Meetups Guidelines: feedback welcome!

Hello everyone! :wave:

Over the past few months we have been working on something we’d like to have your feedback on.

The meetups have always been community initiated activities and we always aimed to only guide and provide some general support. We do feel however that there’s a growing need for some general guidelines to prevent issues that sometimes affect the community as well as Postcrossing, since we inevitably get associated with what happens in the meetups.

We have been working on a text and have collected feedback from some regular meetup organizers. Now we would like to hear from you all so we can polish it and make sure it covers the most important topics — it does not aim to be very extensive so that it’s easy to read and understand.

Hence, please leave comments below on the existing content. Any problems that you have seen or heard reports about that should be taken into account? Please share them below or message us about it.

Thank you in advance! :pray:


Postcrossing Meetup Guidelines

The Postcrossing meetups are community organized events. They are an opportunity for members to meet face to face, chat and make friends, share their enthusiasm for Postcrossing or just have fun together.

Anyone can organize a meetup in their local area if there are more people interested. To make sure things go smoothly and that these are happy and friendly events for everyone, please adhere to these guidelines:

  • Be friendly and respectful to others.
  • Meetups should be open to everyone in Postcrossing, without discrimination.
  • Aim that the event is done in an accessible place, so that mobility impaired postcrossers can join too.
  • Meetups need to be announced (on the forum) well in advance, so people can know and have a chance to join (minimum 2 weeks).
  • Everyone can bring their own postcards to a meetup. Although not required, any participant can create a special meetup postcard. When using the Postcrossing logo, the Logo Guidelines need to be followed.
  • Keep people’s right to privacy in mind, in particular, if someone shared their address with you, don’t assume you can freely share it with others — always ask first.
  • It’s fine to write some postcards during the meetup, but please try to limit the number of postcards you ask others to sign: allow postcrossers time to chat and be social as well.
  • Visit regularly the forum meetup discussion for any updates and, if you are the host, to answer any questions others may have.
  • Make sure everyone can join the meetup and receive all information without having to create an account on another website or social network.
  • Let the organiser know as soon as possible if you cannot come, so someone else has the chance to take your place.
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Sounds very good to me.

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This sounds very good to me :slight_smile:

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This seems really important to me - during the last months I had the impression that some meetings which were obviously already fully organized via other platforms (like Facebook) were announced very last minute on the forum, sometimes only 1-2 days before the meetup. :neutral_face:

Concerning the meetup cards, I want to share three thoughts:

· When a Meetup is announced 2-3 weeks in advance, the meetup cards are probably printed already.

I suggest to include this logo rule in the guidelines:
Make sure that the meetup has been added to the meetups list first.

· I also had the impression that there lately were quite a few meetups with cards with logo issues; often the logo was printed on a blue background.

Perhaps you could mention the rule
Don’t put the logo on a red or blue background
as an example in the Meetup guidelines?

· And it’s always nice if members who have created a Meetup card card are willing to share it with the other participants. I’m not sure if it’s helpful to mention this point in the guidelines?

Thanks for asking for our opinion! :slightly_smiling_face:

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Sounds like a good idea to me!

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I completely agree with you. But the problem (as with any rule) will be how to enforce this …

Another thought of mine (@paulo):
Once those rules are “official”, we should translate them into as many languages as possible to make them more accessible.

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Thank you everyone for the feedback so far! :+1:

Both of these ideas are already included in the Logo Guidelines document itself and the Meetups Guidelines being discussed already explicitly say that the Logo Guidelines (with a link) must be followed. We want to avoid duplicating the guidelines for the logo into this one as there are many more points about using the logo and if we only list some here, it might be assumed those are the only ones to be followed on meetup postcards.

Having said that, we do have plans to do a separate update to the Logo Guidelines themselves to include some additional instructions specifically to the use of meetup postcards to clarify some recurring doubts. We may end up linking from the Meetup Guidelines to that update section specifically, depending on how we’ll update the Logo Guidelines with the additions.

