IRL Regional Event Alerts January 15, 2016 2:29 PM   Subscribe

Today we added the ability to make an IRL event regional so that IRL alerts for the event go out to a wider audience. And now in addition to letting us know what distance you consider nearby, you can let us know what distance you consider regional.

A few months ago we had a discussion about some problems with IRL alerts and regional events: Pony Request: IRL Regional Meetup tools. For destination events like camping or festivals where people drive hundreds of miles, there wasn't a good way to notify a wider group of people via IRL alerts that the event was posted.

We just added an option to make an event regional when you post a new IRL event. This will send the alert about the event to a wider group of folks based on a new Regional is x miles setting in site preferences.

We’ve set the default regional alert distance to 300 miles, but that's going to be too big or too small for some folks. So just click Preferences at the top of the page and set what you feel like is a good distance for destination-style events you might be interested in. (Need to convert between miles and kilometers? Google works well!)

- Don’t care about regional events? That's ok, you can set your regional distance to zero, and you'll only be notified about events that fall inside your Nearby radius, regardless of whether the event organizer marks them as regional.

- Want to turn off IRL notices entirely? You can do that by unchecking the Receive IRL alerts? in your Preferences.

- Don’t currently use IRL alerts? You’ll be unaffected by the change. If you decide you’d like to try them out, check Receive IRL alerts? in your Preferences.

Regional events at IRL have been posted a few times each year and we don't expect that volume to change, but we’ll monitor use of the new Regional feature to make sure folks are using it appropriately, and provide feedback as necessary.

We hope this new alert system helps more people participate in regional events when they do happen.
posted by pb to Feature Requests at 2:29 PM (97 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

Midwestern perspective: I like it!
posted by RainyJay at 2:36 PM on January 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Also, if you currently have IRL alerts enabled, you'll have received a mefimail about the change in the last couple of minutes. We haven't generally sent out mefimail about feature announcements, but since this constitutes a change (if a pretty low-impact one) to Prefs setups it seemed like something worth doing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:38 PM on January 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


This is really great, thank you!
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:45 PM on January 15, 2016


Well, shoot - now I guess I'll have to get off my butt and start planning the next regional campout...

(Seriously, thanks you guys!!)
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:47 PM on January 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


I had to read that a few times to really understand it, but then I have been sick this week. I guess this what I'da called a "Destination" event; regional sounds like the exact same sort of thing meetups already are.

Any reason this seems to avoid using what is, to me, a more obvious descriptor like "overnight?"
posted by phearlez at 2:52 PM on January 15, 2016


These aren't necessarily overnight events, and not all of them will be primarily about a specific destination. At the end of the day we had to go with some vocab choice, and the idea of regional vs. the usual single-city meetup felt as good as anything.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:55 PM on January 15, 2016


Oh great, now I have to go in and reduce the distance so there aren't even more alerts for meetups "near me" which turn out to be in a neighbouring country. 'snot fair.
*wipes nose on sleeve. stuffs hands in pockets. kicks tin can*
posted by billiebee at 2:57 PM on January 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yay, this means I can get meetup alerts for pretty much everywhere in Texas!
posted by immlass at 3:02 PM on January 15, 2016


Awesome, thanks pb.
posted by Margalo Epps at 3:15 PM on January 15, 2016


OMG OMG OMG! IN THE MIDDLE OF THIS WEEK OF TRAGEDY AND SADNESS MY PONY WAS BORN!!!

Seriously, this is great, and I hope it ends up being a way to create events that work for people who want to create and attend these sorts of events, and that it also has the options required for people who are not interested to be able to ignore them entirely. I'm super excited, not only for what goes on here in my region, but for other regions around the country who can draw together MeFites for great IRL events!

Thanks so much!
posted by hippybear at 3:17 PM on January 15, 2016 [10 favorites]


So, just pulling this example out of my butt: if I were to travel through NE Utah and, knowing that isn't a place with a lot of meetups, could I pick a place that's most likely to hit a radius of the nearby population centers in S. ID, WY, and NW Colorado, then send out a notice asking if there's anybody nearby who'd like to meet? And if there's a location most people would drive to? With the idea in mind that if it gets 10 responses from people close-ish to Moab and 3 from Grand Junction and 1 from Rock Springs, WY, people could then agree to go to Moab for a meetup.

