First Virtual Meet-up Review

First Virtual Meet-up Review

category: meet-ups

UPDATE: The meet-up video is at

Last week I hosted our first ever joint virtual PHP group meet-up. Almost half a dozen PHP groups in Ontario (and Buffalo). A fabulous speaker. 90 aggregate RSVPs. 70 attendees at its height, although a significant chunk were not of our groups. I'm going to jump right into my review.

Ah, I know a lot of people think not, but Google Meet worked as it is designed. I am delighted with how Google Meet worked.

I have a Google subscription. But, it is not with Google Meet. My subscription is a G-Suite subscription. Google Meet is included with my G-Suite subscription. The central idea with G-Suite is the userm who has available to them a suite of Google software, such as Meet, Drive, and Mail. Subscribers of the basic GSuite subscription were granted "enterprise" subscription goodies until September, including the enterprise version of Google Meet. 

It is supposed to be emanently easy for a user within the enterprise to meet with another user belonging to the same enterprise. Easy to start an online meeting. Easy to invite others. Easy to share one's screen with the other attendees in the online meeting. People who work together can hop online for a meeting. There's no intense moderation features because none are needed. You want the screen, it's yours. It's assumed that people working together abide by online etiquette so things don't get out of hand. 

I am thrilled that many outside of our groups wanted to attend our first ever virtual meet-up to hear our wonderful speaker. The downside is that our meeting URL was released into the public domain. 

Ah, Google Meet URLs are meant to stay within the enterprise. There are no passwords that go along with the URL. You have the URL, you can attend. With one caveat: that the host explicitly lets you in. If your email is not within the enterprise subscription, or your email is not "invited", then the host is confronted with an "accept/deny" modal. Since we had so many groups participating, I did not know everyone attending. I had about 50 modals to answer at the start of the meeting. So I let everyone who requested into the meeting. 

Since anyone can share their screen, someone just went ahead and shared their screen with us. I could not cancel their screen share, and being my first time hosting a Google Meet, I was not speedy figuring out who was sharing their screen with the offensive content , and then wading through the 70 names to kick them out. 

Google Meet worked as it is designed -- a design that is well suited for our future virtual meet-ups. 

However, we need to be discreet about the meeting URL. 

My preference is to invite everyone prior to the online meeting -- we'll see if I can send invites ten minutes prior to accommodate last minute attendees. The advantage of invites is that invitees are accepted into the meeting at the time of the invite, not when then actually attend the meeting. So less moderating, attendees get a more responsive experience, and if attendees can leave and re-enter fluidly. 

I am enamored with the ease each of us can present live coding examples with Google Meet. Something that is actually a challenge at regular meet-ups we can do much easier as an online meet-up. Round table discussions with lots of live coding should work very in our virtual meet-ups. 

Catching up with people in our groups who find it tough to come out to the regular meet-ups is, personally, a very attractive aspect of having virtual meet-ups in our regular schedule (especially when the weather stinks). 

Both dovetail beautifully with the principal things I want to get out of meet-ups: get to know my peers, and learn developer stuff. 

The idea of having people attend our virtual meet-ups who otherwise could never attend our regular meet-ups is quite attractive. 

Reciting a code of conduct, or passing out a CoC and then telling everyone that by virtue of staying they accept the CoC terms, is something that is never done at a regular meet-up. However, I think a CoC for virtual meet-ups should be drafted, and attendees be reminded that by entering the meet-up they agree to its terms.