Analyzing Offline Social Engagements: AnEmpirical Study of Meetup Events Related to Software Development


Software developers use a variety of social media channels and tools in order to keep themselves up to date, collaborate with other developers, and find projects to contribute to. Meetup is one of such social media used by software developers to organize community gatherings. We in this work investigate the dynamics of Meetup groups and events related to software development. Our work is different from previous work as we focus on the actual event and group data that was collected using Meetup API.In this work, we performed an empirical study of events and groups present on Meetup which are related to software development. First, we identified 6,327 Meetup groups related to software development and extracted 250,369 events organized by them. Then we took a sample of 452 events on which we performed open coding, based on which we were able to develop 9 categories of events (8 main categories +“Others”). Next, we did a popularity analysis of the categories of events and found that Talks by Domain Experts, Hands-on Sessions, and Open Discussions are the most popular categories of events organized by Meetup groups related to software development. Our findings show that more popular categories are those where developers can learn and gain knowledge. On doing a diversity analysis of Meetup groups we found 20.46% of the members on average are female, and 20.34% of the actual event participants are female, which is a larger proportion as compared to numbers reported in previous studies on gender representation in software engineering communities. We also found evidence that the gender of Meetup group organizer affects gender distribution of group members and event participants. Finally, we also looked at some data on how COVID-19 has affected the Meetup activity and found that the event activity has dropped, but not stalled. A substantial number of events are now being organized virtually. The results and insights uncovered in our work can guide future studies related to software communities, groups, and diversity-related studies..

In 29th International Conference on Software Analysis, Evolution and Reengineering (SANER), IEEE