Capture from WPBuilds episode 285 with the WPTavern episode and 4 windows with Nathan and guests

GatherPress in the WPBuilds show again!

GatherPress was featured again on WPBuilds’ “This Week in WordPress.” Hosts Nathan Wrigley and co-hosts/guest Colin, Michelle and Marc discussed GatherPress for a full 20 minutes, highlighting its potential to replace Meetup.com for organizing WordPress events.

Nathan recapped his conversation with Mike Auteri and how GatherPress began in 2019, developed by Mike and a growing community team. Marc says how much he loves this idea! They discussed pros and cons.

You can read the transcript below.

Watch

From 21’57” to 41’05”

Transcript

okay so this is this is absolutely
21:59
fascinating and we mentioned this on a previous episode but I I wanted to highlight it again a because we’ve got a different panel and B because I’ve
22:06
actually produced the piece of content that it was related to so Michelle
22:12
the co-host of the this weekend WordPress show I’m just gonna keep saying it Michelle she put me in
22:19
touch with somebody called Mike Auteri and uh we had a really interesting chat about a plugin that he and a growing
22:26
team of community members are getting involved in and it’s called some it’s called GatherPress now if you
22:33
have attended a WordPress Meetup or or any event that probably wasn’t a WordCamp
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then you’ve probably come across something called meetup.com it’s a SAAS platform and for historical reasons
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which I don’t really know it has become the de facto way of organizing and
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communicating with people about your events so you know for example the
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WordPress London Meetup which is restarting thank you Dan Maby and Paul Smart the event system that you
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going to go through is Meetup.com however Mike had this intuition that wouldn’t it be nice given that we’ve got a CMS
23:13
wouldn’t it be nice to take this functionality into a plugin so in 2019 and then through the years of the
23:20
pandemic Mike started working on this and and has now got to the point where he thinks it’s pretty much capable of
23:26
doing the job that Meetup would do and so he’s put it out there he’s put it out there for public consumption
23:32
there’s a GitHub repo actually everything’s linked to in the show notes this is on the the WPTavern website I
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put the podcast there and you can find The GatherPress uh slack group you
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can find the the Twitter Channel you can find all of the different pieces the plugin website the GitHub repository
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they’re all in the show notes but he’s really keen to take this forward and to go into a stage where it’s being battle
23:56
tested out in the wild with with real events and seeing what feature set is needed but I just thought this was kind
24:02
of interesting it was recently acquired Meetup.com by a company which
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governs a bunch of SAAS products and so maybe there’s a bit of sweet timing here in that you know questions often get
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asked don’t they when there’s an acquisition how will that keep going and also according to Mike’s calculations
24:21
the WordPress Community spend close to a quarter of a million dollars a year on accounts for
24:29
Meetup I think it was $234,000 a year if his math was correct
24:34
and he thought maybe that could be you know used in some other vein so whether you’ve got a grudge against meetup.com
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or not I’m going to open it up to the panel just go for it what do you think good idea got legs no way who
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knows my biggest concern with it when I so Mike reached out to me a long time ago to see if I’d be willing to look at
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it and give some feedback and some ideas and my biggest concern with it was how
25:00
many people are discovering their local WordPress meetups specifically through
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meetup.com so I ran a very unscientific poll on my
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meetup group and asked them how did you discover this group and of the people
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who answered less than 20 so again not scientific but still gives you some
25:22
anecdotal information I think only one out of 20 had discovered the group
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through meetup.com everybody else had discovered it either through the Facebook group or they had been
25:34
invited from another per through another person and that was the primary way is somebody told me about it several people
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had seen it on their dashboard so you will see local events show up on your
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WordPress dashboard and several people had found it that way so as long as we’re able to continue to put like the
25:52
local Meetups on the dashboard regardless of whether they’re part of meetup.com or not and I suspect that
25:58
events.wordpress.org can somehow feed into there right for your local I don’t
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not sure how that works I’m not a developer but I think that this should be a really good alternative and can
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save groups a lot of money so every official WordPress Meetup that’s on
