We hereby declare 2012 as the Year of the WordPress Meetup. You’ll want to get in on this action.
meet·up \mēt-əp\ noun
A meeting, especially a regular meeting of people who share a particular interest and have connected with each other through a social-networking Web site: a meetup for new moms in the neighborhood; a meetup to plan the trip; a meetup for WordPress users.1
So what is a WordPress Meetup? Basically, it’s people in a community getting together — meeting up — who share an interest in WordPress, whether they be bloggers, business users, developers, consultants, or any other category of person able to say, “I use WordPress in some way and I like it, and I want to meet other people who can say the same.” Meetups come in different shapes and sizes, but they all carry the benefit of connecting you with potential collaborators and friends, and helping you learn more about what you can do with WordPress. Here are some of the common types of WordPress meetups:
- Hang out and work on your WordPress sites together
- Social/happy hour type gatherings
- Developer hacking meetups
- Show & tell of how group members are using WordPress
- Formal instruction on how to use WordPress
- Lecture series (possibly with visiting speakers)
- Genius bar/help desk
There’s no prescribed format, as each local group can decide for itself what they want to do. Some groups mix it up from month to month, while others have multiple events each month to satisfy the needs of their community.
The tough part? Running a popular group takes time and money. Just as we worked last year to remove the financial burden for WordCamp organizers and provide logistical support so they could focus more on their event content and experience, we want to start extending that kind of support to meetup groups as well. We don’t want it to cost anything for someone to run a WordPress meetup, or to attend one — building local communities should be as free as WordPress itself!
Since there are so many more meetups than there are WordCamps, we’re going to start with the cost that is the same for every group: meetup.com organizer dues. We’re setting up an official WordPress account on Meetup.com right now, and over the next couple of weeks will be working with existing meetup group organizers, people who want to start a new meetup group, and the helpful folks at Meetup.com to put this program in place. WordPress meetup groups that choose to have their group become part of the WordPress account will no longer pay organizer dues for that group, as the WordPress Foundation will be footing the bill.
This is exciting for several reasons. First, it means local organizers who are giving something back to the project by way of their time won’t also have shell out $12-19/month for the privilege. That alone is a big step. Second, it will open the door to more events and leaders within a community, since leadership and event planning won’t need to be tied to “owning” the meetup group. Third, more active meetup groups means more WordCamps, yay!
In addition to the financial aspects, we’ll be working on ways to improve social recognition of meetup activity by incorporating feeds from the official meetup groups into the WordPress.org site, and including meetup group participation in the activity stream on your WordPress.org profile.2 I’m also hoping we can do something around providing video equipment to meetup groups (like we already do for WordCamps) to record presentations and tutorials that can be posted to WordPress.tv, helping meetup groups offer WordPress classes in their community, and getting involved with mentoring WordPress clubs at local schools and universities. Oh, and we’ll send out some WordPress buttons and stickers to the groups that join in, because everyone loves buttons and stickers.
We’re also putting together some cool resources for people who want to start a new meetup group. There will be a field guide to getting started and some supplies to help you get your group going, and a forum for organizers to talk to and learn from each other.
Over time, we’ll be talking to organizers and looking at what other expenses we can absorb and what other support we can provide to local groups. For now, we’re starting with the organizer dues. If you currently run a WordPress meetup group (whether you are using Meetup.com or not) or would like to start a WordPress meetup group in your area, please fill out our WordPress Meetup Groups survey. Filling in the survey doesn’t obligate you to join the official group, it just gives us a starting point to a) find out what groups are around/interested, and b) get some information on existing groups and their expenses and needs. Meetup.com will contact the group organizers who’ve said they’d like to join the new program, and will walk them through the logistics of the change and answer questions before helping them to opt-in officially.
So, if you currently run a WordPress meetup group, or you would like to start one, please fill out our WordPress Meetup Groups survey. I can’t wait to see more meetups!
1 – Adapted from “meetup” definition at dictionary.com.
2 – Didn’t know about profiles? Check out http://profiles.wordpress.org/users/yourwordpressdotorgusernamehere (put in the username you use in the WordPress.org forums) to see yours!