So, MeetUp, the social networking portal that facilitates local group meetings and which was popularized by the Howard Dean campaign, started charging for its services this month. This has hacked off a lot of MeetUp groups, and some have already left the organization and found ways to organize themselves. Now the MeetUp VP of communications has poured fuel on the fire by seemingly accusing a Seattle MeetUp group of “belly-achin” about the new fees. Needless to say, that didn’t go over well, even though the PR guy insists he said it in jest.

All of this prompted a response from Toronto VC Rick Segal, who analyzes the incident as an example of what not to do as a company. “This has to be a case study for the internet on bad PR taking on a major life of it’s own.”

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