Why Meetup.com is closing singles groups worldwide starting in 2016
Hello my name is Matt Winters.
Allow me to introduce myself. I am a business professional, entrepreneur, social & tech community focused innovator. Please feel free to add me on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/matthewwinters1
I’ve lived in Austin since 2009 and founded up AustinVisuals.com , SpeedFriendingEvents.com, Culture-FX.com To date my businesses have litterally helped 1,000’s of people. Austin Visuals makes 3D Graphics and we’ve helped create pitch videos, product and service explainer animation for businesses small to large to help them get the funding they need to grow and add jobs to the market, as well as provide 3D Medical Animation helping doctors visualize new cutting edge procedures that help save lives. Speed Friending Events has grown to a National Phenomena being responsible for over 10 marriages, 100’s of engagements, plus helping 1,000’s gain valuable friendships that will last a lifetime. I’ve created a business to bring people together to service communities. Throughout the years I’ve made a total of 33 meetup.com groups and organically grew most of them from zero to ten thousand members+. At the height of what I was doing socially, I had 83,000 meetup members in my network. I’ve been labeled as a ‘super user’ from Meetup.com and recently won an award from meetup.com as having created one of the most active meetup groups in the world. I have given many talks over how to use meetup to build communities. I’m a subject matter expert over this topic.
The topic I will speak on is disheartening. I’ve invested a lot of personal time, hard work and commitment. I don’t know what else to do other than tell my story and hope that you share this topic.
**Disclaimer, nothing here is private or confidential, so you may share this on social media, or message any members mentioned for more information, start a community discussion about the topic**
If you want to offer support you can keep in touch as I may attempt to rebuild networks. To do so I need to keep in touch.
How you can support?
If you’re interested in Business Networking for Professionals in Austin TX or Friending And Professional Events For Women, you can sign up by entering your email address on our homepage at culture-fx.com for our newsletter and updates.
Always looking for volunteers to help grow community, you can message me [email protected] if you want to help.
My Story with Meetup.com
I was introduced to meetup.com in 2011. At the date of this writing, it’s been about 5 years. While I was building my 3D Animation Company during the day, at night I enjoyed having people over and cooking for people. I was throwing dinner parties that started off as 6 person events that eventually grew into having 150 people over at my place every 45 days. Lots of networking went on at these events. I did it because I enjoy people, community, and good food. I was texting, calling, and creating a connection with each person. Then eventually I noticed it was taking a lot of time to manage all the logistics of the next upcoming event and even more time communicating with people. A friend showed me meetup.com after about 2 weeks with the tool it started to save me time in organizing events.
I realized then I didn’t just have to use the meetup tool for parties, I could use it to gather any group of people I wanted for almost any reason. I ended up creating 6 groups and one of them was Speed Friending. For those who don’t know Speed Friending is where people sit in a room and are given 2-3 minutes a person to ask questions of each other to see if they are a good match for a friend. At the time, I was relatively new to Austin and was looking for a regular group of friends to hang out with. I had been to an event that wasn’t quite Speed Friending, and it wasn’t speed dating. I ended up using what I learned from the meetup tool to then organize free groups helping people connect.
Within just 3 months I had grown a group from 0 to 400 members and was getting a 30-40 person attendance twice a month. At the 5 month mark someone offered me a tip because it was such a valuable experience to him, he made some really great friends at the event I hosted. So I applied my business knowledge and made a business out of it. We began charging a nominal fee for marketing, facilitating, organizing events. We were reaching a large audience fast with the meetup.com platform.
Throughout the next few months in my free time, I experimented with creating a variety of meetup groups and becoming a meetup organizer for other existing groups so I could fully learn and understand the dynamic and limitations of the tool, when I wasn’t working on building AustinVisuals.com .
Time and Money to start your meetup
What a lot of people don’t know when they first start their meetup group ( and a lot of people fail ) is that it takes time and money to grow and start your meetup. You need to be active, attend all the meetups yourself, engage people online and in person. This takes travel funds, time to promote and spread the word, time to plan and facilitate your next event. All this is going on and you’re paying meetup to host your group and also your members are generally not paying for your group. This is why it takes a lot of personal time to grow a group from zero to 1,000 members. I personally have spent at least 3,000 hours growing my groups. I’ve made several groups hit over 10,000 members.
