Dallas Meetup August 5, 2002 8:33 AM   Subscribe

Is Meetup working or falling short of people's expectations? I'm honestly trying to attend for once, but I feel a bit out of the loop. 212 people signed up for tomorrow's gathering. Ten in my hometown of Dallas. Only 3 of us have RSVP'd. Is there gonna be no party or am I missing the boat? Ufez Jones suggests we meet somewhere else, maybe. I just don't wanna get left out.
posted by ZachsMind to MetaFilter Gatherings at 8:33 AM (42 comments total)

Just as a datapoint: for the san francisco blog meetup last month, 40-something people said they'd go, I think about 15 rsvp'd, but only about 11 showed up, few of which rsvp'd, and a few of those weren't even listed on the site as wanting to attend.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:37 AM on August 5, 2002

Hey Zach. We decide about a month ago (via e-mail and before you had signed up for meetup) that the suggested locations sucked and we elected to go to Ben's Half Yard. I know someone (at least one person) e-mailed meetup to tell them, but they never changed the suggested sites. I think the lack of RSVP-ing is due to confusion about that. To my knowledge, though, the plan is still Ben's at 8:00 Tuesday night.
posted by Ufez Jones at 8:48 AM on August 5, 2002

As Meetup refuses to allow user-chosen venues, it seems everyone has circumvented the Meetup site in favor of off-site planning. The real Manhattan meetup information is here. I emailed all the attendees of the last Manhattan gathering, but in case I missed anyone, refer to the invite above. Hope to see y'all there.
posted by evanizer at 9:02 AM on August 5, 2002

Los Angeles area meetup.
posted by Kafkaesque at 9:05 AM on August 5, 2002

As a point of reference for the rest of the people, here are the established locations. I believe they are all tomorrow night at 8:00 local time...

Ben's Half-Yard - Greenville between Walnut Hill and and Park Lane

San Francisco
Frjtz, 579 Hayes Street/Laguna

KramerBooks, 1517 Connecticut Ave NW, Dupont Circle

Double Happiness, 174 Mott St.

Renee's Courtyard Cafe, 522 Wilshire Blvd (at 5th St) Santa Monica, CA.

(more info can be found in this thread)

Those are the only confirmed locations that I'm aware of. Sorry if i missed one somewhere.

posted by Ufez Jones at 9:09 AM on August 5, 2002

Meetup has all sorts of things that have to be worked around: the venues, the required rsvps, lack of an email function. Dunno if it's helped or hindered our attempts at meeting up.

That said, anyone interested in the DC meetup can email me. My plan is to get liquored up at Madhatter starting around 6:30, then stumble over to Kramerbooks at 8. I'll call Kramerbooks about reserving a table. Look for a 6'5" guy with a ponytail--that'll be me.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:30 AM on August 5, 2002

I'll be everywhere Tuesday night in the spirit of Meta, and drinking spirit in Dallas.
posted by thomcatspike at 9:33 AM on August 5, 2002

in answer to your question, zach, i think that meetup worked insofar as it got names on a list; but the actual venues sucked (it appears in all of the cities). nobody wants to meet at a mcdonalds or a starbucks. so, if they want to get things off the ground, something is going to have to change there. and we really don't need a meetup volunteer to help things go smoothly. now i'm wondering if some volunteer is going to show up for the NYC meeting (and at the wrong place, too).
posted by witchstone at 9:36 AM on August 5, 2002

er. i haven't rsvp'd to meetup, because i don't want them to think i'm going to show up at jack in the box or something, and then they get all confused when they're sitting there happily with their jumbo jack and real ice cream shake waiting for everyone else when i'm actually drinking a beer at frjtz, where i'm guessing i'll see the rest of you.

i did like the excitable letter i got in my inbox telling me the par-tay will be canceled if i don't rsvp.

posted by fishfucker at 10:06 AM on August 5, 2002

Totally off-topic, but how do you Bay-area people pronounce "frjtz"?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:11 AM on August 5, 2002

fritz. i believe.


kinda like frites, except not french, rather, dutchish.

posted by fishfucker at 10:33 AM on August 5, 2002

Should we maybe mention this change somehow on the metafilter.meetup.com webpage itself? Try to pass the word, or is it fairly certain that all parties involved will frequent this page in MeTa and won't get left out?

I mean these changes of venue are an improvement yes, but does everyone know the venues have been changed outside Meetup, or (for example in DFW) will there be two or three people in the downtown TGI Friday's twiddlin' their fingers wondering where everyone else is and 7 or 8 people in the sports bar off Lower Greenville staring blankly at tv screens wondering if the guy next to him is a MeFi'er?

