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So meetup.com is going to charge attendees in future - what's next for event organizers?

Eugene Cheah on October 15, 2019

Context. Meetup.com was testing a new pricing model, where the attendee pays a $2 fee. The backlash was predictable, especially those or... [Read Full]
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We have a handful of concepts within the DEV universe that are not entirely fleshed out, but we've long wanted to provide meetup-type solutions for a variety of reasons.

We felt that as a community-oriented open source company, there was ample opportunity to provide a better alternative to meetup, but we never leaned very hard into these projects due to it being a focus creep we could do without.

However, I sort of regret that we hadn't leaned further here, because if we had we'd be better organized to absorb dissatisfied Meetup users today. That is not the case, we'd have much work to do.

Our event-oriented features which need to be built out and unified.

Event listings (a place to publicize events at a high level)...

dev.to/listings/events

Events calendar (more info on events, add to calendar, etc.)

dev.to/events

IRL.DEV (a dedicated portal for event discovery with a neat vanity URL for easier IRL link sharing)

irl.dev

Additionally in beta are group Connect channels

dev.to/connect

These are all existing in limbo and it would be interesting if we could collaborate with the community to really provide a free-forever, community-first genuine alternative to Meetup. It's our hypothesis that open source technology can improve more rapidly, serve more use cases more effectively, and generally win out compared to inefficient, value-consuming alternatives.

As Meetup also serves broader needs than just software developers, our longterm open source plans (to offer our technology for broader groups) could allow folks to spin up and self host (or use a hosted version) of our eventual technology to ensure that they are not at the whims of a major power imbalance.

Anyway, I've been meaning to make a post about this myself but hadn't gotten around to it. So thank you for an outlet to comment on the topic.

 

(I'll still possibly make a post tomorrow with some more info about how we could make some of this happen as part of our open source initiative, for anyone interested.)

 

I think if Dev.to were to provide a meetup solution it needs to be its own codebase so there is rapid agility. Also, I would very much like to see DEV.to as an umbrella of open-source projects instead of one beastly monolith.

 

I think DEV is in a really unique position to do something here for sure.

Freecodecamp is doing something as well: twitter.com/ossia/status/118384505... - but I'm not sure it'll exactly be a drop in replacement for meetup (unclear so far)

I'm excited to see where this all goes - I do think fragmentation is not great (from a network effect perspective) - but it's clear (to me) that meetup has a unique hold on the market that should be broken.

 

Ah, nice. It's great to have multiple open source driven orgs getting into the mix. FCC is also non-profit, which is great.

If we get involved in building out our Meetup-esque suite of features, I'd hope we can achieve cohesion and compatibility with other projects and companies.

We don't need to provide some of this tooling to be useful and "successful" so I'd just as soon see FCC succeed as with us, however I do think we have a different style of building open source software and different approaches (and tech preferences) so I would say that I wouldn't necessarily reach to try and collaborate with them on this.

Anyway, it's all pretty neat!

Yeah, I think having multiple options is a good thing; it will be interesting to see what they (and you!) come up with

I definitely think direct collaboration could be in the cards, and wouldn't dismiss that.

Maybe a collaboration on a protocol of sorts (or agreeing to work together with an existing one) could be the right solution.

Agreed, thinking a lot along these lines.

This also prevents any group from holding too much power. And a repeat of this happening.

Not too sure if it has to be a new setup.
Or something built on existing ones (iCal, RSS, etc)

 

I was just talking about this with one of my business partners. We run a pretty big meetup (~4500), and although I've had no real reason to disagree with them in the past, the recent changes haven't been well received.

I've been following the FCC efforts. There are a few projects in a similar vein, some more advanced than others. The "vein" being siloed and self-hosted. Personally, I'd much rather have something on a hosted platform with discovery. Essentially meetup, with some more control over what happens. Seems like you'd be a natural option for the tech world, but the other issue with FCC and others is that replicating "meetup" is certainly not trivial. There's a lot of work to make something functional enough.

I know a lot of good people at meetup, so I also hope they get the message and reset, but we'll see how it goes.

 

Ben, did you actually mean to use Medium in this sentence? "...a free-forever, community-first genuine alternative to Medium."

I feel like that should be "...alternative to Meetup."

Cause isn't Dev.to already an alternative to Medium? 🤔

 

Whoops. I wrote Medium because I meant to reference it in a following sentence in terms of where we already took a similar approach with Medium. I got all mixed up. 🙃

That's the kind of mixup that might indicate that something is a focus creep in the first place... However I genuinely think that a lot of focus creep issues plague closed source software a bit worse than open source.

