In my experience, what gets people to gatherings isn't the threads, it's the PM and e-mail invites where you treat each one you know of as a personal guest. That seems to tbe the only thing that counteracts worries about busyness, distance, weather, and am-i-good-enough and will-they-like-me. Even the ones who come because they first saw it in the thread seem to need a lot of encouragement to do it.
A way of helping with that, Amergin, would be that if you know people who could go to one and have not posted, ask the hosting member if you could give a hand messaging around. Or ask as soon as you see a new thread pop up. References to the the "Mudcat Gatherings SUCK!" thread would be a help, since a lot of people seemed to like that backwards approach to looking at these.
I know I would also really appreciate if you just refreshed the thread from time to time, asking me what's new, etc.
People who say they will come often say so in a PM or e-mail message-- and thus in the thread it can look like a short list of people coming, so others decide it's not worth the trip (unless they know the hosting member and just feel like a cozy visit). So keeping on us to say who has said they are coming can be a help, too, to keep momentum going.
I also really think that a reference thread about what works and doesn;t could be invaluable as more and more of these spring up. This thread would be a great place to collect them. It IS hard work getting ready for one, and skipping the useless jobs would be a great help!
This can also be a place to collect ideas for them, from people who have been doing them, or a place to ask potential participants what they'd like to see happen at them.
Sort of a "what are they, how do they work, what would we like to have happen, what's bad at them," and so forth.
Here is one-- I want to ask for a Mudcat donation at each gathering I have. Good idea? Why or why not?
We also discussed advance registration being requested-- pay a deposit that you can get back when you show up! Why? Because you get ready for all the people who say they HOPE to come, and then you have no idea if they ARE coming-- Mmario says this advance deposit thing has been a huge success in other settings, because if you pay five bucks for something you tend to take it more seriously and actually do what you need to do so that you CAN go. He says that it has worked so well that the money from non-attendees funds the costs of the whole thing! Those who attend get their money back, while those who don't-- pay for the beer! *G*
But I don't care how pesky they can be, these gatherings-- I won;t quit doing them! Too much fun to stop!