Thursday, July 29, 2010

Vancouver group buy email subscription service

If you want to see the deals without signing up for the email, see this page: http://www.forumvancouver.com/pages/vancouvergroupbuy/

Otherwise, sign up below:

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I've made some bug fixes and improvements to the group buy summary feed. One of these improvements is the ability to receive a daily email with the deals. We are currently following Groupon, Indulge Living, Teambuy, LivingSocial, Grooster, GoodNews, Steal the Deal, WagJag, SocialShopper, SwarmJam, Dealfind, TownHog, BCDailyDeals, HotDealsLive, WebPiggy, CityFlavr, Delight Daily, TooSave, The Daily Steal, Surrey, GoLowDeal, DealTicker and ethicalDeal.

To sign up, simply enter your email below. You'll get a confirmation email with a link that you'll have to click.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner


Here's a sample of what the email looks like:

Vancouver Group Buy Email Subscription

Please note that this service hasn't been extensively tested, it's not guaranteed to work 100%. Do let me know of any problems that come up however.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

More changes to the Group Buy Feed

I fixed a bunch of odd behaviours that would sometimes crop up.

Bug #1: WagJag often goes days without a deal. When this happened the following would show up:

<title>Never miss a WagJag! - $32 For Tickets to Keane (A $64 Value) <br><i> Disco Lemonade Tour Live at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre on July 30th</i></title>

In other words, the script would fail to find a Vancouver deal so a Toronto deal showed instead. The regular expression also gets broken so the HTML tags don't get filtered out.

This only affected users who viewed the feed directly or through an RSS reader. If you viewed the feed via the forum or blog, content within html tags automatically get filtered out anyway so the WagJag entry would get omitted when they didn't have a deal.

Bug #2: TeamBuy often has side deals, the way I've chosen to include these side deals led to duplicate entries if there was no side deal that day.

Bug #1 was fixed by introducing a blocking filter.
Bug #2 was fixed by checking for duplicates before generating the feed.

Connection Problems

Sorry, SMF was unable to connect to the database. This may be caused by the server being busy. Please try again later.

That's probably what you're seeing if you visit the forum right now. It's a server problem beyond my control and the host is currently working on the issue. Stay tuned for updates.

Update: Issue appears to be fixed now.

Changes to the Group Buy Feed

I've reworked some of the internals of the group buy widget. Previously, each daily deal didn't have a unique identifier from day to day, which meant that feed readers (such as Google Reader) had trouble updating daily entries because they weren't considered new. The net result was that the only new entry showing up would be Groupon (since it's directly pulled from their feed). Users would have to visit the Vancouver Group Buy feedburner page or Forum Vancouver manually to get an update on the other the daily deals.

I've since implemented a way for unique identifiers to be assigned so everything should work correctly.

Let me know if you run into any peculiarities. If this solution works out, I will be putting up email based subscriptions for the deals.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Group Buy Widget

Some of you might have noticed that TeamBuy is missing from the Vancouver Group Buy summary feed. They changed the structure of their website and I haven't figured out a way to extract the relevant information yet.

Update: Fixed! Teambuy is now included again. I've also updated to include their side deals. Another group buy (social shopping) website called Living Social recently launched. I have updated the RSS feed to include them as well.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Win $30 to use at Grooster, free to enter!

Our first giveaway is being sponsored by Grooster, a locally based group buy (or social shopping) website that offers exclusive discounts on select Metro Vancouver restaurants, spas, events, boutiques and more.

Grooster Forum Vancouver Contest

If you haven't registered for a Forum Vancouver account yet, visit:
http://www.forumvancouver.com/register/


Registered forum members with at least 5 posts are eligible to enter and will receive 1 entry for replying to this thread: http://www.forumvancouver.com/threads/contest-win-30-to-use-at-grooster-com.179/

Participating members with 20+ posts receive an additional entry for a total of 2 entries.

Participating members may also receive additional entries by getting friends (1 entry/friend, no limit) to sign up for an account and post 5+ times.

To enter, members must post a reply in the following thread:

http://www.forumvancouver.com/threads/contest-win-30-to-use-at-grooster-com.179/

Forum posts must contribute to the community and cannot be one word replies. Forum Vancouver reserves the right to determine what constitutes an eligible post.

Complete Contest Rules

1. There is one (1) prize consisting of up to $30 to use towards a Grooster Pass at http://www.grooster.com/.

2. Contest closes August 6th, 2010 at 11:59:59 PM Pacific Daylight Time.

3. Fraudulent entries (such as registering more than one account per person) will result in disqualification.

4. A winner will be randomly drawn out of all eligible entries and contacted by email. A skill testing question will be administered and must be answered correctly. If the selected winner does not reply within five (5) business days, a new winner will be chosen.

5. By accepting the prize, the winner consents to their user name being revealed.

6. Odds of winning will depend on the total number of eligible entries received.

7. Forum Vancouver reserves the right to modify, suspend or terminate this competition at any time for any reason and without notice. Contest decisions made by Forum Vancouver are final and not subject to appeal.

8. No purchase necessary

9. Contest is only valid for residents of British Columbia.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Traffic Report #1

Correction: Graph should read July 6, not June 6. Oops.

Traffic Visitors Graph for Forum Vancouver

Just thought I'd mention that we've hit just about 200 daily unique visitors. There's been a shift from mostly referral sites providing traffic to Google providing the majority. The three sudden peaks of traffic were due to popular threads being linked so they "don't really count".

Now if only membership registration was increasing in parallel.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Vancouver Daily Group Buy Widget

Update: this widget has been replaced with this page: http://www.forumvancouver.com/pages/vancouvergroupbuy/

Hopefully you've noticed a summary of the Daily Group Buy sites (Groupon, Grooster, Wagjag, Steal the Deal, and Team Buy) on the left hand side of the forum. I added it when I couldn't update the group buy thread manually.

Vancouver Group Buy Websites RSS Feed

It's also viewable here on the blog on the right hand side!

The "widget" draws upon an RSS feed that I created by using a tool to extract the relevant information from each website, so it updates automatically when the deal of the day changes. It goes a bit wonky sometimes due to the data extraction method but should mostly work.

The feed address is: http://feeds.feedburner.com/vancouvergroupbuy if you are interested.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A few changes to member permissions

I've adjusted the forum permissions so that only members with 5 or more posts will be granted access to:

1. Avatars
2. Signatures
3. Personal Text
4. Editing extra profile fields such as Location, Website, Gender etc.
5. Customized look & layout settings
6. Customized notification & personal messaging settings
7. Buddy and Ignore Lists

This was done mostly for security reasons. If you have less than 5 posts but have added an avatar, signature, or made other edits, they will not be removed. However, you're not grandfathered the above permissions so you won't be able to change what you have until you have 5+ posts.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Reply & Posting Bug - Fixed

Looks like the issue is resolved for now, can't say it's anything that I did though. It disappeared on its own, likely it was the server host tweaking things.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Reply & Posting Bug

There's something finicky going on with the reply and start a new topic functions. When certain text is submitted or previewed, the user is redirected to a fresh "Start a New Topic" page.

So far this only happens when I try to update the Group Buy thread. This isn't something that has happened in the past, so I will look into it.

If you are having similar problems, let me know and include the body of text that you're trying to post so I can isolate the issue.

Thanks!

New Details: This issue affects private messages in addition to replies and new topics. It happens whenever the following BBcode is used four times or more [url=http://website]text[/url]. It has been confirmed with registered members.

I installed a vanilla version of the forum software to test if the issue was due to any add ons or themes, but the problem's still there. So, it looks like it might be a server issue.