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:

  1. 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.
  2. Membership in the local meetup group is open to all who wish to join, regardless of ability, skill, financial status or any other criteria.
  3. 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.
  4. Meetup groups allow events to be organized by any reliable/trusted member of the community.
  5. 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!