Meetup Everywhere is closing - what do we do?


#1

Meetup everywhere is closing down on 1 Dec and we currently have >2500 members connected to local groups there. We can move max 3 groups to meetup.com for free or pay a lot of money to move them all, this isn’t really a viable option. We probably need to do 3 things to deal with this change:

  1. Scrape what we can (within reason/our means)
  2. Get our LGs and WGs who use the platform to establish contact with their local members and make connections outside the Meetup Everywhere platform (email etc.), so that we could potentially connect with them after Dec 1.
  3. Consult the broader community to gauge whether we should try to establish a similar centralized platform (either Meetup or elsewhere) and what tools might be useful for that purpose going forward.

Further notes from me on each of these below - please comment if you have more info, comments, suggestions or can help out with the transition:

Who is the founder of our meetup everywhere? They should be able to scrape all the members and their email addresses where provided using the meetup API (or at least provide authentication details to someone to do so):
http://www.meetup.com/meetup_api/docs/2/members/

I think we contact the LGs and WGs but maybe manually go through each meetup group and post a message/meetup to notify everyone if we can? Happy to help with this - at the very least we can just signpost members to the local mailing list. Expecting all local group leads to mobilise on this in the next few days might be a bit ambitious. There are 132 groups but only 20-30 have double digits of members. There should be some way as a founder to message all groups but I can’t find it…

This has been discussed as part of the Open Knowledge Directory hangouts, there are plans to incorporate events into the directory and make this compatible with the user editable Open Tech Calendar run by James Baster (who has a discuss.okfn.org account and will definitely be responsive to this topic). His calendar is open source and all about open data. Open Knowledge Scotland and a bunch of open tech groups already use it:
Web platform: https://opentechcalendar.co.uk/
Code: http://ican.openacalendar.org/
Organisation hosting: http://ican.hasacalendar.co.uk/
It might be a viable alternative to meetup so interested to see how people respond here.


#2

I want to emphasize that the Directory’s compatible implementation of RVSPs on events will follow decentral IndieWeb patterns where many other implementations exist already and an ecosystem can be supported. (If you follow that link, pressing Esc will reveal a wall of slides with many shutdown stories like the one above.)

One rising star right now is Known, the Discourse of IndieWeb so to say, and also quickly deployable with Docker, another of these shooting stars.

It seems we have to get used to pluricentral usage patterns:

If not only this authentication problem remained unsolved.


#3

Suggestion from Christophe Guéret:

Some days ago I stumbled upon http://www.agrivivo.net/ and found it a great way to maintain a list of people/events/projects…
This portal uses VIVO. It’s a tool that publishes machine readable data as well as a nice looking website. Maybe worth putting down on your list of alternatives to consider ?


#4

Update on action plans:

Firstly, we can extract the member information from the Meetup Everywhere site and are planning to scrape everything over the weekend so it is preserved. This will include emails where people have agreed to allow them to be seen by meeting organisers so we can inform of changes. Unfortunately meetup.com have offered little assistance in extracting and transferring data and have been difficult to get in touch with but we can get most data from the API.

There are then a few options:

  • Transfer directly across to meetup.com - this costs $15 per month (or $100 per 10 groups) and due to the number of groups (at least 40) this is not something we can fund centrally, Meetup Everywhere was free so there isn’t currently a budget for this. We can help any local groups who want to fund there own meetup.com group to transfer across.
  • There are some other meeting sites e.g. https://www.eventbrite.com/ which are free if your event is free and would be worth considering.
  • We are looking into hosting a community curated events site but have not had sufficient time to set this up yet. If local groups have access to a server and a friendly sysadmin there are some options for self-hosted events/calendar software e.g. https://github.com/openacalendar or platforms like VIVO.

We recognise all of these options require action from members and that usually means losing a few people but even meetup.com have not given an easy way to transfer groups across to the main site and we obviously can’t automatically transfer members details onto different sites so they will need to sign up.

If anyone has further concerns, requests or suggestions then get in touch!

Jenny


#5

Why not simply deploy a Wordpress site with Events Manager plugin? http://wp-events-plugin.com/

We can configure the website so that people can tag things based on the community, and also you can setup RSVP and stuff. I think this would be the easiest and best approach.

Just to add one more thing to the list of tools: https://github.com/calagator/calagator (A calendar aggregator, very useful too, but not in this case because here the main idea is to provide simple service for all Open Knowledge local organizations to meet and coordinate, one WordPress site would address that.)


#6

Hello, I’ve only just seen this post, sorry!

So the OpenACalendar software as it already stands would provide a good platform for listing OKFN events including in different timezones. Many users from different local groups can edit safely to add or import events. There are many Open Data feeds which would allow local groups to reuse the events data in ways they seem fit*, and there are various ways for individual users to get alerts of events that interest them. Our platform is tailored for a large group of people working together to list events like a wiki, and I think this current use case could work really well.

