I run Hackers and Founders, Silicon Valley and SF. http://hackersandfounders.com. We've been going for around 2 years and have around 900 members. About half come from HN, the other half through word of mouth, or Meetup.com. I don't make any money off this, I just enjoy having a beer, and geeking out with startup geeks every 2 weeks.
I also try to contact other people that post meetup listings on HN, and try and help them get off the ground if I can. I've been in contact with meetups in NY, Chicago, Indianapolis, Tel Aviv, and Wellington, NZ.
The churn on the front page is so great that unless you're in a major metropolitan area, you're not going to get enough upvotes to have a meetup posted. So, it would be helpful to those in non metropolitan areas to have a venue to post their events in a place where it wouldn't fall off the front page in 8 hours at best.
Honestly, just a simple "events" tag at the top of HN would be great, and allow people a self-referencing post Ala "Ask HN:..." I think there's a big demand from HN readers for something like this.
For instance, we just hosted a meetup for 6 guys coming in to SV from the UK for a week to check the area out. The only reason that they knew about Hackers and Founders was because our first event 2 years ago was a meetup before startup school, and the organizer of the group came to the meetup before startup school. The guys that came in were really cool, and I picked up a lot of great ideas for my startup from them.
I try not to announce hackers and founders meetups here anymore much, because I really don't want to pollute the front page with event listings. We have events every 2-3 weeks, and I think it would be a pain in the ass for HN readers to read event announcements from us every 2-3 weeks.
I'm pretty sure that Brennan that runs the Indianapolis meetup and Dave that runs the NY meetup don't post here that often either. Brennan uses Meetup.com and Dave uses a twitter feed + Anyvite. The Chicago meetup uses a Google group.
Afterwards we weren't as lucky with timely upvotes (being a rather small community) so I am relying on our existing 90 user Facebook page. Which results in the exclusion of new members.
1) Would be nice if there was a place to post in advance and have it stick
2) Some way for events that were upvoted on that page to appear on the bottom (or any other visible but not too prominent area) of the main HN page for 24-48 hours so all members can see.
3) Still keep some control, so people don't just post events and then change their minds.
Like @iamelgringo said, I don't post our meetups to Hacker News because the post falls off the page immediately. I know there is a community of Hacker News people in Indiana who aren't connected but would be if there was a way on Hacker News to see when others are gathering for a meetup in their area. i.e. an events listing.
Other than that, meetup.com really serves all of our other meetup organizing needs.
Knowing that there is a meet up in your location is the #1 problem; so it's a problem of discovery. If you can help with discoverability, then everything else becomes less of an issue. Adding each other on Facebook/Twitter, using a Google groups email list, setting up a basic page for the meet up etc. is a non-issue.
At least, "physical" issues HN can't solve ;) Like, our group now hangs out from 7+pm all the way until midnight, and many business owners prefer we don't hog their space on a Friday since it's a busy time for them.
Maybe we could try to bum some free space from big businesses. Some of us who have corporate day jobs may try to get HR depts to approve the using of one of the business meeting rooms, etc. Corporations do this all the time for non-profits and techie events.
For SD HN, aside from the obvious, like somewhere not too noisy and can fit the size of the crowd, we prefer somewhere that at least provides wireless, electricity is a plus (so that people can show off their work, demo stuff and get feedback)
In terms of features/tools to help organize, there's a lot of multi-person messaging back and forth that goes into getting a meetup scheduled, something that helped the group settle on questions like time/date and venue would be useful. I'd be careful about going too far into automating the process, you risk loosing some of the engagement that gets people aware of the meetup. I could see extending the Hacker News' site's up-voting system to various choices for time/date/venue working well for this.
As a side note, I am starting to think we need a set date/time for Chicago meetups (ie, last Wednesday of every month at 7pm).
Also, how can I get prior notice of when the meetups are? I always here about it day of, which is part of why I've never gone.
Sure, join the mailing list: http://groups.google.com/group/sd-hackernews
For people in our field, the entrepreneurial stuff pales in comparison to the SF Bay Area.
I still miss the coffeeshops down there, especially the 24 hour ones like Lestat's:
(Translation: I'm thinking of moving back to SD, we'll see in a couple of weeks.)
I guess that means count me in as a "maybe", which might be good enough to kick things off.
Everyone else looks like CS students or researchers, is that right?
And a good number of the first two groups are in the process of moving to the 3rd.