Monday, August 02, 2010

Meetup - A group administrator review

Meetup is ancient history in the world of the social net; it was founded in 2001. It's free to join, but running a group costs money.

I've administered a Meetup group on behalf of the Minnesota Inline Skate Club for the past six weeks or so, enough to share a bit about what I learned.

The first thing to note is that Meetup fails test #1 of Gordon's Laws for software and service use ...
  1. Is it obvious how to delete your account and all services?
No, it's not obvious how to delete a group. It's not in the online help, and the Google references date to 2007. This is not a good sign. The miniscule wikipedia page is another not so good sighn

Except for this deletion Fail, the site has a reasonable set of services for running an organization including basic financial services. It's designed to be an outsourcing solution, not a complement to an existing club or organization web site. The communications focus is very email centric, but many list items do have feeds. I was able to subscribe to to the event calendar in Google Calendar, and to further share it from there. Updates propagated reasonably quickly to Google.

Our second biggest problem with the site was the location feature. We needed a simple Google Calendar style location description, but Meetup has an over-engineered location approach that's probably designed for a Meetup business case.

Our biggest problem with the site was that it didn't work. We got several inquiries, but no new attendees. Most of the inquiries we received were from people who'd skated long ago, and were half-heartedly considering resuming. It didn't feel like a very dynamic audience.

Although Meetup didn't work out as a way for our club to recruit new members, I could see it working well as an outsourced web solution for an active club that was recruiting elsewhere. Of course given the violation of a cardinal rule of Gordon's Laws for Software Services, I wouldn't spend my own money on Meetup.

Update 8/5/10:

Although I still don't see how to delete a group, this is what I did:
  1. Went to my personal account page and canceled my subscription. Turns out when you pay for six months of service you're actually subscribing with regular renewal. Sneaky. This won't cancel the service though, it just stops the renewal.
  2. I tried canceling a repeating meeting. This isn't easy, I ran into several issues then a server error. Turns out you cancel one instance, then you get the opportunity to cancel all following.
  3. I closed the group to new members
  4. I sent all members a notice that we'd closed the group and I changed the intro page to say that.
I assume it will go away when our next payment is due.

Update 1/27/11: This is interesting. A good reason, by itself, to avoid Meetup.

As noted previously Meetup doesn't provide any way to delete a group. I thought the group would go away. Instead it was assumed by a former member, who started a new group with a different name -- and acquired all the prior members. That's intriguing!

In this case the person who's running the new group is well intentioned; I'm not in a rush to leave the group. This must all come as a bit of a surprise to the former members however.

This policy is reason enough to avoid Meetup.

My Google Reader Shared items (feed)

No comments: