What the Meetup?

Attendees: Aaron Jorbin – Notes, Sara Cannon – Leader, Erica Varlese, Lisa Sabin Wilson, Ryan Duff, Ryan Imal, Brandon Dove, Dre Armeda, Michael Torbert, Jane Wells, Andrea Middleton, Remkus

Brief Chat about the different Meetup Groups Present:

Sara Cannon – WordPress Birmingham Meetup, WordCamp Birmingham
Although the WordCamp is large, the meetup group is tiny. 12 regular ~30 – over 300 for WordCamp (destination conference in the south: people travel) Wants to learn how to expand and have good programming

Brandon Dove – WordCamp Orange County, OC WP Meetup
Active contributor – virtual and in person meetup – 2 meetups a month (1 dev, 1 user) – active members 150 – regularly 40-50 people. Their events are live streamed, have different people and interests, and is free, not run through the Foundation / Meetup.com. They use a private Facebook group (must be accepted and verified) and have found that people are more active in conversation on Facebook is better then in person. Anyone that asks gets answers quickly. In Brazil – private Facebook is more active for support than forums.

Ryan Duff – Harrisburg PA Meetup
The area has a lot of back and forth & can’t get any traction. There is one meetup group in the area that does well becouse it moves it around. The area that the airport serves is 6-8 cities each with their own identity. People won’t get in the car and go far if there is weather – he sometimes has problems getting anyone to come. He knows there are WordPress users in the area: but might only get 5 maybes: people can’t commit. He uses meetup.com – but believes geography is the biggest challenge & persistance is the problem.

Aaron Jorbin – One of the organizers of the DC meetup.
DC has about 1,100 members who meet once a month with between 70 and 100 people at all meetups. Occasionally they partner with the PHP group. They made the decision to be a user group, so keeps it pretty user-centric. If it’s something that’s more dev-centric they partner with the PHP group rather than fill their meetups with it. There is not yet a WordCamp, but they do host an annual open source barbecue.

Ryan Imel – Fort Wayne Meetup
Fort Wayne is similar to Birmingham – 10 to 15 people that regularly come – He’s been working on getting more organizers and that has been great for the group.

Lisa Sabin Wilson – Milwaukee Meetup, former 2x WC Chicago organizer
They host about 25 to 30 people. Milwaukee used to be a very Drupal city, but now it is getting more diverse – tehy have 4-5 organizers and around ~100 people at the WordCamp. WordPress is getting bigger and bigger each year.

Erica Varlese – NYC – not an organizer but interested in helping more.
NYC has diverse topics and is large and can be overwhelming. When they had the large WordCamp in 2009 – it was big and helped really grow the community.

Michael Torbert, Raleigh Meetup & WC Organizer
They use Meetup.com. They have 600 in the online meetup group roster: but 1/2 never have been.  Between 30 to 40 people will attend each meetup. When Jane was there it was very popular and they had to turn people away because the venue was too small. They usually have 2 meetups a month. One is classroom “teaching” oriented and the other is at the semper fi lounge and is networking oriented.

Dre Armeda – WordCamp San Diego
He is starting a group in Riverside since he moved inland – So Cal is popular and there are many meetup groups going on there.

Andrea Middleton – Portland
She doesn’t lead the meetup, but helps with organizing WordCamp – not very active in meetup (time/day of meetups).

Jane Wells – Tybee Island, these are her people
Before coming to Tybee: She was in NYC  and before that in SF – She organized WordCamp Savannah. There was no Savannah meetup group. She talked to group about hosting it, and then after a year just said screw it and started one Meetup.com and got 15, then 30, then 45. At the same time she started a  meetup group on Tybee, with about the same number of people at each. The first one had 12 people show up (tybee), 8 or 9 (Savannah). The first meetup was about what the meetup should be: they decided to have multiple types of meetups: 1 night, no presentations, just coworking. They wanted to grow the people doing stuff and not just be people showing up to learn. They also have one at lunch time and demo what they are doing or watch a wordpress.tv video and then talk about it. The WordCamp really inspired people in Savannah, that is how most people learned about WordPress.

Discussion:

  • Meetup.com helps with publicity and drawing a larger untapped audience in some areas
  • Sandwich boards outside helped bring people in.
  • Putting up signs just helped bring people in.
  • Outside the US/Canada primarily doesn’t use meetup.com, they use FaceBook.
  • Centralizing the events will help know what else is going on.

We have a resource for WordCamps, we don’t have resources for meetups. Want to bring more stuff over to WordPress.org and make it more visible. Surface Meetups on WordPress.org so if we know your zip code, we can show on the page when the next meetup in your area is.

One challenge of being a very successful meetup is the need to divide things up. If there are 800 people, you are basically cattle moving between rooms. 300 is the highest comfortable size for a WC. Multiple WordCamps in a year.

Challenge: What are we going to talk about at the meetup? What kind of programming do we need to have? One answer is to Skype in a group to talk about the things that you don’t know. Have a pre-recorded presentation and a google hangout.

In one meetup, when it started there were 3 presenters — they were the experts. All of the attendees are presenting regularly: but some are not as experienced as others, so sometimes there are issues with consistency of quality. Challenge: Getting locals over the fear of public speaking, upping the quality of presentations.

There should be a good ratio of local and non-local speakers. If someone is not an expert, but they have the time to give the presentation, w can get them in touch with people who have given similar presentations for help.

Challenge: Some leaders are not well versed in teaching new, new, new people how to use WordPress. Are there resources or ways to teach that? We need to share curriculum. Or have a “WordSchool” focused on teaching new people. Or just suggestions for WordPress news to share each month: A sales flyer.

Challenge: Not everyone pays attention to trac, so we need to educate our groups on core development. Meetups gives people an avenue to talking about new core features.

Two great Meetup Ideas from DC: 1) “My favorite plugin” lightening talk. 2) Upgrade-a-thon!

ACTION ITEM: make.wordpress.org/events – get organizers to start writing best Meetup practices.

#education, #meetup, #wordpress-meetup-groups