Picking up the pieces and moving forward, part 2

Part one of this series covered mostly the remaining happenings with WordCamp Houston 2010. This post will focus on what has happened–and more importantly, what has not happened until very recently–with the Houston WordPress Meetup, which is perhaps the more important part of the community at this point.

In the following quote, Monica Danna refers to a call for organizers for the Houston WordPress Meetup group posted “last year” (verbatim quote, emphasis added by me):

This group, as many Meetup groups, is mean to be a group effort. The organizers who have stepped up over the past few years have done a great job, when their time allows. We are all here to learn and share, and many of us are also involved in other activities, including full-time day jobs :-) We put a call out last year for anyone interested in serving as an organizer.

If anyone is interested in organizing a meetup, any member can do this.

We all share a love for WordPress and for Houston. Look forward to seeing new meetups in 2013.



(Note that “last year” in Ms. Danna’s post is 2012, since that was posted in 2013 January.)

My first search for this supposed call for organizers focused on the Twitter feed, the Facebook page, and the Meetup discussion boards, from 2011 December on (I added an extra month just to give her some benefit of the doubt). I asked in a followup post, where this supposed call for organizers was made. Another user, “Network Geek” told me a week later it was in an email, but it may have been further back in 2011. As of this post, I have yet to find it. I have conducted an exhaustive search, even going back to before Christopher Smith took over the group, well into early 2011.

I would still like to be proven wrong, but at this point all signs visible from my point of view, point to Ms. Danna having lied yet again. I have to make a note here: If this was sent out via an e-mail, and I was omitted from the distribution list (intentionally or not), then from my point of view, there was no e-mail sent.

Note that it is technically true that any member can organize a meetup. However, only organizers have the power to make such a meetup “official” and they can choose not to do so. I could not announce, for example, the meetup on Tuesday, 2013 March 12, and none of the other 400+ “pawn level” (non-organizer) members could either. (Not even Ms. Danna could announce it, she’d have to ask Chris Valdez to do so!)

Which leads into my next point. This discussion thread regarding organizers for the Meetup group only even came into being because several of us were frustrated at the inaction of Christopher Smith and Chris Valdez as Meetup group organizers. As an example of this, a spam post sat up there for most of a week, and may have even been deleted by Meetup’s own spam filters eventually, not by either of the organizers. Now, had I been the organizer of the Meetup group, it would have most likely been gone within a day (either by my hand, or that of one of my trusted assistant organizers).

I had made several attempts to reach out to the organizers. The new leadership had already begun using the discussion boards of the old group, and announced “unofficial” meetups. I got to attend one such meetup on February 12, at the Looscan branch of the Houston Public Library. (I had suggested this venue because I knew of it, but knew the limited hours might be a problem. As it turns out, this was likely our only meetup at this venue.)

As time went on, we got to March 3. I had finally had enough of the flagrant inaction. The impending meetup about a week away, and still no official announcement by either organizer. I sent this to the organizers in an email at 14:44 Central Time on that date:

The March Meetup at Caroline Collective is still only showing as suggested. This meetup is actually happening, it has not just been suggested.

I would like to ask as your last acts as organizers that you announce this meetup, transfer organizer status to Claudia Franco and David Lee, and then step down as organizers. If for some reason you feel Claudia and David should not be running the group, I am welcome to discuss who else is fit to take the group over, but we can’t have organizers who are just in it for the PR and do not give a shit about the group (pardon my French). It would be nice if you would apologize to the group as well, as your inaction has made it much more difficult than necessary to organize meetups.

I am asking privately before making a more formal request visible to the entire community in a blog post (my WordCamp Houston 2010 wrapup which has still not been posted just yet). Nothing personal against either of you, but this has gone on too long and I’ll be damned if I’m going to just sit here while it does.

Shawn K. Quinn
Houstonian since 1975 November, WordPress user since 2008 December
spectacularshawn.com rantroulette.com quinnsbigcity.com

Yep. I dropped the S-bomb. For a day or two I regretted it, but in retrospect it was exactly the message I needed to send. Not surprisingly, I have yet to get a reply.

A direct message to Christopher Smith’s company account on Twitter was not replied to. Worse, I made a point of checking if I was still following the account, and found I was blocked the morning after sending it. These actions, taken by themselves, clearly indicate someone who does not have the community’s best interests at heart.

Coming up in part 3, it’s time to call for backup again.

(Note that as of very recently, by which I mean mere hours before I was about to schedule this for posting, there has been a change. It does not fit well here or even in part 3, but will be covered in part 4; I am referring to it here just so my readers know it has not been ignored.)

[Edited 2021-07-23 to fix some unfortunate typos/misspellings]