To Cross… or not to Cross (Post)? I say no.
As a local group leader… or more specifically, as the Organizer of the largest and most active group in the Washington DC Metropolitan Area, I’m often asked to cross post events. What’s cross posting? Essentially listing another group’s event on our group’s event calendar. It’s become the latest trend in cooperation… if we’re all going to be friends then we are, as local leaders, almost expected to advertise for other groups in this fashion.
District of Columbia Atheists, Inc. runs 4 Meetup groups in addition to their day-to-day functions and the DCA Board is essentially against cross posting. Quite frankly, I never used to think about it much. However I’m on the Board and it’s a Board discussion so lately I have been giving it a great deal of though. My conclusion. I don’t like it.
I know this is a very controversial opinion and I’m likely to be branded as uncooperative from here on out, but it’s the truth. More than just not liking it, I actually think cross-posting *hurts* the community. Here’s why:
1. It generates a huge amount of Meetup SPAM. Members receive 3 automated reminders from Meetup for every event. So if one event is on two groups they belong to, they automatically end up with 6 messages. 3 groups? 9 messages. 5 groups? 15 messages…. you get the picture. Members complain about all this activity and overtime they ignore all Meetup e-mail (missing important events) or leave the group entirely (missing all events.)
2. It de-values the smaller group. If almost every event on one group is listed on another, why belong to both?
3. It creates chaos and confusion… Many people belong to multiple groups and the question they as is, “did I RSVP here? or there?” How many seats should the Organizer reserve at the venue? (Which brings me to another point… Organizers who copy events from one group to their group because they think it’s cool – or they are just lazy – (i.e. “poaching”) without asking the original organizer who planned the event, are just plan rude. These are the people who should be branded uncooperative and not those who simply say no.)
4. The cross posting group risks alienating their members. Several years ago, I cross-posted an event, upon request, because they had a well-known speaker. Although the speaker was great, the group itself was a little more “religious” than my hardcore atheist members and I was dealing with complaints for the next two weeks.
So, why do Organizers even ask other Organizers to cross post? Simple. It will increase turnout at their event. But at what cost?
Cross posting puts organizers in an awkward situation. If they don’t cross post they are considered to be working against another group, when in fact they may just think the event doesn’t match up with their goals. Or they may not want to piss off their members… or other groups they already (or plan to) say “no” to. So, why ask? Why give other local leaders the “problem” of having to find a polite way to say no.
Once or twice a year… fine… I’ll cross post large events for another group, but then it opens the door to being asked for event, after event, after event. Really? Not having a single event on your calendar that can’t be found on another group’s calendar is suppose to help your membership? It may help in the short-term with individual event turnout, but it hurts longterm membership. So back to the DCA Board: We concluded that we will only cross post events if they are not listed on more than one Meetup calendar and don’t conflict with our own events and, honestly, I think that’s more than cooperative.
I do genuinely want to help other groups and the community at large but at the end of the day, I’m not sure cross posting helps at all.
I’m interested in what other people think. Please, share your thoughts.