We have done this in the past and it’s something we rather avoid doing again. We completely understand the reasoning for suggesting it, but this often brings a couple of problems with it when used in important texts such as Guidelines.

The first issue is that in Guidelines, words are usually chosen carefully and when they are translated, they may have a different meaning — we wouldn’t have a way to check that. We don’t have access to professional translators, so we would rely on the community which may or not do a good translation. Some of you might remember that for many years we had Postcrossing’s about page translated into several languages that the community contributed over the years. However, slowly, we started to realize from other postcrossers that the existing translations in their languages were sometimes confusing, awkward sounding and sometimes even wrong. Again, we don’t have a good way to check if the translation done by a community member is a good one and/or if any of the original meaning has been changed. While for languages that we have many members speaking it, a sort of “wisdom of the crowds” effect can help with this, that’s not true for “as many languages as possible”.

The other issue is that the translations creates a barrier for when we need to do updates to the text in the future. If we change the original text in English, we must invalidate all previous translations at once until a new updated one is contributed, otherwise we would run the risk of having multiple versions of the guidelines in different languages. This would require us to request the original translator — or find a different person — to do the change, update the page of each translation, re-format the text, etc. In short, making updates to it becomes a much more complicated and slow process to do.

Having said this, we don’t oppose (and can’t avoid!) members do the translations and publish them somewhere. We just don’t want to make “official” translations which may not be correct.

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I’ve poked a few meetup organizers about this topic, so that they can give us some of their feedback as well. :slight_smile:

HI,
One of the things I always try to mention at a meetup is using the address not printed in English if at all possible. For example if a second address is in a Slavic or Mandarin language use that one.

I was told that in China there is a special post office that translates languages into Chinese to it can reach the correct person. This post office gets around 10,000 pieces of a mail a day. This accounts for the lateness of many postcards being registered.

I hope this is helpful,
Demaris

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I organize meetups on a regular base here in Germany and also in other countries like the upcoming one in Prague on December 11th. 2021. Announcing it at the Forum early enough is indeed very important. I do it at least 8 weeks in advance and check regularly planned meetups in my neighboring countries too at the Forum I might could attend but with the Covid-19 restrictions still going on, it is difficult. Travelling restrictions are still in place and might get sharpened with the new variant on the loose.
I agree completely with Paolo about the usage of the Postcrossing logo usage guidelines.
I usually don’t care about how many cards participants bring to the meetups for signing but I wouldn’t accept a shoe box full (which I had at a meeting I organized). Any organizer of meetups is free to say how many cards any participant can bring in advance. Meetup books are also very popular nova days.
In my experience, keeping the number of participants at 20 till 25 maximum is perfect because it gives anyone the time to talk with all participants, except for those meetings which are over a full weekend.
Kind regards from Berlin
Holger

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Thanks for your feedback on that, I thought about those translations as more of a service and didn’t consider “legal” trouble with the label as “official” … But I’d gladly help translate to German (it’s always easier to translate into your native language). :slight_smile:

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Hello everybody.
Rules, of course, wonderful. But there are many situations in which it is not possible to follow them completely.
I have been organizing meetings in Moscow for a year and a half. The number of people who want to come to meetings are usually from 60 to 70 people. Sometimes more. It is not always easy and simply to coordinate the room for comfortable finding so many people.
With popularization and increased interest in collecting oncoming cards, many participants comes, which are not interested in communication in life. They need exclusively postcards in large quantities for exchanges in the world and within the project.
For meetings and communication of people at a truly enthusiastic postcrossong, I collect a mini meeting, where the number of participants limit to 15 people. I find interesting places - museums, exhibitions for creating an interesting atmosphere. At the moment, in Russia there are rules for visiting cultural events only by QR-Coda, which also extremely complicates all agreements and registration of postcards in advance. Sometimes it is possible to make exclusively in a few days or even a day per day. Everyone knows about restrictive measures in connection with COVID-19.
But these meetings are fully devoted to full-fledged communication. Opportunities to show or see collections of postcards or stamps of participants. Discussion of postcrossing news, new artists and illustrators.
Please include in the rules the opportunity to register meetings in a shorter time for mini meetings.
And for large leave current deadlines for at least 2 weeks before the event.
I really hope for understanding on your part.

