I guess this is a feature request? September 20, 2010 7:01 AM   Subscribe

Confirming Meet-Ups without including an exact address. Possible?

This may be something that's been handled, and I'm not familiar with it as I've only used IRL once. But I noticed when confirming the last meet up I called in the new and fabulous IRL, I had to enter an exact address before I was allowed to confirm it. Entering the name or a general location wasn't good enough as the site wouldn't let me confirm it. So I did some googling until I found an address for a business at the park we were going to.

I may be hosting another kid-friendly meet-up in our area soon, but this one would be at my place. And I'm not comfortable putting my home address out publicly on Metafilter. I'd prefer that those interested in the meet-up, if it comes to be, MeMail me for the address. Is this something that is possible to do? Would it be too much work to add a "Private Residence" option as a location that wouldn't call for using the embedded map feature? Or to have a less-than-exact address option at times when warranted?

I realize most meet-ups are at public spaces, so this may not be a worthwhile endeavor given that. Just curious how MeFites would suggest handling this and if it may come up if people were to meet an outside location like a park without a definitive address.
posted by zizzle to Feature Requests at 7:01 AM (32 comments total)

Sorry you had trouble with the park last time. We use Google to geocode locations, and most parks are in their system. If you're ever having trouble with an address, please contact us and we can take a look at it. We definitely want to support parks by typing in the park name. You shouldn't have to choose a nearby business.

We don't want to support private addresses on IRL, it's for public meetups. We don't have any problem with people arranging private meetups, but that should happen in a different space. I'm not sure what the best way to organize a private meetup might be, but we can't guarantee privacy through a public website like this, so we don't want to set up a system that is somewhat private.
posted by pb (staff) at 7:14 AM on September 20, 2010


Haven't a lot of meet ups happened at private houses?
posted by Brent Parker at 8:09 AM on September 20, 2010


pb, I am not reading this as a "private meetup" -- it is a public meetup, but the hoster doesn't want to publish their home address on the interwebs.

Zizzle, what if IRL were only visible to logged-in users? Would that meet your privacy expectation?
posted by misterbrandt at 8:12 AM on September 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


For the semi-private meetups, you can set the meetup to the center of town and leave a comment saying to email you for the exact location, but know that maybe some mefites might miss your comment and show up in the center of town wondering where you're at.

But like pb said, we didn't want to build in any privacy controls because there are ramifications throughout the system (meaning, no RSS and no iCal, since those are both publicly machine readable feeds) that could cause problems so we are catering to the traditional meetups we've been doing for the past nine years where it's usually about meeting in a public place.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:20 AM on September 20, 2010


There are a lot of meetups that take place at a home. This raises a sort of awkward situation. On the one hand, there is the potential for exclusivity. Also, if your MeMail gets lost somehow or the person doesn't respond in time, you can't make the meetup.

On the other hand, there have been plenty of cool meetups that happened in the past that were at people's private homes and due to the more relaxed nature of MeTa meetups, they didn't require someone to disclose their address publicly on the Internet.

Not all of us have testicles as large as Jessamyn's.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:23 AM on September 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


...it is a public meetup, but the hoster doesn't want to publish their home address on the interwebs.

That's fine, but I don't think the meetup is right for IRL in that case. We don't want to have a meetup site full of meetups that are difficult to attend. We require a specific location because we want people to be able to find where they're supposed to go with no secret knock required.

I completely understand someone wanting to host a meetup at their house and not wanting their address public. That's fine, but it's not a good fit for IRL. There are probably other ways to make that happen. Maybe it could start as a proposed meetup that moves to an offsite mailing list. What we don't want are meetups without a specific public location.

I think the idea of having IRL members-only gives us a false sense of security. Anyone can join MetaFilter for $5. So if you're not comfortable sharing an address publicly, I'm not sure it makes sense to share your address with members—the barrier to entry here is low. If things were members only it'd feel more private, but I'm not sure that feeling is accurate.
posted by pb (staff) at 8:25 AM on September 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am thinking here pb and others. that IRL should be really a members only site, just for safety concerns.
posted by wheelieman at 8:31 AM on September 20, 2010


Can you elaborate, wheelieman? What do you mean by safety concerns?
posted by pb (staff) at 8:32 AM on September 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not that my opinion counts for much, but I think wheelieman has a good point. I wasn't thinking so much for a safety standpoint (although that's a valid argument) but more because the whole point is to meet MetaFilter members and foster social ties within the "community" - if you're not a member, you're not really not interacting with any other members (although if you're attending as a spouse or friend or what have you, that's obviously different). I read MetaFilter for years before finally ponying up the $5 so I could comment, and it was only at that point that I started being a member and interacting and then going to a meetup IRL.
posted by kpht at 8:42 AM on September 20, 2010


I think the idea of having IRL members-only gives us a false sense of security. Anyone can join MetaFilter for $5.