One of the annoying things about Meetup is an inability to coordinate or communicate to other participants via email, and there's just that little blurb in your profile to shout anything. I guess maybe that's done for security, or cuz Meetup knows if they gave out a list of email addies, people would stop going to their site to make the plans, which is apparently what's happening ANYWAY but it's possible people are being left behind. There may also be lurkers who for personal reasons do not sign up for silly things like meetup.com but hope to grok the when & where and if they're not busy tomorrow night they'll swing by. If they swing by the wrong place due to communication breakdowns, that's one less lurker we don't get to meet, ya know whut ah'm sayin'?

I'm gonna be like, ten or twelve city blocks from the meetup location (which I concur does bite) two hours before 8pm. I think I can easily make Greenville in a half hour from there. Should I maybe drive by TGIF to check for stragglers before going to Ben's, or should I care about potential stragglers?

And did it have to be a sports bar? Okay that's just a personal beef. I'm over it. Coulda been worse. At least it's not The Caligula.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:59 AM on August 5, 2002

Meetup: Great idea, astoundingly poor implementation. They should never have launched such a cool service until they had demoed it to some people outside of the org and found out how badly it sucks...

On Preview: ...although I have to give them credit, it makes a great site to demo for bosses who don't understand the need for usability studies.
posted by SpecialK at 11:20 AM on August 5, 2002

Ouch, but true.

posted by beth at 11:31 AM on August 5, 2002

if you read the FAQs or talk to the founders, they're pretty up front about the fact that their business model is basically a revenue sharing program with the venues, and if you're going to roll the service out in several hundred cities simultaneously, it makes rational sense to try and cut deals with national franchises that have stores all over the place instead of individually picking bars and negotiating, which is enormously labor intensive. that said, i understand the unappeal of having a meetup at a starbucks. my question is, what's a viable alternative? meetup's a business - it has to make money. how would you guys do it?
posted by lizs at 12:00 PM on August 5, 2002

Lisz, much like it's done, only I'd encourage the venues in question to make it more worthwhile for people to use their locations rather than making up their own, if in fact it actually matters to them.
posted by ZachsMind at 12:23 PM on August 5, 2002

Ideally, for a while, it just has to operate sans payola. Operate first as a proof of concept, then take your findings to the bank.

If I were on the meetup.com team, I would let the first two or three gatherings self-organize as much as they can, and give tools to users to help that along. You can't demonstrate to prospective club or shop owners that you have something worth money until you can prove it. I suspect for this first round, it was a lot of work and a lot of explaining to club and shop owners. If the mefi gathering in Dallas goes off at some bar, the members could be given tools to let them report back to meetup about how it was, post images, discuss things among their new friends, and meetup could easily figure out just how many showed up, etc. Meetup could take those numbers, figure out the retention from how many said they'd show up, and how many actually showed up, then be able to predict to the next venue owner just how much money this group of dorks assembling to talk about x can bring into the bar.

Another approach would be to make the venue choices open to the signed up attendees, and meetup could simply contact the leading 4-5 after a week of voting, and select who bites as a final candidate, though that is a lot of work to actively seek out owners and essentially ask them for money. For the end user, it would be preferable because they'd feel like they have a voice.

It's a community site and community application, and so far the people describing their dislike or distaste seems to center around the lack of community involvement afforded by the site. The users were given starbucks and fastfood joints as choices, but no one within the group got to choose those. There isn't any reasonable way to interact with other members, so users are feeling trapped with those choices. I notice that even the little messages saying we were meeting in another place for the SF metafilter meet are gone. Even though I admire and have a lot of respect for the people behind the site, and I understand it's a business, some of that comes off as hostile to the user in the end, and that's why meetup isn't living up to people's expectations.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:02 PM on August 5, 2002

lizs: as noted in prior threads, as a business model, it doesn't have sustainability. Once people know each other, why continue to meet under the bureaucratic limitations of Meetup.com? Especially if they pick sucky venues. Here in Chicago, the ideal location is a smoky blue-collar bar, maybe with some pool tables, definitely with cheap brew and bar food. Or a pizza place like Leona's, which we have done.

I can't see what would make it work in the long run, either, unless it were to be combined with a discount program like idine or there was a free round of drinks or something.
posted by dhartung at 1:11 PM on August 5, 2002

Dan, I think if the toolset were beefier, and people could really do things at meetup they couldn't do elsewhere without expending much effort (like hosting discussions, home pages of those that showed up, having photo galleries of gatherings, voting tools, etc). Meetup could become a real hub, a real people magnet that would help facilitate continual future gatherings.

