how to host a successful meetup when new in town March 4, 2014 11:04 AM   Subscribe

Hello all :) I would like to post a meetup event. I am new to Halifax (Nova Scotia) and several AskMeFi responses suggested this as a good way to make friends. I would like to know the behavior Metafilter participants expect of the "hosts" ... More inside ...

I would like to post a meetup event. I am in my early 30s and new to Halifax (Nova Scotia, Canada). Several AskMeFi responses in the past have suggested this as a good way to make new friends. I do not know anyone here nor am I familiar with the area outside downtown Halifax. I would like to know the sort of behavior participants expect of "hosts" so that the meetup makes those who come feel comfortable (even if no one comes I do expect to be there having a drunken good time, in case someone shows up, and I am by nature very friendly). My specific concerns are as follows:

How do you choose a venue when you are new to the city and don't know what places are easy to get to? Do you aim for a low key bar - and if so do you make reservations based on who responds to your post? How should the cheque be split - or do I pay for everything? How long do you wait if no one comes at the suggested time? How do you react if the only person who shows up is annoyed that there is not a large gathering - or if they are nasty towards you? Sorry for the silly questions, but I would like to find out the protocol prior to posting. Any suggestions offered are appreciated.

The past advice I have received on MetaTalk has been excellent and has encouraged me to post more often on this site. I am eager to hear any advice regarding this situation, positive or negative. I did not e-mail the Moderators directly as I feel community feedback would offer multiple viewpoints and thus the best suggestions. I will post a meetup shortly. Thank you for your help :).
posted by partly squamous and partly rugose to Etiquette/Policy at 11:04 AM (52 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

I have been to a meetup in Halifax. There's a pretty small crowd there. In a big location I'd just say "Tell people you're new in town and post an IRL about getting together" but in your case I might MeMail with a few people who are in your area to see if getting together would be worthwhile. A few other tips

- You can post an IRL with a general "What works for people?" and then let the venue be determined by what people want. Once it's nailed down, people will RSVP so you have a decent idea of who is going to be there. I've only made reservations if there's a big group or we're going somewhere for dinner that might be full.
- Except weird special occasions, everyone pays their own way at a meetup.
- I have never had someone be nasty to me at a meetup, generally people are even nicer in real life than they are online but if someone was weird you can just tell them to host their own meetup next time!

Again, the IRL mechanism is a great way of setting expectations. You know more or less who is going and where the event is going to be and people have the ability to give input. The only thing a host really does is floats the initial idea and maybe makes the decisions that need to be made (in that "Okay it wounds like Saturday is better for people, let's do Saturday..." way) It's not really like hosting a party (unless you want to have people over to your house for board games or something). Only other thing I'd add is find a way for people to recognize you. Lots of meetups wind up with some period of "Um, I'm not sure which group of people in this place is the group I'm meeting and I feel weird talking to them..." so something like "I'll be the one in the orange sweater" or "I'm five feet tall and have bright green hair" are always helpful things to include.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:10 AM on March 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


Yup, if it's anything like the meetups to which I've been, a post that says "I'm new in town..." will get a lot of "Yay excuse for a meetup! I have venue opinions!"

I have never had someone be nasty to me at a meetup, generally people are even nicer in real life than they are online but if someone was weird you can just tell them to host their own meetup next time!

Yes, definitely true! I've realized that if I ever met someone in life with whom I'd had a screaming fight on Metafilter my first response would be "OMG you called me an asshole on The Internet! Hilarious! Let me buy you a drink!" MeFites tend to be super nice in person, at least the vast majority of the ones I've met.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 11:21 AM on March 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


hosts in nova scotia are expected to provide each attendee with a mixtape of Sloan and Eric's Trip hits
posted by klangklangston at 11:22 AM on March 4, 2014 [14 favorites]


Choose a low key and casual bar, ideally not a place that will get crowded. I know this is a little difficult to do if you don't know the area well. Jessamyn's advice about leaving the venue open ended is good.

The meetups I've been to, everybody has paid their own way. I mean, there has been some standing of drinks and "does somebody want to split an order of nachos" and such, but usually splitting checks and questions of who pays aren't a thing.

