Mutiny Erupts on Meetup

There is a revolution brewing out there in the nether world of online connection and it’s taking place in that once peaceful and proficient domain called  Meetup, the largest network of online clubs and community groups, is finding itself at the center of a customer firestorm over its sudden and unannounced changes to its website functionality.

Meetup, a long time go-to place to create local online groups, has undergone a major re-launch in the past day. However, it may have missed a trick: not consulting the Meetup organizers who pay through the nose for the service. There now appears to be something of a revolt going on amongst some organisers, who are vociferously protesting about the changes.  TechCrunch

Meetup’s customers are the organizers who setup and run the sundry social and professional groups that people the Meetup website.  These are the folks who pay the fees and oversee the activities of their specific groups.  So why would the corporate honchos at Meetup headquarters bypass their customers in launching this radical redesign?

One theory floating around the internet is that Meetup is shooting to develop a flashmob hybrid of  Twitter and Facebook.  Other speculators are betting that Meetup is laying the groundwork for a more member-driven environment so as to justify garnering fees from the Meetup members as well as the organizers.

Whatever the reasoning and rationale, Meetup sure has some explaining to do, although up until now, they haven’t deigned to respond to the folks who foot the bill.  Here are some quips and comments on the New and Non-Improved Meetup from Green Tech Girl:

It’s clear from the lame attempts at casual lingo (“Count me in!” instead of “RSVP”) that Meetup is trying to go for trendy rather than functional.  I’m wondering if they have anyone on their team who is older than 30. What they don’t get is that Meetup has been used by organizations and groups who are run by and frequented by adults.

Many organizers, who have spent years nurturing their communities, feel absolutely betrayed by Meetup. And they’ve also lost trust in the company. Certainly, I would think twice about relying on Meetup at this point, simply because I can’t say for sure when they might pull the rug out yet again and totally change their functionality on a whim.

The radical changes certainly have the lesbian Meetup organizers up and arms.  And there are many Tea Party groups who run their organizations from their Meetup sites who are not happy campers.  So it should be interesting to see how this Meetup mutiny progresses.

For the currently disgruntled users of Meetup or for anyone thinking of starting a new meetup group, there are alternatives out there.  Check out BigTent and GroupSpaces.

Think it’s time to give the Meetup mob a little more competition.

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