This is what I was going to say.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 9:03 AM on September 20, 2010


Ignore me, I think I figured out why this is not a good idea. Meetup.com does the same thing and they are ok
posted by wheelieman at 9:05 AM on September 20, 2010


Seems like the idea of a "public" Metafilter meetup which requires MeMailing someone for a location is sort of questionable. It opens up the possibility of conveniently overlooking MeMails from members one doesn't know or whatever.
posted by Justinian at 9:24 AM on September 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


One of the best meetups I've been to was at Optamystic's house. Although apparently he has jessamyn-sized balls, since he put his address up on the internets for all and sundry to see.
posted by grouse at 10:00 AM on September 20, 2010


It opens up the possibility of conveniently overlooking MeMails from members one doesn't know or whatever.

Sounds like a feature, not a bug! I kid, but only slightly- I think if someone is opening their home for a meetup, they are allowed to screen the guestlist.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:02 AM on September 20, 2010


Meetup.com does the same thing and they are ok

They do allow free form locations though, so you can list the location as "Private house in Queens, call 999-999-9999 for details".

I am thinking here pb and others. that IRL should be really a members only site, just for safety concerns.

One issue mentioned above is that you will then require authentication for the RSS / iCal feeds, or those will be a secret backdoor behind the privacy.
posted by smackfu at 10:03 AM on September 20, 2010


Not all of us have testicles as large as Jessamyn's.

This is definitely something where we have a bit of a split on Team Mod as far as people who would find this feature totally useful (me!) and those who see it as really extraneous to the IRL idea. As someone who not only hosts but attends IRL meetups in people's houses, I get people not wanting to put their address online, but I also see the "this is a mapping tool primarily" angle and that's where we came down on this. I've seen people basically put the location in the town center, have a comment that says "email for location details" [or whatever] or even have a comment with their phone number that they later remove or have elided by us.

At this point we see house meetups as a really small sliver of what IRL is for and the private meetup option feels edge casey for us. It's possible that over time it will turn out not to be the case, but for now we're looking at the kludgey workaround "put a dot in the center of town" It's a little more work, but not much.

I think if someone is opening their home for a meetup, they are allowed to screen the guestlist.

If someone is having a MetaFilter meetup that is announced on IRL it should be open to people from MetaFilter. If you want to screen the guestlist [which I can see reasons for doing, certainly] don't announce it sitewide using IRL please.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:10 AM on September 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think if someone is opening their home for a meetup, they are allowed to screen the guestlist.

Fine, but why should Metafilter be in the business of facilitating what is at that point essentially a private invite-only party?
posted by enn at 10:10 AM on September 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is what I did in your situation when we had a meetup at my house as part of the cortex road trip. My metafilter profile location at the time provided Google maps with an accurate latitude and longitude, and from there Google guessed at an address which was my next door neighbor's (since then my profile location has become a bit more vague for privacy). As I indicated in the meetup thread, the address was not exact, and there was ample signage around my house for the meetup.

We ended up with a huge number of people and apparently a lot of them knocked on my neighbor's door. Fortunately we get along well with our neighbor and he seemed kind of amused by all the weird internet people knocking at his door.

So, that sort of thing can work, but it wasn't perfect. I guess more and bigger signs would have helped.
posted by exogenous at 10:12 AM on September 20, 2010


Fine, but why should Metafilter be in the business of facilitating what is at that point essentially a private invite-only party?

I suppose it shouldn't.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:22 AM on September 20, 2010


Yeah, I did something similar to exogenous when cortex came to town and I hosted a house party. I set my profile location to the nearest intersection, then offered specific directions to my place via email. It doubles as an RSVP system too, because you can keep track of who's coming as you hand out directions. (And hand out bad directions to anyone you don't want to show up!)
posted by carsonb at 10:37 AM on September 20, 2010


This is what I did in your situation when we had a meetup at my house as part of the cortex road trip.

Yeah, I did something similar to exogenous

Except that now we have IRL and I think it's generally considered more appropriate to post Meetups on that site rather than in MetaTalk. IRL Meetups require an exact address, so it isn't possible to just post the Geocode in your profile and say "Please check out my profile" in order to offer directions.

Added to which, as far as I understand this does not solve the problem of not wanting total strangers to find out where you live.

I can see some advantages to requiring a log-in in order to view the exact physical address of a Meetup. Even if it does only cost $5 to acquire this knowledge, it does at least prevent spiders and random bots (as opposed to MeFi-specific bots, which would be another [entirely weird] issue) from gathering this information. So I could post a Meetup with assurances that my address would probably not be widely broadcast and indexed.

I'm not certain what exact API is being used to do the geolocation, but many locations which Google Maps has no issue pinpointing do not appear to work in the IRL form:
Train Stations/Subway Stops
30th Street Station, Philadelphia, PA
Girard Station, Philadelphia, PA
Intersections
Chestnut St & S 18th St Philadelphia, PA 19103
The good news is landmarks appear to work:
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA

Personally, I think all three should work for Meetups:
  1. Train stations/Metro Stops
  2. Intersections
  3. Landmarks
That way a very exact but public location can be provided for the meetup. This assumes, of course, that people hosting the meetup will be mensches and make sure that people arriving at that location are able to figure out, via signage or some other form of communication, the exact exact location of the meetup.

