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Going Local with Ning

Find Friends - Quaker Quakers

One of my Ning networks is getting enough members that I'd like it to start having a local focus. In an ideal world Ning would use the town/state/country information in member profiles to geotag. That would allow us to target by geography, e.g., send a message to anyone within twenty miles of Boston, MA.But you can hack a geography listing. I've put together a page of my Ning's members that lists by state, country and region. I'll show you how to do a region, which should give you an idea how to recreate something like this.Say I want to have a list of everyone in the New England region of the U.S. I go to my regular Members page and click on "Advanced Search." Go down to the city state field and type in each of the states in the region with "OR" in between: "me OR ma OR nh OR vt OR ct OR ri". The results tell me I have 42 members: yea! But the address bar is what I want. Ning is awesomely good at having transparent URLs. It's not pretty but it's there and can be shortened down a bit to: can now make that a link on any page. On my network, I went to manage tabs, added a page and spent an hour or so making up those links. It should work for any network. This link, for instances, gives you New England members of the Ning Creators Network!Let me know if you've found any geo-locating tricks. To the left is a image of a Google Maps mashup I did with my Ning membership list. This trick's not particularly easy. You have to run it through a geotagging service, convert the output file to KML and then upload it for Gmaps to see. Once you get through it all it's cool (I could actually embed that map right here, except that it has some member data I don't want to make public).

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  • I second all of Dave's ideas. I was surprised my work-arounds worked as well as they did, as they depend on people using two-digit state/province abbreviations. The map required me to run the town name/states through a geo-locating service that converted them to latitude and longitude.

    I love Ning and the branded network it gives me. But Facebook is way ahead on geography. I can precisely target message updates to fans of my Page. I'm helping to coordinate a traveling minister's trip through western Ohio and I really want to involve my network. With Ning, I'm going through the Ohio and Indiana lists by hand trying to determine which people live near her itinerary. Sure, I know where the big cities are but about half of the members are in small towns I've never heard of. I'm switching back and forth to Google maps trying to figure out where all these towns are and then sending a message out if the member is on the route. With Facebook I could quickly send announcements off to members within 30 miles of a particular city or two and know it will reach everyone. The Google Map mashup I did helps get around this problem but isn't ideal. I'd love to see geography baked into a future version of Ning.
  • Also Laura any chance the user can be forced to enter a zip code and ONLY that drives their location or states are in a drop down or something to eliminate any chance they misspell their state, don't use the two letter abbreviation, etc?
  • This is great stuff. The only issue is that location was previously manually entered by people as opposed to being zip-based, correct? So if someone spelled out 'Maryland' for instance, this won't pick them up -- only those that let the zip. And also when a user edit's the profile now by going to it allows them to manually adjust the location so they could mess it up. But overall, awesome way to get more functionality .. just need to ensure members do their part! :)
  • C'est fort difficile d'obtenir une telle carte.
    Alors je m'y suis pris autrement: j'ai créé un sujet de FORUM et j'y ai expliqué comment rechercher des membres dans une ville

    J'y ai joint un document (.doc) qui est une liste partielle des lieux d'origine des visiteurs sur le site, que j'ai tirée de Google analytic
  • Check the screencast too!
  • Awesome idea, thanks:) I'm going to go in a bit of a different direction, but this was a great place to start:)
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