I'm considering joining either ACM or IEEE, but am not sure which would be more beneficial for a software developer/architect like myself. Any comments by members of either or both organizations would be appreciated. Thanks!

UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who left a comment on this post. It looks like I can't really go wrong with either one. In the end, I decided to join the ACM as they seem to be more academic, which fills a void since all my current magazine subscriptions are more practically oriented. Another factor was that their CBT and Online Book collection seemed more expansive than that of IEEE. I also added the ACM portal as their digital library looks to be an extremely useful resource, and (while it ended up costing more than I initially intended to spend) I think I'll regret it later if I were to just get the ACM membership and cheap out on the portal.

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what IEE ? is it IEEE?

Posted by jinath at September 13, 2004 10:51 PM

huh? there's no mention of "IEE" (whatever that would be) anywhere. I'm talking about the "Eye-Tripple-Ee".

Posted by Luke Hutteman at September 13, 2004 11:21 PM

You could read their code of ethics and see which one you agree with more :) The IEEE code is fairly short and to the point.



Posted by Jesse Courchaine at September 13, 2004 11:56 PM


here is a link to Joel's forum ( This question comes up, now and then on his forum.

It's been a while since I have seen it, so why don't you post the same on his forum:-)


Posted by Prakash S at September 14, 2004 12:08 AM

I was subscribed both to Communications of the ACM and to IEEE Computer.
I would go for ACM if you just want the default magazine (Communications of the ACM versus IEEE Computer). ACM covers more software engineering, while IEEE Computer tends to go more for system engineering.

Posted by Reinier Balt at September 14, 2004 1:38 AM

I belong to both. I feel that ACM is "more" for software folks. But IEEE Software magazine is more valuable than ACM Communications, for me, this decade. On the gripping hand, the ACM probably has a wider range of Special Interest Groups.

Bottom line, they are both professional organizations aimed at least in part at software developers, so I'd say to support them both if you can afford it. If you can do only one, get thee to a university library and check our their publications, see which ones you like best over a year or three.

Posted by Ron Jeffries at September 14, 2004 2:40 AM

IEE is the British IEEE. Though I beleive there is some affiliation. IEEE is worldwide and therefore better subscribed and thus cntributed to than the IEE.

Posted by jason at September 14, 2004 4:37 AM

I keep my ACM membership active with the "portal" option -- You can do complex full text searches on the collected works of all acm special interest groups as well as get access to proceedings from any of the ACM conferences.

As a member, you can access all of this as PDF files. Also, if you sign up with the ACM, try and work a deal to get Queue as well as CACM. Queue is a relatively new periodical that ACM is publishing. They've been giving away subscriptions for a while to get the readership up.


Posted by Jeff at September 14, 2004 5:50 AM

I'll recommend the ACM. The digital library is an awesome resource.

Of course, I've never been an IEEE member, so I don't know if they
have anything comparable. But the ACM's been publishing a LOT of
great computer-related material for many years, and the digital
library has it all.

Posted by Mike G. at September 14, 2004 7:40 AM

IEEE has an amazing digital library option as well.

I'm a member of both, I'd have to say that as far as publications go, I like ACM Queue and IEEE Software best. Neither of these are the default periodical (of course).

If you want more beyond the online resources and magazines, check to see which has a better presence where you live. We have an active IEEE Section with monthly meetings in my town, including a Computer Society chapter. I don't hear much from the local ACM group (although I just got an email about a meeting, first one ever that I remember). The local group can be a great resource for networking and learning. Our monthly IEEE dinner meetings always have an interesting speaker.

Posted by Greg G at September 14, 2004 8:28 AM

I've been a member of the IEEE for more than a decade and I intend to belong for the rest of my life. The reason? I need the group rate insurance when I decide I want to be an independent (it's fantastic insurance). I do like the IEEE mag, though.

Posted by Chris Sells at September 14, 2004 11:39 AM

Another plug - ACM now has online books (ala Safari) and online courses on various technology areas through Sun education.

Posted by Adam HIll at September 15, 2004 3:23 AM

Hey man...
well, i have been in IEEE for years....when I had the time to read a lot, I found the IEEE individual transaction journals interesting. They were far more theoretical then anything we get in the "outside" world. With that said, many of them were never opened. I do like Spectrum, Computer, and Software and IEEE's online presence has many of the features mentioned above. I have never been on ACM, but have contemplated it many times. I understand that they may have more content. IEEE, though, has been very active in recent years as far as standards and conferences are concerned. If I were making the call, I would go IEEE....unless both was a which case I would do that.


Posted by LES at September 15, 2004 11:20 AM

Join the IEEE for its excellent Magazines, Societies and Digital Libraries. Extremely good value for money.

