Meetup Removes Critical Feature

Meetup.comI am singularly unimpressed with the announcement today from Meetup that they are removing the File Storage capability from their web site. I belong to two writing groups, both of which are hosted on Meetup. Removing this feature makes the site virtually useless for writing groups.

With both my writing groups, a selected number of people submit documents each week at least three days before the meeting so that they can be critiqued at the meeting. Guess what? No File Storage capability means no documents to be shared. And this isn’t just my writing group…most writing groups work like this.

Oh, yes, of course, we can find someplace else to store our documents for each week’s meeting, like Dropbox or some other service. But then it’s not really INTEGRATED into the group experience, is it?

I mean, each new member will have to learn TWO systems instead of one. And we’ll have to worry separately about giving people access to our file storage solution or not, because it won’t be built into the site anymore. So, everything will be much less convenient…for EVERYBODY in each writing group.

But never fear, anybody that wants to store photos is fine because that’s apparently still cool.

Let’s think about this whole situation a little deeper. The point of Meetup is to arrange meetings. Duh. Thinking beyond writing groups, isn’t it reasonable to make meeting agendas available before a meeting? What about meeting notes after a meeting? What about class materials for people who use Meetup to organize any sort of educational sessions or seminars?

Removing this critical feature is just about the most boneheaded thing I’ve heard of a company doing, at least one that operates in the social media realm. Or, hey, let’s examine this from another perspective. You don’t hear Facebook saying: “Hey, we don’t want you to store your photos, videos or notes on our site anymore.”

Now Meetup might be a relatively small Internet startup. But there’s a LOT of meetings out there, and Meetup is a paid service. If the hosting for files is difficult, then partner with somebody that does it already. If it’s a matter of cost, charge $20 extra each year to have the File Storage capability (it could be Meetup’s second upwell option, after Meetup Pro). Put some kind of reasonable size cap on storage to prevent abuse.

If my writing groups are paying for something that doesn’t meet our needs any longer because Meetup removed a critical feature, then we have to look at alternatives. Heck, Meetup is already forcing us (with absolutely no advance notice) to figure out how we’re going to make files available to members for our next meeting. At the end of the day, here’s what Meetup needs to remember. The competition is only a click away.

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9 Comments

  1. Posted December 29, 2016 at 4:43 AM | Permalink

    One possible reason for Meetup wanting to remove the feature is that they may feel it’s too hard to support a mobile solution for the File Upload feature. Right now, I don’t believe it’s supported in Meetup app. Personally, I’ve never found the phone app to be that useful. I mean, I know when the meetings are. It’s the RSVPs and the weekly files that I need Meetup to handle.

  2. Posted December 31, 2016 at 5:11 PM | Permalink

    I sent the following message to Meetup’s support team:

    I’m not a big fan of Meetup dropping the File Storage feature. I think it’s a mistake. As a member of two writing groups, it makes the site much less useful for writing groups. We use the Files feature to circulate submissions to be critiqued each work. And, more generally, if you’re running meetings, it’s helpful to be able to distribute meeting materials. So, can you elaborate on why you would remove such a critical feature?

  3. Posted December 31, 2016 at 5:13 PM | Permalink

    Meetup’s response to my message was:

    Hi David,

    I’m sorry to hear that the recent limitation on the File Storage feature will be hindering your Meetup group.

    As Meetup continues to grow and evolve, we are working hard to ensure that we are devoting resources to the building and supporting of tools and features that have proven to have the biggest positive impact for organizers and members, including writing groups! As such, we sometimes have to make tough decisions to no longer support specific features so that we can instead focus on building a better, stronger Meetup.

    If you’d like to share files related to your Meetups, we recommend that you use another service such as Dropbox or Google Drive, both of which are free and mobile-friendly. The features that these services provide, and that Meetup Files does not, made us even more confident in our decision.

    For example, these services will allow you to share links to specific files directly in your Meetup event descriptions and messages to members. Additionally, these services will allow members to provide live online commentary on the writing without even having an account.

    We really appreciate your understanding and I’d be happy to support you in using one of these other free file services. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

    Sincerely,
    Mike B
    Community Support Specialist
    Meetup HQ

  4. Posted December 31, 2016 at 5:25 PM | Permalink

    If you take away the Files subsystem, all Meetup really does is schedule meetings, track RSVPs and have lightly threaded comments on individual meetings.

    To be fair, there are supporting features for managing your meeting’s list of users, email notifications/reminders, some charts and the generally expected user account/login features. And a Search feature so users can look for meetings.

    My point with not supporting their Files feature is that Meetup creates a bifurcated experience for their serious users, the ones who do need to share files. Now meeting organizers have to maintain access privileges for their members using another tool.

    I think this deletion weakens Meetup’s product, which opens them up for competitors.

    Let’s use Facebook as an example. They support Groups…and Events. If they beef up their offering just a tad, they can do everything that Meetup does. And on an even larger scale than Meetup.

  5. Liz Hayes
    Posted December 31, 2016 at 8:06 PM | Permalink

    Dave,

    Thanks for looking into this. Wouldn’t it be nice if the significant decrease in services were accompanied by a significant decrease in price.

    Grumble.
    Liz

  6. Liz Hayes
    Posted January 1, 2017 at 11:50 AM | Permalink

    I’ve spent my writing career studying the minds of evil characters, and I don’t understand their decision, either.

  7. Posted January 15, 2017 at 7:29 AM | Permalink

    We can always move it to Facebook!

    • Posted January 15, 2017 at 2:58 PM | Permalink

      That is a possibility. All of Meetup’s other competitors are looking a bit anemic.

      I’m also intrigued by our conversation from earlier today. It’s possible that hacking of content may be one of the reasons behind Meetup’s decision. One of the authors in our writing group had his content pirated.

  8. Posted February 4, 2017 at 10:05 AM | Permalink

    We’ve been calling this Meetup’s Christmas Surprise. Even though we’ve now adopted Google Drive for the writing group, we’re still not happy with what Meetup’s done. We no longer have an integrated solution and it costs us a lot more work to maintain the new solution.

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