Category Archives: Yahoo

Analysts Writing about Online Communities and Social Media

I try to keep up with the latest research and ideas about online communities and social media, but I find myself occassionally missing some good research only because it gets lost in the sea of information streaming across my screen. I decided to set up a Yahoo Pipe to pull all of the analyst blogs together and filter it down to the keywords of most interest to me. As with many of my Yahoo Pipes creations, I wanted to share it with others who might find it useful. Here’s how it works …

It takes blog feeds from the following analyst firms:

It filters for keywords in the content and titles of the blog posts. The keywords searched include: social media, online community, social network, collaboration, and a few others.


  1. Go to the Analyst Research Blogs Filtered for Social Media pipe
  2. Grab the RSS feed output

Unlike many of my other pipes, this one is not user configurable. However, you can always clone the source of my pipe and tweak the analyst blog feeds or keywords for filters to make it better for your needs.

My Question for You:

Am I missing any key analyst firms with blogs who cover the social media / online community space?

Related Fast Wonder Blog posts

Yahoo Pipes for Social Media Monitoring and Business Benefit

Many large companies can afford to spring for expensive software packages that monitor what people are saying about your company, industry, and competition online; however, for those of us looking for an inexpensive solution, Yahoo Pipes can be an important tool.

After I published the 2 minute Yahoo Pipes demo on Monday, I realized that I have done many posts about Yahoo Pipes without ever writing about why people should care about the technology and how it can used. I decided it was time to devote a post to explaining how people can use Yahoo Pipes and get actual business benefits.

Using Yahoo Pipes can help you understand what people are saying about you, your industry, your competitors and more through smart filtering of blogs, news sources, Twitter, and other online sites. Your customers are talking about you and your competitors are revealing information that you want to know online. Can you find it quickly and efficiently now?

A few business benefits from using Yahoo Pipes:

  • Become more responsive to your customers by knowing when and where people are talking about your company and products on blogs and Twitter. Find and respond more quickly and efficiently.
  • Use what people are saying about your company and your products to improve your products / services, marketing messages, web content, documentation and other communications.
  • Get insight into your competitors.
  • Keep up with important information about your industry by focusing on keyword filtering to find the most relevant content for your situation.
  • Monitoring dashboards will help you disseminate the information from Yahoo Pipes throughout the rest of your organization.

While I think that monitoring is always important, I usually emphasize it when I am working on blogging strategies with clients. Knowing what people say about your organization, your industry, and your competition is an important element of a blogging strategy. All of the information found via Yahoo Pipes for the purposes above can then be used to generate ideas for blog posts or other communications.

What business benefits do you get from Yahoo Pipes?

Related Fast Wonder Blog posts

Find Top Blog Posts Using Yahoo Pipes with AideRSS

I’ve been really excited about the potential of Yahoo Pipes recently, and as a result I’ve spent quite a bit of time playing with Yahoo Pipes over the past couple of weeks. I recently put together a pipe that I am finding really useful, and I thought a few others might find it interesting, too.

The problem:

When reading my rss feeds, I tend to skip blog posts with titles that do not immediately catch my eye as something interesting. As a result, I sometimes miss important news or ideas that everyone else is talking about.

The solution:

I decided to put together a pipe that takes some of my favorite blogs as inputs and sends the posts through AideRSS to find the ones with the most comments, discussion, bookmarks, etc.


  • I put together a csv file with some of my favorite blogs formatted without the leading http:// to make them easier to process through AideRSS (alternatively, you could also bring in the complete URL and use pipes, to reformat the strings, but I was striving for simple). I then pulled this into the pipe as input using the Fetch CSV module.
  • I then used the Loop module with an embedded URL Builder module to append the appropriate string (blog url from the csv file) to an AideRSS URL (filtering on only the “great” posts). The output from this module produces a bunch of URLs each looking something like this:
  • I ran this output through another Loop module with an embedded Fetch Feed module to fetch each individual blog post from each URL built in the previous step.
  • In order to filter out any duplicates, I then ran it through a Unique Filter module based on item link. You would only need this step if one or more of your original sources in the csv file aggregates feeds from other sources.
  • I also wanted to limit my results to blog posts from the past 5 days, so I used the Filter Module along with the Date Builder module to restrict the dates.
  • The result of the above steps gives you the basic information, but I decided that I also wanted to reformat the titles to add the AideRSS rating and post date directly into the title, so that I could easily see which ones were the most important. I used yet another Loop module with an embedded String Builder module to add additional data to the title. I then stored the output back into the item title, which results in titles like this:
    Rank 10.0 1-19 This is the blog post title
  • My final step was to sort the items using the Sort module to put the highest rated posts (using AideRSS rating) at the top with a secondary sort by date that puts the newest posts at the top when you have several posts with the same rating.

Viola! I have a pipe that finds the most important blog posts for me. Keep in mind that this will never help you find breaking news, since it usually takes a day or so for many posts to accumulate enough comments / links / etc. to have a high AideRSS rating, but it does keep you from missing really important news and ideas.

You can view the source of the Top Blog Posts pipe or get the RSS feed. You can also clone the pipe when viewing the source if you want to use it as a starting point for something else you want to do.

Related Fast Wonder Blog posts:

The Power (and Pain) of Yahoo Pipes for RSS Aggregation

I read about Yahoo! Pipes when it first came out, but never really gave it much thought until a couple of recent discussions with Justin and Paul opened my eyes to the power of Pipes. Part of the beauty and power of Pipes is that it is much easier than it sounds or looks at first glance, especially to get some simple aggregated rss feeds up and running quickly; although, the some really tricky stuff can require more work and some specific expertise.