The Dark Side
Meetup.com for as long as I’ve been a member and organizer for it has a backwards model in some respects. It charges it’s organizers usually 20-$30 per month to run a group. In exchange you get access to their marketing engine that will send tons of emails on your behalf so you can grow communities. Well this is great! However where do you get the money to pay meetup for this service?
Meetup has always been very anti-business running on their platform. They’ve usually said they support building community and they prefer to have it done by individuals wanting to connect with other individuals. When businesses get involved they usually review the group pretty closely and if they don’t like the concept or they get too many complaints they close the group.
Additionally meetup encourages meetup organizers to have free or low-cost events. Any event that is making too much money or is too salesy meetup.com will message you as an organizer and tell you to cut it out or they will shut down your group. If you have 1 meetup account you pay meetup $360 per year for their service. At the height of the community growth I was able to create on meetup.com, I had 11 meetup accounts which means I was paying $3,960 per year to meetup just to keep my groups running.
Meetup.com runs like an email list, eventbrite, and facebook group all in one. It allows you to take payments, organize events, take payment for those events. It’s a great tool, but they are very touchy on the way they allow you to run groups. As a result you will see groups like the ‘Awesome’ City Franchise http://www.meetup.com/AustinTexas/ for example. These guys run a company where they build meetup groups and have events for free, then once the group is large enough anyone that posts any event that is money or advertising related they pull them to the side within their group and tell them hey, you have to pay 300-700$ to post in our group. The non-community building part about it is that they tell all the organizers who work for free, that they are building a community. They don’t tell those organizers that another person is making money off their work. If they told them that, that would blow their whole operation. Then they copied that business model across meetup.com in every major city in the U.S. Somehow this activity is sanctioned by meetup despite Headquarters knowing about the activity.
Meetup retains it’s power because although you can organize on the platform they retain all your member’s email addresses. So they aren’t really your members. Meetup can close your group at any time so you should have a backup of these emails. Every two years or so meetup makes some rule change across its platform. It’s usually adding a tool or taking away a tool. Organizers complain and meetup rarely responds and they rarely change their practices as a result of better service to the people that are paying their bills. Meetup’s general mission is to focus on helping people in communities, connect with others and empower organizers with the tools to do this. However they tend to listen to feedback more from their members than the organizers. This conflict of interest makes them less likely to innovate and more likely to do global moves that upset people and stifle community growth and development.
My Story … Fast Forward
After lots of success creating Speed Friending in multiple cities, getting emails about engagements and weddings that happened, and seeing updates of pictures of friends that were BFF’s for life as a result of the events, I thought we had a recipe to expand world wide since meetup is world wide. My company not only made groups for speed friending but we created other groups as well purely for social reasons and as a way to increase our network size.
About 6 months ago a business friend of mine messaged me that his groups had closed down. He had a dating business in San Antonio and was using the group for Speed Dating. I didn’t give it much thought, then 2 months later I received an email from meetup.com
Jun 14th, 2016 – From Meetup.com Headquarters to Matt Winters
Subject : Your meetup will close in 7 days
( Meetup Group North Austin Singles 20/30s had over 2,000 meetup members, then and additional group I had 30/40s had 5,500 )
Meetup’s Community Guidelines have been updated in response to Meetup membership concerns and expectations. Your Meetup group, North Austin Singles – 20’s and 30’s, is not in alignment with our policies and will be closed in 7 days on Tue, June 21. However, your Meetup account will remain active after your group closes.You will remain the organizer of your other Meetups under your current paid subscription plan.
Dating services are not allowed on Meetup. These services and events include, but are not limited to, speed dating, dating clinics, matchmaking, and date coaching.
If you organize other Meetup groups that are in accordance with our policies, your Organizer Subscription plan will remain active. For those who will no longer have any active Meetups, we will be refunding the most recent Organizer Subscription payment in full.Our decision is final and your group will not be reinstated. Please take the next 7 days to inform your members, save content from your group, and refund relevant payments to your members.
Our new policies apply to everyone on the platform — new and old groups alike. We are currently in the process of notifying members about these new policies and enforcing them. A lot of consideration went into our policies and we truly apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
We see that you have also collected recent payments from your members, which are eligible for a refund per our payment policies.
This includes recent member dues received within the last 90 days and any upcoming ticketed events.
