Feb 032012

LYUNVO: Meetup.com‘s PROs thru CONs http://1.JotHere.com/827#LYUNVO

  1. LYUR01: Overall

    1. LYUO76: a sweet-then-bitter experience:
      1. LYUSK5: especially with one-of-kind geographic interest search  & huge group database which leads you in the door, it looks great & complete at first,
      2. LYUSKJindeed it looks that way for a while (one just puts problems down to “not knowing how it works”),
      3. LYUSKZ: then months later after you’re quite involved, the cons sneak up on you making you want to go elsewhere but now you’re entrapped.
    2. LYUR12: Feels the brains & brilliance & real good-will has left the company.
      1. LYUR2Q: Appeared with some brilliant innovations:
        1. LYUR3K: A geographic world-wide directory of local groups & people, which find each other in both directions by common interests.
        2. LYUR4R: Ability for events & groups to heavily organize themselves (the leader could be out to lunch) thru communication via posting.
      2. LYUR63: But the brilliance seemed to stop after that.
        1. LYUS3X: In filling out the other needed features, these features  are ho-hum, and randomly & weakly developed, including:
          1. LYUS4P: there are a number of huge holes that never get fixed (as backup & versioning; and good group rules, even end-times for events)
          2. LYUS5Q: and some features get worse, as “MAYBE” RSVPs removed,
          3. LYUS65: and the occasional improvements are sometimes clever & good-looking but always not what is really needed.
      3. LYURCY: It also feels like the company has gotten lazy other than what brings in money:
        1. LYUS74: it feels the company is developing  according to easy feedback:
          1. LYUS91: to the needs of the biggest groups as say http://meetup.com/OC-Good-Life (each with thousands of member like cattle, so say are only bothered by “MAYBE” replies)
          2. LYUS97: and mostly forgetting needs of the groups for which Meetup was created (the small specialty groups of just a few hundred or fewer members, often trying to sustainability get-off-the-ground),
        2. LYUSA0: but still still marketing heavily to the small & tiny groups (as ~”Start a group! It’s easy” (yes starting the group is easy!)  as ~98% of the money comes from these groups.
        3. LYUSBF: the small groups pay ~98% of the revenue but feel like they get 20% of the representation, of the relatively small amount of development that continues.
    3. LYUSRD: see also using Meetup.com in moderation for events & groups for the best-of-all-worlds LYU07Z especially its overall goal.
  2. LYUNSL: The list (pros thru cons)

    1. LYU1H2:  HUGE NOTABLE PRO, indeed in some cases the only way to go: Advertising (to get people to show & join)

      1. LYU1LI: HUGE PRO: at the start of a Meetup.com group: nearly-instantly getting members (at least registered on Meetup) and usually attendees, at a very low price,
        1. LYU1U5: by providing
          1. LYU1QW: an email blast to typically ~10,000 local Meetup members having matching interests.
          2. LYU1S1: giving Meetup.com members easy registration to ones group & event.
      2. LYU266: NOTABLE PRO: for the cost of typically $12 to $20/mo, usually a small but steady stream of new members & attendees, due to the fact that Meetup makes it very easy for potential members/attendees to search & find nearby groups & events matching their interest –it’s the best local database of community groups I’m aware of.
        1. LYU2E3: BUT for small groups & events (say the typical community group with a monthly meeting of 10 people or less, all volunteers & no profit), this gets pretty pricey on the leaders, and there’s no easy customary way (I’ve seen) to distribute the cost.
      3. LYU1V3:  NOTABLE BIG DRAWBACK IN SOME CASES: one is only emailing to Meetup.com members and a potential member/attendee generally must be/become a Meetup.com member (or else have no automatic record of them),
        1. LYU1XI: as
          1. LYU1Z7: Meetup doesn’t seem to advertise outside of itself (other than being on search engines, which is significant, but even when an outsider finds you they must then join Meetup.com)and
          2. LYU1ZO: getting an average person to join Meetup.com (which s/he often sees as another social network, and they’re already overloaded on say “Facebook”) is a big hill to get them over
        2. LYU21H: which is
          1. LYU22D: often not a problem for technical groups & maybe-career groups on a specialized interest, as people expect to invest hard in a specialized interest to get ahead here.
            1. LYU2VO: Indeed for some local technical groups, as on Android, the norm is to be on Meetup, though sometimes members are willing to attend if not on Meetup.
          2. LYU24S: A major problem for social groups (unless very specialized), as for general interest, one gets only the Meetup.com crowd.
    2. LYUQTS: NOTABLE THOUGH NOT UNIQUE PRO: Pioneered communication via posting rather than by messaging

