Starting a Meetup

Write the Docs Meetups provide a great way to connect and continue the conversations sparked by our Conferences, Slack channel and forum . If you don’t have a Write the Docs Meetup nearby, we can help you get one started. With a little help, you can make it happen with a Meetup in your area!

Start by watching this video:

Write the Docs Worldview

Yes, Write the Docs has a worldview. It’s inclusive and expansive. We welcome everyone who is interested in creating great documentation that helps people develop, use, and maintain products and services. Our community includes technical writers, developers of all flavors, QA, product managers, support engineers, designers, librarians, scientists, community managers, and more.

For more information about the Write the Docs worldview, see Eric Holscher’s Introduction to the conference and community from Write the Docs NA 2016:


For the tl:dr, start watching at the 1:30 mark.

Now for some details:

Launch your Group

Before you get started, check out our Meetups FAQ.

You can start a Write the Docs Meetup by using the service. You can use the website or the mobile app to create events, contact Meetup members, sp your sponsors, and more.

  • For advice on running meetups, or questions not covered here or in the Meetups FAQ, drop us a line in #meetup-organisers on Slack.
  • For help with Meetup fees or technical issues, email us.

Create a Meetup Page:

Go to the Meetup website and follow the instructions.


  • Topics: We want to include everyone interested in software documentation. Include topics that help publicize your meetups to the developers and engineers in your area, such as Python, JavaScript, APIs, Perl, Ruby, UX, User Experience, as well as standard topics associated with technical writing.
  • Name: Our Meetup names follow a naming convention: such as “Write the Docs”, for example, “Write the Docs PDX”.
  • Members’ name: Our standard name for members is “Documentarian”.

After you’ve started your Meetup, add it to the list or send us an email so we can add your Meetup information to the Meetups list.

Code of Conduct

All Write the Docs meetups are required to adopt the Write the Docs community Code of Conduct. A short form CoC is available for meetups, which needs to be included in your Meetup description in full. We also ask that you highlight the Code of Conduct at the start of every meetup.

As an organiser, you are the first point of contact for reports of Code of Conduct incidents. Please read the Code of Conduct Response Guide carefully, and use it as a reference when an incident is reported to you.

If you have any questions about CoC processes or how to respond to a report, feel free to contact

Find a Place to Meet

Ideally, you can start by setting up a Meetup at your corporate facility. If your own workplace isn’t a good option for a meetup location, ask other local documentarians or community managers for ideas. Where are other meetups held? Conferences? Do you know someone who works for a likely sponsor or whose company might be willing to host your meetup?

Ideally, you already know a sponsoring manager in a target company. It’s easier if you know a manager responsible for community relations.

Alternatively, the electronic version of cold-calling can help you find a location. Try sending out an email like the example provided in the following template:


I am the organizer of Write the Docs $city meetup: $link.
Write the Docs is a global community of people interested in excellent documentation.

We'd like your help! If you're interested in improving your documentation, help us. We'll provide
a resource with different experiences, and potentially writers who can help with your documentation.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.


If your first attempts don’t work, contact other tech companies in your town. Post messages on job boards, tech conference websites, or on other tech Meetup channels. If you attend a tech conference, visit sponsor booths to see whether they are interested in sponsoring your meetup.

Alternative Meetup Locations

Don’t limit your search to corporate locations. Several Write the Docs Meetups have successfully met in cafes, libraries, restaurants, and colleges. Some businesses might want to help in exchange for the revenue generated by members during your events.

Sometimes, alternative locations are better for smaller groups. For example, one of our groups has a regular coffee klatch.

Find attendees, speakers, and topics


After you publish your meetup page, promote it! Here’s a few suggestions to get started:

  • Use your network: ask colleagues, friends, and contacts to promote the meetup.
  • Attend other meetups. Tell them about Write the Docs.
  • Add your meetup to local tech event calendars.
  • Some communities look for meetups on Eventbrite.
  • Some communities look for meetups on Linkedin.
  • Use social media. Several Write the Docs meetups publicize through Twitter (example).
  • Help your fellow Meetup leaders. Retweet their announcements.
  • Announce your meetup on Write the Docs Slack.
  • Use the Meetup email list with your members.
  • Blog about upcoming (and recent) meetups.

Figure out your approximate ratio between RSVP / attendees. This might be around 50%.


  • Look for previous and future speakers at Write the Docs conferences.

  • Scan other conferences local speakers.

  • Review other meetups and conferences for speakers of interest, in areas such as APIs, Agile, software languages, and more.

  • Speakers are often willing to reframe their talks from a documentation point of view.

  • Ask people at your meetups to do a talk.

  • Invite different speakers to each Meetup. Repeat speakers are OK if it’s been over a year.