As host, I think the most important thing is to just show up on time (or even a little early) and be prepared to be a little gregarious about finding your fellow mefites. Or maybe proactive so that you're easily identified when people arrive.

I've been to one meetup that was based around an event, and the host signed up for tickets in a group rate scheme, so there was a little more organization involved. But if it's your first time, I don't think this is required at all.

Everyone has always been unbelievably nice to me at every meetup I've attended. Almost too nice, really. In fact, I should be more suspicious of LA mefites' intentions. Who is that nice? Nobody. That's who.
posted by Sara C. at 11:24 AM on March 4, 2014


MeFites tend to be super nice in person except Mrs. Pterodactyl, because you're all like, OMG hi I love your comments, and she's all, CAW CAW, swooping down to steal your drink
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:24 AM on March 4, 2014 [18 favorites]


Oh, and I have definitely never had icy or uncomfortable interactions with anyone I've argued with on the site at a meetup. I wouldn't worry about that at all.
posted by Sara C. at 11:24 AM on March 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


It is a good idea to pick a low key bar. Since meetups are largely about conversation, you want to be somewhere you can hear each other without shouting, and without marooning somebody down at the long end of a table where they are out of the conversational loop. One of the ways a lot of meetups tackle this is to start around 5 in the afternoon, rarely a noisy time at most bars. I'm sure people in the IRL thread will have good local suggestions.

How do you react if the only person who shows up is annoyed that there is not a large gathering

I have actually been to a few two-person meetups! Three, I think. Two while traveling, one for a special event near my house. And you know what, they were all nice. You get to chit chat with someone and compare notes on your lives and MeFi experience, and get to know them a little more, and then you can go on your merry way - it's not like it's a failure if the meetup is small. They can be great fun and, especially because you're new, you can always say "so you're a local, I'm new, tell me what's great around here!" You have a good basis for keeping conversation going.

I agree with the others that people at meetups are at least as nice, or a lot more nice, than they are online, so don't worry about anyone being nasty. About the worst-case scenario is garden-variety awkwardness, and even that is somewhat surprisingly rare. It turns out we all have this big thing in common which we can all talk about!

Everybody pays their own way. Pro tip, bring cash, small bills.

Reservations may not be necessary but, speaking as a waitstaff veteran, if you think you're going to be meeting up anywhere with more than about 6 people, a phone call in advance to give them a heads-up is always appreciated. Nothing fancy, just saying "I have a group of maybe 8 to 12 people who are going to come in at 4, just letting you know." It helps the place plan around you better. When you do have those meetups that are going to be bigger for whatever reason, or in a big city, you can definitely get into scenarios where you might want to reserve a private function room or take over a lounge area or get a standing arrangement going with a given bar, and that might require more planning, but your average casual meetup doesn't need that.

Go, have fun! Meetups are great.
posted by Miko at 11:33 AM on March 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


MeFites tend to be super nice in person except Mrs. Pterodactyl, because you're all like, OMG hi I love your comments, and she's all, CAW CAW, swooping down to steal your drink

This is a fact, I am just trying to lure victims into meetups.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 11:34 AM on March 4, 2014 [8 favorites]


Actually, four! Four two-person meetups. All nice.
posted by Miko at 11:37 AM on March 4, 2014


To answer some of your questions:

In my experience, everyone at a bar-type meetup generally pays for themselves. If we're meeting at someone's house--like ocherdraco's lovely board game meetups--I try to bring a snack or beverage (or a big bag of board games).

If I'm hosting at a public location, I would probably wait an hour or so to see if anyone else comes, then give up--after posting in the thread that I left, of course. Amazingly, someone has always shown up to my meetups, though, so I haven't had to put this into practice. (Though a couple times when I was traveling, I proposed meetups and logistics didn't work out. No one has ever looked down on me for trying, to my knowledge.)

With a table-service type place I would try to make a reservation, but if it's a casual bar I wouldn't sweat it. At least in my experience of NYC meetups, we tend to pick less popular weekdays (Tuesday, Wednesday) so crowds generally aren't an issue.

