Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Group data available as KML

I have been contacted by a number of people wanting to get the Recycling Group Finder Data in the KML file format (suitable for use with Google Earth) so I have added a new feature of the Recycling Group Finder that provides this. Just download the KML file and open it with Google Earth. The file contains all Freecycle and Freegle groups, as well as all other group affiliations that the Recycling Group Finder searches. You should end up with a map of all Recycling and Reuse groups in the world (that the Recycling Group Finder knows about at least).

Though it's fairly obvious you can see that groups are clustered around areas of dense population (download a population density overlay to see this) and that the US and UK are well ahead in Recycling/Reuse group adoption. In particular most countries in mainland Europe have relatively few groups

As always let me know of any problems or any more features you would like to see added.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Freecycle to Freegle group changes

Groups can now be marked as 'defunct'

This evening I added the ability to mark groups as 'defunct' and have started work on the backlog of Freecycle to Freegle group changes. Most should be done, but let me know if your group still needs changing. At the moment only I can mark groups as defunct so you will need to email me.

Why not just delete groups?

A lot of traffic comes in from search engines. Though I can delete a group I can't delete any search engine listings associated with that group. If I simply delete a group any users coming into that group page from a search engine will get an ugly "Page Not Found" error. Much better to present then with a friendly "That group is no longer active' message and allow them to pick an alternative. You can see this in action on the old Ipswich Freecycle page.

Other Changes

Some people reported that some groups were marked as Freegle Freecycle, this has now been fixed, but let me know if you see any more issues.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Deleting groups

I've just got back from 10 days of traveling so will be working on the ability to delete groups from the site in the next couple of days.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Group updates, group deletions.

The Freegle move took me a bit by surprise, I didn't see it coming and as a result I have a bunch of people asking me "I have moved my group to Freegle, can I delete the old one from the Recycling Group Finder"?

The simple answer is no (not yet), there is no facility for moderators to delete groups right now. I do automatically delete groups that Yahoo have taken down, but not groups that still exist.

It's going to take me a little while longer to get something up and running to handle the situation where a group needs to be deleted without me being involved (this is an "outside work" project and I've got other stuff that needs doing) but in the mean-time please email me the URL of both the new and old groups on the Finder and I will arrange the 'removal' of the group.

The URLs I am interested in are the ones specific to the group, with the number before the name like in this image:

If the URL doesn't have a number in it then it's the wrong one, and don't forget I need the URLs for both the old and new groups. Contact information at the bottom of every Recycling Group Finder page.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Freegle groups now supported

I've added support for Freegle groups to the Recycling Group Finder, they worked before but were marked as 'Independent'. Now they will come up as 'Freegle' groups.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

FAQ - Things people wanted to know

Due to popular demand I have put up an FAQ. It's pretty short but contains pretty much the top questions I get emailed about the Recycling Group Finder.

If you think there is something missing let me know, I can add to it as more questions are asked.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

New Feature - Google Groups!

I have just pushed live the latest feature of the Recycling Group Finder, support for Google Groups!

It has taken a while to roll out, the changes to the code-base that runs the site were pretty fundamental as the site was originally only written to work with Yahoo based groups. As a result there may be some issues, let me know if you see any.

To get started just email me your Google Groups recycling group URL or head over to the group addition page.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

The Recycling Group Finder is even more secure

I just put live support for SSL on the admin section of the Recycling Group Finder. You will notice this if you ever need to log into the site as an administrator as you will be redirected to a URL starting with https, as in this screen-grab:

What does this mean for me?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, and basically means that any data transferred over the connection is encrypted and therefore secure. You can read more about it on the wikipedia page. As a group moderator you don't need to know the details though, just that now whenever you log into the site to make changes your username/password and website session data are un-interceptible.

Let me know if you see any problems with this at all!

Friday, 13 March 2009

Up up and up some more

The Recycling Group Finder has been a little unreliable of late. The company I host my sites with started to become more unreliable than usual in the last few months, culminating in two periods of prolonged downtime in the last couple of weeks.

I moved the site to a temporary server after the second outage, though it wasn't possible to get the traffic graphs working on that server. I then started work on moving the site to it's final server, a much more powerful and reliable server that should have fewer problems.

This post is basically to say that it's there, up and running on the new server with traffic graphs and all. There should be no more issues with the site being down, but let me know if you see anything.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Whoooooosh - the Recycling Group Finder gets faster

I just made an update to the Recycling Group Finder that has made all pages display up to 8 times faster, try it out!

Update: I posted a blog entry on the technical details behind the change.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Help, someone's trying to steal my group!

Don't panic! No-one can get access to your group either on Yahoo or on the Recycling Group Finder.

Some group owners have emailed me asking about an email they have received at their group owner addresses from recyclinggroupfinder.com that looks like this:
Thank you for taking the time to activate your moderator account with recyclinggroupfinder.com.
To complete the activation simple click on the following URL:

This was requested by someone@someplace.net. If you don't have access to that email address, or weren't expecting this email then it is possible that the person who did was trying to signup to your group, they may need to be contacted and given help signing up.
The email was sent by the Recycling Group Finder site, but for a good reason.

Why did I receive this email?

On the group information page for each site there is a link to allow the group owner to sign up to recyclinggroupfinder.com, like this one for Vallejo Freecycle:

Once signed up recycling group owners can update the number of members, add notes and re-position the group on the map. It wouldn't be good if anyone could do this though, there needs to be some sort of authorisation process to ensure that only the group owner can make these changes.

Only a group owner can access a group

In order to access the admin area to make the sort of changes mentioned above the group owner needs to first click on the 'Sign up to administer this group' link (shown in the screen grab). They are then asked to create a login for recyclinggroupfinder.com.

Once they have done that the site sends an email to the Yahoo group owner address (not the email address of the person who just signed up to the site) with an authorisation token in the form of a link to the recyclinggroupfinder.com site. The group owner clicks on the link and are then confirmed as being eligible to administer the group.

It seems complicated…

This method of verifying group ownership is necessary to ensure only the right people have access to make changes to their group. It's accurate because the verification process requires access to the Yahoo group owner address, which only group owners have.

I clicked on the link by mistake! Did I just give someone else access?

No, the authorisation token sent to the Yahoo group owner email address is linked to the person who created it. Clicking on the activation link will do nothing if you didn't request it.

So why did I get the email, I didn't request it?!

Mostly this is due to people trying to sign up to your group but being confused about the right place to do so. The Internet is still a confusing place to most people on the planet and the chances are person who initiated the email is just trying to do the right thing and sign up to a recycling group to start recycling and re-using.

I do try to make it clear that this is not the place to sign up to the group, the link mentions signing up to be a moderator, on the next page there is a big title 'Freecycle Group Moderator signup: Your details' header and before you do try and signup, this message:

Unfortunately many people just don't read the pages or just don't understand the difference between a normal user and owner/moderator.

What should I do?

Hopefully help the user. It is most likely that the user is genuinely trying to sign up to your recycling, re-use or Freecycle group and has no malicious intent. Also, if owners sign up to administer their group the 'Sign up…' link is removed automatically as seen on the San Francisco Freecycle group page. Any comments and suggestions feel free to comment on this post or email me directly, the email address is at the bottom of every page on the Recycling Group Finder.