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How to Run a Successful Less Wrong Meetup

53 Post author: Kaj_Sotala 12 June 2012 09:32PM

Always wanted to run a Less Wrong meetup, but been unsure of how? The How to Run a Successful Less Wrong Meetup booklet is here to help you!

The 33-page document draws from consultations with more than a dozen Less Wrong meetup group organizers. Stanislaw Boboryk created the document design. Luke provided direction, feedback, and initial research, and I did almost all the writing.

The booklet starts by providing some motivational suggestions on why you'd want to create a meetup in the first place, and then moves on to the subject of organizing your first one. Basics such as choosing a venue, making an announcement, and finding something to talk about once at the meetup, are all covered. This section also discusses pioneering meetups in foreign cities and restarting inactive meetup groups.

For those who have already established a meetup group, the booklet offers suggestions on things such as attracting new members, maintaining a pleasant atmosphere, and dealing with conflicts within the group. The "How to Build Your Team of Heroes" section explains the roles that are useful for a meetup group to fill, ranging from visionaries to organizers.

If you're unsure of what exactly to do at meetups, the guide describes many options, from different types of discussions to nearly 20 different games and exercises. All the talk and philosophizing in the world won't do much good if you don't actually do things, so the booklet also discusses long-term projects that you can undertake. Some people attend meetups to just have fun and to be social, and others to improve themselves and the world. The booklet has been written to be useful for both kinds of people.

In order to inspire you and let you see what others have done, the booklet also has brief case studies and examples from real meetup groups around the world. You can find these sprinkled throughout the guide.

This is just the first version of the guide. We will continue working on it. If you find mistakes, or think that something is unclear, or would like to see some part expanded, or if you've got good advice you think should be included... please let me know! You can contact me at kaj.sotala@intelligence.org.

A large number of people have helped in various ways, and I hope that I've remembered to mention most of them in the acknowledgements. If you've contributed to the document but don't see your name mentioned, please send me a message and I'll have that fixed!

The booklet has been illustrated with pictures from various meetup groups. Meetup organizers sent me the pictures for this use, and I explicitly asked them to make sure that everyone in the photos was fine with it. Regardless, if there's a picture that you find objectionable, please contact me and I'll have it replaced with something else.

Comments (35)

Comment author: michaelcurzi 01 June 2012 11:25:59PM 19 points [-]

I'm really glad you took the time to make the design work well. Great design is sorely underestimated - this is one of the best-looking products to have come out of Less Wrong. Awesome job.

Comment author: maia 13 June 2012 01:36:40PM 8 points [-]

Just out of curiosity, have there been any efforts to test what effects meetups have on happiness or instrumental rationality?

Comment author: blob 01 June 2012 05:04:38AM *  7 points [-]

Great document! Were there any major changes from the last version on google docs?

Some comments:

The "Add new meetup" button described in "Making the announcement" only appears if you have more than two points of karma. While most organizers probably meet that requirement, I thought I simply hadn't found the right place and had to ask someone. I'd prefer if the button showed, but was disabled and had a "need two karma for that" tooltip for people with <2 karma over adding the information to the document.

In the section on Liar's dice:

See Wikipedia for a number of variants, as well as detailed information about the bidding systems.

Unfortunately the descriptions of the various bidding systems were recently removed from Wikipedia. This is the last revision that has them.

Comment author: Alexander230 27 August 2014 10:03:01AM 3 points [-]

This 2 karma restriction creates inconvenience when an organizer wants to delegate the posting about meetup to another person who have to create new account. If it's an anti-spam measure, maybe it can be done in better way, such as optional phone number sms confirmation that will remove karma restriction from announce posting.

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 01 June 2012 07:08:45AM 3 points [-]

Thanks for your feedback!

Were there any major changes from the last version on google docs?

Probably some, but we didn't keep a changelog, so I don't remember what they were.

The "Add new meetup" button described in "Making the announcement" only appears if you have more than two points of karma. While most organizers probably meet that requirement, I thought I simply hadn't found the right place and had to ask someone. I'd prefer if the button showed, but was disabled and had a "need two karma for that" tooltip for people with <2 karma over adding the information to the document.

I guess all the people working on the guide had enough karma to be ignorant about that. :-) I'll add a mention of it. Your suggestion is good too, hopefully some site developer will implement it.

Unfortunately the descriptions of the various bidding systems were recently removed from Wikipedia. This is the last revision that has them.

Argh, that's the problem with referencing Wikipedia. I guess I'll change the link to point to the archived revision.

