General Comments about Organizing Meetups
I looked through the meetup thread prior to making this, but found it horrendously confusing. I don't think LessWrong is the best way to organize, especially via a string of 250 comments. I also checked out the Facebook group and found it equally unhelpful as far as meetups were concerned. Perhaps there is a way to find out who's from your area by searching the group members, but it didn't look like that was possible to me.
Is there a recommended way to find out who is in your area, or are these two the only options? I did find Meetup.com groups for NYC, Cambridge MA, and the CA bay area, but that was about it from my searching.
St. Paul/Minneapolis and a Potential Example
In anticipation that the question above should be answered in a disappointing manner (the thread and Facebook are the current primary options), I went ahead and took some initiative by creating a group at a free site similar to Meetup.com called Group-O-Matic. There's now a site for those in the Twin Cities area here. It's definitely not all fancy-dancy but looks like it has the ability to do what it needs to do: post new meetups, notify members, allow for RSVPs, and display a list of scheduled meetups.
Google returned results for a meetup that occurred on 9/26/2009 at the University of Minnesota. Has there been activity since then? I'd like to meet members in person.
I also write this in case others find this solution helpful. I would have used Meetup.com but it requires a fee to be the organizer. Perhaps Group-O-Matic is good enough and will inspire others to organize for their area. If I receive no interest from Minnesota locals, I'll take down the site in a month or so. I don't have anything in mind; I'd just like to meet with flesh and blood and perhaps discuss meetup ideas from there.
Lastly, if this is something that could/should be a top level post either for assisting me in finding Minnesotans, or giving others ideas for organizing since it will receive more publicity, let me know. I've only posted twice and don't have a good sense for what warrants posting at the top level.
I think posting in the discussion section is probably a good first step to see if there is some interest (and to mention Group-o-matic), although any responses would likely understate interest since the front page gets more views than discussion, and some readers probably rarely if ever check discussion. That being said, once you've decided to actually have a meetup on a specific date, I would post that on the main page to maximize the chances interested people would see it. I would expect that you would get sufficient interest for a meetup in the Twin Cities.
At the recent London Meetup, 4 people said they'd be attending and over 12 did.
Given that Group-O-Matic is free, that might be a good way for Less Wrong members to organize meetups more effectively than can be done with a single huge forum thread.
My thoughts exactly -- I see a decent amount of meetup related posts on the top level; at the very least this is an option to consider and (even better) a potential source of inspiration for those looking to find local members but who haven't tried.
I think LW city-specific posts should we used, rather than requiring a visit to an outside site, this being a good example:
However, the name of the location should be posted as well as its address; and some clearly visible notifier should be available at the table, if it's in public.