisons.

    *And a RARE pleasure it is. Mostly you guys do seem to have a better system at least vis a vie libel/slander cases. Some comments are actually beyond the pale even in political debate and ought to be actionable under libel, even for public figures. Others are certainly within the realm of debate and ought not. Unfortunately, it takes actual wise and just judges to make such a distinction. Lacking them the rules seem to move to one extreme or the other.

  34. Tom Thomson

    A pity

    I had hoped that the changes being put forward would make the society more relevant and gain it greater respect, that the screwing up of many aspects of the society was a termporary short-term aberration that would be resolved by the applicatiopn of good will everywhere. It has gradually become clear over recent weeks that that was foolish optimism, and that it would take somethig drastic to get the society working properly.

    I was always going to vote against the trustees' motion to make it virtually impossible to call an EGM, as soon as I saw it. When I went to vote online and saw what the "quick vote" option did - what a contemptible manipulation of the poll that is, using something clearly intended for non-contentious technical motions to try to railroad highly contentious stuff through - I concluded that it was neccessary to vote on every motion in the opposite manner to that indicated by the quick vote: the board had proved the callers of the EGM right with that particular piece of scammery. Many will probably feel (I do myself) that Mr Olisa managed to do that on his own, as well.

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