Team chat today, topic is meetups. If you’d like a meetup-specific topic on the agenda, please leave a comment on this post.
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Many WordPress meetups around the world are facilitated through Meetup.com, especially in larger cities. Meetup.com is also how we’re handling the chapter program.
But other sites, like Eventbrite and Facebook, are also used for arranging and managing local events.
So, how do we bring a local WP community together when folks don’t want to depart from the service they’re already using, or who don’t want to sign up for another site? e.g. they’re interested in attending WordPress meetups, but they don’t want to sign up for Meetup.com to do it?
Team Chat Agenda, March 13, 2014
- meetup mentorship proposal
- wordcamp mentorship proposal(s)
@jenmylo has no internet access and thus won’t join us today. I’ll facilitate in her stead.
Edited: DST! UTC! Other three-letter abbreviations! We’re sticking to the 19:00 UTC schedule today, despite some countries observing daylight savings anew this week.
Here’s my first pass at how we could tackle mentorship in the Meetup.com chapter program.
Please beat it up.
IMO there are two major groups that we can help through the mentor program:
- Primary audience = Completely New Organizers. They’re pumped up and excited to get goin’, but they don’t know where to start.
- Secondary audience = Existing Organizers: They’ve run some meetups before, but still stand to gain from the opinions/experiences of others. e.g. ideas for different meetup group activities.
Mentor/Mentee Google Hangouts
The first big piece is similar to what Andrea’s been doing with WordCamps. We’ll provide new Meetup organizers with a series of orientation sessions spread over four weeks. Topics to cover:
1. Meetup.com 101 (Ninja Edit: Focus on the tools in this step, friendly reminders about the Spirit of WP + level of commitment.)
- Representing WordPress: Embrace the spirit of WP!
- Commitments: Friendly reminder that Meetups take a lot of effort.
- Using Meetup.com: The tools at your disposal.
- Organizer Levels: Co-organizers, event hosts, assistants, etc…
2. Planning & Preparation
- Selecting a Venue: Transit, parking, capacity, directions, accessibility, et al.
- Content & Activities: Presentations? Social? Workshops? What’re you doing?
- Setting RSVP Limits: The delicate balancing act.
- Supplies & Equipment: Making a list and checking it twice.
- Handling Expenses: Saving Cami from going insane with receipts.
- Communication: Keeping your members in the loop.
- Signage & Access: Where’s the door, and how do I open it?
- Registration/Signing In: Identifying the no-shows.
- Welcoming Attendees: e.g. Tell them where the washrooms are.
- Recording/Streaming (if possible): More good stuff for WordPress.tv.
- Follow-Up House Cleaning: e.g. post video, send out slides, contact the no-shows.
- Growing & Adapting to Your Local Community
- Diversifying Activities: Something for everyone.
- Bringing In Other Organizers: Share the load!
- Larger Initiatives: Getting involved with the WordPress project.
Think of this next piece as a “Starter Kit” for organizing meetups.
These are assets that we’d create. They should be short n’ actionable. Some ideas to start:
- Organizer’s Checklist: A “cheat sheet” that helps you prep for a meetup.
- Templates: For Meetup groups & individual event pages. Could include:
- Image Templates (header art, group image, images for event pages)
- Boilerplate text (for harassment policies and other such things)
- Project spreadsheets (similar to the budget template for WordCamps)
- Organizer Tips: Advice from other organizers, clean n’ simple. (Inspiration)
There’s more that we can do, but this list seems long enough for now. (I once joked with a friend about preparing Meetup.com tote boxes, but the shipping costs might make that a bit unreasonable.)
Team Chat Agenda, March 6, 2014
- meetup program status check
- any questions/suggestions from meetup organizers on good things we can do to support events
Playing it a bit free and easy this week as we catch up from last week.
This week’s meeting topic is: All things Meetups! Thurday 1900 UTC in #wordpress-getinvolved
If you have updates, either for the update post or you won’t be at the meeting, post them in comments here. And don’t forget to weigh in on some of the ongoing comment discussions on this blog. Thanks!
Once upon a time, when there weren’t as many people attending them, WordCamps had lots of different formats, and lengths, and styles. I remember a WordCamp in Australia about 5 years ago that had 75 people in one room and that was it, and it was amazing. These days, they tend to follow certain patterns based on expectations that organizers have based on the events they’ve attended, which have been getting bigger and more homogenous — these days many people don’t even consider 75 people a WordCamp, which is a terrible shame. It’s kind of a vicious circle.*
So now there seems to be a prevailing trend that folks think it’s not a WordCamp unless it has hundreds of people, multiple tracks of content to appeal to both bloggers/end-users and developers/industry professionals (plus other segments), elaborate catering, fancy name badges, brand name speakers, a high-end venue (this is often tied to the hundreds of people part), and any number of other trappings that have become the norm. Being responsible for a massive event like this can be fun and amazing, but it’s not what everyone wants to do. Those giant events also aren’t necessarily the ones that tend to enable the most personal connections and community growth (because they are so overwhelming), so how do we empower enthusiastic community members who want to organize more narrowly-focused events that fall somewhere between the 2-hour meetup and the full-on something-for-everyone WordCamp?