It's like asking why evite still exists. Why not just email your 20 friends by hand? They created something useful that everyone signed up for at one time, and will continue being the killer app for that particular market.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:30 PM on August 5, 2002

mathowie: "..seems to center around the lack of community involvement afforded by the site."

I think another aspect of that would be to be able to see who had signed up in only your town (or whatever town you want to check). Right now it looks like 221 people are signed up for mefi.meetup, but there is no way to break that down into cities (that I can find - please point if there is one), and even the page listing 221 only shows like the last 20. Since they can break it down to locations, couldn't they easily break it down to people at locations also?
posted by thatothrgirl at 1:30 PM on August 5, 2002

If people don't like the service it provides or can't understand it they won't use it, that's why lots of sites failed lizs - give the people what they want and keep it simple and they will use it, unfortunately it can be difficult to translate these kind of ideas into sustainable businesses. Perhaps, like so many other "good" internet ideas, it doesn't work on a commercial level.

Though it's nice to hear a good old fashioned discussion of business models, haven't heard one of those for a long time now...

posted by johnny novak at 1:37 PM on August 5, 2002

thatothrgirl: there is no way to break that down into cities

Actually, once you register and select your "home area" you only see the Meetups in your area. So it shows 221 people worldwide, but also 30 for metro NYC.

posted by gen at 1:40 PM on August 5, 2002

Matt: Perhaps you could ask them to stop "organizing" MeFi gatherings until they get their shit together? Previous meetups seemed to come together with much less confusion sans-meetup.com (not that I attended, so I can't speak from first-hand knowledge -- but they managed to happen without spawing umpteen MeTa threads). And meetup.com are going to schedule these every month? I see them sapping the life out of MeFi gatherings before too long.

As they say in their FAQ:
"If there's already a great way for you to MEETUP locally about a topic you care about, then use it... you don't need us!"
posted by sad_otter at 1:44 PM on August 5, 2002

The only thing that meetup.com has done for me is to cement that fact that I need to move to a bigger, more vibrant city. Anyone wanna go duckpin bowling? Anyone?
posted by machaus at 2:02 PM on August 5, 2002

At the poorly-attended blog meetup in NYC, (where evanizer and I danced on the tables), Scott from meetup.com seemed really receptive to the criticisms about meetup. I suppose if we want to make this tool work, we should be filling out their venue form and writing them emails. Big if.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 2:19 PM on August 5, 2002

Odd that the alternate locations notes were taken out of the San Francisco gathering. The ones in the LA-Santa Monica gathering are all still there.

We've had MetaFilter meetups before that have gone without much of a hitch by just using MetaTalk to promote them. Matt is usually pretty good about getting them on the sidebar to remind people. There have been meetups, that I know of, in Seattle, LA and NY. The only thing meetup.com seemed to do this time around was cause confusion. So, I don't want to speak for everyone, but I really don't want to fix the tool if we had one that worked already. So, I agree with RJR, BIG If.
posted by eyeballkid at 3:23 PM on August 5, 2002

My problems with the venues are that they don't reflect the unique natures of the cities they're in, and they're inappropriate for the type of event. Starbucks and Jack in the Box are too generic, and aren't comfortable places to meet people, most of them for the first time, and have a conversation.

Apparently the Cafe Cocomo is the official Meetup location. The Cafe Cocomo is nice for going dancing with a group of people you already know, but not so good for meeting people for the first time.

It should be possible to have parnerships with unique, fun places (like Julie's Supper Club) that would be more appealing and appropriate venues.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:04 PM on August 5, 2002

Sad_otter: And meetup.com is going to schedule these every month? I see them sapping the life out of MeFi gatherings before too long.

Agreed. While I love all y'all, I think quarterly get-togethers (which is what seems to be happening in New York) are more special, and would ultimately draw bigger crowds. And do we really want our gatherings to be determined by meetup's calendar/business model?

Matt, you hit the nail on the head -- along with lack of choice in meeting location, there is also no means for the community to decide/regulate when it wants to get together (the date) or even how often.