Would that be an appropriate use of this or not cool?
posted by barchan at 3:20 PM on January 15, 2016


I think using a regional meetup to find a place to get coffee is not what we had in mind with this feature. That doesn't mean it wouldn't be useful in some cases so I don't want to rule it out entirely. I think if you're thoughtful with how you frame things that goes a long way and will be part of the equation as we determine what works and what doesn't.
posted by pb (staff) at 3:28 PM on January 15, 2016


This is the best.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 3:29 PM on January 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


This is fantastic! Thank you!
posted by rtha at 3:35 PM on January 15, 2016


Oh nuts, I didn't mean for something like coffee, I didn't word that very well - I was thinking more of calling for a real meet-up when I'm going to be working for a few weeks in remote places. But that still answers my question, I think. Thanks, pb!
posted by barchan at 3:35 PM on January 15, 2016


My only really tiny seriously it's not that big a deal gripe is that it default to anything but zero, but that's my usual knee-jerk reaction to any change and any non-opt in implementation. The fact that you sent a sitewide memail stating the change had happened earns you back a few points -- if I really hated this, I could have turned it off by now.

I think the idea is solid, the implementation looks pretty good, 300 miles is definitely a good definition of "regional" in the Midwestern US, borderline large in the NE, very large in the UK, small in the Western US, and I guess if you really wanted ALL THE MEETUPS just define your region as 1AU. But yeah, if you had to set a default, 300miles/500km is about as good as you can do.
posted by eriko at 3:37 PM on January 15, 2016


I tried to set my preferred distance, but...I don't see where I can do that? I go to preferences and all I get w/r/t IRL is the toggle yes/no for notifications.
posted by cooker girl at 3:40 PM on January 15, 2016


My only really tiny seriously it's not that big a deal gripe is that it default to anything but zero, but that's my usual knee-jerk reaction to any change and any non-opt in implementation.

I hear you, and it's only that it's such a small change that got me over the hump to just calling it a live default. And part of my motivation in striking out in that direction is that I really, really like the fact that meetups and IRL are a part of MetaFilter's culture, and would like to help encourage more of them. This is one little bit of that, but I'm planning this year to look at IRL/meetup stuff in general for ways to help broaden awareness of and attendance of meetups if possible; they really are one of my favorite things about this place, and while anyone who isn't interested should feel completely okay about not being interested, I think we also have a lot of folks who would be but just don't have IRL on their radar at this point.

That's a bigger conversation, so I don't want to spin this off in that direction really, but just to provide a little bit of context on that specific decision, since that gripe however tiny is definitely one I anticipated and can appreciate.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:42 PM on January 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


cooker girl, the distance fields are in the "Optional Fields" section of Preferences right after longitude and latitude toward the top of that section.
posted by pb (staff) at 3:50 PM on January 15, 2016


Got it! Thanks!
posted by cooker girl at 3:53 PM on January 15, 2016


Would people really travel 300 miles for a meetup? I'm curious.
posted by octothorpe at 4:06 PM on January 15, 2016


Sometimes - we occasionally get requests for things like regional Burning Mans or similar festivals, like "hey is anybody coming to this thing already, maybe we could meet up there". And Greg_Ace puts together a Pacific - NW camping trip that draws from Seattle, Portland, etc.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 4:09 PM on January 15, 2016


I live two places that are about 250 miles apart and I like to think that this feature is for me personally because I'd love to know if something was going on at Home 2 while I am at Home 1.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 4:10 PM on January 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


There's some pretty good camping out in rural Oregon and Washington, yeah. Besides a literal destination, there's stuff like an Iowa biking event that came up recently (alas, we're too late with this to help!) where people in a lot of different parts of Iowa might want to meet up as appropriate even if they're not all driving to Des Moines, etc.