We ask that you refund payments to these members before the closure of your group.
If these payments were made using WePay, we reserve the right to process refunds for these payments on your behalf.
Meetup reserves the right to remove groups at our own discretion per our Terms of Service.
We appreciate your time and dedication as an organizer on Meetup. If you’re interested in organizing a new Meetup group that aligns with our policies in the future, we are happy to support you. Please read our new Community Guidelines for more information on our policies.
From this letter and I received others, I learn that meetup.com is closing singles groups worldwide. They have 130,000 groups. Assuming those groups are 30$ a month that is at least 15.6 million in revenue that meetup would be losing if they closed that many down. How does closing groups that are generally free for singles to connect support or foster community building? The assumption here at this point is they either were sued in a single’s related case involving their platform or they were acquired by a singles dating site such as match.com . The terms as to specifically why this move was made was vauge.
Meetup ends up flagging 3 of my singles groups in Austin TX totallying nearly 9,000 members. They give us 7 days to close no questions asked. They additionally flagged 2 groups New to Austin 20/30s and another similar purely social group. These two groups didn’t have speed friending or speed dating posts on them at the time. So these groups were flagged. It wasn’t correct per their terms to flag a non-singles group and close it down. My manager looked up publicly available email addresses for Meetup Headquarters. We then wrote meetup Headquarters a letter. Here they are:
CEO Scott [email protected]
Trust & Safety Senior Manager [email protected]
Senior Community Specialist [email protected]
Community Team Lead [email protected]
** Since the time of this writing they may have changed their email addresses due to the complaints they’ve received over this issue.
I wrote them the following email. And in response they didn’t directly respond in writing. What they did next is proceed to close the majority of the rest of the groups I worked for years to create.
Originally we wrote Meetup This letter. And this is what caused them to close the rest of our groups
I am writing to you today because I am feeling pressured to take my thousands of members away from Meetup and onto another platform. My hope is that we can come to a solution where my compliant groups can remain on Meetup.
My name is Matt Winters and I am the founder of Speed Friending Events, an events-based company out of Austin, Texas, with the mission of helping people create meaningful connections. My company’s mission aligns perfectly with Meetup’s “goal of building supportive and lasting group connections that foster shared community-building.” We run events in multiple cities and in each of those cities, we foster connections among community members so that they can form joyful friendships, successful business connections, and feel that they belong and can make a difference in their community.
We have done very well posting on Meetup. I became a Meetup Organizer in 2010 and have been called a “Super User” by Meetup HQ. As of last week, we had over 23,000 members in our national, and soon to be international network. Furthermore, on June 17, 2016, Meetup recognized us for running one of the most active Meetup groups in the world. Our most popular event is Speed Friending, which offers a structured way to meet new friends. It is distinctly different from speed dating, and does not use dating coaches, match-making, or date-clinics. It is fun, low-pressure, and platonic. The community that we have built on Meetup loves our events and all of connections that we make possible in their communities. The emails our attendees write us talk about how they met their best friend, how coming to Speed Friending made them feel at home in a city, and how they feel like a part of the community thanks to our events.
When we were notified that two of our Meetup groups were being deleted based on the updated Community Guidelines that banned services related to dating, we were upset but we understood that those groups, North Austin Singles 20s-30s and North Austin Singles 30s-40s were not compliant. Although I do not agree with the policy of deleting groups rather than allowing them time to become compliant, I accept that those two groups were clearly against the new policy. It was tough to part with over 6,000 members and have only one week to contact the community members about this change, but we understood why it was happening.
However, I have now been notified that three more of my Meetup groups are being deleted despite being compliant with the new policy. One of those two groups, Best of Boston Social Events, has only hosted 4 meetups. The title, description, and meetups have had nothing to do with dating. One meetup was a trip to the Museum of Fine Arts. The other three were Speed Friending events. Speed Friending is for finding friends. It is for friends by nature and name. Yes, there are surely Meetup group members who attend and find that they click with someone more for a dating relationship than a friendship, but that is true of any event on Meetup. Someone could attend a pug lover party or a local hike and find that they are attracted to another Meetup member in the group. The possibility of finding a date in a friendly get-together does not make a Meetup group dating-related. The only thing that I can think of that could have triggered this closure, was that one of the 15 “topics” describing the group was “Singles”. Speed Friending would be attractive to single people as likely many of their friends are in relationships and they would seek new friends who have more availability. That one “topic”, which was suggested by Meetup’s own system while I created that group, should not cause the shuttering of the group.