A couple of options:
- Call them all WordCamps, no matter the focus. Run WordCamps with more specific programs, and use modifiers on the WordCamp name, like they did at the Toronto Dev WC, or any of the WC Real Estate or WC Higher Ed events. Pros: One name to rule them all, and we don’t have to change any policies or infrastructure. Cons: The names are kind of clunky, there might be resentful people who aren’t getting “a WordCamp” in their city that matches their interests, and overcoming the existing perception the WCs must be all things to all people is hard.
- Call them different things within the WC program. “Hackathon Weekend: a WordCamp Event,” for example, where “A WordCamp Event” can get different visual treatment and placement as needed. Pros: Infinitely scalable, event names can be very descriptive, people can organize the exact kind of event they want, the “Upcoming WordCamps” page would be more interesting, and it gives a clear indication that something is an officially approved/sponsored event. Cons: Would anyone still do big something-for-everyone WordCamps, since the smaller/more focused events tend to be easier and more fun to put together?
- Add a few more specific event types to the roster. Keep WordCamps as they are, don’t slap the WordCamp label on anything else, just start facilitating more event types that have their own names/segments of the program.
Eventually, as more meetups open up to allow all members to create events, this may wind up being redundant, but in the meantime, let’s figure out how to support more events without forcing everyone to do the same kind of content. For example, the contributor day event that @siobhan posted about earlier today sounds very similar to the contributor-focused WordCamp that I’m talking to some people about doing in Portland. What’s the difference? Is it just a name?
I like the idea of being able to support more official events (not that every event has to be official; people can still do unofficial events whenever they like), and I like the idea of using WordCamp as a banner under which they can live to denote the official status rather than only the name of one event. So I am leaning toward #2 on the list above as a way to integrate more events into the program. What do you all think?
Here are some of the event types that have come up so far based on actual events, queries, and/or ideas:
WordCamp (all-purpose WP conference), unconference, hackathon, workshop/training, Q&A/help desk, workalong, charity build, brown bag lunch, potluck screening (wp tv videos, meetup presentations from afar, etc), lecture series (like many meetups now), social meetup, flash talks/ignite, contributor day/drive/weekend, retreat, coworking, developer conference, blogger conference, community summit, [your idea here].
What other event types can you think of that it would be good for us to support? And how do you think we can best deal with the issues identified above around the word “WordCamp” carrying so much baggage when it comes to more specific events? Your thoughts in the comments, and we can discuss at the team meeting on Thursday.
*For example, the one I organized in NYC in 2009 set a bar (look at this awesome-yet-ridiculous schedule) that a bunch of organizers in other cities (who’d attended NYC) tried to meet or even outdo, and then the people who attended those events (Boston, Phoenix, etc) tried to match them, and so on.
Meetup groups are locally-organized groups that get together for face-to-face events on a regular basis (commonly once a month). Anything that brings together 2 or more people to share their WordPress experiences counts — there’s no minimum number of attendees or required format. These events (commonly referred to as meetups, which can be confusing since people often use the same word to describe the group itself) take many formats: presentations/lecture series, hackathons, social gatherings, workshops, coworking, running a WordPress help desk, contributor sprints/drives, and others.
For groups that are hosted on meetup.com, there is an official WordPress account. WordPress meetup groups that are part of this account receive certain benefits, including having the meetup.com dues paid by the WordPress Foundation. Having a meetup group on this account does require following a few good-faith rules that were created by a group of volunteer meetup organizers:
- WordPress Meetups are for the benefit of the WordPress community as a whole, not specific businesses or individuals. All actions taken as an event organizer are with the best interest of the community in mind.
- Membership in the local meetup group is open to all who wish to join, regardless of ability, skill, financial status or any other criteria.
- Meetups are volunteer-run with volunteer speakers. In cases where a modest attendance fee might be necessary, this fee should only cover the costs of the meetup and shouldn’t be used to pay speakers or organizers.
- Meetup groups allow events to be organized by any reliable/trusted member of the community.
- Meetups are welcoming places where everyone works to foster an accepting environment which is free of discrimination, incitement to violence, promotion of hate, and general jerk-like behavior.
Starting a New Meetup.com Group
If there is not a meetup group in your city but you would like to start one, fill out our meetup interest form and we can set up a new group for your city and make you the first organizer. If you have a group already but are not using meetup.com and you’d like to, use the same form, but make sure to include the URL for your existing group’s online presence (Facebook, independent site, etc).
Adding an Existing Meetup.com Group
Meetups were happening long before we had a structure like the Foundation in place to cover costs. Now that we are able to facilitate things, it means organizers don’t have to pay hundreds of dollars a year in hosting fees, and that groups can be more open for community participation since the “owner” doesn’t have to worry about their reputation being affected by the actions of others in the group.
