My Issues With

This post is for members, organizers, and employees of If that doesn’t describe you, you can stop reading now. is a way to get away from the computer and meet people in your community. The strength of Meetup is you meet around a hobby. For me, it is primarily coffee.

Since early this year I have taken over as the organizer for the Coffee Club of Seattle, which has about 600 members. Most of the events that I can organize have a limited number of slots that range between 10 and 25. You just can’t have 600 people crashing a coffee shop at the same time. Therein lies the problem. We have far more members than slots, which means those that respond first get the slots. Those that don’t get to their email in time, never come and eventually move away from the group.

I have come up with solutions to this problem and emailed my ideas to both Meetup and the Meetup development team. I’ve received supportive responses, dismissive responses, and no responses. Here are the suggestions that I have sent to Meetup over the last year. NONE HAVE BEEN IMPLEMENTED.

  1. Sub-Groups – My group has 600 members. I need the ability to break the group into sub-groups and then send email invites to just that sub-group. Seattle is a large metro. I’d like to be able to tag members “eastside” “northside”, etc. Each group could create and set as many tags as they want. Maybe a chess group could tag members by level of play and then invite just the appropriate level. Some of the singles groups need ways to tag by age and sex.
  2. Target New Members – The strength of Meetup is finding new people. The weakness of the Email Invite is there is still no way to target new members. I want the ability to email invite new members first and then throw it open to the regulars.
  3. Exclude No-Shows – When someone RSVP’s YES and then doesn’t come, it means that slot could have been taken by someone else. If someone does this a few times, then I don’t want them to receive an invite. Meetup’s only solution is to kick them out of the group. A bit harsh. Why not have an option on the email invite to exclude those with [X] no-shows? Let the organizer set [X] based on the event.
  4. Add the Day of the Week to All Email Invites – Why this suggestion was ignored is proof Meetup doesn’t care. Every email invite looks like this: When: May 21, 2009, 7:30 PM. The first thing EVERY user then has to do is see WHAT DAY OF THE WEEK is May 21st. Every programming language has a method called to add DAY OF THE WEEK. This is the easiest fix. Add the !@#$% day of the week! When: THURSDAY, May 21, 2009, 7:30 PM.

Request #1 does require some effort. Requests #2 and #3 shouldn’t be hard to code. Request #4 could be done in 5 minutes. I’d settle for #2, #3, and #4.

Meetup does have an API, which means a programmer can build an application around their method calls. Hey, I can program. I’ve got experience coding against APIs by Yahoo!, Amazon, and a few others. Unfortunately, there is no method for sending the actual invite. I emailed the Meetup Development team requesting they expose this method and I never even got a return email.

Photo Fail Rd by fireflythegreat

Meetup is not a free service. The coffee group pays Meetup $144 a year. Facebook is a free service. I don’t want to move our group to Facebook, but if Meetup can’t be used to target new members in larger groups then it has failed its mission.

UPDATE: Request #4 was agreed to and implemented.


Add yours

  1. Michelle Koven

    May 7, 2009 — 3:42 pm

    I totally agree with number 4. I keep a calendar by my computer just for this purpose. So annoying and so easy to fix. Additionally, Facebook is starting to open up to a larger audience and has much more media attention. Meetup, get on board.

  2. Since you get 3 groups for the same price at meetup, maybe you can make the other two (Platinum and Gold?) by invitation only, each with your own criteria then cross post the same event with different allocations of open slots..Think of all the membership diversity that would enable, MAS!

    And please don’t say that this is too much work, I’m not trying to make up excuses for meetup…just providing an alternative 🙂

  3. Creating additional groups doesn’t solve the problem. I need a way to target new members. Having 3 or 30 coffee groups would change nothing. It would just annoy and confuse the existing members.

    Having a VIP invitation only group is actually easier to do on Facebook, but that is not my goal.

    Easy tweaks to the Meetup s/w could make the application so much better.

  4. Could it be that their business model and/or objectives are not the same as yours, MAS? 🙂

    Personally, I like the relative simplicity of the site since novice users can use the tools effectively as organizers to bring people together for social events.

  5. For small groups it works fine. For large groups with limited slots it doesn’t. Again, minor enhancements to the invite process would go a long way toward improving the system.

    I’ve gotten lots of positive feedback from other Seattle Meetup organizers on this. Many are as frustrated as me.

    I ended up forming a Facebook group. I’ve already got 51 members in less than 24 hours. So if Meetup decides to do nothing, I am prepared to leave.

  6. ….and I am so surprised! 😉

  7. Just received word from Meetup that they are working on #3 and the dev team will get my #4 request today. 🙂

  8. Along with a friend we have developed a website that improves on the meetup model. We have taken into account some of your frustration with meetup. Please check us out at
    We welcome feedback. [email protected]

  9. Great work, you got attention in the only way the bureaucrats and manager understand: $$’s

    I use meetup and think its a good system.
    And yes, drilling into ‘no shows’ prioritizing etc… is a problem.

    Personally I love this guys stuff he has some great ideas on user interfaces that I use in my teaching.

    his new site “stackoverflow” has some excellent ideas on how to manage and govern internet based groups.

    hope to see your changes soon

  10. Unfortunately, Meetup hasn’t done anything since this post except promise to be better. The simplicity of request #4 is proof they could care less.

    Joel is great. I also read his partner’s site Atwood’s Coding Horror.

  11. the real problem with meetup is that it’s too accessible. You see “meetup junkies” – socially awkward people who attend literally every meetup with every group that does a certain activity – let’s say hiking for example. These people will join 20s and 30s hiking, chicago hiking enthusiasts, young hikers of chicago, and attend every single meetup for these different groups. And once your group gets infiltrated by 2-3 of these weirdos, you might as well close up shop because form that point onward you’re really only going to get your meetups attended by more desperate wierdos

    that and fat chicks…seriously so many fat chicks.

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