Basically, there's the occasional oddball meetup that for any number of reasons being able to cast a wider net for makes sense; hopefully this'll work for most of those, and we'll see if it turns out that some other tweaks or variations on this are useful for recurring use cases as well.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:12 PM on January 15, 2016


Would people really travel 300 miles for a meetup? I'm curious.

I did, and have, and would again. I drove 9 hours to meet up at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge (yes, that one!!!) with MeFites in 2014. It was an outstanding weekend. Last year, we had Mefites from Eastern Washington (Walla Walla, Spokane) and Portland and Seattle all find each other near Wenatchee on the eastern side of the Cascade mountains for a weekend. It was also fantastic.

Regional meetups are great, and I can't wait for the next one. *side-eyes Greg Ace*
posted by hippybear at 4:29 PM on January 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


300 miles is the next city in a lot of the west, and people make those trips on occasion without thinking it’s a big deal.
posted by bongo_x at 4:41 PM on January 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


*side-eyes Greg Ace*

*sigh* FINE.
;)
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:42 PM on January 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


Would people really travel 300 miles for a meetup?

I travelled around 2k to 3k miles for one once.
posted by ODiV at 4:47 PM on January 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


I get IRL alerts but didn't get the notice in question.
posted by grouse at 4:54 PM on January 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


300 miles is the next city in a lot of the west, and people make those trips on occasion without thinking it’s a big deal.

I already have my regular IRL settings set for 300 miles because Seattle is 250 miles from where I live, and Portland is 280 or something, and I have and will go to those cities for meetups on occasion. But the regional meetup setting is for people who normally have their IRL radius set much smaller, just to catch local meets, but who might want to know if there is a Very Special Event happening someplace nearish to them that they might make Very Special Plans to attend. It's not for coffee or a bar meet or a game night... it's for other things. and a lot of people who might do a lot of local IRL events would miss knowing about these other things that are intended to draw from a much wider geographical circle without this feature.

So, yeah, I'm an outlier when it comes to these things. But I think it will prove useful for many (and can easily be turned off if not wanted).
posted by hippybear at 4:54 PM on January 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


That said, it might be useful to have a standard tag at the end of Regional IRL notifications that is something like, "don't want to get these? go here and change this thing to stop getting them" just so IRL people who don't want them and who haven't gotten the word don't think they are spammy.
posted by hippybear at 4:56 PM on January 15, 2016


OK, I'm convinced. I've pretty much only ever gone to meetups that are within the five miles in between my office and home but maybe that's just me. Seeing as I've lived two hours from Cleveland for a quarter century but have never been there probably shows that I'm not much of a traveler.
posted by octothorpe at 5:04 PM on January 15, 2016


Plus, it's not like getting a notification about a Regional event obligates anyone to do anything... You can ignore it if it isn't in your interest range or whatever.
posted by hippybear at 5:13 PM on January 15, 2016


Seeing as I've lived two hours from Cleveland for a quarter century but have never been there probably shows that I'm not much of a traveler.

Ha! I driven much farther than that and back to go shopping or visit a museum for the afternoon many, many times.
posted by bongo_x at 5:39 PM on January 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Thanks so much for this :)
posted by wallabear at 5:51 PM on January 15, 2016


octothorpe: "Would people really travel 300 miles for a meetup? I'm curious."

I would, to Chicago or St. Louis or Indy, and I'd bundle it with a family trip to hit museums and visit relatives and things. We try to do regional long-weekend trips with our kids a couple of times a year to visit tourist attractions and sort-of get "practice" for when we do bigger trips when they're older, and we normally end up planning those around a family gathering or friends being in town or something like that. Probably wouldn't go JUST for a meetup because my kids are too little for me to travel solo easily, but I'd totally fold it into a weekend trip to a nearby metro!
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 5:54 PM on January 15, 2016


Someone came all the way from Wisconsin to attend our last monthly movie meetup so I kinda feel like we're a little ahead of the curve here in the Twin Cities, tbh.
posted by triggerfinger at 6:39 PM on January 15, 2016


OK, but Cleveland's not much of a draw.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:03 PM on January 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


There's nothing wrong with Ohio ...