To me, MeFi gatherings are way more organic than meetup's structure will allow for. One person starts with, "Hey, it's been a while, who's up for a beer in New York?" and commences from there. Volleys go back and forth, opinions are offered, and eventually a date/time is fixed. While the "venue vote" and "rsvp" features would be helpful in this process (rather than an entire thread of "I wanna go here!" "I vote for something else!") there's *nothing else* about the meetup system that seems to apply to how we actually, well, meet -- the rest of it's pretty much out of our hands. Kind of like someone telling you that, like it or not, you're having a party on x date, at x time, and you have a choice of three locations. Want something different? Too bad.
posted by metrocake at 4:18 PM on August 5, 2002

Matt, would it be possible to resurrect the events page and make it updatable by users? I know that you don't want to have to deal with the administrative duties surrounding meetups (including planning and such), so I was wondering if you could allow us to write to it as a sort of bulletin board. I suggest this mainly to cut down on Meetup-related traffic in MeTa, since there have been no less than a half-dozen threads over the last two weeks about gatherings in different cities.
posted by dogmatic at 4:24 PM on August 5, 2002

MeFiSweMeet? At Läckerbitens källare? Anyone? I will be there anyway, holding an impromptu gathering while listening to the soothing stylings of Lars Blek. Drop by, get drunk, share a memory or two.

...if you want to be seen with an extreme noobie, that is.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 4:25 PM on August 5, 2002

Grrr — Meetup has even now sent me a reminder telling me that the NYC gathering is at "Space Untitled". We'd better put a sign on the door there pointing people to Double Happiness...
posted by nicwolff at 5:12 PM on August 5, 2002

Keep in mind that most groups using meetup probably don't have a MetaTalk. Clearly it's not right for this board, but there are some decent applications. I'd love to find a decent local book discussion group. Even there though, their categories are hopeless. How dynamic a discussion can you have about Neil Gaiman before you run out of books?

It's a good idea, but it's poorly conceived or maybe just too difficult to do.
posted by willnot at 5:19 PM on August 5, 2002

gen: "Actually, once you register and select your "home area" you only see the Meetups in your area. So it shows 221 people worldwide, but also 30 for metro NYC."

Sorry, gen, I should have said "..the PEOPLE in the cities". I see where it shows how many people are members in each city, the "Top Locale", etc (X members). But when you click on that, it takes you to the "Who's signed up list" , which shows everyone, or at least the top 20, and I would like to see the X number, only in my city.

posted by thatothrgirl at 5:24 PM on August 5, 2002

Portland meetup cancelled, I'm the only one here. :( I'd drive up to Seattle, but it's way too far.
posted by SpecialK at 9:06 PM on August 5, 2002

specialk, i'm in corvallis. i went to check out the meetup thing and it said nobody had rsvp'd, so i figured it was canceled or something. meetup confuses me in so many ways. any other oregon kids still wanting to hang out?
posted by pikachulolita at 10:05 PM on August 5, 2002

I've also had difficulties with MeetUp.

I even e-mailed them a detailed review of how assigned cities might be better implemented, but got a lackluster response.

I wish them luck... call me when it's more organicly organized.

Salt Lake folks: do we want to do something? Maybe RedRock? Any place with a no smoking section would be just fine by me!
posted by silusGROK at 11:10 PM on August 5, 2002

Looks like the Seattle one is cancelled, at least, as far as Meetup is concerned. Or are people getting together despite it all?

I can't be there anyway -- Tuesday is a work night for me. I did think the choices of venue were terrible -- either unfun or smoky. Blah.

I must say, though, I don't really have a problem with meeting at a Starbucks. Sure, it's not a hip and happening indie sort of place, but it is smoke-free (some of us asthmatic types can't go to smoky bars) and they don't object to people hanging around for a long time. There's no table service to make it uncomfortable for stragglers. There are baked goods and coffee (though I don't like their coffee much). There is music but it's not too loud to talk. I guess the lack of alcohol is an issue for some people, but other than that it seems like an ideal type of place to meet.

Perhaps some place with the above-mentioned benefits of a Starbucks but with better atmosphere/beer/etc. would be good for a Seattle meetup? Any suggestions? A pizza place or something?

posted by litlnemo at 3:45 AM on August 6, 2002

I'm for ditching meetup. Get-togethers seemed to work better before this.

I'll see the NYC people tonight where we'll likely start conversations with "wow, that meetup thing sure sucked" and end conversations with "do you think we should send someone to Space Untitled, just in case?"

(I'm buying a drink for the first person to say either of those to me tonight...)
posted by joemaller at 7:30 AM on August 6, 2002

run on joe maller in nyc.
posted by goneill at 8:42 AM on August 6, 2002

Just want all the Austin folk to know that I'm still intrested in getting together, even if there are just 8 of us. I'm going to be at Dave and Busters starting at about 6pm. Drop me an email (it's in my user info), if you want to meetup.
posted by betaray at 9:36 AM on August 6, 2002

Oh, fuck it, I'll put a note on the door at Space Untitled by 7 PM or so, and tell the bartender. (Sorry if this means only one person can have a drink on Joe.)
posted by nicwolff at 11:07 AM on August 6, 2002

does that mean you get the drink?
posted by goneill at 12:23 PM on August 6, 2002

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