      1. LYUQVP: BIG PRO: Enabling self-organizing grass-roots groups & events
      2.  LYUQWX: Allowed phone #s to be largely unnecessary & email addresses to be hidden even from organizers –though mostly to the benefit of just Meetup.com
    3. LYU2SQ: The remainder pros can be found on other Web 2.0 sites though it’s hard to get them all in one place.

    4. LYUSM6: SIGNIFICANT PRO: Respects privacy. Unlike Facebook, one does not have to ever reveal one’s “Real” (as “Legal” name).

    5. LYU2PR: SIGNIFICANT PRO: Showing in-person group activity online: The activities of members (RSVPs & PROS) adjacent photos linking to profiles.

    6. LYU30J: BIG PRO: maintaining (though sometimes badly) nearly all group & event basic info:

      1. LYU31S: A calendar of a group (of related events)
      2. LYU32H: RSVP lists showing who’s coming.
      3. LYU32X: Comments on events
      4. LYU33F: Group discussion board
      5. LYU359: A group profile for each member with photo & bio Qs.
      6. LYU36V: A group home page.
      7. LYU376: Interest categories for both groups & members, with matching.
      8. LYU37R:  Group stats (creation, # of members)
      9. LYU395: leader and member/attendee list for every group & every event
    7. LYU3AW: Not listed here (yet?) are things which are neutral or otherwise not notable bad/good

    8. LYU3JM: SMALL CON: group/event organizers can’t earn money by putting pay-per-click and pay-per-view ads on their group site, and even though they’re paying a flat fee to host it!

      1. M9DQ2T: I rank this as “small” because the ad dollars an average individual can earn from such ads would seem to be small; probably could earn notably more money by charging for the events.
    9. M9DQ6J:MEDIUM-SMALL CON: Date+time, location, & cost cannot be stated nor even footnoted as approximate, tentative, proposed, and/or unconfirmed.

