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MeetUp Madness

As many of you know, MeetUp.com will soon be charging organizers nearly $20/month for the privilege of organizing meetings, with the expectation that they pass this cost on to their group. Since most "organizers" are probably reluctant, but do it anyway, this is just another burden. Also, they will have to pay each and every month to *try* to organize a meet, whether one happens or not.

They say that this is a good price for the service. I find this to be baloney. I pay ~$20/month to my hosting provider, and get 7680 MB of storage plus 192 GB of data transfer per month, which is definitely a better value than the dubious privilege of emailing people and begging them to RSVP for a meeting so it can be scheduled.

So, I have quit MeetUp, and remove my login from their system, lest they suddenly decide that I'm the organizer of a group and thus have to pay them money. Yes, it's a protest. Yes, I will no longer get notified of the MeetUps in my area (I only was subscribed to 4). But I really can't bring myself to be a part of something which dumps the organizing responsibility on a volunteer, and then expects the volunteer to front the money for the privilege. I won't be part of the process of screwing over a volunteer that way, regardless of how they say that the person can recover the cost.

Knee jerk? Maybe. But it really, really seems like an abusive situation to me, and I don't want to be part of it.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
raindrops
Apr. 14th, 2005 08:48 pm (UTC)
Of course, there's nothing stopping anyone from starting their own comparable service. Technologically, it's just a basic web app... a no-brainer open source project could easily provide that part.

A little networking (the social kind) could build a confederation of regional and local users of said web app to accomplish the same thing as MeetUp.

But, you've probably already figured that one out. ;-)
ravan
Apr. 14th, 2005 09:37 pm (UTC)
If I were going to do it, I would try to talk to Craig Newmark (craigslist), and get it linked off of his regional pages. F2F meetings are regional/local, and craigslist would be an ideal locus to link it to.

The software would probably be LAMP, and not rocket science to write, but I don't know how much the hosting bandwidth would add up to.
raindrops
Apr. 14th, 2005 09:48 pm (UTC)
That was exactly what I was thinking... no, seriously. Before I posted my comment, I did a quick check on the main craigslist page to see if there wasn't already something like it that I had missed. GMTA.

The bandwidth is the main issue, which is why I was thinking a set of regional hosts rather than one central host. Spread the cost, and also reduce bandwidth per host, thereby reducing the cash hit on each node operator (of course, that sounds a lot like what MeetUp is trying to sell, doesn't it? except, it would be an expected expense, not a surprise).
ravan
Apr. 14th, 2005 10:07 pm (UTC)
Hmmmm. It's possible the bandwidth hit could be trimmed too, if it's done like a P2P type of thing. Say multiple people have a subdomain "link.foo.com" and "link.bar.com". Users have addresses that forward, like ravan@link.foo.com, and that is the registered user. Meetings would be scheduled on a given local server, and the various regional websites would link to the meeting.

Unfortunately, I'm not familiar enough with P2P stuff to code it, but... mdlbear? Is this doable easily?
mdlbear
Apr. 15th, 2005 04:08 am (UTC)
Short answer: yes.

It wouldn't really be P2P; more like local mirroring except that, if you did it by region, you wouldn't even have to mirror very much. Sort of like what CPAN and CTAN do, or SourceForge's download mirrors.

Basically you'd have a single main site, www.example.com, that everybody goes to first. That would let them pick a region of interest and redirect them to, say, sfba.example.com or nyc.example.com, both of which would be CNAME aliases for whoever was volunteering bandwidth in that area. Big population centers like the NYC or SF Bay Area would probably have to be further subdivided, perhaps by interest.

Login cookies would be valid across the entire domain, so users would only have to register in one place; the registration database and user profiles are the only things you'd have to replicate across the entire domain. (Actually, if every user has a home region, you'd only have to replicate names, passwords, and regions. Piece of cake.)

You'd do "backups" by replicating each region's information on only a small number of "buddy" sites, probably using rsync. I like to use flat files for everything, with a short file for every entry, because directory updates are atomic. You'd then use something like blosxom or nanoblogger to (statically) roll up RSS feeds, "what's new" lists, and so on.

Can you tell I've thought about this kind of thing?
kshandra
Apr. 14th, 2005 09:30 pm (UTC)
I'll be linking to this - you've summed it up beautifully.
lysana
Apr. 14th, 2005 10:20 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't call this very paranoid of you (though I admit I think the scenario you paint is unlikely if they wrote their code correctly). I think I need to make sure of my setup there and do the same. Just to demonstrate that the charge structure's a bit silly. I confess I'd been wondering when they were going to bring out the stick the carrot of free networking was hanging off of.
treecat
Apr. 14th, 2005 11:58 pm (UTC)
$20/month per meetup is way more than bandwidth charges and will insure many fewer meetups. Only one of the ones I've tried to go to ever had anyone there, why pay someone $20/mo for that?

You're right that programming the basics of similar service would not be hard.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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