There are ACX-affiliated meetup groups all over the world. Lots of people are vaguely interested, but don’t try them out until I make a big deal about it on the blog. Since learning that, I’ve tried to make a big deal about it on the blog at least once annually, and it’s that time of year again.

If you’re willing to organize a meetup for your city, pleasefill out the organizer form.

The form will ask you to pick a location, time, and date, and to provide an email address where people can reach you for questions. I’ll publicize your meetup on the blog, and people will either get in touch with you, or just show up at the relevant place/time.

You should show up at the relevant place/time with a sign saying “ACX Meetup” or some other rallying flag, but you don’t necessarily need to have any plans or discussion topics or ability to control the conversation. If you want to make the experience better for people, you can bring nice things like nametags/markers, food/drinks, or games.

I also recommend collecting people’s names/emails — the best way to do this is to have people scan a QR code or follow a bitly link, to either fill out a Google Form or add themselves to an existing mailing list / group chat / etc. I used to recommend just pen and paper for this, but it turns out reading people’s handwriting is hard.

Here’s a short FAQ for potential meetup organizers:

1. How do I know if I would be a good meetup organizer?

If you can put a name/time/date in a box on Google Forms and show up there, you have the minimum skill necessary to be a meetup organizer for your city, and I would recommend you sign up.

Don’t worry, you signing up won’t take the job away from someone more deserving. The form will ask people how excited/qualified they are about being an organizer, and if there are many options, I’ll choose whoever says they’re excited and qualified. But a lot of cities might not have an excited/qualified person, in which case I would rather the unexcited/unqualified people sign up, than have nobody available at all.

Note that last time there were some people who didn’t volunteer because they just assumed their city was big enough that someone else would do it, and then there was no meetup in their city and they were sad.

2. How will people hear about the meetup?

You give me the information, and on August 24 (or so), I’ll post it on ACX.

3. When should I plan the meetup for?

Since I’ll post the list of meetup times and dates around August 24, please choose sometime after that. I recommend a weekend since it’s when most people are available. You’ll probably get more attendance if you schedule for at least one week out, but not so far out that people will forget - so September or early October would be best. If you’re in the US, be careful around Labor Day weekend since a lot of people will be away. If you’re in a college town, maybe wait until school starts.

4. How many people should I expect?

The last time we tried this, meetups ranged from 1 person to 200 people. Meetups in big US cities (especially ones with universities or tech hubs) had the most people; meetups in non-English-speaking countries had the fewest. You can see a list of every city and how many people most of them got last time here (2019 data here). Plan accordingly.

5. Where should I hold the meetup?

A good venue should be easy for people to get to, not too loud, and have basic things like places to sit, access to toilets, and the option of acquiring food and water. If you want to hold the meetup at your house, remember that this will involve me posting your address on the Internet.

6. What should I do at the meetup?

Mostly people just show up and talk. If you’re worried about this not going well, here are some things that can help:

  • Have people indicate topics they’re interested in by writing something on their nametag, or by using color-coded stickers

  • Bring a list of icebreakers / conversation starters (e.g. “What have you been excited about recently?” or “How did you find the blog?” or “How many feet of giraffe neck do you think there are in the world?”)

In general I would warn against trying to impose mandatory activities (e.g. “now we’re all going to sit down and watch a PowerPoint presentation”), but it’s fine to give people the option to do something other than freeform socializing (e.g. “go over to that table if you want to play a game”).

7. Is it okay if I already have an existing meetup group?

Yes. If you run an existing ACX meetup group, just choose one of your meetings which you’d like me to advertise on my blog as the official meetup for your city, and be prepared to have a larger-than-normal attendance who might want to do generic-new-people things that day.

If you’re a LW, EA, or other affiliated community meetup group, consider carefully whether you want to be affiliated with ACX. If you decide yes, that’s fine, but I might still choose an ACX-specific meetup over you, if I find one. I guess this would depend on whether you’re primarily a social group (good for this purpose) vs. a practical group that does rationality/altruism/etc activism (good for you, but not really appropriate for what I’m trying to do here). I’ll ask about this on the form.

8. If this works, am I committing to continuing to organize meetup groups forever for my city?

The short answer is no.

The long answer is no, but it seems like the sort of thing somebody should do. Many cities already have permanent meetup groups. For the others, I’ll prioritize would-be organizers who are interested in starting one. If you end up organizing one meetup but not being interested in starting a longer-term group, see if you can find someone at the meetup who you can hand this responsibility off to.

I know it sounds weird, but due to the way human psychology works, once you’re the meetup organizer people are going to respect you, coordinate around you, and be wary of doing anything on their own initiative lest they step on your toes. If you can just bang something loudly at the meetup, get everyone’s attention, and say “HEY, ANYONE WANT TO BECOME A PERMANENT MEETUP ORGANIZER?”, somebody might say yes, even if they would never dream of asking you on their own.

9. Are you (Scott) going to come to some of the meetups?

I did this the past two times and it was a lot of fun, but it also pretty tiring. I’ll probably do a much smaller tour this year - right now my plan is just Bay Area, LA, and maybe Orange County or San Diego. I’ll get in touch with the people involved in those cities and sort it out, and give everyone an update around 8/24 when I post the final list of cities and people.

Meetups Czar Mingyuan is hoping to visit some meetups as well; she’ll be in Western Europe in September, so if you volunteer to host something around there, she might get in contact with you.

Again, you can find the meetup organizer volunteer form here. Everyone else, just wait until 8/24 and I’ll give you more information on where to go then.