      1. M9DRJC:Why/where/how-much is this a problem?
        1. M9DSOQ:  The average person (who is not a well-trained Meetup event host) would rightfully expect that if the date+time, location, or cost was approximate, tentative, proposed, and/or unconfirmed, then this would be stated NEXT TO IT or with it.  But by this Meetup makes that mostly impossible.
        2. M9DSD5:An event organizer then is only choices which are all bad:
          1. M9DSH7: Give out no information (which seems the common choice), which certainly doesn’t inspire participation & interest.
            1. M9DSTA:Indeed with no info posted, it’s often very hard for the event hosts to collaborate as they are rarely physically meeting, especially given they almost always having met casually through the website as well.
          2. M9DSK2: Give what appears to be firm exact info when it is not (which then misleads people); yes the details can be in the event description, but the people generally don’t read that.
            1. M9DV8M: This just happened on listing http://www.meetup.com/OC-Polyamory/events/75391722/ , what inspired me to create this M9DQ6J.
          3. M9DSIE: Give out info only in the event description, but
            1. M9DT16: that requires these other key fields to be blank, but typically once set they’ve been set they can no longer be made blank
            2. M9DT2I:people don’t bother reading the event description, especially when:
              1. M9DT39:  They’ve just seen the other key details as totally bank, so have lost interest as it sounds then nothing has been really planned out & is serious.
              2. M9DSZF: the event description
                1. M9DT52:has no set & standard structure
                2. M9DT0F: It can be & often is long.
        3. M9DRPW:Thus significantly hurts/avoids events which are & being collaboratively developed by the attendees & others,  event
          1. M9DS59: This is notably ironic (not in Meetup’s original spirit) given Meetup is in other was a notable pioneer here in events collaboratively developed, allowing any member to post the venue or date or location or description, but they just can’t post it tentatively or approximately or proposed, which then could notably explain this feature is rarely used from all I’ve seen.
        4. M9DU22:  Resulting in notably
          1. M9DU59: discouraging most events where the initial event host doesn’t have all the answers & doesn’t provide everything (a person can only say “here’s the full answer, or no answer at all”)
          2. M9DU7C: attendees and others in mis-expecting
            1. M9DU96: the event host has else should have all the answers else it’s not a serious event.
            2. M9DU9P: they aren’t needed in making the event happen and shouldn’t be part of making the event happen (other than just showing up plus paying-if-requested).
          3. M9DUIH:In other words, the only events which really pleasantly happen are the only events which are supported: only when the 1 event initatior has *all* the resources and does *all* the prep work, and where’s never much a collaborative effort (unless the event planners are very committed and can frequently plan outside of meetup, which is rare).
          4. M9DUL9: typically driving away the events where this would be a problem even though the events would be good
        5. M9DUL9:  However the problem is likely underappreciated, as
          1. M9DUSM:there still remaining many event listing situations where either:
            1. M9DUQ3:all the details & resources are known & had (as  just reboradcasting of existing events)
            2. M9DURH:can be established, typically with a/the event host being bossy person with lots of resources
          2. M9DUTN:We’re not missing such collaborative develoment of events (a kind of super-democracy) as it’s never been typically done before (at least online).
      2. M9DQKF:In addition,
        1. M9DQTE:(again) one cannot put a footnote nor any attached words next to these key parameters (with mostly no exception)
          1. M9DQX0: except sometimes on another topic (though sometimes repurposable)
            1. M9DR1T:For the location, event hosts and group leaders can can put up to about 150 characters following that in a “How to find us” field.
              1. M9DR5A:In the present version of Meetup event rendering, the “How to find us” field name is NOT displayed to the user, just the text value in unbolded italics right after the location.
              2. M9DR7Q:Especially then, this could also be used used as a footnote value for the location, and maybe used (messily) as a footnote for the date & cost.
            2. M9DUWC:For the cost, I understand: a “refund policy” (which is arbitrary text) can be given but this is NOT displayed by default and is (I believe) labeled under “refund policy”.
        2. M9DQM1:A date+time must be specified not at all or exactly.
          1. M9DQQB: Specifying say “in 2 to 4 weeks” or “within 2 months” or “this weekend or next weekend” or “May 5th +/- 2 days” is absolutely impossible.
        3. M9DQN2:Once a date+time is specified, it can never be unspecified.
        4. M9DUZ8:A location if set, cannot be unset (last I recall).
        5. M9DV0P:A location cannot be approximate, as “Some theater in S. Orange County”.
        6. M9DV1H:A location must be an existing location listed in say http://Maps.Google.com so can’t be approximate & include footnotes (last I checked).
        7. M9DQP8:A cost is assumed 0 else must be specified exactly.
    10. LYUNBY: CON: “MAYBE” RSVPs are no longer possible

      1. LYUNCI: –In the newer Meetup’s increasing bad judgement.
      2. LYUNDA: despite:
        1. LYUNDO: 100s of users saying “MAYBE” should be possible.
        2. LYUNE7: The truth that “MAYBE” is often actually the case.
    11. LYV7MD: MED-BIG CON: 3 days after a group is created, Meetup email blasts all local matching-interested people of it, and never again, which

      1. LYV7QG: is unadjustable and usually too soon (before the new group is ready)
      2. LYV7RA: quite unfair to never be able to do again (other than by deleting & recreating the group), especially given that the group is forever paying for the hosting
        1. LYV7U1: Fair would be say after each $100 of hosting, the group could get another email-bast if they wanted it.
    12. LYUNFI: MED-BIG CON: One can’t record (in any standard way) a person will or did attend an event iff the person is not a member of the group, even if s/he is a member of Meetup or has some other web profile.

    13. LYV65F: NOTABLE CON: Fees INVERSELY proportionate to cost. Meetup charges a flat fee of $12 to $20/mo, which is nothing & well-below-cost for the few big & huge groups but hurts & kills the many tiny groups which Meetup was supposedly built for.