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meetup.com is paid for by meetup.com (Note, meant WordPress.org) there are a lot of unofficial ones in
26:23
that they are not officially sanctioned and paid for by meetup.org (note: meant WordPress.org) they are not talking about
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WordPress so yeah when I say official that’s what I mean yeah there are a lot more that aren’t that are being paid for
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by people like you and me who have started their Meetup and want to have control over the entire thing as opposed
26:41
to co-opt it with with wordpress.org so this would be a way for you to still
26:47
have a lot of autonomy over your group but save wordpress.org a lot of
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money and be able to put it right on your own websites like wprochester.com for example is our local website
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for our Meetup and that’s you know right now everything’s going on meetup.com and then I’m sharing it other places but if
27:05
it was right on the website that would be a lot easier to do Mike in the podcast he he was mentioning that he
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carried out some other anecdotal survey actually I don’t know if he said that but he said that in his experience
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he was able to show that the dashboard widget has become the thing for the
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Meetup which he attends and organizes it really was coming from the dashboard widget and yeah when I go to my
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Meetup account I only visit it to RSVP to something I’ve seen somewhere else
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which is typically the dashboard widget or on social media I go to meetup.com click the black RS you know I don’t know
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what the wording is but you know I want to go to this event button and then I log out and I’m gone and so it’s not
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really doing any of that maybe I’ve switched off notifications maybe I should be getting email but the dashboard widget would be the way to do
27:56
it and I think Mike’s intuition around this project is that if it got some legs
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and it got some buyin from the community it could become an official project at a
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I don’t know meet.wordpress.org domain name a multisite network setup so that
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you’ve got something akin to a single sign on you use your WordPress.org credentials and and it does all of that
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and he’s already built the functionality you know you got to link it up to some SMTP company or what have you but you
28:28
can reply to people that have received an invite but haven’t replied or people who have agreed to attend and it
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automatically creates an attendance page and you know it just does all that heavy lifting really that meetup.com would do
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so the the idea at the moment and Patrica who might be in the comments I don’t know she put a proposal together
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saying let’s run this in tandem like why not just run it with a meetup and GatherPress at the same time and just
28:54
see what the what the missing feature set is so anyway sorry Marc or
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Colin over to you I personally love the idea I I just am I can’t tell
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you how much in love with this idea I am and maybe it’s because I’m toying with the idea of starting a local Meetup
29:15
here I have always gone to meetup.com to look for WordPress meetups and
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other things but mostly WordPress meetups that’s where I go and and
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I’ve always kind of had a kind of this love/hate relationship with meetup.com since 10 years ago or whenever it was
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that I found my first WordPress Meetup but the key as you mentioned
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Nathan is going to be Community wide adoption of this project and I hope that
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it goes somewhere because you know first of all it’s community driven it’s open source it’s
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all the things that WordPress is and and why not include this in there as well
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since meetups are a big part of what grows our community in the first place
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to some extent I can’t quite work out why it doesn’t why a project like this didn’t
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gather you know didn’t occur a decade or more ago because it almost feels like
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going to a SAAS platform is peculiar given given the capabilities of all of
30:25
the people involved in the community it feels it’s like you know nobody’s inventing the wheel here there’s calendars and email and you know a page
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that’s put together with some kind of archive or I don’t know it’s odd I
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find it I think there’s a lot of you know a lot of brain damage it gets in gets into building something like this
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and maybe nobody everybody was like this is so easy to just go on Meetup and and