All the Mefites I've ever met have been friendly. The fact that I (introvert who doesn't generally like large groups) have organized meetups at all is a tribute to how nice they are!

I think as the person who proposes a meetup I tend to feel like a "host" but to attendees, they're just hanging out and they don't hold me responsible for their attendance/enjoyment, etc.

Good luck!

(Man, I don't think Mrs. Pterodactyl tried to steal my drink when I was in DC! Now I feel cheated.)
posted by mlle valentine at 12:34 PM on March 4, 2014


I try to throw a meetup every new place I visit. Usually I just post a "hey I'm gonna be here around this time who wants to do a thing?" and then we figure out in-thread where and when it'll be. As the meetup "host" -- you're not really hosting it, unless you want to; god knows I've posted meetups I never showed up to -- you get the final say as to when and where because you're the only one who can update the thread.

How long do you wait if no one comes at the suggested time?

Follow the action in the IRL thread. People post tend to their "oh shit I'm late" or "sorry, last minute emergency" posts there. I mean, if you planned on hanging out that night, you can post a "ok, I'm outta here in 30 mins if no one shows up by then" out of courtesy.

How do you react if the only person who shows up is annoyed that there is not a large gathering - or if they are nasty towards you?

This has never happened to me. I've posted meetups to which one or two people showed up and we had a blast.

Also, let me just suggest one thing as loudly as I possibly can: SEPARATE. CHECKS.
posted by griphus at 12:47 PM on March 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Everyone I have met at the three or four meetups I have been to has been super nice. I can't conceive of how nice Canadian meetups must be.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:11 PM on March 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


I went to a meetup once where only two of us showed up, and now we live together. True story.
posted by mimo at 1:16 PM on March 4, 2014 [19 favorites]


Halifax, Nova Scotia meetups are sad and joyless compared with the St John's, Newfoundland meetup I will be arranging later this year. Yeah, future Atlantic-Province meetup - another, different future Atlantic-Province meetup is trash-talking you. But anyway, have fun everyone!
posted by the quidnunc kid at 1:20 PM on March 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


Just a heads-up, as a new arrival to Halifax you may be required to eat some fried pepperoni. Know before you go.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:23 PM on March 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


If you're doing this in Halifax I suggest The Economy Shoe Shoppe. Drink Propeller. Bask in the joy that is life.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:28 PM on March 4, 2014


If you're worried about not a lot of people coming, maybe suggest a meet-up a few weeks in advance? That would give you lots of time to wait for Halifax folks to show up in the thread, and discuss what might be a good place to go!

Oh, and sometimes its nice for the "host" to make a little "metafilter" sign for the table or post in the thread "I'll be wearing __" to make it easier for folks to find each other.

Good luck, and have fun!
posted by likeatoaster at 1:45 PM on March 4, 2014


I'd go for a sign advertising trunk muffins.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:57 PM on March 4, 2014


I have never had someone be nasty to me at a meetup

i would think it would be immensely unwise to be rude to a top level mod at a meetup
posted by edgeways at 2:08 PM on March 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


likeatoaster: Oh, and sometimes its nice for the "host" to make a little "metafilter" sign for the table or post in the thread "I'll be wearing __" to make it easier for folks to find each other.

It is also traditional to go up to likely groups of individuals and ask, "Are you a friend of Matt Haughey?" I have a MetaFilter T-Shirt that I like to wear to meet-ups specifically to make it easy for folks to recognize me.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:21 PM on March 4, 2014


"Are you a friend of Matt Haughey?"

And that's definitely not some kind of kinky euphemism...?
posted by billiebee at 2:24 PM on March 4, 2014


> Are you a friend of Matt Haughey?

Do you know how to pronounce "Haughey."
posted by jfuller at 2:30 PM on March 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


You may be over thinking this and I say that as someone who can be quite anxious about social things myself.

I've called meetups where only one other person has shown up and it went just fine. Once I called a meetup where the bar ended up being shut, and that also turned out fine. Actually everyone I've ever met from Metafilter has been really nice and usually interesting as well.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 2:32 PM on March 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Once I called a meetup where the bar ended up being shut

Me too! In Chicago. Who knew the entire CBD shuts down on weekends.