      1.  LYV6CY: I’ve seen been a member & leader of too many good tiny (specialty) groups who bit the dist, just because this fee is too much for a volunteer group of only 5 to 10 attendees meeting 1x per month.
        1. LYV6GIExample: http://Meetup.com/OCPerl
        2. LYV6GV: Example: http://Meetup.com/OCUnix
        3. LYV6HH: Example: http://Meetup.com/Ubuntu-Hour
        4. LYV6IT: Example: http://Meetup.com/OC-Handball (approximate URL)
      2. LYV6KC: Whereas big groups such as http://Meetup.com/OC-Good-Life has 1000s of members with multiple meetings every day of 20 to 80 attendees each, using huge computing resources but paying exactly the same rate.
      3. LYV777: –dumb!
      4. LYV6OX: What should be done is what’s fair: charge a tiny fixed fee, say $.10, for each RSVP YES, and $.5 for each RSVP MAYBE.
        1. LYV6U1: This rewards Meetup when it’s doing for folks what it’s supposed to foremost: getting attendees at events who have RSVPed.
        2. LYV6UX: The fee collected is very close to the raw computing power required to accomplish this.
        3. LYV6VZ: The price will scale so everyone can readily afford this.
          1. LYV6WK: Tiny groups as I described, use little resources and might pay $.50/mo, quite affordable.
          2. LYV6Y5: And huge groups as http://Meetup.com/OC-Good-Life might pay $10/day, still affordable given the 100 RSVP YESes they have every day (just $.10 ea), and reason for them to collect dues, which they could easily command given their success & popularity, which would then deservedly give them a handsome profit.
            1. LYV759: If they charged just a mere $.20 for each RSVP YES, which attendees would easily pay, this would then give them a $10/day profit!
    14. LYUN4R: NOTABLE CON: one is not by-default asked for an event end-time and (cannot even formally specify itfixed), it just defaults to 2hrs for all events.

      1. LYUN69: despite
        1. LYUNAB: dozens of users complaints of not having this
        2. LYUN6J: the fact that all other eCalendaring systems have this.
        3. LYUN71: the fact than whenever one has an event that lasts all day or say all weekend, espeically when one can show up at any time, still one can’t specify that end time, Meetup won’t allow RSVPs after the start time (as it mis-assumes it’s too late), and “what’s happening now” search won’t find the event!
      2. M9DYYF:2012.04~ (~10 years after even Outlook has been doing it), Meetup fixed this by at least allowing an end time to be specified, but it is not offered as a field you are to fill out (you must click to get the field & fill it out) and if nothing is completed the default assumed end time (2 hours) is NOT displayed.
    15. LYU5FQ: NOTABLE CON: “too casual” to join an event and a group and treated as an email list list (with say a 1 to 5% RSVP rate) not a serious community group.

    16. LYUX8H: NOTABLE CON: The group/event leaders can only set the Title of a person’s profile (and that’s only~20 characters), NOT control/fix/set one’s group picture and profile answers.

    17. LYV79H: NOTABLE CON: If a group goes unpaid for just 2 weeks for whatever reason (as owner on vacation or sick), Meetup will automatically delete it (as if it never existed) without a backup nor a tear of regret.

      1. LYV7CH: This is friggen evil, especially given it costs them essentially 0 to keep this from happening (at worst, just take it offline) and so many other content hosts never do this.
      2. LYV7G5: Yes they send out about 3 auto emails to the group asking if someone will save it, but that often isn’t enough time to find a replacement.
    18. LYUXGO: SERIOUS CON: almost no automation to maintain contact info (as email address & cell #) on members

      1. LYUXJC: This is almost certainly by design, to prevent spammers as nearly anyone can become an organizer plus to insure the group (wrongfully) belongs to Meetup.com (even though it’s being paid for)
      2. LYUXL8: However, every other Web 2.0 group site I know, including say Yahoo Groups & Mailchip, treats administrators/leaders with enough trust to have an email address or other contact info if the participant provides it,
      3. LYUXQV: so Meetup seems (and probably is) a toy as far as creating & having groups. Many businesses who have 0 contacts for most all of their customers would not be taken serious by industry.
    19. LYU6EH: SERIOUS CON: Anyone can become an Head Organizer, which would be fine except there are: NO STANDARD GOOD GROUP RULES (if it’s legal, Meetup allows it & doesn’t care)

