I joined IBC last June and found it frustrating to try to navigate their information system, and I thought the placement of the decoy forum that nobody was using was at best baffling. I had thought "to learn more about bettas," but all I could find were discussions of regulations and what appeared to be a series of loosely connected email-type communications, many of which pertained to the most recent show. I thought I could search a show schedule to see if anything was happening where I live, but nothing was listed for my region or even really my nation, though I have learned subsequently about an upcoming show (May 11) in Long Beach, run by a local betta society and sanctioned by IBC.
So when Basement Bettas and EvilVOG remark that in supporting the IBC I am supporting the main support in the universe for the hobby I enjoy, I have to chuckle a little bit, because they really do have a point. Without IBC, the hobby I love would not have much structure or much by way of goals. And active members of IBC have certainly received emolument from my membership fee, among others. But I don't think the Congress provides much of a welcome to non-insiders like myself who wish to "take their hobby to the next level" without necessarily ever wanting to breed bettas or show them. What would that require? It strikes me the IBC is an established network that functions to the advantage of those who have penetrated its precincts (those who breed and show bettas, and who need to be a part of that system in order to advance), but in offering membership for money, the IBC can't offer an entré to that network, or if it can offer an opening, that opening does not lead very far. I think the IBC directors should think through what they do have to offer neophyte inductees and make that first step worth it, and then new members can find their way in the organization with some prior incentive. As it is, if you are willing to "make the most of your membership" by networking, then you will be given a place at the table. Maybe societies are just like this, but it strikes me that something important is missing from this welcoming committee.
Definitely there are some problems there, and they are being worked on, but it's a process. The IBC dates to long before the internet, and it's online resource organization dates back almost as far. Part of the problem is getting the membership to try something new, but it will take time as many have been using it in it's current configuration for 15 years now. People are always resistant to change, and alot of them just aren't computer people to begin with.
Remember to make your voice heard in the form of asking questions. I've been in a little over a year and have, in part, led to two major policy changes.
Also the website has been in a state of flux for at least six months now trying to make everything more user-friendly. It's getting there.
Artemis: it's not really hidden anymore, but there are essentially two spots, the yahoo group with all the archived articles, and a forum on the website that much of the membership has yet to embrace, but it is fairly new.