Mine turned out fine, too, though sadly the crossed wires meant that we lost a few people and it turned into one of my 2-person-ers. it was pre-widespread-smartphone; we left a paper note, and found another place.
posted by Miko at 2:35 PM on March 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


And that's definitely not some kind of kinky euphemism...?

Depends on the meetup, I hear.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:48 PM on March 4, 2014


It is also traditional to go up to likely groups of individuals and ask, "Are you a friend of Matt Haughey?" I have a MetaFilter T-Shirt that I like to wear to meet-ups specifically to make it easy for folks to recognize me.

I ask "Are you from the internet?" even if I know the people at the meetup.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 2:55 PM on March 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


"Do you know how to pronounce "Haughey.""

i met him it's hawg-gway
posted by klangklangston at 3:03 PM on March 4, 2014


Also, you need to point at people. Cortex (the comment below) explains.

Seriously, thanks for the tips in this thread. Am thinking of organizing a meetup when am newish in town myself, except town will be a small college town in Iowa so am unsure how many, if any, will come. As a Brit, have to mentally adjust the scales of distance when in America (example: the last time I did a British coast-to-coast road trip, it took less than five hours. And that included a stop for tea).

America is big.
posted by Wordshore at 3:04 PM on March 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


so something like "I'll be the one in the orange sweater" ... are always helpful things to include.

"Cheer if you are a friend of Mr Haughey"
posted by Wordshore at 3:42 PM on March 4, 2014


The protocol for a Halifax meetup? You hold it at Two If By Sea, and buy a chocolate croissant, and ship it to me. That's the RULE.

I had that croissant almost 4 years ago during a Maritimes road trip and I STILL think about it!
posted by booksherpa at 3:54 PM on March 4, 2014


I would like to know the behavior Metafilter participants expect of the "hosts"

I think if you are the "host" you should show up on time even if other people don't.

Also I think it's great when the host is decisive about the meetup details. It's great to get input from people, but at a certain point the host needs to decide, not allow endless debate on the subject until the day before the meetup. If people feel really strongly about an aspect of the details, they should plan their own meetup.

In my opinion the best meetup place will be able to accommodate a large group of somewhat indeterminate size without needing reservations. This is not always possible.

How do you react if the only person who shows up is annoyed that there is not a large gathering

This is probably not going to happen. The RSVPs on the meetup give you and the other attendees a good idea of how many people are coming. My rule of thumb is to expect the number of people who say Attending. Usually a small number of Attending people will not show up, and an equally small number of Maybe people will show up. Most of the Maybes do not come.
posted by grouse at 5:52 PM on March 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


'Do you know how to pronounce "Haughey."'

Funny, he told me it's Hah-ug-he-ya.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:53 PM on March 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Don't worry about picking a venue. If you say you're new, and suggest a general area, people will chime in with suggestions. Then you choose. It worked for me: I had delicious food and delicious beer, met some really interesting folks, and bonus, got to hold a super cute baby.
posted by donnagirl at 6:23 PM on March 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


"I would like to know the behavior Metafilter participants expect of the "hosts""

to provide nutrients while the larvae grow within
posted by klangklangston at 6:33 PM on March 4, 2014 [9 favorites]


the last time I did a British coast-to-coast road trip, it took less than five hours. And that included a stop for tea

Good god, man. I'm not sure there's any dimension of my state that would be coverable in less than five hours. And that was true of the last, much smaller, state as well!

As for meet-ups, yes, prepare to enjoy the casual/slightly awkward/highly informal gatherings that they tend to end up being. MetaFilter t-shirts are, as mentioned above, very helpful for the awkward 'which table are they gathered at.'