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Thank you for your feedback!

I’m not sure I understand how a shorter timeframe will help with mini-meetings… It shouldn’t change anything is the meeting is announced well in advance, right?

Due to the constantly changing rules on restrictions on public seats, some of the participants do not have the ability to visit them. Introduction or cancel code. The cost of excursion facilities in the direction of magnification is changing. There is no possibility to promptly preprit circulation cards for other participants. Therefore, such meetings are constantly under threat of disruption. You have to adapt to constant changes.
But such a format of meetings is very important. Since it is the active participants in the project. People do not come for hundreds of postcards for postcards. New new meetings are discussed. Topics are selected, activity is offered.
I want the full development of the project. And there are solid restrictions on all sides.

A post was merged into an existing topic: General Meetup Discussions

My 2 cents…

  • What’s a mini meeting and what’s not a mini meeting? Where should the line be drawn? What is considered a mini meeting one place might not be a mini meeting somewhere else.
  • A meeting is a meeting regardless of the number of participants. So the rules should be the same for all of them. Everyone should have the possibility to plan attending the meetup, and the meetup should always be mentioned well in advance. It’s better to open the thread early and say something like “at the moment its possible for 15 persons to meet, but that might change. If the number is reduced, the first ones to sign up will be allowed to join.”
  • The guidelines should be the same during the pandemic and after the pandemic. And the restrictions vary from country to country, and from time to time. I think the guidelines should tell us to follow the local rules and that’s it. No amendments or changes or anything because of Covid-19.

I might have forgotten something I thought of earlier today…

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I completely agree with you, @Norway_girl! I would also not consider 15 people a Mini-Meeting …

I also think that official meetups should be open to all participants, while the number might be limited - whether it’s due to pandemic restrictions or just because meetups of too many people become … impersonal. But it should always be first come, first serve and never “I handpick those 15 people” for an official meetup. @Afonya If you found a group that gets along well, great. Gather frequently - even better. But don’t put a postcrossing meetup label (including cards with the official logo!) on it - because it’s not inclusive!

I understand there are a lot of postcrossing enthusiasts in Moscow - meeting more often with less people might be the way to go then.

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Hello everyone.

I 'm confused by the rule “Meetups should be open to everyone in Postcrossing, without discrimination”, because many may perceive it later as a reason for complaint.

I’ll explain why I think so - in St. Petersburg, I organize only small meetings of up to 15 people, and it’s not just about the restrictions associated with covid.

As Afonya wrote earlier, unfortunately, with popularization and increased interest in collecting oncoming cards, many participants comes, which are not interested in communication in life. They need exclusively postcards in large quantities for exchanges in the world and within the project. These people don’t want to communicate at all. I had cases when I was just starting to organize postcrosser meetings and then we still had no restrictions on the number of people, we invited everyone. And at these meetings, people came to us who either ran literally for 5 minutes JUST to pick up the postcards printed specifically for the meeting, or they didn’t even tell us their names, they just asked us all to sign the postcards printed for the meeting, or put their stamps on them, and after that they also left. I understand that you want your project to develop and as many people as possible to learn about it. And we, for our part, do everything possible to tell other people about it, holding not only meetings, but also other events, such as exhibitions and master classes. But I also really ask you to understand me - I am absolutely not interested when 50-100 bangs come to my meetings just for the sake of postcards, and not because they want to talk to us. And as a result of this situation, we are forced to just sit for several hours and only sign, sign, sign a large number of postcards, not being able to talk at all. Such meetings do not bring me joy. As a result, after such meetings, I return home tired of signing postcards for several hours and sad from the realization that these people do not need communication. It’s like going to a job you don’t like.
Therefore, I ask that it still be possible to organize meetings with a limited number of participants. And in general, remove this wording from the rules, otherwise you may simply be flooded with complaints that someone could not get to some meeting. When people write to me that they would like to join us, I always immediately ask about the reason why they would like to come, and if people say that because of the postcard, then I naturally refuse them. But if a person says that he wants to talk, we are always glad to see him. In the announcement of the meeting, I always write that we will be glad to meet new people, especially if they have never been to such meetings before. And I believe that all the organizers on the ground are also quite adequately assessing the situation. I don’t think that someone will just arrange a private meeting on a whim for no reason.