Posted by Weblocutor at September 15, 2004 4:03 PM

If you are self employeed IEEE offers group rates for health insurance, etc that are quite good. The coverage offered is as good as many full time employers i've had as well. Not easy to find as a self-employed individual.

The downside is you have to be a member of IEEE for at least 2 yrs before you are eligible.

Posted by Jose at September 15, 2004 7:01 PM

I am a member of both ACM and IEEE. I find IEEE computer society magazine(s) to have more practical stuff, things related to computer science that you can use today. ACM is more academic, except for ACM queue magazine, which is avaiable online for free.
In terms of online library access, I would recommend Oreilly Safari which has 1000+ books from various publishers.

Posted by Ashish at September 18, 2004 8:46 PM

Hi Luke

In the past, I've been a member of both. While a researcher, I found the ACM to be more appropriate. Later, the IEEE seemed more practical, as another reader remarked.

These days I find MSDN magazine and Visual Studio magazine more relevant to what I do (although the latter is becoming increasingly thin and full of ads...)


Posted by Mitch at September 21, 2004 9:39 PM

I'm the chairman of the Weber State University chapter of the ACM so this is somewhat biased, but I say if you consider yourself a computer scientist then you should join the ACM. The Digital Library is one of the most complete and useful resources available to people doing research and scholastic work. IEEE has many good benefits for computer people in general, but ACM is more to suit the scientists among us.

Posted by John C. Linford at September 29, 2004 9:00 PM

As a member of both, I agree with a previous comment: ACM is more academically oriented; IEEE more practical. Both have digital libraries you can subscribe to. I find the IEEE computer society journals to be more relevant to my software engineering work.

Posted by Bill Simons at October 1, 2004 12:39 PM

Why dont you join Microsoft? I say its better than any other place on earth.


Posted by Abubakar at October 10, 2004 3:19 AM

I was chairman of ACM Chapter at Dept Of Computer Science, University Of Karachi. So again my views might sound a bit biased. But honestly it all depends on what you think of your self. If you think of your self as a "Computer Scientist" then "ACM" is the right place. And if your answer is any thing else then you may join IEEE. I believe for for Software Architects/ Developers/ Engineers joining ACM SIG SE could also be a good option.

Posted by Hammad Rajjoub at October 13, 2004 7:44 AM

I have recently joined IEEE as of August of this year. My reason for joining was because of the huge IEEE presence at the University of Houston where I am a EE major. I can't speak to the benefits that you would recieve, but assuming that the cost is not prohibitive, why not be a member of both?

By the way, I do recall that before I changed my major to EE from Computer Science, the benefits offered by ACM didn't attract me into membership.

Posted by Cynthia Wagner at October 22, 2004 8:38 AM

Join ACM...I am a member of IEEE and we don't want ya!

I think from a computer science/math perspective ACM is better. IEEE has more from a hardware/tech perspective.

We need to do lunch again sometime :-P

Posted by Dennis Lee at November 9, 2004 12:38 PM

I am a member of both and IEEE is by far much more intense in terms of bredth of scope and depthness of topics. ACM is more like a subset of IEEE topics and has a much more polish look and feel to the publications then IEEE. IEEE is not for the faint of heart as it digs way under the covers of standards, theories, tests, and conceptual ideas.


Depending on your needs both ACM and IEEE has lots of different SIGs and can focus in on the area that is of most interest to you.

Posted by Rodger Karl at November 11, 2004 11:44 AM

I currently belong to ACM, but the choice depends on your interests. I'm a member of SIGGRAPH, the ACM Special Interest Group for Graphics. The annual conference is THE place to go for cutting-edge graphics work, and is worth the membership alone; there are local and student ACM and SIGGRAPH chapters that offer some outstanding monthly programs, too. Many of the seminal graphics papers have been published, and are archived online, by ACM. Other than SIGGRAPH, ACM tends to be more academically oriented. If I were still working on operating systems and working with EEs on hardware development, IEEE would be more appropriate.

Hope that helps.

Posted by Thomas at November 11, 2004 11:33 PM

I would suggest ACM (well because I am a member of it). A lot of information is provided to you by them as well as a newsletter.

Posted by Matt at November 17, 2004 1:45 AM

I would choose IEEE. They have many benefits and a very large technical library available to members.

Posted by Julian at November 17, 2004 6:26 PM

I think the ACM is a good choice.
This year I stopped my IEEE membership. I like their magazines and events, but I was getting uncomfortable with their political activities. I'm in the US on an H1B visa, and then the IEEE is the wrong union to contribute to...

Posted by ErikE at December 1, 2004 8:40 AM

Posting this a couple of months later: Do you still think Portal was worth the money? I'm thinking of joining the ACM as well, but I don't think that full-text access to the entire thing is that important to me at the moment.

Is there any other benefit apart from access to all articles?

Posted by Toojays at January 3, 2005 9:13 PM
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