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honestly you know back when it was you know the the foundation Meetup was adopted by the
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foundation years and years ago and so it just kind of became the de facto standard of how we did things and you
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know if you look at you know one of the other subjects you’re going to be bringing up shortly is this idea of
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different types of events you know there is the this is the way things were traditionally done and now all of a
31:16
sudden I think it’s post pandemic and we’re kind of looking at things and going we have to come up with other ways to do things now and that’s probably
31:24
part of the thinking is okay let’s look at everything we’ve been doing and let’s see if we can make some things better I
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I don’t know I mean that’s my speculation but I kind of like the idea that if if I was running a Meetup like
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let’s say in my part of the world I kind of like the idea that if I had this capability within a within a plugin I
31:41
could then make my page look like how I want it you know just create a pattern
31:47
consuming the data that GatherPress uh brings to bear and then make it look like where I live apart from you know
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not this white black and red generic thing which honestly it’s so
31:59
uninteresting absolutely doesn’t sell anything does it you know it’s not giving anything about the venue or the
32:05
kind of I don’t know I just think I gotta tell you I do have notifications turned on on Meetup and every time I get
32:11
a Meetup notification I just roll my eyes like nine times out of 10 because it’s like this is going to be something
32:18
else I’m not interested in going to right okay so yeah I you know I like
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I said I have a love/hate relationship for it I prefer to do the work and go for looking what I want to I don’t need
32:30
to have all these notifications and suggestions and and like you said the website is not
32:36
compelling Courtney joins us saying I think a decade ago folks looking to
32:42
connect used Meetup more okay okay that’s an interesting point um also the
32:47
WP project uses a few paid services that specialize in what they do okay so there’s connections to for example
32:54
things like Slack and GitHub okay so there’s wheels within wheels there’s cogs in the background that I’m really not that familiar with the
33:00
other the other thing to keep in mind is that there is a level of control that has to happen at the wordPress.org
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level in order to make sure these are all mapped together and that they’re that they are part of the ownership of
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the different groups so they know what’s happening and know what’s going on so I’m a Meetup organizer I you know take
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the time to go put things out on meetup.com and then I share it and I do and I and whether you like the
33:24
notifications or not Marc a lot of our members remember to put to come to and we meet at the same time every month
33:30
first Monday of every month 6:30 but that’s what reminds people to actually join the Meetup or to which is why I
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have them turned on in the first place is exactly yeah yeah so it’s like you know I
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have to take all the other stuff in order to get to the stuff I want but you know as a community team member because
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I am on the community team as well and I was part of the re I can’t remember what we called it but the re re I
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can’t think of words re-energizing of meetups post pandemic is that we
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were able to like I’m a super user for WordPress on meetups so I can go in
34:07
and look at all of the different meetups and I can you know message people through there how is your Meetup going
34:13
are you ready to get things up and rolling again so we had that for about a year getting you know reaching out to the different meetup groups to make sure
34:20
that if they wanted to get started again if they didn’t how could we find other people in the organization and so there
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was a lot of work that happened and because it was all Central in one place on meetup.com that was easy for us to
34:33
easier for us to do than if we had to start trying to find all of those different meetups other places so I
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think there’s just a level of trying to make sure that it replicates a lot of those same features so that from the
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top down we’re still able to see everything that happens still able to interact with organizers and if
34:53
organizers fall off or you know stop work you know being part of their meetups that we can still reach out to
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other group members so there’s a lot that needs to go on to make sure that we still as WordPress are supporting and
35:05
helping the different groups all over the world to stay healthy okay that’s a
35:11
really interesting context as well because that puts a completely different spin on it to me I had this idea that it would all just be great to
35:17
go to WordPress plugin because it would just be great to have it inside of WordPress but you’re saying that it
35:22
really had utility especially in that period where it needed the community needed a bit of a