Except the snow and the rain ...
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 7:48 PM on January 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


I get IRL alerts but didn't get the notice in question.

pb sent me a MeMail saying I didn't get it because I opt out of MeFi Mail reminders. But I remain opted in for IRL alerts. I'm not really complaining about this—I read MeTa on a regular basis so I would have found out anyway. But I am pointing out the group of people who got these messages is not what was stated above.
posted by grouse at 8:24 PM on January 15, 2016


This is great! Thanks, team.
posted by lazaruslong at 9:11 PM on January 15, 2016


Sorry about that mix-up, grouse. We sent out the bulk MeFi Mail through the same system that sends out automated messages and so it didn't go out to people who have opted out of automated messages. We should have overridden that preference in this instance and we will next time.
posted by pb (staff) at 9:20 PM on January 15, 2016


The only thing more annoying then being spammed with IRL alerts I explicitly asked not to see is getting mefi mails I explicitly asked not to get. I know you love your meetups but forcing them on the members is not the way to go. This is a big change from the past culture of explicit opt in to now making it clear you're going to spam us for anything you think is cool enough.

And changing this setting to zero reset all my display settings which I am still working to get back how they should be. So the site in unreadable until I manage to get the text back the right size etc. So it wasn't a tiny change, but a really annoying hoop to jump through just to not be spammed.
posted by shelleycat at 12:06 AM on January 16, 2016


And actually I've been thinking about this. Don't IRL alerts come via mefi mail anyway? So shouldn't those settings be linked in the profile settings somehow? So when I opt out of mefi mail the IRL alert settings grey out and become inactive.

That way I wouldn't need to do anything, I'm opted out from the whole thing by default any way (which, actually, I am but it could be made more explicit). And you wouldn't need to worry about over riding mefi mail settings either. People who don't use one don't use the other so you leave them alone. If the settings were a bit more obviously linked in the profile then a person turning mefi mail back on in the future would presumably also set their IRL preferences at the same time, so I don't think you'd lose anything by not messaging those with it turned off at this time.
posted by shelleycat at 12:39 AM on January 16, 2016


People who don't use one don't use the other

Wait, hasn't that just been disproven by grouse? He uses IRL alerts but doesn't get MeFiMail notifications.
posted by ocherdraco at 4:40 AM on January 16, 2016


Sorry about the hassle, shellycat. If you have the option Opt-out of MeFi Mail? selected you will never get MeFi Mail, period. That includes IRL alerts. The option to receive IRL alerts will be unselected and greyed-out if the MeFi Mail opt-out option is checked.

The option that affected grouse was Opt-out of MeFi Mail reminders?. That setting tells us not to send certain automated messages. For example, when you post a thread you get a MeFi Mail that includes the URL of the new thread. Some folks don't want those and they check that option. That was the setting that kept grouse from getting this notification. He wasn't opted-out of MeFi Mail, he was opted-out of MeFi Mail reminders. Since the message we sent wasn't a reminder it shouldn't have come into play.

Again, apologies about the hassle you're dealing with shelleycat.
posted by pb (staff) at 6:40 AM on January 16, 2016


The only thing more annoying then being spammed with IRL alerts I explicitly asked not to see is getting mefi mails I explicitly asked not to get.

I'm opted out of MeFi Mail entirely and the only notification I got about this change is this message in MeTa. Was it different for you?
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 6:41 AM on January 16, 2016


And I'll just restate what I mentioned in the thread: "Don’t currently use IRL alerts? You’ll be unaffected by the change."

If you don't have IRL alerts on, nothing changes and there's nothing to adjust. Sorry about the confusion on that.
posted by pb (staff) at 6:44 AM on January 16, 2016


Is this 300 miles by air or by road? Because this seems to be strangely high as a default since a.) it's at least a 5 hour drive and b.) in most areas that's a huge distance. For example, the air distance between Washington DC and Boston is a bit under 400 miles and theair distance between New York and Boston isn't even 200 miles. Having that be the default is going to require most irl alert users to change their setting thus rendering the purpose of it having be the default setting kinda null and void. Just my thoughts.
posted by I-baLL at 8:01 AM on January 16, 2016


300 by air; it's just a radius from the center point of the proposed event. And the whole idea is that regional events are relatively uncommon and cover a large area of potential interest; folks can (and I'd expect plenty of folks to) tweak their preferences according to their local geography and personal interest, but the default is a middling ballpark based on what we know about past IRL events that have fallen into this territory.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:07 AM on January 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Ah, reading comprehension fail on my part. Now that I've went to edit the settings I realized that this is a second level type category. Okay, makes perfect sense now. Thanks!
posted by I-baLL at 8:14 AM on January 16, 2016


You can use Radius Around a Point to get an idea of what's inside your radius and what's outside. I just checked to be sure my "local" radius included the cities I'd go to for a small event, and my regional one picked up the cities I'd go to for a big one.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 9:01 AM on January 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


is IRL posting down for me, or everyone at this point?
posted by garlic at 9:07 AM on January 16, 2016


Oof, looks like something is up, yeah. Will fire up the pb-signal.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:12 AM on January 16, 2016


Should be working again. Regional bugs.
posted by pb (staff) at 9:24 AM on January 16, 2016


Will the IRL alert emails include 'Regional' in the subject header, or will it be "IRL: [Event Name]" for both? It was a nice change when the alerts started including the title of the IRL instead of just the mystery meat "New Event Near You", so it may be obvious at first glance whether some alerts are for a regular local meetup versus a distant one, but if they all look the same I expect that checking my in-box will lead to a lot of "ooh, that looks interesting....aw, darn, too far" moments.
posted by oh yeah! at 10:57 AM on January 16, 2016


Is this 300 miles by air or by road? Because this seems to be strangely high as a default

Not when you realize that "regional" is a metafilter coloquialism for "super special totally cool thing you'll want to travel for."
posted by phearlez at 11:05 AM on January 16, 2016


I'm actually kind of curious now whether there's some strong subcultural or geographical variations in what regional means, or what means regional-in-this-sense. Which I'd generally think of, just to make things even more complicated, as linguistic "regionalisms".
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:10 AM on January 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


The meetup is coming from inside the house.
posted by pracowity at 11:20 AM on January 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'll bet some people get territorial about their regionalisms.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:36 AM on January 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


oh yeah!, we don't have a lot of room to work with in the subject line. Inside the alert, events that are regional will have "(Regional)" after the title.
posted by pb (staff) at 1:17 PM on January 16, 2016


Regions are an administrative thing here that almost nobody has ever heard of (I hadn't until I just went on wikipedia now). My region is apparently "Yorkshire and the Humber", but I'd travel maybe three regions over (200 miles at a stretch) to some kind of super multi day meetup.

As a contrast to "Local" it's kind of gibberish to me.

This comment brought to you by language nerdery, not the complaint generation department.
posted by emilyw at 2:42 PM on January 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


but if they all look the same I expect that checking my in-box will lead to a lot of "ooh, that looks interesting....aw, darn, too far" moments.

If there are "a lot of" such postings, then people are using the Regional feature wrong.
posted by hippybear at 2:43 PM on January 16, 2016


The CDC recommends you get vaccinated for Regional Bugs before traveling.

Or, I have someone come around twice a year to spray for Regional Bugs.


My brain wants to make a joke out of that, but it's not quite working.
posted by hippybear at 2:46 PM on January 16, 2016


WOOO THANK YOU

OK, but Cleveland's not much of a draw.

We were actually talking last night about maybe a Cincinnati meetup!
posted by Greg Nog at 2:47 PM on January 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


MeFites Sin in Cincinnati.
posted by hippybear at 2:49 PM on January 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Good new feature
posted by sindark at 6:27 PM on January 16, 2016


Even better for me would be if I had the option to choose secondary or tertiary locations (I split my week between two places about 85 miles away from each other, but I don't care about hearing about things 85 miles in the other direction). Thanks, though.
posted by transient at 2:38 AM on January 17, 2016


OK, but Cleveland's not much of a draw.

