|Sent on:||Friday, April 25, 2014 8:59 AM|
The message below is not from me, it was written by the organizer of another meetup group. I'm posting it with his permission, as it is very eloquent, and better than anything I could accomplish in a limited time, and something that I fully endorse so it reflects my views fully as well.
Perhaps part of the problem is that these meet-up groups can seem like something bigger and more serious than they actually are. Because what they are is simply a collection of people who are trying to connect and interact, people who are drawn together by similar interests. Group organizers aren't leaders or judges, and the stability and success of the group ultimately depends on the good-will and self-moderation of the individual members. For certain groups, there are issues that come up which cause people to become passionate, which is good - but the idea that it's some kind of public service that can or should serve the individual members (and therefore accommodate their agendas, sensitivities, or right to free speech) is a mis-reading of the situation.
Instead, it's a delicate balance of the collective enthusiasm, participation, and investment of a bunch of people who don't necessarily know each other, and who certainly don't owe each other anything. It can disappear overnight, it can be gradually destabilized, or it can stray from its original vision, and an organizer has limited control over those outcomes. Even if I have the ability to ban, edit, or censor someone, I don't have any kind of magical authority to do so, and such attempts to stabilize a situation can potentially have exactly the opposite effect.
Obviously I've taken such actions in the past, and will continue to do so in the future when necessary, but the fact that I should ever have to seems kind of ridiculous to me. The fact that I should have to write this whole thing seems kind of ridiculous. Any adult should not find it too difficult to commit to being civil and realizing when their contributions might be inflammatory, distracting, or irrelevant (or simply too frequent, too long-winded, overly passionate, or agenda-driven). I mean, come on