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Lots of nuances here, many due to the limitations of language and interpretation I think.

The term “mini-meeting” has been used. Not one I have heard before. I have heard that there are huge, weeklong events in Europe, have not seen that here. But I feel like a meetup is a meetup, regardless of the number of attendees.

The term “official meetups” has been used. What makes a gathering of postcrossers an “official” meetup as opposed to just a meetup of people who share the same interest? That it features a card that uses the official logo? That is was published on the Postcrosser website, and thus “sanctioned” by the folks who run the site?

The term “meetup” is used. Meetup is an online service based platform focused on facilitating gatherings of people with shared interests (Meetup). It is very confusing that Postcrossing uses this term for their gatherings.

If I understand the issues brought up by @afionya and @Beatitudinem correctly, they have attendees who come solely to receive signed meetup cards with the official logo, which they either collect or trade independent of participation in postcrossing otherwise. Those who participate routinely in postcrossing (i.e.exchange cards) would likely not call those sorts of attendees postcrossers. I think the intent (if I may be so bold to interpret) of @paulo Paolo and @meiadeleite in stressing in the proposed guidelines that " * Meetups should be open to everyone in Postcrossing, without discrimination." is inclusivity amongst postcrossing participants. People we would all call postcrossers because they participate in exchanging cards.

I think everyone needs to recognize how difficult this scenario is to manage. In my mind, there is a difference between rules and guidelines in the English language. Rules are hard and fast, black and white. They must be followed or there is a violation. Guidelines are indications of desired intent; they state how something should be done to result in a preferred end state of affairs, but they are not hard and fast. I think the word “guidelines” was carefully chosen with due consideration, and I am delighted that Postcrossing is seeking feedback from end users here.

The organizers of Postcrossing are attempting to provide a vision for what good looks like at a well organized and run meetup. Thank you for that! Such a vision will likely not to fit all scenarios that an organizer might encounter, nor will it satisfy everyone else’s vision of what meetup could or should be. That is the way it goes when you work with humans, they are a challenging bunch!

One model that might be considered is how the geocaching hobby handles gatherings (which they call events). There are established guidelines for such events which do require least two week notice. Organizers must submit proposed events for approval which includes evidence of the meeting venue agreeing to host, by the way, where that is applicable. There are a group of sanctioned volunteer approvers, broken up into regions around the world, who then approve such events. Only after that approval are they listed on the geocaching website as official events. My suspicion is that this model is not currently a workable scenario for Postcrossing as no such volunteer network of approvers exists, and standing one up would be a beast. Would you volunteer for the role of an approver, vetting an unknown number of events in your region? It is a lot to take on.

In the end, whether it is rules or guidelines, compliance is primarily based on the good will and behavior of organizers and participants. One might note that a rule that cannot be enforced is really not a rule at all to someone who does not care to abide by it. Postcrossing is not really in a position to adjudicate and enforce the rules or guidelines it establishes for meetups, other than to ban individuals from participation. There is no mechanism in place to verify that participants who attend a meeting I set up are actually postcrossers who routinely participate in postcard exchanges. Similarly, there is no mechanism in place to verify that people participating in the forums where numerous cards are exchanged via direct swap and round robins are participating postcrossers. There are people who are on this site (both the main one and the forum) who hold multiple accounts. People will bend the rules/ to their needs. It is what humans do. Kudos to Ana and Paolo for doing their best to manage this!

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