How do we define "active" members?

It’s not clear what qualifies one to be counted as a member. We talked about this some tonight. Meetup “member” numbers are far higher than the number of people who actually participate, either online or in projects or other events . Does anyone know how membership is being defined, or where the member numbers are actually coming from?


@janmic different purposes have used different definitions of member, but I’ve often heard CfA staff state “attended a event in the last 6 months” as what they use – did I get that right @civicwhitaker?

Ok to have slightly different definitions per the different degrees of participation. What seems important is a mix (tension?) between two things:
a) Outreach and participation at various levels - even a single appearance at a major event can have useful ripple effects in terms of awareness and networking
b) Some level of “consistent participation” - whatever that threshold may be - for internal governance procedures for each brigade, and for voting for NAC candidates. It should be OK to have a smaller, more committed, set of people at this level of responsibility.

would that require some kind of moderation of who RSVPs on MeetUp and doesn’t attend? Is that something brigades are doing now?

Code for Philly used to track, it’s a lot of work to keep it consistently close to accurate for hack nights. The best results we got were when we had a button on our home page to check in to the current event, and a page to put up on big screen/projection that showed all the latest checkins live. Then I’d stand in front of the pizza after it arrived and heckle everyone that came up to check in first. I’d have kept doing it if we didn’t stop ordering pizza for hack nights, there are probably other ways to push compliance high (voluntary checkins basically produce dice rolls) but we weren’t doing much with the number. I suspect there are many easy ways to build more intrinsic value into act of checking into an event on the brigade website so that everyone just wants to do it by default, but never made much time for experimenting there. Those features are all still part of laddr and ripe for further experiment.

As far as the context of this discussion though, I don’t think it matters so much what metric we use, as long as we are always clear about what metric we are using and what it means.

Think about how wide the range of potential engagements you might call “active member” is:

  • subscribed to mailing list
  • created profile in brigade directory
  • joined meetup group to keep an eye on weekly events
  • put an event on their calendar
  • showed up to an event
  • showed up to a second event
  • got connected with something they wanted to work on
  • contributed code to a project
  • helped a project with a task
  • started a project

These are all valuable metrics and indicate something. I think you could make a strong case for any of these to be what defines an active member, depending on the context and what kind of engagement you’re trying to prove a point about. I don’t think you can ever claim “we have X members” without being specific right in that context about what you’re calling being a member. At that point though it’s fine to talk about how many people have joined and not left their local brigade meetup group, keeping an eye on scheduled events. That means something, it reflects reach and opted in interest.

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This is veering into off-topic territory but I really want to build off this discussion! I forgot who, but someone was telling me about how they assign point values to different activities to track participation levels by members. So maybe “started a project” is 50, “showed up to an event” is 5, “joined meetup group” is 1.

While the motivations and usages are different, this reminds me of how online gaming communities self-organize. You earn points through participation, and the points translate into your “rank” or act as a currency. Not saying we should do those things, but I thought it was interesting. :laughing:


@ninakin good point, I was thinking that too. I’ve split off a new topic