I tried to let this pass, as it's a total derail from the topic at hand (which is a lovely new feature, yay!), but I just can't stand it. Cleveland is great! There's so much to do and see and eat and explore there! You could plan an *amazing* weekend trip and only do maybe a quarter of what there is to do as a tourist in Cleveland. Memail me if you'd like suggestions!
posted by merriment at 8:25 AM on January 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


OK Drew, we got it.
posted by bongo_x at 11:02 AM on January 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


I thought that was a neat pony request when it was first proposed, and I'm glad that it's now a new feature! Even though in practice for me this means I'll get a few more IRL alerts where I'll be like, "That looks awesome! I should totally do that thing" and then never, ever follow through.

(I could opt out, of course, but I still like to hear about these things, and I keep telling myself one of these days I'll actually follow through. Who knows, maybe I will.)

Is this 300 miles by air or by road? Because this seems to be strangely high as a default

I feel like this varies a lot depending on a person's location (and of course individual preferences). Growing up in north Florida where you usually had to drive 200+ miles just to get to another decent sized town or city, I definitely had a different concept of distance than I do living in the Boston area. Still, I would totally travel 200 to 300 miles to go to a cool event in the New England area if I had the time and funds to do it. Of course, it helps that I have a car and I love driving, especially highway driving.
posted by litera scripta manet at 1:25 PM on January 17, 2016


My apologies from Columbus!
posted by ChuraChura at 1:50 PM on January 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


The first thing this got me to look at was my "nearby" settings, which I had set too small.


300 miles here adds San Jose, Sacramento, Reno, Fresno, Bakersfield, and Santa Barbara. It just touches Oregon, but not even as far in as Ashland. Expanding further has been an hilarious slippery slope time. Expand it to include Los Angeles Metro? For just 40 more miles you can have Las Vegas! But that's not all, now it's only 30 more miles to San Diego and Boise! But why stop there! 80 more miles we'll throw in Portland! Then it's only 60 more miles to Salt Lake City. Phoenix and Seattle are only another 80 miles out!

Basically I'm saying that the Radius Around a Point thing is fantastic.

I have no idea if I'd go to any of these places, but 2900 miles (total) covers the entire United States from here, if anyone else in San Francisco is wondering.
posted by mountmccabe at 5:24 PM on January 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


you don't need to do the whole US, mccabe, just as far as louisville
posted by Greg Nog at 8:16 PM on January 17, 2016


PB, you might want to check the coding on this. Ufez tried to set up a meetup for last night. It only notified us early this morning that it had been proposed.
posted by notsnot at 6:57 AM on January 18, 2016


That's normal, actually; we send out propsed-meetup alerts to everybody at midnight, so that if someone starts to set up a meetup proposal and then realizes five minutes or an hour later that they got a key detail wrong, they have a chance to fix it before sending out an incorrect announcement to folks in the area.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:10 AM on January 18, 2016


(For the edge case of meetups being announced the day of, that's obviously a bit tricky, and it's something we can look at trying to support better. But for the vast majority of proposed meetups, there's one or more days between proposal and meetup date; this isn't code new to the regional thing, is my understanding.)
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:12 AM on January 18, 2016


He proposed it on Thursday or Friday - in fact, the notice about the Regional Events showed up right about the time he made the post, which made me notice the post.
posted by notsnot at 7:23 AM on January 18, 2016


Thanks, notsnot. Had a little hiccup with notifications that first day but we wanted to make sure the alerts went out for that meetup, even if a little late. All should be well now.
posted by pb (staff) at 7:28 AM on January 18, 2016


Ah, thanks for clarifying, I totally misunderstood you.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:32 AM on January 18, 2016


Now that we have this, could the default radius matching be changed to exclude events in a different country? Seattle's nice and I might actually go down for a "regional" event, but I'd rather not get notifications for every drinks night.
posted by pahalial at 3:39 PM on January 18, 2016


