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Re: [houston-php] Problem with group meeting attendance

From: Hugh
Sent on: Thursday, April 12, 2012 5:57 PM
Hi All,

With a variety of opinions already expressed, I thought I would throw mine in as well.

I think the value of the companies that have delivered presentations recently is that they are all open source at their cores. For example, while Akiban (three meetups ago, I think) hopes to make money with consulting and the enterprise version of their server product, the base product is open source and is potentially very useful to anyone needing to scale MySQL. As someone using MySQL for a critical application, I learned a ton at this particular meetup because the bulk of the discussions was about the process of de-normalization that applications normally undergo when performance degrades, MySQL execution plans, and then the specific solution that Akiban offers (as an open source technology). Very little of the presentation was about their commercial offerings.

The reality is that there is a lot of overlap between all of these technologies and the utility of each one may vary from person to person but just learning about them sometimes stimulates new thoughts; eventually something will hit you and you will end up incorporating it into you work. Obviously it is not ideal if the topics never get back to PHP but we will all encounter some of these other technologies and many of them will have a direct benefit, if not immediately, somewhere down the road.

At the same time there is also a lot of value in the open discussion format that has been used at times in the past. It always helps to hear about techniques, tools, problems encountered by others. In a perfect world, you get a mix of the formal presentations and the "shop talk" format.

All that said, all praise to Joao for putting this together each month regardless of the topic. It's not easy to keep a long string of meetings going like this and he gets a ton of credit for that. I think what he is asking for with regard to RSVPs makes sense even when there is not a speaker going through great lengths to present at a meetup. It helps to gauge interest in a given topic and (aside from the out-of-town presenter issue) helps determine needs (space, amount of food, if applicable) for the  meeting. For his effort, I think we own him the courtesy of a meaningful RSVP, even if you need to change it before the meetup.

And so ends my two piasters.

Hugh

On Apr 12, 2012, at 3:59 PM, Noel wrote:

Hello All,
I have never attended a PHP meeting and I am guilty of RSVP'ing to one and not showing up.
It was honestly a last minute change.

However here is what I think and what has prevented me from going to others.

I am an entry level PHP programmer. I started using dreamweaver and have recently moved over to NetBeans. One way or another I have managed to create an entire application that is making me money. Whether its done the way it should be or to "best practices" i dont know. I am self taught. 

 I searched for this group thinking we would meet up and be able to discuss, ask questions, casually. Share my project with others and learn from those true PHP developers.

After a while it looked to me as it if the meetups were more presentation based on technologies that i was not familiar with. Its far for me to drive (live in the Woodlands) to not be able to learn about general PHP programming as opposed to listen to a speaker sell their product related to one technology.

Correct me if I am wrong please! I would love to attend a meeting or happy hour.

Thanks,
Noel

On Tue, Apr 10, 2012 at 9:57 AM, Joao Prado Maia <[address removed]> wrote:
Guys,

This is a sort of tough email to have to write, but I feel this is needed in light of recent meetings. I have been organizing the group for the past 7 years or so (maybe even more?), and this issue has never happened to the extent that it is happening over the past few months.

We have a problem in our group: there are always a good number of people who RSVP to meetings, and then never show up. In some ways this is kind of what comes from doing public free meetings like we do, in that anyone can join us, or not. Nothing wrong with it, and from my time running the group I have seen this happen many times before.

However, what seems to be happening more is that an average of 60% of people that RSVP to an event never actually come to the meetings. I would understand if this number was around 20%, but 60% (or more) is just a sign that there is something very wrong going on.

For the past two months we had 18-25 people RSVP'ing to the meeting, but we only got around 8-10 people show up for the actual event. This past meeting where we had the MySQL presenter fly in from Atlanta, only 8 people showed up (including myself and the speaker). There were 25 people RSVP'ed to the meeting.

I understand that some unexpected thing might happen that would require some people to change their plans, but this type of thing is happening every month, and it's slowly destroying the group's reputation.

In the future I might actually have to turn down presentation offers because I can't be sure if more than 10 people will show up for the event. It wouldn't make financial sense for a company to send someone over to Houston, when fewer than 10 people come to the event.

My only recourse in this situation is the obvious one -- ask you to not RSVP if you don't plan to come. If you initially responded with an RSVP, and later changed your mind, please update your status on meetup.com.

Again, I have lots and lots of meetings under my time here with the group, and I have seen all kinds of problems crop up. Weather being nasty, getting lost on the way over, etc. You have my cell phone number if you need help getting to the meeting location.

I understand that this stuff happens, but 60% (or even 75% at the last meeting) of people that RSVP'ed not showing up seems to me to be a different problem altogether. If this type of thing continues, there won't be much of a point to keep the group running.

I'm asking for your help to get this issue corrected immediately, or we won't be able to continue much longer.

Regards,
--Joao


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