Looking at the discussion section recently, it seems like over half of the posts are meetups.  I think it's really great that so many LessWrongers are able to get together and do interesting stuff.  Looking at a lot of the topics, I often find myself thinking "I wonder what they ended up talking about."  I looked at the meetups page and it looks like many give a description of the topic, but there is rarely any public followup.  I also did a search which turned up surprisingly few post-meetup posts.

For example, this Los Angeles meetup from a few days ago about resolutions looked really interesting to me and I'm curious to hear what kinds of strategies were proposed and if there were any insights or anecdotes that came up that would be useful to share with those of us that couldn't attend.

I remember reading a meetup report back in November that told the story of the exercises they went through and it seemed to spark some good discussion.  It even forced me to make a note to try some things on my own.  This one was atypical in that it was very detailed and was a crosspost from a personal blog, but I feel like even short reports would give a chance for the rest of the community to chime in and give praise, suggestions, and feedback.  

When I tried to think of reasons not to share what happened in meetups, I came up with a few potential factors:

  1. It's extra work
  2. Keeping it private increases the feeling of community within the group
  3. Meetups are supposed to be a safe place where your actions or comments won't be broadcast to the world
  4. Nothing really post-worthy happened
Some potential arguments in favor of having a post-meetup discussion post:
  1. It would allow LessWrongers who weren't in attendance to get involved in the discussion
  2. Insights would be shared with the whole community
  3. Meetup organizers and attendees could get suggestions for ways to improve future meetups
  4. Non-attendees could use these ideas to host their own meetups
  5. Summarizing key points of a discussion is helpful for those involved to retain the information they discussed
Does anyone else feel like this would be useful?  What is the real reason there are not very many reports?

In the spirit of putting my money where my mouth is, I pledge to attend a LessWrong meetup sometime in the next two months and do a post-meetup report to see if it is useful to anyone (provided the meetup group is okay with me sharing it.) 


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14 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 8:22 AM

Suggestion: Like the other regular threads we have, I propose a new monthly Meetup Report Thread, where people will describe what happened during their meetups. There are a few meetups every month, so there will always be something to write about. Top-level comments could be the names of the meetups, and below them would be comments related to the specific meetup.

This would overcome some trivial inconvenience. First, writing a comment is easier than writing an article, at least psychologically. Second, comments are allowed to be short. If you only want to describe the meetup in one paragraph, posting an article feels like too much (and we have Discussion cluttered by meetups already), but writing a comment of that length is okay. So you don't have to decide to write a long text to report about the meetup. But if one person writes one paragraph, and another person writes another paragraph or two, then we gradually get some kind of report. People who keep meetup notes publicly outside of LW could use this to post a hyperlink or maybe a short summary.

Not sure how other people feel about it, but I would be more likely to write a comment about a meetup I participated in or organized, than a whole article.

I like this idea a lot.

I like this idea; seeing as I have a meetup report to post, I just started a monthly Meetup Report Thread. Hopefully, people will do what you describe.


It's extra work

This is why DC doesn't do detailed meetup reports.

We do keep brief logs after every meetup, though. We agreed not to mention who attended a meetup (the person posting the log has to bite the bullet, but only them) for privacy reasons, and just post one or two sentences about what happened.

I was guessing that's the main reason. Thanks for sharing that log. It really gave be a better idea of the kinds of things that go on at LW meetups.

How often would you say something happens at one of your meetups that would be WORTH a discussion-level post, even if nobody is willing to do it? (By that I mean valuable insights worth sharing or open questions raised that would generate good discussion)


Please be aware that our meetup is not necessarily typical; in fact, I'm pretty sure it isn't. I get the strong impression, from talking to organizers and attending meetups in other cities, that our meetups are more casual and involve fewer presentations than most meetups do.

That said, I'm not sure how often we have insights worth discussing, in part because I haven't been attending meetups much over the past few months... I think it varies a lot.

At least for me, the problem seems to be that the more post-worthy something is, the more work it would be to post. The COZE report took me about a month to write, plus about a month of ignoring the almost-finished version. (I think I'd be faster at it now, though.) On the other end of the scale, keeping a list of topics discussed at pure-chat meetups wouldn't be much work, but would anyone bother to read them? I think almost all of their value could be given just by a list of "here are the sort of topics we like to discuss" for people who are on the fence about coming.


Meetups appear sort of cryptic to me, especially with the lack of replies and followup in most of the threads. As I'm interpreting TylerJay, the process could be demystified with a little summary of what transpired. I'm actually curious as to why this isn't already done normally.

It's extra work

I feel that if I were the host of a meetup, writing a short summary would be the most rewarding part.


Most meetups have more information on their mailing list. You could check out the DC one, for example; we keep brief meetup logs, but also have a variety of conversations on the list sometimes, which might give you a better idea of what goes on. Or if there's a meetup near you, you could check out their list.

Suggestion: link to the mailing list in the meetup post.


Good idea!

Though, note: Some require you to ask for permission to see the list, for reasons of privacy. So there is some conflict between making this knowledge publicly available and the privacy. I'll suggest doing this for DC, though, since ours is public.

Negative: it gives people who are on edge about attending a meetup an excuse not to.

People who are looking for an excuse not to do something are going to find one regardless. They're not on the edge - they're just talking more commitment than they're willing to go through with.

I'd be more worried about giving current meetup attendees an excuse to miss a meeting ("oh, I can just catch up with the notes") that snowballs into a habit of not attending.

I like the general idea of post-meetup reports, although not every group might be willing to. Or the smaller groups (such as my local one) might not have that much to share.

Maybe a couple of groups should just give it a try, by way of experiment? Just write up a report after the meetup and share it here. And to set an example, I'll be suggesting this to my own group and volunteer to do it. (Although, as said, my local group might not provide good material. Or we might. We'll find out.)