Border-based exclusions and other non-spherical-cow real-world determinations are a lot trickier to implement and are a lot likelier to expose users to annoying unwanted/unexpected behavior from the geo APIs we use; it's possible we could get into that at some point but it's definitely more of a rainy day project than something we can reasonably forecast implementing, sorry to say.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:01 PM on January 18, 2016


Also keep in mind that most drinks nights will not be marked as a regional event. We're expecting people to use that designation sparingly and we'll be keeping a close on eye on it for a while to see how people are using it.
posted by pb (staff) at 4:07 PM on January 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


And now I see I misread the request. So, what cortex said.
posted by pb (staff) at 4:09 PM on January 18, 2016


I may have missed this upthread, but what if you have multiple preferred "regions"? Do we have support for, say, alerts for happenings within 25 miles of San Jose or within 15 miles of Bloomington?
posted by klausman at 5:17 PM on January 19, 2016


We don't have support for defining multiple geographic locations, no. Sorry about that.
posted by pb (staff) at 6:06 PM on January 19, 2016


Seriously, the Regional event thing should not ever be a thing where you are getting invitations to drinks every night in an area outside of your Local settings.

If people are using the Regional tag for that kind of thing, they are Doing It Wrong.
posted by hippybear at 3:25 PM on January 20, 2016


Got it, just thought I'd ask. Happy to use a tiny "local" distance in the meantime then. Thanks for the new functionality!
posted by pahalial at 11:34 AM on January 22, 2016


I noticed (in an event that I think was mistakenly set as regional and isn't any more) that the mefimail message is a bit confusing for regional events that aren't that near you -- it prefaces the event with: "MetaFilter IRL has 1 new event within 50 miles of your location:". Not true in this case.
posted by advil at 6:58 AM on February 2, 2016


Yeah we're looking at the operational details a little now that we've have a couple non-test events come through marked with that; the IRL alert phrasing looks like a logic error that we need to get patched up, and more generally we're eyeing the whether and how of the uses so far.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:25 AM on February 2, 2016


Should use of the regional checkbox require going through some kind of mod approval queue to keep people from accidentally abusing it & spamming people? Or should the "check this only if the event is regional in scope (eg camping, festival)" note include a link to the Metatalk thread or a clearer warning that the mefi-mail will go out to people hundreds of miles distant? Or both?

I feel like people are only going to make the mistake of incorrectly clicking regional on their IRL once, but enough different people making that same mistake is going to get exhausting.
posted by oh yeah! at 9:46 AM on February 2, 2016


To propose a hinky technical solution to a social problem, if folks can't appropriately use the regional flag, regional notifications could go out as a separate memail subject to an approval queue, omitting anyone who already received the nearby notification.
posted by zamboni at 2:00 PM on February 2, 2016


Well, I was inadvertently one of the non-test events for the use of the “regional” tag over the last 24 hours.

As Cortex (I think?) commented the concept of “regional” is, as it turns out, regional.

My experience has been in the northeastern U.S. mainly and mostly around cities like NYC, Boston or DC. When I think of traveling around those places, I mostly think of subway travel, though I do drive, and do sometimes compare a subway trip to a car trip. So to take Manhattan as an example, the length of Manhattan is only about 12 miles, and by car that’s a little bit of nothing. But by subway, depending on walk time, transfers and connections, express and local trains, rush hour, weekend repairs, and so on, it can take 1.5 to 2+ hours to go North to South--assuming no West or East Side travel is involved. To me, that’s a long trip. By contrast, coming in from adjacent states, which in a car might seem long to me, can be quick if you’re on a good commuter rail system, and are let off in a central spot in Manhattan.

So when I clicked “regional,” I thought, Great, this will get this information out to all five boroughs, and a couple of adjacent states. But, really, when I break it down in terms of distance rather than time (especially round trip), maybe I’m not really talking about that many miles. Though, again, maybe in certain parts of the country travel time, like long distances, are par for the course, e.g. perceiving the entire (large) state of Texas as a region, or traveling among several states with large rural areas in the mid-West, etc. That’s just not the case for me.