This also makes it easier to accommodate meetups where the location is at an intersection -- for a walk, block party, or other outdoor event -- or at a station/stop -- for a "Let's explore Chinatown together" or a meetup that involves group travel to a destination by train (I'm thinking here of a time I did a walk in the countryside outside of London. We met at the train station).

If it's a technical limitation, I can understand, but if the argument is "Intersections aren't specific enough" then I'd disagree. The Philadelphia Museum of Art, even the front entrance, is huge, and spans an entire block or so. Whereas if you're just two doors down from the corner, someone could in theory just yell from the corner and you'd be able to let them in.
posted by Deathalicious at 11:18 AM on September 20, 2010


...it does at least prevent spiders and random bots (as opposed to MeFi-specific bots, which would be another [entirely weird] issue) from gathering this information.

It also prevents members from using RSS or iCal to keep track of the event since there's no practical way to have "members only" feeds.

This also makes it easier to accommodate meetups where the location is at an intersection...

Behind the scenes we can't allow an intersection without also allowing a street. So once "Chestnut St & S 18th St" is acceptable, so is "18th St"—which is too ambiguous. If you're meeting at an intersection I think it's ok to choose a specific address at that intersection to meet.
posted by pb (staff) at 11:23 AM on September 20, 2010


It doubles as an RSVP system too, because you can keep track of who's coming as you hand out directions. (And hand out bad directions to anyone you don't want to show up!)

I thought something was fishy when the address you sent me was out in Pomona.
posted by Justinian at 11:33 AM on September 20, 2010


I looked at the Google API again and I was wrong. We can treat intersections as distinct locations. So I added those and train stations to geocoding system.
posted by pb (staff) at 11:42 AM on September 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Added to which, as far as I understand this does not solve the problem of not wanting total strangers to find out where you live.

There is only one solution to that problem: do not host a meetup in your home that's advertised on Metafilter. Anyone who posts a meetup on Metafilter has decided that it's OK for strangers to find out where the meetup location is (unless they use some kind of weird screening process, but jessamyn said that's not appropriate for Metafilter).

As long as it's on Metafilter, the general public has access to it. Even if the barrier is that they have to MeMail you, there's very little stopping someone who really wants to show up at this thing to pay $5 for an account and send a message saying, "Hi, I'm new here and interested in meeting people -- OK if I come to the meetup?"
posted by John Cohen at 12:13 PM on September 20, 2010


Thanks, pb!

That's close enough to what I was looking for.
posted by zizzle at 12:16 PM on September 20, 2010


As long as it's on Metafilter, the general public has access to it. Even if the barrier is that they have to MeMail you, there's very little stopping someone who really wants to show up at this thing to pay $5 for an account and send a message saying, "Hi, I'm new here and interested in meeting people -- OK if I come to the meetup?"

There is a difference between that and having your home address associated with your account, to be found by anyone, any time, using a simple internet search. Some would be willing to host a meetup but unwilling to subject themselves to the latter.
posted by exogenous at 12:26 PM on September 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Maybe this is already done, but would it be possible to remove addresses from house meet-ups that have already taken place? That seems like a good compromise and you don't get creepy people looking back in the archives for whoever's address.
posted by wayland at 12:29 PM on September 20, 2010


There is a difference between that and having your home address associated with your account, to be found by anyone, any time, using a simple internet search. Some would be willing to host a meetup but unwilling to subject themselves to the latter.

True. I didn't say there's no difference. I was responding by the statement that some people don't want their address to be found out by strangers. Anyone who feels that way has only one recourse: don't host a meetup that's advertised on a public website.
posted by John Cohen at 12:44 PM on September 20, 2010


Yes wayland, we can change an address for a meetup anytime. But it won't remove all traces of the address from the Web. The address will have gone out via RSS and iCal, so it could be stored somewhere where we have no control over the information. Google is good about updating things in their cache though, so I think that's an ok option if Google is your biggest concern.
posted by pb (staff) at 12:46 PM on September 20, 2010


I looked at the Google API again and I was wrong. We can treat intersections as distinct locations. So I added those and train stations to geocoding system.

So...this is like the 2nd suggestion I made for IRL that ended up being adopted. When do I get my IRL adjunct-moderator status?
posted by Deathalicious at 6:33 PM on September 20, 2010


It also prevents members from using RSS or iCal to keep track of the event since there's no practical way to have "members only" feeds.

Well, you could use HTTP Basic authentication (but it's not supported everywhere). This is a little less great but you can also just stick some sort of user-specific ?hash=ca3d3fefdfe89as98s98ad98asd7a thing to the end of the feed URL and hope people don't share it too much.
posted by floam at 7:01 PM on September 20, 2010


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