  • Invite speakers from different backgrounds and don’t limit talks to writing.

    For example, you might want to invite someone who codes or leads a community in Python, Javascript, or Ruby, and ask them to share a project or approach to documentation specific to their domain. Or, invite an architect, editor, designer, user experience professional, or support representative to talk about their approach to documentation projects and problems.

Try different formats. Alternatives:


The following are examples of topics that have worked well for other meetups:

  • API docs – Approaches, tools, and best practices in API documentation.
  • Contributing to OSS – Getting started with Github and open source projects.
  • Easy entry to OSS – Finding good beginner projects to contribute to.
  • Navigating career path – Understanding different sectors of tech writing and creating a long term plan.
  • Hackathon – creating docs “The lone writers guide.”
  • Howto Markdown (multiple methods) – Looking at different markdown implementations.
  • Best practices – Determining, documenting, and implementing best practices in your tech writing team.
  • Pub socials – Casual meetups that promote more freeform discussions and idea exchange.
  • Communication problems with R&D – Bridging the gap between development and documentation.
  • Visual docs – Represent non-linguistics ideas and instructions.
  • Sketchnoting as documentation – A kind of visual documentation or note-taking consisting of notes, drawings, hand-drawn typography, and other visual elements used to express ideas.
  • Information architecture – Strategies for structuring and organizing documentation.
  • Language and cultural differences – Discussing sociocultural factors impacting documentation.
  • Documentation as code – Rethinking philosophy, tools, workflows, integration.
  • Documenting yourself – Building effective portfolios.
  • UI text – Unique considerations in writing UI text.
  • What are you looking for in a new writer – Thinking about experience, technical skills, culture fit, and trainability.
  • Collaborating with stakeholders – Aligning goals on projects.
  • Creating content with limited resources and support – How to approach tight deadlines and less-than-ideal situations.

If You Can’t Find a Local Speaker

If you can’t find a local speaker, consider screening a popular talk from one of the Write the Docs conferences and inviting the conference presenter to call in for a live Q & A session. Both the Boulder and Austin meetups have done well with this format.

If you choose this format (or have a remote speaker), make sure your meeting venue supports high quality video presentation and audio conferencing.

You Don’t Always Need a Speaker

It is not always easy to find a speaker. Other meetups have done well with alternatives:

  • Coffee Klatches; suitable for meetups with a few people. The Seattle meetup has done well with this format.
  • Pure networking meetup; you can “roundtable” a specific topic; give each attendee a chance to talk about what they do.

Starting and Running the Meetup

  • Greet everyone and help them feel welcome.
  • Mention code of conduct.
  • Introduce the meetup and the theme.
  • Encourage folks to introduce themselves.
  • Allow time for networking and questions.
  • Help speakers get ready and set up AV resources.
  • Use supportive language.

Joint meetup

Write the Docs shares interests with other meetups, such as

  • APIs
  • Agile
  • Programming languages
  • UI
  • Content Strategy
  • QA

You can set up topics of interest to multiple meetups.

Meetup Logistics

Event Page:

Include a description of your topic, a speaker bio (if available), a schedule, and details about your meeting location.


Ideal location: an office with easy access to your community via car or public transportation.

If your location includes security, tell your members what they need to do to access the facility.

Make sure your location includes:

  • Wireless Internet Access: announce the network name and password at the start of the meetup.
  • Display equipment such as HDMI access to a monitor, or a projector.
  • Food and/or beverages: if possible, include vegan/vegetarian options, as well as non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Access for anyone who is disabled.

Meetup Day Checklist:

  • Arrive early.
  • Provide directions to your Meetup.
  • Greet everyone and make them feel welcome.
  • Help your speakers get set up. Put them at ease.
  • Do a head-count at to help you know how many people to expect at future Meetups.
  • Monitor the comments on your Meetup page.
  • Live tweet your Meetup.


Meetups don’t always go according to plan. The following list summarizes some of the problems that you might encounter with potential solutions:

What happens when your speaker cancels

When a speaker cancels, think of it as an opportunity! While it’s not convenient, it’s your chance to get others to participate. Here are three approaches:

  1. Go around the “table”. Ask each attendee to:
    1. Introduce themselves
    2. Cite one major problem they have. Make notes.
    3. After the introductions are complete, ask people to comment on each problem.
  2. Talk to the attendees about future meetups
    1. Ask for speakers that a member knows
    2. Poll members about preferred future topics
  3. You may have a regular attendee whose willing to do a talk at the last minute.

After Your Meetup

  • Send a thank you note to your speakers. Ask them to post their slides.
  • Send a thank you note to your host.
  • Post pictures on your meetup page. Be sure to get permission.
  • Use Twitter to thank your attendees, speakers and sponsor.