My Meetup groups that remain are listed below:
-Best of Boston Social Events
-New To Austin – 20s and 30s
-Speed Friending Events – Austin (Ages 20s and 30s)
-Speed Friending Events – Austin (Ages 30s-50s and Up)
-Speed Friending Events – Chicago
-Make New Friends San Francisco
-What’s Happening Out in Austin – 20s and 30s*
*Recognized by Meetup as “one of the most active Meetup groups on Earth”
After our two singles groups were closed, we updated our descriptions and company policies to be compliant with Meetup’s new guidelines. I believe that my groups are compliant with the new guidelines. Yet we have been served with three more notices of closures anyway. I fear that the rest of my groups, which total over 17,000 members and for which we pay Meetup over $1,600 a year, will be deleted because of an old “topic”. I was planning on opening two moreMeetup groups in July, one in New York and one in London, as we expand internationally. I am a dedicated Meetup Organizer and I love the community that I have self-organized, but the looming threat of losing all of my groups, members, and hard work even though those groups are compliant with Meetup policies is making me question whether I should continue to pay, populate, and recommend Meetup.
Respectfully, I have two requests. First, please explain exactly how we can bring the Meetup groups within our Speed Friending Events network into compliance. We have already removed the singles-related “topics” from all of our groups. But if there is something more we can do, I need to know so that we can quickly put those changes into place. Second, please do not delete any more of my Meetup groups that are complaint. That includes Best of Boston Social Events, Make New Friends San Francisco, and Speed Friending Events Chicago, which have already been flagged for deletion. I feel that these are fair requests.
Our organizations have similar missions, of facilitating connections to make the world a better place. Speed Friending Events has been a fixture of Austin’s Meetup groups for years and we have spent thousands of dollars and thousands of hours making our groups a great place for Meetup members in Austin and in the other cities we have expanded to.
It is my goal to come to a solution and remain on Meetup. However, if my Meetup groups are closed, I will not be returning to Meetup. I will invite my members to join me on a competing platform and offer them financial incentives to do so. And I will also be personally contacting each of the members of my Meetup Organizer group about the situation and the looming threat of deletion without recourse. Outside of that group of Organizers, I would no longer be able to recommend Meetup to others as the communities they may pay for and spend countless hours building can be deleted with nothing more than a week’s notice regardless of compliance with Meetup policies.
I need an answer before my groups are deleted on Tuesday, July 5, 2016.
Thank you for your time.
President and CEO
This is what Meetup.com wrote is response
Type your response ABOVE THIS LINE to reply
JUL 05, 2016 | 07:16PM EDT
I understand it is frustrating that a group you organize and deeply care about is about to close. I am glad you were able to build a business and network out of it, and I understand your interest in advocating for your position. However, our position will not change.
We will not allow speed dating or speed friending because they are more focused on one-on-one connections rather than lasting community building. Moreover, speed friending, like speed dating, falls under a matchmaking event. As result, we strongly believe we are not a good fit for these types of events on our platform.
Please know, Meetup is a private platform that is globally shared and used. This means we ultimately determine what we are built for and what we are not built for. Therefore, we believe we are not positioned to support your events and believe there are other platforms that are better equipped to facilitate your events.
We take great care when creating and enforcing our policies, and consider this matter closed. We are, however, always available to help with any other feature or usage concerns you might have in the future.
Thanks again for understanding our policies.
Trust & Safety Specialist
JUL 02, 2016 | 09:18PM EDT
Hello Ervin and Deirdre,
I have sent an email from the relevant account to verify the following
Speed Friending Events – Chicago
Make New Friends San Francisco
Best of Boston Social Events
I have also pasted the contents of my email below.
I understand that the policy is banning a variety of activities related to
dating. But Speed *Friending* is not dating. Making* friends* is different
from dating. I am seeking a full explanation as to how events centered
around making *friends* violates the new policy relating to dating. I am
trying to understand the policy. Copying and pasting parts or all of the
policy will not suffice. I have read the policy and we are compliant.
Please either explain exactly how making friends violates the policy, or
swiftly connect me with someone who can.
