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Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

Website Comes of Age – Self Service Listing Updates

Friday, November 25th, 2011

Up until recently, the main focus in the development work on the site has been on getting the listings out to as many people as possible via the social networks where we have communities.  Now, at long last,  I’ve finally finished coding up the listing update facility.

If you have posted a listing on the site and need to amend it, you simply go to your listing page and choose the ‘Manage’ tab at the top of the listing.  You will now find a link there to initiate the update process.  When you click that link, we send an email to the email address originally posted with the listing which contains a link to a web page which allows you to update your listing, add a photo, amend the gender etc – basically whatever you need to change.

Initially at least, we won’t have an approval process, so updates you make will be immediate.  The listing will retain its original web address so links to the listing you have already shared and posters you may have printed out will still point to the correct location on the site.

In addition to updating the information displayed on your listing page, we automatically send out a post to our Facebook page, and a tweet on our Twitter account to alert folk that the listing has been updated.  In the case of Facebook, we also add a comment to the original post, alerting anyone who may be subscribed to the comments that the listing has been updated and that they should go check it on the main site.  We also alert the search engines again to let them know that the content on your listing page has been updated and that they should re-crawl it.

If your listing didn’t originally feature a photo but now does, this photo will be also sent to our Flickr account, as well as to our accounts on Twitpic.  Same thing happens if either your listing keeps its original photo or you decide to replace the original one with a better/clearer one.  In those cases we also upload the new photo to Flickr but this time we also add a link to the original photo to the new photo and vice versa so folk can find any previous information that may have been added before and after the update.  The photos are also reissued on Twitpic.  With the launch of Google Plus, we are ceasing support for Picasa for which we have exceed our upload allowance for in any case by a factor of 4 at this point.

You may have noticed there is no mention of Bebo and MySpace in the update process described above and that is intentional.  With the virtual demise of these sites in terms of their popularity here in Ireland, and with the launch of Google Plus, I feel it makes more sense at the point to put our limited resources into the communities which are thriving and engaged and neither Bebo or MySpace has ever really shone for us in terms of user engagement or interaction in any case.  Eventually my intention is to phase our presence out on those networks entirely.

I hope you find the new features useful.  They will also hopefully free up a little time for me to add yet more new features to the site.  If you have any questions  or comments, feel free to leave a message below or drop me an email.

Twitter Hash Tags for Irish Lost and Found Pets

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Update

Having had positive feedback on both Twitter and Facebook to this idea I have since started adding these tags to the listing tweets.  I hope others will do the same.

Undoubtedly one of the big problems for people trying to locate their lost pet or trying to find the owner of a pet they have found in Ireland is the scattered nature of listings online. A listing may appear on one site but not another and so it is easy for one to be overlooked or missed.

One of the ways I had hoped to get around this scattering problem was by sharing the listings from Lost and Found Pets Ireland but for various reasons which I won’t linger on here, this is proving challenging.  On Twitter we now could be facing into a similar problem, unless you are following the right account, listing tweets can slip through the cracks.

This is where hashtags come in. For those of you who don’t tweet, a hashtag is a simple label you can include with a tweet to associate it with a particular subject, event etc. They take the form of a pound sign followed by a short combination of characters. These hash tags are searchable so if there was a hash tag associated with a particular event for example, I could locate all tweets relating to that event by searching on the hash tag and would see tweets regardless of whether I was following any of  the people who tweeted about that event or not.  To see the idea in action, here is a link to a search using the found Irish pet listing tag #fpie and a search for the lost Irish pet listing tag #lfpie.

Today, I’m proposing that we do the same thing with Irish lost and found pet listings as they now seem to be coming from several different accounts. My suggested hash tags are as follows:

#fpie for found pets
#lpie for lost pets

The thinking behind these is to let people get a complete overview of the listing tweets with the ability to filter them by lost or found status (thanks to @tehkittehkat for that suggestion) while keeping the hash tags short so to reserve the maximum characters for listing details.

If this idea makes sense to you or you have any further thoughts or ideas on this I would love to hear them either in the comments area below or on Twitter – @lostfoundpets.

I hope all parties posting listings can reach some agreement on this to make the lives of those dealing with lost and found pets a little easier.

So What Happens When I Post A Pet Here

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

I have just realised I have never explicitly outlined on the site what happens when a new lost or found pet is posted to the site.

Basically when someone completes the relevant posting form for a lost or found pet, I receive an email alerting me to a new posting. I then log in to the site’s administration section, review the posting, making any changes I feel will make the posting more useful to site visitors and indeed the search engine spiders who index the content on the site frequently, and then mark the posting as approved which in turn initiates the following actions.