Simple RSS Aggregation

An easy, but powerful, way to get started with Pipes is by aggregating a few feeds. A couple of weeks ago, I needed an easy way to aggregate all of the recent discussions across more than a dozen sub-communities from the Jivespace Developer Community Clearspace instance into a single feed that could be displayed in the sidebar of the Jivespace home page. I used a very simple Pipe for this task.

How? I added over a dozen feeds to the Fetch Feed module, sent the output through a Sort module to sort by date, and then set this to the pipe output. Simple and easy. Now it was time for something a little more powerful …

Feed Aggregation with Filtering, Looping, and String Building

I also did a more complex pipe with a few additional functions. This slightly more complex pipe is called the Dawn Foster UberFeed, which pulls in content that I publish across the web: Fast Wonder Blog, Fast Wonder Podcast, Flickr, Magnolia, and Jive blogs / podcasts.

Part of it was easy. The Fast Wonder feeds and Flickr feed contain only content that I write, so all of those feeds are in a simple Fetch Feed module.

Pulling my content from the Jive feeds required the addition of a simple filter after the Fetch Feed module. I included a Filter module to only permit items where contains the string “dawn”. This filters out the Jive posts from other co-workers and only pulls in the posts that I authored.

I also wanted to add my Ma.gnolia links to the feed, but this got a little more complicated. It would be easy to simply add the Ma.gnolia feed to my list of feeds in the Fetch Feed module; however, it made my links look like they were authored by me. To avoid taking credit for the work of others, I decided that I wanted to add the string “Magnolia Link: ” to the beginning of every link to make it clear that these are my links, not my posts. I used the Loop module with an embedded String Builder module. This loops through every item in the Ma.gnolia feed and builds a new string by concatenating “Magnolia: ” with item.title. The result of this operation is assigned back into item.title.

Bigger image.

I took all of these various outputs after the filters and sting modifications and integrated them together using the Union module. The output of this union is then sent through the Sort module, which orders all of the content from newest to oldest by item.pubDate.

You can view the source of the pipe or subscribe to my UberFeed if you want to see exactly how this works.

The Pain of Yahoo Pipes

This brings me to the pain of pipes. It is still in beta and is still a bit buggy. For the most part, it seems to work, but I am finding little annoying things that just don’t quite work consistently. For example, we have a pipe we are using at Jive that works fine for me in Netvibes; however, for other people using other feed readers, some items are duplicated many times. I also recommend saving frequently. It has a tendency to crash Firefox occasionally. Despite the bugs and quirks, Pipes is a really powerful tool for RSS junkies like me.

Recommended Reading:

Related Fast Wonder Blog posts:

World (Portland) Explorer Tag Maps Courtesy of Flickr Data

I read about the new World Explorer from Yahoo today on O’Reilly Radar, and I decided to take a quick look at the map for Portland. A few interesting things turned up when I moused over some of the main tags to see the related tags.

  • The “Zoo” tag was fairly predictable: giraffe, animals, bear, etc.

  • “Edgefield” was related to McMenamins (not surprising since the Edgefield McMenamins is a very popular destination.)

  • OSCON was on the Portland map as a tag.

  • Beaverton, a sleepy and not always very nice suburb of Portland, relates to sunset, clouds, and sky – I can’t even hazard a guess on that one.

  • The most interesting: Mt. Tabor was only associated with cat. Apparently “cat people” gravitate toward Mt. Tabor.

I also noticed that going back to the map after closing my browser yielded slightly different results. I encourage you to have a look. It provided me with a few minutes of amusement anyway.

Digg Acquisition Rumors

Who will acquire Digg? Michael Arrington from TechCrunch claims that Digg has been in acquisition talks with News Corp. and other companies: “However, the company was unable to land an offer in the price range they’re looking for – at least $150 million – and will likely close a Series B round of financing instead.” (TechCrunch Quote)

I am curious who those “other companies” might be. Here are a few random guesses (pure speculation):

  • AOL / Time-Warner: Calacanis might be interested in an attempt to merge Netscape with Digg (bad idea in my opinion).

  • Yahoo: The rumor is that they were in discussions for YouTube and FaceBook, and they have already acquired a number of web 2.0 companies. Digg might be an interesting fit for Yahoo.

Who should acquire Digg? Maybe Google. Due to the recent, and large, YouTube acquisition, I doubt that Google is currently in discussions to acquire Digg. Digg would be a great way for Google to get more involved in the collaborative, user generated content space to expand their web 2.0 offerings, and Google could probably add quite a bit of value in helping to optimize Digg’s promotion algorithms. Digg has sometimes struggled with attempts by users to game the system to promote their own stories using all types of devious mechanisms. Designing creative algorithms to prevent people from artificially inflating search results has been one of Google’s strengths.

Personally, I think that Digg will stay independent for now, but then again, I am frequently wrong about acquisition predictions. (I’m still waiting for Borland to be acquired – I predicted an imminent acquisition back in 2002 / 2003).

Women take Yahoo Hack Day by Storm

Yahoo Hack day is a geeky weekend of coding competitions held at the Yahoo campus. This year the winner was a team of women who created a mobile blogging solution. According to Michael Arrington (one of the judges for the event):

“The winning project, called Blogging In Motion, combined a camera, a handbag, a pedometer and the Flickr API to create a device that takes a picture after every few steps and then automatically blogs those pictures.” (Quote from TechCrunch).