What it doesn’t currently do is membership lists or tickets for events; both of these have been deliberate design decisions. We can link out to Eventbrite and other places for these features - each local group could pick different providers based on local preference, which is maybe a strength.

I’m talking to Jenny more about the different options in a few days, and happy to answer any questions here about this.

Thanks,
James

( * OKFN Scotland use the data for this page http://scot.okfn.org/upcoming-events/ The main community using this software is the UK tech community, at http://opentechcalendar.co.uk/ )


#7

I don’t think that we should be using sites likes Eventbrite, because why we would lock ourselves again into some proprietary system? We would give information who is coming and attending our meetings to somebody to use and reuse that data at will. Sorry, but that is a bad suggestion.

I think there are two questions here:

  • a site where one can see all events which are happening in the OK space
  • a site which one can use to help make the local events possible

I think that OpenACalendar is more suitable for the first thing. But with discontinuation of Meetup, we need the second thing. How can people coordinate organization of the events, see how is coming there, learn more about them, send messages and announce changes, locations, and so on. Meetup was not jut a calendar.

OpenACalendar could be more suitable for Open Science Calendar

Of course all this things should work together. Events made through second thing should appear automatically in the first thing.


#8

Hi Mitar

For clarity, I wasn’t suggesting we all use eventbrite, I copied those suggestions across from an email to one local group who are actively using Meetup Everywhere and therefore need an alternative now.
I also think it would be good to avoid lock-in but each of the local groups can choose what works best for them e.g. several already have a meetup.com account, particularly if meetup is very popular in their locality (Meetup Everywhere was not linked to the main meetup website so several groups stopped using it already in favour of reaching a wider audience).

You’ve got it spot on with the two functions that would be useful, aggregating open knowledge events and providing an events management system for the local groups. The aggregator is useful because not everyone will want to use a system we provide and the groups are already spread across several services, so even with Meetup Everywhere there was no way of seeing what is happening across the network.

Thanks very much for the WP plugin suggestion, that seems like a good idea and I will raise it at the network team meeting tomorrow. Unless someone has a better suggestion, we can raise a ticket with the Open Knowledge sysadmins to look at deploying it on the blogfarm, which all runs on WP.

Jenny


#9

For clarity, I also wasn’t suggesting that every local group should use eventbrite. Some groups may want a strict ticketing system in which case there are several options, but I’m also in several meetups that don’t issue tickets at all (ie “just turn up, no ticket required”) for whom things like eventbrite would be very unwelcome, whether closed source or open source.

For local groups, they may prefer different tools for running different functions, and I hope that’s where the aggregrator approach works well, as it gives them freedom to pick.

Short post, must run, sorry! Talk soon.


#10

Hi everyone.

One thought right now is that we could focus on Jenny’s suggestion #1 given the impending shut-down and possibly loss of data:

“1. Scrape what we can (within reason/our means)”

Once we’ve done that we can come to the question of what new platform we use (and whether it is one for everyone, or different ones for different people etc etc).

I also wonder whether it is worth us emailing meetup support staff and asking for a data dump.

Rufus


#11

Neal tried this and got no useful response, but I’m happy to try again now.

I’ve just got a list of our groups and can extract the details of previous events through the API, but no luck with members so far, the documentation suggests the same call works for Everywhere and meetup.com but it doesn’t seem to, I’m currently digging through the API developer forum to see if anyone has advice.

Jenny


#12

Email sent to meetup.com in case they can provide a more complete dump, but I now have a json list of all our groups, followers and previous events.

Update: Meetup say no, they cannot provide any data for us, but helpfully suggest we can email our members (which we did a few days ago).

Jenny


#13

Jenny: did we get email addresses via the scrape?


#14

No, that was not possible via the API and I asked meetup but their support team said no. I do have names and Meetup IDs so I think we can message every group l via the Meetup API when suitable solutions are found.

So far:

  • At least one group has chosen to move to the main meetup.com platform using their local group fund and they have been supplied with the relevant data from Meetup Everywhere.
  • Mitar suggested the Events Manager plug-in, I would be supportive of this but I’m currently reviewing some others and thinking about integration with other community tools. I suspect the conclusion will be that Events Manager is the best as it includes things like frontend event submission as standard and most others require an add-on for this.

I will email the local-coord list again this week to confirm that I have the data if they need it and ask if they think the plugin would be a good solution for their needs.

If feedback is positive I’ll log a sysadmin request in January to install on the local group sites that have requested it.


#15

Nice App links above!

For this decision I propose to especially consider how to federate users and RSVPs between locally deployed instances. In the medium term this is tangent to the activities around a Federation of Directories, may it be OpenTechCalendar or others which are possibly webmention-RSVP-capable and beyond.