Comment author: ShannonFriedman 20 June 2012 03:21:24AM 24 points [-]

I have a blog I really want to post, but I just created my profile on LW and don't have any karma yet. Can you please up vote this comment so that I can post? I'm a long time community member, just new to the blog.

Warmly, Shannon

Comment author: FrankAdamek 20 June 2012 04:05:51AM 8 points [-]

Shannon really is a long-time and hugely contributive rationalist, hosting a ton of meetups in a great space and making a lot of other contributions as well. Thumbs up.

Comment author: army1987 20 June 2012 02:15:58PM 3 points [-]

Have you posted on the welcome thread?

Comment author: Strange7 20 June 2012 03:40:40AM 1 point [-]

Interesting strategy.

Comment author: Clippy 20 June 2012 03:47:59AM -1 points [-]

Definitely, I wish I had thought of that excuse.

Comment author: Strange7 20 June 2012 03:58:07AM -1 points [-]

It's still an option! Just create a new account. Not too soon, though, it'd be suspicious.

Comment author: wedrifid 20 June 2012 04:39:30AM 1 point [-]

It's still an option! Just create a new account. Not too soon, though, it'd be suspicious.

And hard to keep track of. Clippy already has three accounts that I am aware of.

Comment author: metatroll 20 June 2012 06:00:05AM -3 points [-]

If anyone wants to see a top-level post on rational metatrolling, please vote this comment up.

Comment author: Jolly 01 June 2012 01:41:50AM 3 points [-]

Oops. That reminds me, I was supposed to send more pictures... O:-)

Comment author: Jolly 01 June 2012 11:58:45PM *  6 points [-]

Ok, Photos from 2012 Rationality Minicamp, the 2011 and 2012 NYC meetups, and a random Cambridge meetup are here - Photos They should be up for at least a few months, at which point I'll probably pull them down to save me space.

Comment author: ciphergoth 01 June 2012 09:43:09AM 6 points [-]

aaaargh, PDF! Any chance of an ePub or Mobi version? I have looked into creating these things, I can create them for you from the sources if you like. Cheers!

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 01 June 2012 01:08:08PM 3 points [-]

I could make the most recent Google Docs version public, but I'm not sure if there were any changes introduced in the conversion from Docs to PDF that I should update in the document first. I'll ask Luke.

Comment author: ciphergoth 01 June 2012 03:16:59PM 4 points [-]

Thanks. As it happens my employers have products for converting Google Docs into high-quality PDFs and eBooks - I could use those!

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 05 June 2012 07:25:24AM 2 points [-]

Alright, here's the link to the updated Google Docs version.

Comment author: wedrifid 14 June 2012 06:38:25PM 0 points [-]

Which products, out of interest?

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 14 June 2012 01:38:49PM 0 points [-]

Did you make the eBook version? Want to share it with us? :-)

(Luke prefers to have people looking at the PDF rather than the GDocs version, so he set it back to private - but we would like to have an eBook version available.)

Comment author: ciphergoth 14 June 2012 02:37:18PM 0 points [-]

No not yet. Need a moment of calm at work!

Comment author: bramflakes 31 May 2012 10:27:54PM 2 points [-]

Is this on the wiki yet?

Comment author: lukeprog 31 May 2012 10:44:45PM 3 points [-]

Not yet; feel free to create a page for it!

Comment author: malcolmocean 14 April 2013 03:16:38PM 1 point [-]

This document is awesome.

Tiny bit of feedback on Fermi scoring. The Science Olympiad rules appear to get logarithmic rounding wrong.

Generally, fives can round either way, depending on if you think your answer is high or low.

When dealing with orders of magnitude, the centerpoint for rounding should be halfway between the two values, except in this case the value is the exponent, not the mantissa/coefficient. This means that halfway is sqrt(10) = 3.16

So in general, values of 3 or lower should be rounded down and values much higher than 3 (even 3.4) should be rounded up.

3.68 x 10^3 ~= 10^4

Comment author: shminux 12 June 2012 10:02:56PM *  1 point [-]

This seems like a generic meetup guide for people who only know each other online. Maybe it can be renamed "How to Run a Successful Online Forum Meetup" and circulated more widely (say, linked on reddit), possibly after being stripped of personally identifiable info.

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 13 June 2012 09:58:07AM 10 points [-]

Or you could link to the current version, thus advertising Less Wrong at the same time as you help people in other communities create meetups.

Comment author: Jackercrack 29 October 2014 05:45:42AM *  0 points [-]

Fantastic guide, a small note: the various status cues on page 28 is a dead link

Edit: Note to future readers: dead links can generally be traversed using the internet archive to find the cached site from when it was up.