JUL 01, 2016 | 05:27PM EDT
My name is Ervin and I work on the Trust and Safety team at Meetup. Thank you for taking the time to write in to share your thoughts.
First, we use email addresses to identify our members, the same way you can log into the Meetup site with your email address. We can only send private information about a Meetup account to the email address we have on file for that account.
After taking a look into your account from the email address you wrote in from, I see you are an organizer for the following groups:
Speed Friending Events – Austin (Ages 20s and 30s)
Speed Friending Events – Austin (Ages 30s – 50s and Up)
New To Austin – 20s and 30s
As mentioned, I can only share information regarding the Meetups you organize above. If you would like to discuss the other Meetups you listed, you can write to us directly from the email address on file for your Meetup account that organizes the other groups.
To clarify our policies, dating services and events are prohibited on Meetup. These services and events include, but are not limited to, speed dating, dating clinics, matchmaking, and date coaching. We want Meetups to create lasting community among members and within the group as a whole, and we have determined that these groups do not serve that purpose. With this mind, we believe speed friending event arenot align with our policies.
We believe that there are other platforms and services that are better equipped and better positioned to foster and facilitate those events and interests.
While I understand that you may not agree with this decision, we hope that you understand that this was not an easy policy to arrive at and hope that you respect our decision.
Thank you for understanding our policies.
Trust & Safety Specialist
So then meetup.com proceeds to close the rest of my groups one by one within a 2-3 week period until I went from 17 groups totaling 80k+ members, to I am now left with 3 groups totaling now 7k members. It’s disheartening to think about the time and commitment to their platform I’ve spent. Additionally I would give Meetup HQ feedback how to improve their platform. I was on a committee to help them improve their software. Speeches I’ve given on how to grow communities take a lot of time. The thought that a company can just remove what took years to build and not have a formal committee process is terrible on many levels.
As a result of what meetup.com did to the network which was close additional groups my manager who was my right hand person helping me expand my company left. The blow to our company was so great we can no longer expand and we don’t have enough hands to clean up the pieces. I have 3 groups left and they’ve flagged 1 of them, the one I won an award for having the most active meetup in the world. What’s happening out in Austin 20/30s. This group does do a lot of social activites. It’s likely they will close this group soon. Speed Friending Events as a business concept may not survive. For now it’s in stasis in a manner of speaking. We plan to move everyone to our own email lists so this won’t happen again. I urge you to join my group here on the network and keep in touch :
It’s also interesting to note that how quickly our groups were taken down, when if you do a search for singles groups, social groups that are similar to ours, the Awesome Austin Franchise, many of those groups are still in existence on meetup.com
Below is the email we recently received about the shutting down of our number 1 of 3 groups remaining. Interestingly enough after we messaged meetup HQ with our plea to them, they revised their terms of service to include speed friending events too.
We are writing to you about your Meetup group, What’s Happening Out in Austin – 20s and 30s.
Meetup’s Community Guidelines have been updated to better serve our members and ensure that all Meetup groups are community focused.
Dating services are no longer allowed because they are primarily about individual interactions rather than community-building.
– Dating services include events with the following activities:
– Speed dating (and variations like speed friending)
– Date coaching or clinics
We’ve noticed that your group has hosted events related to dating services. Please review your upcoming events and remove any dating service activities or events.
In 2 weeks, we will review your group. Your Meetup group will be closed if you haven’t removed all upcoming dating service events.
In order to reduce confusion for your members, please also remove any dating service content from other areas of your Meetup, such as the description, Meetup group and event titles, sponsors, and topics.
Finally, please issue refunds to members who have paid for any upcoming events you cancel.
For more information on our policies, please read our Community Guidelines or our article, Recent Policy Updates.
We reserve the right to remove groups at our own discretion per our Terms of Service.
Thank you for your commitment to Meetup.
Sometimes being a business owner means you are able to innovate and impact the lives of others on a large scale, sometimes it’s small. Sometimes you win or you lose. In this case, we were out maneuvered by a company that had more money than us. That has proven they can remove any group at any time for any reason while not even needing to state their reasons. That’s not a community I would like to follow or believe in creating. My intention with creating this article is to create awareness of a sensitive topic. The sharing and open discussion of this issue may end up improving the lives or community of someone somewhere. If any part of this article touched you or struck a chord, support me by joining my networks below and if you have resources so we can help rebuild, just reach out – Matt Winters – President and CEO of Austin Visuals, Speed Friending Events, Culture-FX
Matt Winters– If you want to help, share on social media, continue the discussion, get the word out. Then join my new network here.
