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Stray Thoughts

Archive for the ‘Mobile’ Category

Suggestion for Change to Donedeal Pet Classifieds Animal Abuse Policing

Saturday, June 14th, 2014

While some of us push for genuine and tangible change in the way Donedeal manages sellers, as it puts in place measures to make them legally responsible for the content they publish and assumes full responsibility for the policing of said ads itself rather than using the free labour of concerned activists (not that it has agreed to do any of that yet but hey, I’m an optimist), the issue of how the ads can be most effectively policed remains a pressing one.

It is clear that whatever ad monitoring Donedeal claims to be doing itself still isn’t working.

It is also clear that in the absence of any solution for this from either the ISPCA, Dogs Trust Ireland or even Donedeal for the past 4 years, there needs to be some fresh thinking here.  So, I have a suggestion, but first some background.

The Background

As mentioned above, due to necessity, a community of Donedeal policing activists has grown up.  I can’t think of any other situation where members of the public are willing to do the work a private company should be doing itself, 100% for free while that company continues to earn and grow.  So it is quite apparent that people aren’t doing this for any personal gain, but rather because of their genuine care for animals – you know, the kind that Donedeal claims to have itself.  Well, I believe the efforts of those people should be directly and publicly rewarded rather than Donedeal, particularly as many of these people are now becoming so demoralised from continuing to see a never ending stream of these ads with no over all tangible progress being made to stem it.  Since it is clear that they are not doing the work for personal gain, I am sure they would be agreeable to having their reward passed back into the cause of bettering life for all Irish animals.  So, here’s the idea.

The Idea

Immediately, using its substantial, existing web development resources, Donedeal would re-purpose from the perceived lowest budget possible, self-serving, cynical PR exercise aimed primarily at improving it’s own image around the area of animal welfare concerns, into a hub for crowd-sourcing the policing of its pet ads.  The site would basically gamify locating ads for removal based on a clear and simple list of published, pre-defined problem listing indicators and for each ad found, the finder would be publicly acknowledged on the site and be able to nominate a standard donation fee to an animal welfare charity of their choice.  I would also like to see an accompanying phone app for this purpose, so folk could participate when commuting etc.

I would see this standard donation fee being sourced from all the funds that Donedeal is currently spending, arguably on its own image enhancing efforts such as, a basically good initiative who’s credibility they are clearly now damaging, as they should be cleaning up their own mess before they go out preaching to the public about how they should be treating their pets.  The donation amount should be high enough to encourage public participation beyond the core current activists as well as to strongly incentivise Donedeal to make tangible progress in reducing the problems it has failed to address to date – I would suggest €100 per find.

The problematic indicators for ads that people would check against could include but not necessarily be limited to:

  • Ads for illegal events such as horse fairs / road-races.
  • Ads with images showing inappropriate treatment of animals including unsuitable living conditions for bitches and pups.
  • Ads from sellers advertising multiple animals and litters of puppies.
  • Ads offering restricted veterinary medicines.
  • Ads selling questionable dog training/deterrent devices.
  • Ads selling puppies/dogs with illegally mutilated body parts such as docked tails.
  • Ads for guard dogs.
  • Ads for animal trapping equipment.

This gamified DoneDeal pet ad policing site would have a different ad display interface so that users could more quickly review the ads. It could have badges for users, e.g. – find 5 ads, get the “I’m now house trained” badge!

Just to be clear, I do not see this idea as a long-term solution to the problem of these ads. I believe that the only realistic long term, and indeed, fair solution, involves making sellers legally accountable for the ads they publish and Donedeal responsible for bringing them to account as the one who is profiting from providing the platform they are using.

As always, comments are more than welcome.  Keep up to date or have your say on Twitter using the #petsb4profit hashtag.

Lost & Found Pets in Your Pocket – Android App Released

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

OK, so I’m not a natural born blogger and its been a while since I last published anything here but hey, its the quality not the quantity right?

Truth is, I only ever blog with I have something to announce or something to complain about and this post is no exception.  Happily its an announcement in this case as you may have guessed from the title.

Today, version 1.0 of our free app for Android phones went live in the Google Play Store.  Being version 1.0 and the first Android app I have developed, we’re starting off pretty simple.  The current feature set for the app is as follows:


Listings Near Me

View our current listings in your area using Google maps and the geolocation facilities on your phone, depending on which providers you have enabled, radio, wi-fi or full GPS.  You can limit the display of listings to either lost, or found, or both.  Each listing on the map is represented by a marker just as on the maps on our website, red ones for lost listings, green for found and also, just as on the site, tapping on any marker will reveal a summary of that listing along with a photo of the pet if available.  Tapping on a summary takes you to the listing details screen – see below.

Listings Search

You may also search our listings using a simple form which allows you to filter results by listing type (lost, found or both), pet type (dog, cat etc.) and county.  Results are returned most recent first, 10 at a time to use as little bandwidth as possible with 10 more being pulled down as you scroll down through the list – infinite scrolling of a finite list – confusing, I know.  Each result once again features a summary of the listing and a photo if available and just as with the map view, tapping on a listing will take you to to the listing details screen.

Listing Details

Just as with our mobile site, each listing gets its own details screen featuring 3 tabs, one for the pets details, one with facilities to contact the person who posted the listing and the final one to allow you to easily share listings.

On the pet details tab, you can view all the details for that particlar pet as well as a photo if one is available.  You can expand this photo to fullscreen by clicking on the little expander button at the top right of the photo.

The contact tab provides the contact name of the person who posted the listing as well as buttons to allow you to easily directly call that contact, pre-populating your dialer with their number, email them via a simple form or send them an SMS which we also pre-populate for you – all you have to do is add your own personal message.

The sharing tab features a single button which launches the standard Android sharing dialog from which you can choose an app (email, Facebook, Twitter or Google+ etc) to share a listing with family, friends or colleagues.

Additional Features

Finally, the app features facilities to send us feedback via another simple form and to share the app with others – obviously, the more phones we are on, the more chance we have of getting pets reunited.

Does It Run On My Phone?

Currently the app only supports phones running Ice Cream Sandwich or above (ICS – Android 4.0+).  I  would like to support older devices but I don’t have anything to test on so if you have an older android phone or device running Honeycomb (Android 3.0) you are no longer using that you would like to provide/donate for testing, please let me know.

Will There Be An IPhone App?

Unlikely.  Due to the time and resources necessary to develop on IOS it’s pretty unlikely we will release an iPhone app (at least without some form of sponsorship).  However, iPhone users still have the mobile version of our site which contains all the functionality of our Android app – at least at present.

Ratings Count!

If you find the app useful and want to show your support for the site and the idea behind it, please rate the app in the Google Play Store and share it with your family, friends and colleagues.


I’ve thrown up some screenshots of the app below for your delicatation but you can go ahead and install the app right now direct from the Google Play Store.