When an existing meetup.com group joins the central account, these are the things that happen:
- The WordPress Foundation takes over payment of meetup.com dues and is listed as the primary group organizer. The original owner is listed as co-organizer, as are any existing co-organizers. WordPress now “owns” the meetup.com account, and everyone running events is on equal footing.
- Organizers do not lose access to the group tools on meetup.com.
- The group name and URL do not change.
- The design of your site does not change (unless you are using a “fauxgo” or misspelling WordPress, in which case we’d ask you to fix that).
- Organizers will now be included in a monthly communication that connects them to the WordPress project and to other meetup organizers (how much or little you choose to get involved is up to you).
- A survey will be sent to all members of the group to gather feedback. Results will be shared and discussed so that if there’s something we can do to facilitate more activity/happier members, we can work together to figure out what that might be.
- Videos of presentations (or tutorials, or etc) from your meetup group will have streamlined access to publication on wordpress.tv.
- We’ll send you some WordPress swag to kick things off if you don’t have any kicking around from a recent WordCamp.
- In 2014, we’re working on covering costs such as venue rentals when donated space can’t be found, and will be working with meetup organizers to determine what costs and/or supplies could be provided by the central account to make organizing events easier.
- If you currently require people to submit an application to join your group, we ask that you remove that requirement. WordPress meetup groups are open to all who are interested. You can still ask those questions on the regular “join this meetup” form.
- We ask that any member of the group be allowed to organize events (this is a setting in group tools) rather than the organizers acting as gatekeepers. If someone wants to organize a Saturday morning WordPress coffee shop get-together that only 5 people attend and you want to organize a more formal presentation for 80 people, both of those are valued by us. The more people getting together and connecting to talk about WordPress, the better, and having only a few people organize events automatically limits their number and scope. It’s definitely a change — it goes from “This is my group” to “This is a community group I’m a leader in” and we won’t lie, it does require a shift in thinking for groups that have only allowed one or two people to organize events. That said, that shift — for WP meetups to be community groups where everyone can organize events without gatekeepers — is what we’re going for. So you’d be responsible for focus and consistency in your own event series, but not for others (though hopefully anyone choosing to organize would talk with other organizers and learn from their experiences).
That’s about it! Oh, and follow the 5 good-faith rules mentioned at the beginning. If you have a problem with one of them, we should talk about it.
To request that your existing group join the central account, use the same meetup interest form. Say “yes” when it asks if there is an existing group and provide the URL.
Here’s to a great 2014!
- 10 of the existing meetup groups that we invited to join the central account haven’t responded to the meetup.com opt-in email yet. Have contacted them again to make sure they got the emails, will have meetup.com re-send as needed.
- Rolled in another 8 new groups.
- 12 pending groups that are either complicated (competing groups) or new without enough information.
- Billing cycle for next quarter coming up, we’ll be paying for a total of 100 groups for the Jan-Mar period.
- Planning to send a year-end email to all organizers on the central account to get input into a plan for the meetups program in the coming year (monthly newsletters from central, speaker matchups, etc).
Meetup.com transfers! These applications to join the central account have been getting done in batches each week based on their various statuses. I’ll start posting weekly updates on this program, and will tap someone else to take point on transfers/new setups in the nearish future.
- 18 existing groups: Submitted to meetup.com for immediate transfer on account owner confirmation.
- 9 “complicated” existing groups (inactive, wanting to compete with an existing group, owner isn’t the one who applied, etc): Emailed applicants and/or owners for more info before proceeding
- 2 new groups: Created new meetup groups in areas where one did not already exist, applicant seemed to know what they were doing, and they included all the necessary information in the application form.
- 6 “pending” new groups: Emailed the organizer applicants to get more info or make sure they knew what they were signing up for, but ready to set up on response based on what we know so far.
- 17 “complicated” new groups: Still researching the situation in the area and/or the applicant, will reply this week as situation is understood.
With this round, we’ll be hitting the 80 groups we currently have room for on the central account, so in the Jan-Mar invoicing cycle, I’ve upped the count to 100 to allow for more new meetups in the coming quarter (we only get to change the number of groups on our account once per quarter due to billing).
I’m ready to train a couple of volunteers on responding to the meetup applications to help speed up the process. Interested? Required qualifications:
- Experience running a WordPress meetup
- In good standing with the community
- Available to work on this around 1-2 hours a week
- Able to communicate it English, but international folks welcome
Leave a comment if this sounds like something you’d want to help with. For that matter, these are the same qualifications that will be desired for helping with overall meetup program management (creating starter packs, etc), so if you’re interested in another area of meetups, post in the comments. Thanks!
Mark Smallman, WordPress › Community Group Update Dec 20 « Make.WordPress.Org Updates, Deborah Edwards-Onoro, and 1 other are discussing. Toggle Comments