Meetup.com: Yet Another Disappointing Update

A Typical MeetingI’m a member of a writing group that uses Meetup to promote our group and organize our meetings. I have come to the general conclusion that the folks at Meetup are totally clueless about the business they’re in.

Despite the fact that people are paying to promote and manage their groups on Meetup, the company seems determined to take away existing features and continually devolve the product into something of use only to photo-sharing teenagers (for which there are probably also better sites).

Last year, they took away the Files feature. So, you can run your meetings, but you can’t share things like hand-outs, agendas, course materials, etc. As a writing group, we shared chapters weekly to be critiqued, a capability that they took away. When I complained, their answer was 1) they felt other sites like Google Drive did filesharing better, and 2) most of their customers were using Meetup on their phones. So, you can’t share files, but, hey, you can share photos.

Thanks to this feature removal, our members have to join Meetup. And then they have to join Google. And then we have to do extra work to set up access for new members so we can share files with them. No more one-stop shopping. More headaches, and more work, for the organizers. And each group on Meetup that has this same problem, has to figure out how to solve it themselves.

In their latest update, Meetup is rolling out a new user interface. Well, really, they’ve unified their codebase so the same interface is being used for both their web presence and smartphones. Theoretically, they get a single more maintainable user interface, and paying customers get:

  • An inconsistent interface, with different parts of the site in varying stages of makeover.
  • An airy design that uses screen real estate inefficiently and makes features harder to get to for web users.
  • Out of sync information between screens. For example, while on a Meeting page, if you click “Attend” and then go to the All Meetings page, the attendance numbers will be out of sync. Are you scheduled to attend or not? This is important…our writing group meetings have a cap on attendance.
  • An invalid count of the number of meetings attended (for some users). This has been a reported bug now for a year; still not fixed.

I could go on with my list. As an IT worker (in my day job), I consider it a half-assed, unprofessional update that adds nothing for paying users. It’s a shockingly bad release for a company that has seventy or so people.

All I’ve got to say is…we’re actively looking at alternatives. Facebook might be a viable alternative for us, and they’re free, too.

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