Two-person meet-ups are actually kind of fun, by the way. Another Mefite and I had a meet-up at our campus art museum's fabulous cafe and it was perfect.
posted by librarylis at 6:55 PM on March 4, 2014


I thought the default Halifax meetup had to involve donair.
posted by zadcat at 7:27 PM on March 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


Yes, you have to go to Economy Shoe Shop and pizza corner afterwards. Have a Caesar and too many beers in between. Have fun! But it's true Halifax is quite small so turn out could be an issue.
posted by bquarters at 7:46 PM on March 4, 2014


hosts in nova scotia are expected to provide each attendee with a mixtape of Sloan and Eric's Trip hits

Somewhere, Joel Plaskett is quietly weeping.
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:08 PM on March 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Also I think it's great when the host is decisive about the meetup details. It's great to get input from people, but at a certain point the host needs to decide, not allow endless debate on the subject until the day before the meetup. If people feel really strongly about an aspect of the details, they should plan their own meetup.

This is my experience running meetups in Austin. (Sorry Austin folks, I've been sick and that is why there has been no SXSW announcement.)

My experience is that you will get slightly fewer people showing than say they will be there, some of whom will be maybes.
posted by immlass at 10:41 PM on March 4, 2014


>> "I would like to know the behavior Metafilter participants expect of the "hosts""

> to provide nutrients while the larvae grow within


Seriously. Check out the username, people. Why are we telling Cthulhu how to meet new victims people?
posted by Pronoiac at 11:09 PM on March 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


O hai this thread is pertinent to my interests.

partly squamous and partly rugose I am also new to Nova Scotia, but I am about as far away from Halifax as possible. So I will say that in theory I would super like to come to this meetup, I will probably in the end not because I am old and it is a three hour drive.

But rock on I hope it is excellent.
posted by Meatbomb at 4:27 AM on March 5, 2014


the last time I did a British coast-to-coast road trip, it took less than five hours. And that included a stop for tea

Good god, man. I'm not sure there's any dimension of my state that would be coverable in less than five hours. And that was true of the last, much smaller, state as well!


Geography nerdism. In Britain, you're never more than 70 miles from the sea.
posted by Wordshore at 4:48 AM on March 5, 2014


Halifax, Nova Scotia meetups are sad and joyless compared with the St John's, Newfoundland meetup I will be arranging later this year.

Please do have a St. John's meetup. It's lonely over here b'ys.
posted by futureisunwritten at 9:25 AM on March 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


YOU KNOW NOT WHAT YOU WISH FOR but sure, Ok.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 9:52 AM on March 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Just be sure to get an extra large mackerel for the Slapping Ceremony and you'll be fine.
posted by emjaybee at 10:22 AM on March 5, 2014


a meetup, on the coast? with a "host" that is partly squamous, and partly rugose?

no, thank you.

/there are some things man was not meant to adapt to musical theater...
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:09 PM on March 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


/there are some things man was not meant to adapt to musical theater...

I (still) await "Battle Royale: The Musical" with both interest and trepidation.
posted by Wordshore at 4:12 PM on March 5, 2014


"Somewhere, Joel Plaskett is quietly weeping."

Oh, you can say that about anyone with a Juno.
posted by klangklangston at 4:55 PM on March 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


Thank you everyone for the excellent advice. I look forward to hosting my first meetup / rite of arcane and unspeakable horror, and feel much more confident now that I have a better understanding of how the gathering works! I will post again to let everyone knows how it goes.
posted by partly squamous and partly rugose at 5:50 PM on March 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


When I was visiting St. Louis (which has a decent number of MeFites!) I had no solid idea of where to go as I had never been there before. After posting a date, the Mefites within helped pick a bar. It was a good time!
posted by maryr at 12:32 PM on March 6, 2014


Oh, also - while I too enjoy the "are you from the internet?" question to find the meetup, we recently lost a Mefite to another table at our regular Boston trivia meetup because they asked if the other group was "the meetup" and the group answered in the affirmative. Turned out some other website was also meeting up for trivia, whoops.
posted by maryr at 12:38 PM on March 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Vague "are you the meetup" type interactions are also how I once accidentally stole pizza from some people celebrating someone's birthday in a bar.

It turns out that you really want to ask, "Are you guys here for Karen Smith's birthday?" not "Are yall the birthday party?"
posted by Sara C. at 12:48 PM on March 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


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