 

As an event organizer myself, I have started looking around at my alternative options.

I have compiled them into a github repo readme.md

GitHub logo PicoCreator / list-of-meetup-alternatives

Compiling a list of meetup alternatives, and possible replacement technologies. PR is welcomed.

list-of-meetup-alternatives

Compiling a list of meetup alternatives, and possible replacement technologies. PR is welcomed.


Context

So meetup.com maybe planning to charge a $2 per RSVP - this will effectively kill any "free meetup". So as a meetup co-organizer myself, this is me researching for a plan to mitigate this!


Open Source Solutions (with demo)

The following are either outright meetup clones, or are "close enough" drop in replacement A similar list in table format (by "coderbyheart") can be found here

Get Together

GIT - DEMO

  • groups: yes, with search (it is a meetup clone)
  • event search: yes, with locations, and more (its a meetup clone)
  • federation: basic import from live sites, using a CLI command (on a cron schedule?)

Most feature complete, one-to-one with meetup.com, as it was part of its original design goals.

More importantly its the only project to recognize the need for federation of events.

Open Event

…

 

As the main developer of Agorakit, I'm really happy to see that you included it on the list.

My initial battle plan was (and still is) to create mix of basecamp and meetup. We already have plenty of features for groups that wants to organize (calendar with event you can attend to, discussions, files, map of members, notifications).

I'd love to enhance the meetup-clone part of the project since it is also very important for the initial use case (citizen groups). For instance I'm working on email/sms notifications for attendees. This feature will soon land on master.

Feedback is highly welcome.

Help even more, if Laravel is your thing, I'm comited to help anyone, especially junior laravel devs who want to level up their skills.

Our (currently small but friendly) community of devs is there waiting for you :

 
 
 

I'm not against a company making money, but taking a key feature that was always free, then switching to make money off of it is a sure way to alienate users. Give new features and charge for those, do not put a wall in front of the primary reason that people use the site. The shift seems like a pivot into ticket sales where the organizers do not see any of the money and even have to pay a fee themselves.

 

If anything as an organizer - I was glad they were billing me enough to be sustainable (or more).

I know servers cost money (I manage them for my company, and our bill is scary). So I am actually more terrified of free services who do not answer "how they will sustain themselves". As they may do a bait and switch at some points when the bills come flooding in. (cough medium)

I just never expected it to happen to meetup.com through its parent company. Where they need more money

 

I run several meetups since 2013 and understand the consequences of charging attendees. The values I demonstrate is that I provide free education to attendees in tech. Back in 2014 I tried charging a tiny fee and people stopped showing up as most aren't sure if they are able to make it until last minute, and sometimes other meetups pop up that is more important to them.

Before I look at alternative options or jump to solutions, it would be appropriate to wait to see what meetup plans to do based on customer reaction. Maybe they will make an intellectual decision not to move forward with the new fees.

That's my thoughts.

 

I'm a meetup co-organizer, and the decision made me so confused and upset that I decided to build a replacement! I'm not 100% sure it's the right thing to do (build a new standalone replacement) - but I need something for our meetup (we're definitely moving off of meetup), so I'm just running with it:

meetingplace.io/

If dev decides to do something in this space though, I think they could be uniquely positioned to capture a large chunk of the dev meetup market.

 

Damage is done! I am an organizer in London UK and knows lot's of meetup organizers. Some of us are not happy with meetup already and this time it really rings the alarm and we are very aware that we may have to move away from them one day. So disappointed about meetup as a company. How can they not foresee that? It just shows they totally don't understand the community and the organizers whose support are their best asset. I blame WeWork for most of that.

 

Not to minimize the impact of this policy change, but...

I would think that of all the communities affected by this issue, a community comprised entirely of developers (many of them web developers) are best prepared to create thier own alternatives.

 
 

I am talking with a couple of organizers about developing a plain text event schedule protocol on top of Twitter think gherkin for events. The idea being that network effects could be utilized right out of the gate.

 

I think Kommunity.com is a good alternative. After meetup announcement, i have seen many groups moved to Kommunity.

 

Damn, I wasn't aware of it. Hope that they never implement it. I don't think that they will, actually, but if they do so... Eventbrite I guess?

 

GOOD. Way to many people join a group and never ever show up. If people can't bother to show up when it's free making em pay will certainly help.

 

While I would agree to this idea, of billing attendees to cover costs. And improve no-show rates. Even as an organizer.

None of that cost is going to be split into that, nor will it cover things like food.

It should also be a choice. Something that was not clearly communicated in meetup intentions originally.

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