So I wonder if a few brief regional/mileage/distance examples might clarify the concept better? I mean, I did note references to “festivals” and “camping,” but I don’t camp or attend festivals, so neither painted a picture for me.

However it gets handled, I’d like to chime in, and say like Cortex, I too think the IRL part of Metafilter is really interesting and should be encouraged. And also like Cortex, I too think lots of folks would try more stuff out if IRL were more on their radars. That was precisely what I had in mind by tagging all the borough names, and clicking the “regional” tag, and so on.

Further, I’ve wondered just how many Mefites live in Manhattan, and whether there’s a better non-spammy way to communicate with more of them vis-à-vis events. But I leave that issue to those who’ve been reflecting on it longer than I have….

For myself, though, I have repeatedly wished that when I get a Metafilter message telling me there’s 1 IRL event near me that the event title were included, as it’s a helpful reminder to those of us who look at our email boxes more often than we look at our memail or the IRL pages.
posted by Violet Blue at 3:27 PM on February 2, 2016


...I have repeatedly wished that when I get a Metafilter message telling me there’s 1 IRL event near me that the event title were included...

We added this very thing last July! If an IRL Alert has one event, the event title is listed in the Subject line. Here's where I mentioned the change.
posted by pb (staff) at 3:45 PM on February 2, 2016


I think that mentioning that the default for regional events is a 300 mile radius next to that checkbox should help a bit. Regional suggests different things to different people, often depending on geographic density (as noted above) so making it clear that regional events are typically sent to everyone in a 300 mile radius might be sufficient for users. Also, perhaps implementing a queue would help as well. Regional events are I imagine likely to be rare (or at least more rare than non-regional), so having a queue in place might help the mods suss out whether or not it's an option worth having or if it is causing more UI confusion than it is worth.
posted by sockermom at 5:34 PM on February 2, 2016


"I think that mentioning that the default for regional events is a 300 mile radius next to that checkbox should help a bit. Regional suggests different things to different people..."

That's true, but I think the underlying problem is that the considerations are different for the poster/organizer than they are for the mefites who will consider attending.

For everyone else, "regional" -- however they define it -- is the key thing. They have to decide how far they are willing to travel.

But for the poster explicitly, and implicitly for everyone else, it's the importance or scope or the unusual appeal of the event that is most important. The geography isn't what the poster should asking themselves about the event when they are considering selecting that option, it's whether it's actually a big event, something rare and of unusual significance and importance. Answering that question tells them everything they need about whether they should choose to mark an event as
"regional" -- they don't and shouldn't really concern themselves about what they consider "regional" to mean. Because the distance stuff really only matters to the people who will consider attending the event, not to the organizer.

"Regional events are I imagine likely to be rare (or at least more rare than non-regional), so having a queue in place might help the mods suss out whether or not it's an option worth having or if it is causing more UI confusion than it is worth."

I very strongly agree with this. Not only is it the case that when this was discussed it was understood that regional events would be rare, but they absolutely must be rare, or mefites will find the whole thing more annoying than useful. And so if these kinds of events are rare, then it shouldn't be a burden for the mods to review IRL posts marked as "regional" before they appear. That shouldn't be the only thing -- I think somehow in the interface it should be made clear to the poster that "regional" isn't so much about the geographical scope of how many users they want to see their post, but rather if they genuinely are planning an unusual event that's much more than a casual meetup.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:57 AM on February 3, 2016


"Because the distance stuff really only matters to the people who will consider attending the event, not to the organizer."

I would disagree with that. As organizer, you have to take into account how far you think people will travel for your event since that is one of the key factors in determining attendance, which affects how you plan the event and whether it's successful or not.

@pb: I went and checked some old messages, and of course you're right! I must have just gotten into the habit of scanning the "from" section and the "Mefi Mail" section within brackets. If you don't go any further than that, they all look identical. Entirely my error.
posted by Violet Blue at 1:35 AM on February 3, 2016


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