      1. LYU6HL: Thus if a member “doesn’t like your sincere & complete opinion” or just “doesn’t like your noise”, “hates Mexicans”,, or “is just in a bad mood”, then
        1. LYU75S: with 0 warning, s/he can
          1. LYU769: (if a member) block you & report you for some untrue wrong,
          2. LYU76P: plus (if an organizer) delete your posts & ban you from the group;
        2. LYU777: and s/he will pretty-much always will get way with it including without anyone else knowing
        3. LYU78J: and with almost almost nothing you can do after-fact
        4. LYU78Z: including Meetup.com doesn’t even seem to care & typically does nothing since it’s legal so they can’t be sued for it!
        5. LYU7C1And why is it legal? Because by Meetup.com’s design, a group can have any rules (provided no government laws broken) and doesn’t begin to suggest any, so nearly all groups have 0 rules or very weak rules at best.
      2. LYU7DW:  My attempt to fix this was to develop, use, & publish my eBook “Universal Rules & Guidelines for Meetup.com”, but this is not nearly enough as in addition an even bigger effort will be needed get widespread use of this.
    20. LYUNJV: SERIOUS CON: When a profile(person) leaves a group, even if they were the founder, their entire history & existence with that group is erased (better than even if the mafia did it).

      1. LYUNNE: They are deleted from every membership list (and no former-member list is kept)
      2. LYUNNS: Any post & RSVP they made, their name & picture is replaced by a dark generic “a former member”
      3. LYUNPM: His/her group profile disappears from access (may reappear but only if the member himself rejoins)
    21. LYU5LO: SERIOUS CON: Members are spammed with email on events.

      1. LYU5N1: Each event, for every group it is listed on, sends
        1. LYU5RL:  every member (who has not yet RSVPed NO): a 2 week alert, a 1 week alert, a 1 day alert, plus often an alert every time the event is changed,
        2. LYU5SE: for those who RSVP YES, they also get: an email every time a member posts a comment on the event, plus a “How was it” email.
      2. LYU5UJ: Much better say if events one subscribed to just appeared on one’s calendar, as Google Calendar does.
    22. LYU3RW: VERY SERIOUS CON: The event RSVP list of “Attendees” or “Who’s coming” typically causes a wrongful destructive  impact and this mostly can’t be fixed.

      1. LYU50P: as the short list with this title makes potential attendees think, both correctly & incorrectly, “oh, few are coming” –so then they don’t RSVP, creating a catch-22.
      2. LYU4YS:  SERIOUS CON: doesn’t say “includes” & how-much
        1.  LYU3W0: There is good including standard way for event hosts to explain & highlight how complete this list  (this is/may-not-be everybody)
      3. LYU51V: SERIOUS CON: Cannot be hidden from general member/public view when this might be necessary to build attendance.
    23. LYU3H0: SERIOUS CON: Discussion boards:

      1. LYU3PT: CON: Only let members post.
      2. LYU3N4: NOTABLE CON: Do not offer threading/nesting within a discussion.
      3. LYU3O9: NOTABLE CON: Aren’t WYSIWYG editing
      4. LYU3M7: VERY NOTABLE CON: Use outdated & constrained BBCode, not HTML.
      5. LYU3IH: VERY SERIOUS CON: don’t effectively notify others soon & well enough when content is posted.
    24. LYU3C4: HUGE CON:  Important content is easily & regularly erased, including sometimes automatically by Meetup.com, and Meetup effectively-refuses to provide any versioning or even backup.
  3. LYUNST: Additional Document History, in order

    1. LYUO4X: my eBook on Meetup has an an earlier list which would need to be merged into here.
    2. LYUNT2: Originally created the content here as part of “LYU1GT: Meetup.com’s notable pros thru cons (important to identify what to keep & what to leave)” of Motivation of (using Meetup.com in moderation for events & groups for the best-of-all-worlds LYU07Z)
    3. LYUNWO: Realized it’s own document so created post of this new ID.
    4. M9DN1O: 3 February, 2012 @ 21:34 achieved Version 0.82
    5. M9DN3Q: updating to mostly present document format
    6. M9DV77: M9DQ6J: added.
    7. M9DYWR:M9DQ6J:fixed from mis-ID “M9DQ6H”;M9DYYF: added.

  One Response to “Meetup.com’s PROs thru CONs”

  1. Destiny, great meeting you today at Starbucks. Awesome insight and conversation about the pros and cons of Meetup, they will be useful for the design and planning of YayPlanner (http://www.yayplanner.com). Looking forward to seeing this develop!