  1. The geotagged  posting goes live on the appropriate section of the site. We are currently seeing around 9,000+ visits per month.
  2. The site contacts the major search engines (Google, MS Bing, Yahoo, and Ask) and alerts them that there is new content to be indexed and tells them explicitly where they can find it. It is only when these search engines come in and index the posting that it can appear in the search results.
  3. A text message with geolocation information is sent out on our Twitter account which appears in our followers (currently numbering around 3,250 Twitter streams and is also publicly available from both our Twitter page and from our own site where we republish our Twitter stream.
  4. If the posting is accompanied by a photo, this photo is sent to our Twitpic account so that people using Twitter can easily view it – currently we are seeing an average of about 50 views per photo this way.
  5. If the posting is accompanied by a photo we also automatically publish it to our Flickr account along with its geolocation information which allows it to appear on our Flickr map and also to our own Flickr group and to other relevant Flickr groups we are members of such as the Irish Flickr Users group. This brings a potential audience for the posting to about 4,000 people on Flickr alone and in addition makes the posting even more visible in search engine results.
  6. If a photo is included it is also published automatically to our Google Picasa account.
  7. The posting is sent to our Facebook page and will appear in all our fan’s activity streams unless they explicitly prevent it – almost 6,100 more sets of eyeballs seeing a posting.
  8. Full details of the posting including the photo if included are posted to our MySpace account.
  9. The posting appears in our main RSS feed (geolocation information once again included) and all relevant filtered feeds so is automatically distributed to individuals and other sites such as Galway SPCA, Topdog.ie and TailsandTrails.ie – we have provided some tools and help to easily display our feeds on third party sites so we hope more sites will syndicate our feeds in time.
  10. Listings are also exposed via our Google gadget to those who have installed it on their personalised iGoogle homepage or indeed on any other web page where it is installed.
  11. The individual submitting the post is informed that it has been approved and published and they are provided with the direct URL for the posting where they can then share it via their own social networking sites and, if the posting includes a photo, print out a custom poster to distribute locally.
  12. I am now also manually publishing the listings to Google Plus where we have a page at http://gplus.to/lostfoundpets – be sure to add us to your circles.

I also carry out a number of other actions to ensure that the posting is indexed in as timely a manner as possible. Since I use these techniques on some of the commercial sites I have built and/or maintain I can not discuss them here but in general, a listing will be available in the Google search results within 30 minutes of approval and often less.

With current monthly traffic of around 9,000 monthly visits to the site alone,  I believe that currently no other site offers the breath of distribution and therefore exposure of postings this site offers. It is also worth noting the extra benefits in terms of exposure one gets by including a photo with the listing.

I will be updating this post as I add more features – we are a long way from done!

How “Free” are Free Lost & Found Irish Pet Listings?

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

I am writing this sad post today to express my shock and deep disappointed at the actions of well known animal focussed site IrishAnimals.ie over the last couple of days.

Up until yesterday, I had been promoting lost and found tweets from Irish Animals on the website here combining them with those automatically generated from the free  lost and found pet listings on this site via @lostfoundpets, of course giving full attribution and a link back to the original tweets.  I had been doing this via their publicly available feed which they themselves invited subscriptions to on their own site.  As a firm believer in the power of the social web, I believe that the more exposure these listings get, the more the chance these unfortunate Irish animals and their owners have of being reunited.

Unfortunately, for reasons best known to herself at this point, Denise Cox, who runs Irish Animals, appears to hold a different view.  Over the course of the weekend it came to my attention, quite by accident, that our subscription via the @lostfoundpets account to the lost and found twitter stream from Irish Animals has been blocked.  I contacted Ms Cox in an attempt to find out what was going on.  In response Ms Cox sent me a one line email requesting that I discontinue promoting her tweets on this site.

This to me is a situation beyond weird.  We have Irish Animals, a website which, as one of the many services it offers,  invites the public to list lost and found pets for free and public display and in addition  invited subscriptions to its Twitter feed on its own site.  However, when another website, dedicated  to the area of lost and missing Irish pets promotes the Irish Animals lost and found tweets to an even wider audience on its own pages with full attribution and links, Irish Animals summarily and without notice attempts to block that site’s access to their publicly available feed.  One has to wonder what would happen in the event that one of our fans on the Lost and Found Pets Ireland Facebook page were to attempt to share a link to one of our listings on their Facebook page.

If this situation were reversed and Irish Animals were promoting listings from Lost and Found Pets, I would be thrilled knowing that the listings were gaining maximum exposure. Right from day one on the site, I have welcomed and continue to, welcome anyone to syndicate the listings and other feeds I provide here.  If parties interested in the area of lost and found Irish pets can not even see their way clear to sharing data on those pets freely, what hope do we have of ever centralising this data in a well structured, searchable, indexed form which at the end of the day, is what really needs to be done to properly maximise the effectiveness of online lost and found listings.

Now I could speculate until the cows come home on why Irish Animals are adopting this approach (believe me, I have more than just theories) but I do not think that is in the interest of the animals we all claim to serve at this point.   Instead I appeal to Denise Cox to rethink her position on this matter,  to end this anti-social networking and restart the conversation about mutual cooperation we were due to have at the start of this project but which she subsequently postponed indefinitely.

In any case you can all rest assured, Lost and Found Pets Ireland will continue to promote information sharing in this area as we develop the services we offer to lost Irish pets and their owners.