Our members come from a wide variety of backgrounds, but one thing that we expect all our members to share is respect for the RSVP process. People who RSVP "yes" but don't show (or who cancel too late) are unfair to the restaurant, to members who do show but who may be stuck with a higher bill, to members who couldn't attend because no seats were available, and to our organizers.
Although we ask our members for a $1 monthly contribution (beginning November 1, 2009) and, occasionally, for cash in advance to reserve a seat, even more important is simple common courtesy. If you respond "yes" and later find that you can't join us, please change your reply to "no" at least a day in advance; you're also responsible for any guests you invite. We provide a phone number in case something arises on the day of the dinner, but we expect that members will need to call at the last minute only in exceptional circumstances.
On the other hand, if you haven't RSVP'ed "yes," don't simply show up at a dinner. If the Meetup site says that our event is full, you can add yourself to the waitlist (when one is provided) or send a note to the organizer of the event.
Street festivals, walking tours, and after-work mixers give all of us more flexibility; people might come and go at different times, and we might not need to limit the attendance. If this is the case, the Meetup site will say so, and we'll also use the words "informal event," but we'd still appreciate the courtesy of an accurate RSVP.
Members who abuse this policy will, at the discretion of the organizer, be suspended from the group for a period to be determined, after which they can reapply for reinstatement.