[Disclaimer: this isn't an official statement, it's my personal views. I was originally a core member of the Census Committee; since getting hit by a bit too much Life I've stepped back to more of a kibitzing role, but am still pretty involved.]
The idea of the Census is to get as complete a view as possible of the Society. And for possibly the first time ever, they actually mean the *Society*, not the *Corporation*. We're looking for responses from everybody who has ever been in the SCA: not just the hardcore paid-up members, but the folks who only attend events occasionally, as well as those who were once in the SCA and dropped out. (Indeed, the latter are among the most important category -- the Board is trying to get a better sense of *why* people drop out.) No membership numbers required here, so I'll urge everyone who is or has ever been in the SCA (which is most of my friends) to please go take it.
I'm not going to claim that it's absolutely perfect. There are a few cans of worms that are dear to my heart that the Board didn't want to wrestle with, and we had to trim the thing ruthlessly to keep it down to a vaguely manageable length. But it does represent the hard and sincere work of a lot of good folks, and isn't the usual Board group-think -- there are opportunities to voice your opinion *either* way on some of the major hot-button topics. I strongly encourage Carolingians (always among the more strongly opinionated folks around) to please go make yourselves heard. (And please don't succumb to the temptation to stuff the ballot box or crap like that.)
One particular feature here: unlike the usual secretive nonsense that the SCA is prone to, the results (suitably anonymized) are going to be made available -- that is very deliberately so that more people can crunch the numbers to see what's in there. We had a long discussion early on about interpretation bias, and the decision (which I think was correct) was to make the results public in order to counter that. So if there are some statisticians in the audience, you may want to crack your knuckles and come play in a few months.
There's been some grousing about the timing, and folks implying that the release date was so that the Census would be buried by people distracted by Pennsic. Nothing could be further from the truth. Let me be clear here: the release date was *my* idea. We simply didn't have enough calendar time to release any earlier, and the original release date was right *after* Pennsic -- that was how the numbers, naively crunched, came out. I argued to compress the schedule a bit so that it would be released at the beginning of Pennsic, so that the Society would have a chance to talk about this stuff while the largest number and diversity were gathered in one place. You can disagree with that, but if you do so, blame me rather than the Board.
Anyway, I encourage y'all to go take the thing, either at Pennsic or at home -- it'll be open for a couple of months. Besides the usual rental machines at Mystic Mail, there is going to be (assuming everything goes right) one laptop dedicated specifically for people who want to take it there. And I particularly encourage you to *talk* about it: this survey is big, complex, and touches on all sorts of crucial issues about the Society's present and future. While it's not a vote, the Board is going to be paying close attention to the results.
[This will be cross-posted to the Carolingian group; if you'd like to, please point people to this thread...]