CouchSurfing Berlin


Couchsurfing is a social network that connects people who travel with locals in over 230 countries around the world. Since 2004, members have been using the site to come together for cultural exchange, friendship, and learning experiences. There is a large community aspect to the site where people arrange to met to socialize with other memeber who live in their area. Berlin is one of the largest couchsurfing communities on the site and the city discussion group receiveds between 800-1100 visits per day. With the high visitor levels and multiple discussions it can be difficult to keep track of what is planned on a specific date.

Design Brief

Create a simple website where people can get a calender view of events that are planned utilizing the events rss feed from the couchsurfing website. The calender should be automatically updated on a regular basis as events are added. Utilize social networking sites such as Facebook/Twitter as a communication channel to distribute event information. Content for Twitter and Facebook should be automatially generated based on the event calendar. The website should also have features to display maps of the city that have been created by the couchsurfing community and photos of events that are already loaded online.

 

Challenges

Extract data from the rss feed and output it to ical so it could be easily imported in to the 30boxes.com web calender. The ical data for the event description had to be in a very specific format and required custom coding. The integration with twitter also required custom coding as event url’s had to be shortened with the bit.ly and specific hash tags had to be added to ensure integration with facebook’s selectivetweets module. There are currently no modules available in Durpal to handle dynamic photo album creation from a facebook fan page. This is the only site that I am aware if that has this feature.

Technology used

Drupal(including the following modules: jQuery, iframe,slideshow creator), custom php code, Facebook, Twitter and selective tweets.

Results

As the calender,twitter and facebook are all updated automatically the issues with the previous calender system not being updated consistantly have been resolved. Planning of events in Berlin can be achieved much easier with limited clashing of events. The number of twitter followers and facebook fans have been growing at a steady rate as have the number of visitors to the www.csberlin.com website. People can choose how they wish to receive updates about events in the city. They can either the couchsurfing or csberlin website or receive status updates from the facebook fanpage or twitter.

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