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Vim London - still alive in spite of meetup.com

UPDATE: Vim London is back!

Yesterday, without warning, Meetup.com deleted the Vim London group. In their words, here’s why:

Your Meetup Group, Vim London, was brought to our attention as specifically promoting a product, which is not in compliance with our Terms of Service. Meetup is a community website and not a commercial marketplace… As a result of our inquiry, we’ve closed your Meetup Group and refunded your Organizer Dues.

In their generic message, they don’t indicate which product was apparently being promoted. The meetup group that we created has vanished, along with our list of members. That means I can’t contact our (already 50+) members to explain what’s happened, so I’m announcing it here.

I replied immediately (but have yet to hear back from them):

Vim London was founded as a meetup for Vim enthusiasts. In that sense, it’s no different than any of the meetups listed here.

For our inaugural event, I suggested that we could celebrate the founding of Vim London, as well as the shipping of my book, Practical Vim. Is this why our meetup was flagged as inappropriate? We can change the agenda for our first meetup, but I see no reason to cancel the group entirely.

Don’t panic. Vim London is not dead! We shall still hold our launch party next monday (October 29th), in spite of this setback.

Launch Party: The agenda

Here’s the agenda for our first meetup:

  1. Drew Neil: Precision editing at the speed of thought (30 mins)
  2. Kris Jenkins: Vim Pipe (5 mins)
  3. Claudio Ortolina: Hermes (5 mins)

That’s assuming that we can find a suitable venue, with a projector and space for 40 nerds. If you can help find a suitable venue, please get in touch (UPDATE: we’ve got a possible venue lined up – details will follow).

On promoting Practical Vim

Assuming that meetup.com objected to my casual promotion of Practical Vim, I must admit that I stepped out of line.

Believe me when I say that I don’t enjoy marketing my book, but lately my attitude has changed. Earlier this year, I was invited to speak at Øredev, in Malmo, Sweden. They have a clear policy that states sales pitches and marketing material are not allowed in their sessions.

I had a query about that:

I understand that the spirit of Øredev is against sales/marketing in presentations. If I was giving a presentation on Vim, would it be acceptable for me to mention that I had written a book on the subject?

Anders Janmyr responded (emphasis mine):

What we consider to be marketing is something like Oracle, IBM or MS trying to push their products on the audience. You are more than welcome to plug your book. It would probably be considered strange if you didn’t. Books are knowledge sharing in my opinion.

This exchange has relieved me of some of the guilt I used to feel when promoting Practical Vim, and for that reason it didn’t occur to me that I was crossing a line when I mentioned Practical Vim in the brief for the Vim London Launch Party.

Update: Meetup replies with a canned response

I’ve had a response from Meetup.com, although it doesn’t show any signs that they’ve read my reply:

It’s important that a Meetup Group’s intentions be clearly stated in the Group description, especially during the initial start up phase. The automated email invitation and announcement process for new Organizers is one of the best tools we have to kick-start a new Meetup Group.

If your intentions are unclear, your content may be reported to us as inappropriate, which is why we took action from here. Members will also be less likely to join your Meetup Group.

If you would like to start a new Meetup Group, please review the Terms of Service for clarification: http://www.meetup.com/terms/

Update: Vim London is back!

Meetup have restored the Vim London account. Here’s what they had to say about it:

I took a closer look at what happened and determined that the specialist who took action on your Meetup Group misunderstood the content. The closure was due entirely to human error, and I truly apologize for the inconvenience this has likely caused you and your members.

…snip…

Please know that our intentions as gatekeepers are to keep Meetups that violate our terms of service off of the platform. The Community Team does their best to make these decisions as carefully as possible. In this case, we did not. Again, I truly apologize!

They’ve also waived the $12/month admin fee for our first six months. Goodwill restored!