How you can support?
- If you’re interested in business Networking for Professionals in Austin TX only, you can sign up here. http://eepurl.com/bimN_1
- If you’re interested in Speed Friending for Women in Austin TX only sign up for our newsletter and updates here : http://eepurl.com/0LaWT
- If none of those apply, add me on linkedin and /or you can join our new community group here at thetechmap.com my friend Johan runs this website that is a site similar to meetup.com : Whether you’re in Austin or from Anywhere else in the nation, follow me here. I’m about to grow this group into something huge. http://thetechmap.com/group/Details/13
Always looking for volunteers to help grow community, you can message me [email protected] if you want to help.
— Update Sept 13th, 2016
Meetup HQ Reached out the day I made this blog post and messaged my remaining network with the link of the post. It seems they received word of my activities. Here is the discussion
SEP 13, 2016 | 01:03PM EDT
Hi there Matt,
Thanks for reaching back out and I’m sorry this has caused you so much stress. First, please know that our policy decisions around certain types of groups are entirely unrelated to revenue that those groups get. In fact, our policies are based on the type of experience we want our members to have on Meetup.
Next, you are writing in from the email address associated with this account: http://www.meetup.com/members/
However, I’m happy to address your Meetup group, What’s Happening Out in Austin – 20s and 30s, as we reached out about that group recently. We’re reaching out to organizers who have hosted a dating service event in the past. As I mentioned, dating services include matchmaking, speeddating and date coaching. We just want these organizers to be aware of our policy shifts.
Your group, What’s Happening Out in Austin – 20s and 30s, is completely aligned with our policies. Please make sure to keep these policies in mind in the future.
If you have questions on other groups that are under other accounts, please reach out to us from those email addresses.
SEP 09, 2016 | 12:23PM EDT
Matt Hello Hannah,
Well as of July 11th, 2016 I was the owner of 17 meetup groups and paying
meetup close to $4,000 per year. Through meetup’s selection. I currently
And they’ve selected the What’s happening group for closure. It’s Unlikely
considering they’ve closed 90% of my network within 45 days, that I trust
they would keep any of my groups open.
I’m the meetup organizer of the Austin Organizers. I’ve been a loyal meetup
member for 5 years. We’ve changed our group any time meetup made a request
to us to comply with all rules and policies.
Meetup would not specifically respond as to why they have chosen to close
groups like my ‘New to Austin 20/30s’ when this meetup
the same amount and kind of people. My group was closed, this group is
allowed to exist. Or this group here : https://www.meetup.com/
Has been allowed to exist when meetup knows
that they receive 325-750$ per event post from members because the owner of
this group is the same owner as : http://www.meetup.com/
this kind of meetup exists in almost every
major U.S. city with it’s sole purpose to make money and meetup allows
these groups to continue to extort people for money, but my groups that
were truley social and community focused including the Whats happening,
have all gotten closed.
SEP 09, 2016 | 11:20AM EDT
I wanted to reach out to you personally after we noticed you might have questions about our new policies. My name is Hannah and I work on the Integrity Team at Meetup. I may have corresponded in the past through other email addresses if you have them.
I see we recently reached out to you about your group, What’s Happening Out in Austin – 20s and 30s, and I’m happy to discuss our new policies if you have any questions or concerns.
I’m also happy to explain our singles and dating services policies in more detail. Primarily, I wanted to clarify that we are not removing or penalizing existing singles groups.
We’re asking all organizers to remove any Meetup events and content affiliated with the following services:
– Speed dating (and variations like speed friending)
– Date coaching or clinics
Meetup has never been intended to be a dating platform for one-to-one interactions or those seeking a romantic partner. There are other platforms better suited for this interest. We have determined that speed dating, date coaching, date clinics, and matchmaking events do not foster group interaction and community.
However, generally speaking, singles groups are permitted on Meetup, however, we recommend that singles groups make sure their group has a specific focus. By focus, we mean an additional activity or interest such as hiking or eating Italian food.
We appreciate your dedication to your Meetup and your willingness to align with our policies.
Update 11-4-2016 Received this final response from meetup.com