As you may know, today the Hacker News Cologne Meetup.com group got
hijacked. That doesn't mean it's not business as usual, though: The
next meetup is scheduled for 1900 hrs CET @ Solution Space on Nov 28th
we have a new exciting special guest from the US on Skype and a
YCombinator alum who will be joining us IRL to share from his
experiences with us.
We're resolving the meetup.com hijacking farce in a civilized manner,
so it would be cool if:
1) We all refrain from personal attacks on the hijacker
2) We all help spread this message far & wide. We personally can’t
reach everyone directly, but hey, this is the intarwebs and you know
better than us how to get the word out to the right people.
We will discuss and decide on an alternative to Meetup.com during our
next IRL meetup.
Cheers, The Crew (Francis, Vidar & Maik … the original HN Meetup
This is outrages that it is even possible to do this.
This is really bad that this can happen.
From the http://www.meetup.com/terms/
3.3 Meetup Group Fees;
[...](3) Meetup Groups. Organizers who allow their Basic Group Fee Subscription to lapse are subject to removal as the Organizer of the Meetup Group that they lead, and their Meetup Group may be terminated or transferred to another Organizer. [...]
I've also been told that it's tricky to remove a group, which means if you want to disband it, you have to manually remove all your members one by one unless you want to potentially subject them to a spammy takeover like has happened here. Removing members from your groups is also a pretty painfully slow process.
Given the way the site looks and functions, I'm surprised there isn't a more popular alternative. If anyone knows of any, I'd love to hear about it.
(edit to answer my own question:) I found this & yes that seems scary as hell:
"Neglect to pay the Org dues for greater than 14 days, in which case the group becomes available and anyone can take it over"
Hello! I am excited to get to know everyone at our events
as one of the networking groups in Germany focused on
building startups by focusing on improving pitches and
finding co-founders. Living in USA, loved living in
Germany, looking to travel.
In a way, it's also brilliant -- hack your way into acquiring targeted audiences without the audience knowing they signed up for something slightly different. But yeah, I would probably put Meredith Monroe into the same bucket of people who acquired my email from various sources and is now trying to sell me viagra pills.
First they joined with one (profile X) to listen in, then a second (profile Y) with the same name when the group was about to expire. Then profile Y "stepped up" to take over the group and delegated org status to profile X too.
They then later removed profile X completely, leaving only Y (all the time profile X and Y identically named, identically looking) as the organizer.
The timing of the events as observed seem to support this thesis.
(Update). Doing some testing, we also found it quite easy to find expiring meetup.com groups in public, e.g. https://www.google.com/search?q=%22This+Meetup+no+longer+has...
She's also a member of multiple meetup groups in NYC, so my guess is that she's likely a real person who lives in NYC, but just happens to want to be an admin for other meetup groups in random cities.
This was found by simply doing a reverse image search of her profile picture on google images.
She also the organizer of Startup Pitch Night, which explains her meetup affiliations. Her full LinkedIn profile can be found here:
(the profile used the same profile photo found on meetup.com)
In a way, it's like buying a very targeted email list.
However, I'm sure there will probably be a backlash in this case, and I doubt Meredith would show up at any of these events because she'll probably get stoned to death there.
I made a mistake in not updating my payment details before my credit card expired earlier this year. Meetup.com then automatically stepped me down as an organizer and mailed the group that I had stepped down as an organizer. IMO that's a pretty lame way of doing business, but hey, it's their business and not mine. Apparently it works for them.
Then I tried to update my payment details with new credit card details to no avail. It just wasn't possible to make meetup.com accept any new credit card for me anymore. I was only getting error messages. I then contacted Meetup.com and notified them about the situation.
At that same time, I asked co-organizer Francis to and add a credit card to automatically take over as organizer for me and reinstate my organizer status. Said. Done. Problem solved, right? Not so fast.
In the meantime, meetup.com got back to me and revoked Francis' status and gave the organizer status back to me with a kind offer of an extended new grace period as organizer to sort the payment issue out. Meanwhile, I was still unable to update my payment details and add any new credit card credentials without getting error messages and I notified Meetup.com of this. I have still yet to hear back from them on that.
It's worth noting that had meetup.com just left it as it were with Francis' payment details as the organizer, we wouldn't have been in this predicament in the first place.
Yesterday when the group had yet to expire and I had yet to hear back from meetup.com on my latest issue report, the Hacker News Cologne Meetup group was taken over by an unknown individual. Or in meetup.com's parlance, someone "stepped up to be the organizer" of the group.
I immediately reached out to this person informing them of the payment issue situation, thanking them for stepping up but informing them that it was neither needed or wanted, offering to resolve the ownership issue amicably and in private as soon as possible. I never heard back.
In stead I woke up to what now seems to be a blatant attempt to aggressively acquire customers for their event(s). The name, logo and purpose of the group had been changed to something completely different.
Then mass mailings started to arrive from the person who had taken over our group accusing, us the real organizers, of lying and trying to change the group [back to the original state]. Needless to say, we do not agree.
As I scrambled to counter the accusations and inform the group's members, we the original organizers were getting our organizer status removed from this individual. We were also barred from mailing to the group without censorship and approval by the same individual. Needless to say, those messages did not come through to the group. Then I posted the same messages to the group's message boards, just to find the hijacker removing the boards altogether. In a matter of minutes we were effectively shut out, unable to communicate with the community over meetup.com.
So that's where we're at right now. We the original Hacker News Cologne Meetup organizers are completely out of control of our own community platform on meetup.com. We've filed a complaint with meetup.com to resolve the situation and it is still pending a reply. And yes, we do appreciate the sweet irony of a hacker group hacked as we move on.
We apologize for the intermission and it's now back to business as usual: We'll meet up again on schedule with two awesome new speakers lined up for you at SolutionSpace, November 28th 1900 CET.
This time we are relying on you instead of meetup.com to get the word out. You know what to do.
Keep calm and carry on.
Guys, thanks for your support and thanks to the guys at meetup.com com for handing the group back to the community.