I was going to go to bed, but then I foolishly thought to check my email, and came across an idea so stupid, and counterproductive I just know that it’ll rattle around my head making it impossible to go to sleep.  Sure I could blog about it in the morning, but I need to get this stuff out of my head now.

There is a website called that exists to bring hobbyist and other communities together.  You sign up to the groups that you are interested in, tell them where your location is, and it helps you organize real-life meetings.  I belong to a couple, and I run the London Bloggers group.  We meet up for drinks in a pub occasionally and have a chat.  All well and good.

But I got an email from them telling me that they are going to start charging the group organizers for the privilege of using the facilities on their website.  The cost (not that it matters) is either $19 or $9 per month depending on the type of group you have, and how rapidly you pay.  You can see their whole release here.

The facilities that the website offers are basically; a forum, a way to email people in your group and some tools to help you plan a place to hold your meetups.

Error number one on their part is that all this is available for free using different web-services.

The second error is that they are charging the organizers for this service.  This will drive people away – once you get people used to a free service it gets really hard to persuade them to stump up cash to continue getting the same things that they were getting for free a month ago. relies on their organizers to arrange the meetings, all the company does is provide the (non-essential) tools to make this task easier.

Their third, and fatal error is thinking that this is the best way to raise funds.  Don’t they realise that they have an easily sorted demographic for advertising?  People put themselves into groups (bloggers, knitters, soccer fans, Mac users, doll collectors) and arrange when to meet up.  Doesn’t this just scream as a way to get perfectly targeted advertisements out to people?  You could even go to the meetings to demonstrate your products, spread word of mouth and just generally get your ideas out there to a select few who know how to use information technology.  If I wanted to sell my knitting patterns, I’d target the knitting group in the marketplace that I wanted to enter.

Not that I own any knitting patterns – it’s just an example…

So, I’m going to step down as organizer, and I doubt if anyone else will be interested in paying to step into my shoes – instead tomorrow I’ll set up an email list so that those who want to continue a social grouping can do so in a free environment.  If people want a forum, I can set that up too.  I’m just off to tell the group this before quitting the group and going to sleep.  Details for the list will be up here later today.

6 thoughts on “”

  1. There's a fourth thing they provide that is less easy to come by, and that's the brand. If you want to find old schoolmates you go to, if you want to search the internet you go to, if you want to meet up with people in your area, you go to I think that's what they believe they're selling, that draw, that ability to get random new people to come along and show an interest in your group.I think you're absolutely right though, getting them to sell meetup details to corporate sponsors would be a much better way for them to make money. I suppose you could do that yourself as an organiser, go out and seek some company who's willing to come along to your meetup and pay you (free bar, mmm) for the privelidge of advertising at you. But that's just silly, why would you bother with all the hassle just to meet some new friends?

  2. TomAs it happens over the years a number of commercial web enterprises have started this way. Run something for free and then, once the takeup has shown it to be popular, add a charge. As small example is Hotmail started free but now extra storage is a chargeable add-on. Me, I pay that because I can charge it to my company and for work I often need to send large attachments when away from home. Not defending Bill / Micro$oft, just giving an example.

    Conversely Yahoo Groups would be well worth a good look as an alternative to meetup. I am a facilitator / moderator on a list there (plus a subscriber to three others). The service is used to be completely free. It is still free but they fund it by the ocasional advert (about one post in five). It works very well. Drop me a line if you want to know more.


  3. I got an e-mail this morning from a group that I belong to – they're going the route of just having a mailing list for people who are interested….It's a shame that they've decided to do this – everyone's going to lose out in the end….

  4. One thing about Yahoo; I have been in two mailing lists that were transferred to Yahoo. Every time the amount of spam I get increased significantly. So I am bit suspicious about their services.VL, Finland

  5. There is a new site called that is a free alternative. It's not as slick – there are no message boards or pictures – but it is designed to organize meetings and it is free.

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