Wednesday, 30 March 2011


Since I'm about to leave Nice and relocate to London, I've been joining a few social groups there to try and make some contacts in advance; I may have been born in the city, but I haven't actually lived in the place for almost 20 years, and most of my friends are now scattered around the globe.

This is standard practice, in my experience.  People would often join the groups I was running here in Nice to say they'd be around in a couple of months, just wanting to say hi before they arrived. They'd always get a warm welcome and as much information as they wanted.

So it was with some surprise that I received the following round robin email from the organizer of a discussion group to which I'd subscribed:-

We are a Meetup group not Facebook and as such there is a need for members take part on a regular basis. To avoid a poor attendance turn out I will be removing and banning one inactive member every month. So one member every month who makes no effort to attend Meetups will be removed and banned for at least a year. This person will be chosen randomly. Don't let it be you!

Oh.  OK then.

I immediately penned a quick missive explaining my situation. (I'd already responded to the general request for information about where there were interesting talks taking place, mentioning a favourite place of mine I used to frequent to hear a variety of entertaining and erudite speakers).  I asked if I should resign from the group until such time as I was actually living in London.

It took four days for a reply to be forthcoming.  The organizer told me that leaving the group in order to re-join it was not necessary, and now that she knew what was going on, she would put a special marker alongside my profile.  

However, a few days later, this arrived in my inbox:-

Thank you for your comments Clive. We had a great night with Inherit The Wind! Brilliant film and introduction at the beginning. It was very thought provoking and for it's time very modern! Also extremely funny! It was a comedy dealing with serious issues! 

On the down side I'm surprised there were three No Shows considering the house rules. I emailed my number, wore my badge, was early, saved seats! No text or phone calls from these members and yet members can't see how inconsiderate this is to the Organiser?? Also the one member apart from Clive, who did attend didn't join us afterwards. I'm not sure why. They had my number. We would have been glad to discuss the film with them afterwards as we had a really good discussion in the pub afterwards about the film, life, everything! We laughed a lot too! 

Well it seems there's a need for more house rules.

Members can RSVP Yes and either change it to No or not show up once only. If this is done twice they will be unable to RSVP for any Meetups for three months following. This is now apart from one inactive member being removed and banned for at least a year every month. I am able to check through the site members RSVPs. This is so that members take their RSVPs seriously. 

Consider that myself and Clive were the only people that met up last night. Clive joined this group to meet other people to attend talks with. He could just aswell have contacted UCL himself and gone along alone happily. However he joined this group so he could attend talks with other people. Three of whom didn't turn up last night and whom I've still heard no word from. This is acceptable behaviour in Meetup groups with several hundred members where the Organiser wouldn't notice you missing if you used the most powerful megaphone to shout to them the reason you're not there. In big Meetup groups you are insignificant so if you don't show up most Organisers aren't bothered. They still should be but they aren't.  

Secondly please email your mobile phone number to me before the Meetups you RSVP Yes to, so I can contact you. This is helpful to me as if you don't ring to say you're delayed or not coming or lost I can ring you. This is very much appreciated. 

Thirdly I will not be editing the RSVPs after any Meetups. If you don't change it yourself before the Meetup it will remain as it is. Look forward to meeting you soon!         


I remember seeing a Meetup where the Organiser also had rules to remove inactive members. She said quality was more important to her than quantity! 

All of a sudden I felt strangely guilty for having done nothing wrong whatsoever.  Remember, in the days before the UK joined the European Union, trying not to look like a criminal walking through the Nothing To Declare channel at airports, even though you had nothing to declare???  

I don't know what's going on, but assorted strangers are telling me off for stuff I haven't done (such as putting my name down for a discussion with Clive and then not turning up, leaving Clive tragically bereft), and stuff I have done (like start a sentence with 'and').  And (tsk) everything in between.

And (enough already!) what is it with the Miss Whiplash routine?  A need for more house rules??? Is being the organizer of a Meetup Group the new dictatorship?  Could this possibly be the way out for Colonel Gaddafi?  Forget Libya, Muammar, there's a very interesting group of people in Clacton looking for a leader, wanting to discuss teapots (well, rhymes with despots, what more do you want, FFS???)

Answers on a postcard, please, by 19.17 tonight. And if your mobile phone number does not appear under your name, I'm afraid I'll have to send in the tanks and pull out your fingernails...  



  1. Well, they probably wouldn't pull out all your fingernails, just one at random to serve as an example to the others.

  2. Yeah, you're right. Had a feeling I was exaggerating slightly when I wrote it...


Please be nice, but not funnier than me. Thanks.