Ditching Event Platforms for the IndieWeb

Context

Recently there's been a big shift to move away from Meetup.com as a platform.

Something that may come as a shock to most attendees of events is that organisers have to pay for each of you to be part of the Meetup group, even if you are just there to keep up to date on events, but don't attend anything.

Some organisers just don't fancy spending the money on it, and some are outraged by the news about new monetisation strategies that Meetup may be looking at moving to.

These issues have led many groups to investigate the alternatives that we can pursue, but unfortunately many have decided to build their own instead of pooling resources with the existing Free or Open Source platforms, of which there are many.

It's really great to see folks trying to build a better platform, and to look at owning their own data once again, but I'd like to throw something else into the ring - an IndieWeb solution for marking up events and allowing folks to RSVP from your website.

Within the IndieWeb community, we use the personal website as the first class citizen - everything you do is driven by your website. This principle allows organisers to own their event fully on their own website, and allows attendees to own their attendances to events on their own website.

Since starting Homebrew Website Club Nottingham in March, I've been running it in this fashion, with folks RSVPing via their websites (although only a few folks do it so far).

What It Would Look Like

So what would this actually look like for folks using it?

For an organiser, this requires your event to have a website, which most of the tech meetups I'm part of do - but yours may not. One of the principles of the IndieWeb is that it revolves around a website so this will need to be your first step.

Next, we will need to mark up your HTML for the event with some Microformats2 metadata. The below is an example from Homebrew Website Club Nottingham on December 11th:

<div class="h-event">
    <h1 class="p-name">Homebrew Website Club: Nottingham</h1>

    <p class="p-summary">Homebrew Website Club on December 11th.</p>
    <p>
        From
        <time class="dt-start" datetime="2019-12-11T17:30:00+0000"> Wed, 11 Dec 2019 17:30:00 GMT </time> to
        <time class="dt-end" datetime="2019-12-11T19:30:00+0000"> Wed, 11 Dec 2019 19:30:00 GMT </time>

        <span class="p-location h-card"> at
          <a href="http://www.ludoraticafe.com/" class="u-url p-name">Ludorati Cafe</a>

          <span class="p-street-address">72 Maid Marian Way</span>
          <span class="p-locality">Nottingham</span>
          <span class="p-country-name">United Kingdom</span>
          <span class="p-postal-code">NG1 6BJ</span>
        </span>
    </p>

    <div class="p-description"> ... </div>
</div>

This makes all the event's metadata machine-readable, although it's not all required for your event to be used by folks.

For an attendee, they'll then need to publish an RSVP post to their site:

<div class="h-entry">
        RSVP <span class="p-rsvp">yes</span> to
        <a class="u-in-reply-to"
          href="https://www.jvt.me/events/homebrew-website-club-nottingham/2019/12/11/">
            HWC
        </a>
    </p>
</div>

That's the simplest markup you can use for it, but if you want to add a bit more I've written a bit more detail in How to RSVP to an Indie Event from your Website, including how you let the event know you've RSVP'd.

This model allows anyone to RSVP to an event, and because it uses your website, costs as little as whatever you're currently paying in server maintenance, but not nearly as much as the Meetup.com charge! There are also some free hosted options for IndieWeb services, so you don't need to host or write your own.

What if an attendee doesn't have a website?

But, I hear you say, that doesn't help folks who don't have a website, which is a really good point!

We don't want that to be a barrier to folks getting involved in our events, so we need to have an alternative for folks who don't have a website.

Carol recently showed me the QueerJS website, which has started to own their events, too.

It's a nice system, and allows folks to link their GitHub account as a means to RSVP. This is a nice way of doing it because it'll provide a handy photo for each attendee, if they want to.

I propose that we work on a new platform (xkcd: Standards is not lost on me) that provides the ability for someone to RSVP without having their own website. Similar to QueerJS, you would provide details of your i.e. your Twitter or GitHub username, and it'd create an RSVP on your behalf.

This would reduce the biggest complexity of the IndieWeb solution, although if possible, we should look to having folks RSVP from their own websites.

Unfortunately there are a couple of gaps in the solution:

I'd very much appreciate feedback on all this - there are links at the bottom of the page for how to get in touch with me, and please share this to get more feedback from event organisers.

Want to know what this IndieWeb thing is all about? You can read a transcript of my talk The IndieWeb Movement: Owning Your Data and Being the Change You Want to See in the Web for an overview of what it is and some of the things we stand for.

Written by Jamie Tanna's profile image Jamie Tanna on , and last updated on .

Content for this article is shared under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International, and code is shared under the Apache License 2.0.

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