35:29
kickstart because of the because of the nature of the I guess the pyramid structure of the of the permissions
35:34
that you get and what have you and if you’re a super user you you had more power yeah that is interesting okay I
35:40
guess though having said all that that could be built inside a multisite network it could be absolutely it’s just a matter
35:46
of making sure that all of those boxes are checked before we would migrate to something like that so that we don’t
35:52
lose any of what we have now right Colin anything on this
35:57
well I have a soft spot for Meetup you know ah controversy yes no no no no
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not at all I I think obviously with anything like this there’s there’s pros and cons to everything right so I have a
36:11
soft spot because like me Meetup is an OG of the internet you know and so it
36:17
has been around forever and the way that I found my first WordPress
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Meetup was very likely because I was already on Meetup for other things like
36:30
blogging or learning to code when I was younger or whatever it may be
36:36
because there’s other interests so the thing that I think we’d lose from moving
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all of the WordPress events into its own thing I think there’s a lot to gain far
36:46
more to gain than than this one thing but is people that use WordPress are not
36:54
just the people that build WordPress or the people that like to talk about the Community of WordPress or people that uh
37:00
make money on WordPress there are people that knit that use WordPress every day
37:06
there are people that flyfish in amazing rivers throughout the
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world that use WordPress every day and none of them are engaged in the communities that the four of us are
37:18
and so if they’re on Meetup and they’re in a fly fishing group but they need
37:23
help with their website if they happened to see like Michelle had brought out if they happen to see that in the Rochester
37:29
area for her now there’s a Meetup that has to do with the software that she’s using to run her website well then you
37:37
end up going to that and then now you’re you get some help which was huge the WordPress meetups back very early on
37:44
and probably still today I do attend a fair number of them is that someone could go in there and say how do I
37:51
update my blog colors yeah right how do I XYZ right nowadays WordPress is
37:59
incredibly complicated compared to what it was when I started with it so yeah I
38:06
think that there’s some of that you know just the overlapping of these
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different communities that we would lose by it all being so WordPress Centric
38:19
it’d be great interesting yeah you know it’d be great because now you have the ability to bring some of those features
38:25
onto WP builds website now and now it communicates maybe even with the wordpress.org site and if there’s an
38:32
event both of them could be up to date with each other and all of those things would be fantastic and obviously when
38:37
you have control of the source then if a if Meetup has a feature or does not have a feature that someone has been wanting
38:43
for a long time it could easily get done but there is that little bit of an overlap the vend diagram of why someone
38:51
uses WordPress as opposed to the fact that they use WordPress and the reason why they use WordPress is
38:57
probably just to sell their jewelry or whatever it may be whatever their
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interest is um so that’s something I think we would lose and I might shed one tear for Meetup when that
39:10
happens but maybe there’s a way to use the Meetup API too if
39:15
Bending Spoons is you know fine with it maybe there’s a way that these Meetups could still be reflected in the
39:22
Meetup ecosystem so that that still happens if I’m in Phoenix Arizona
39:28
and I look up events that are in my area it would still be really cool if there was something that showed hey there’s
39:34
going to be like 15 people at a coffee shop talking about WordPress on Monday wouldn’t it be you know maybe I’ll pop
39:40
in there because I heard of WordPress or whatever yeah that’s really interesting you put a really different side to it
39:45
and I think I think both you and Michelle have painted a a really credible picture for why it’s not a question of throwing the baby out do you
39:52
use that phrase for throw the baby out with the bath I try not to I was just as soon as I said it
39:59
familiar with it yeah okay but you know you know what I mean you don’t just throw throw good after battle or
40:05
something like that um and there’s a lot of maybe there is a lot more utility in it than I thought um that’s that’s
40:11
fascinating but the idea of yeah I kind of like the idea of it being federated some way around a central
40:18
multide network and let’s say that on WP build I installed that plugin and I could then in some way connect to that
40:25
and advertise my WordPress related events obviously there’d have to be a gatekeeper saying yeah Nathan’s allowed
40:32
but this other thing over there which is nothing to do with WordPress and all the inevitable spam I just kind of like the idea of that but you make a really good
40:39
point if we’re trying to find new people then maybe maybe something based
40:45
upon WordPress is kind of is locking them out because unless they’ve already found their way in they’re going to
40:52
struggle with something that isn’t like Meetup yeah maybe there is something about the API okay thank you for that
41:00
that was that was interesting I enjoyed that that was very compelling Colin I’m rethinking all of it now yeah I think I
41:05
think I’m back have a lie down after this


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