Category: Siikir

Siikir.com Goes Live!

Noah Petherbridge
kirsle
Posted by Noah Petherbridge on Thursday, December 30 2010 @ 12:13:45 AM
It never fails that when I have a deadline I tend to hurry up and get my work done long before I reach it... even when I set the deadline myself, and when it's not even important if it gets done on time!

Siikir.com has just been uploaded to my web server. I said I'd have it up by the new year, and I did. :) It's a gay social network site (see my previous post about it).

Now that it's up I'll mention some of the other features I came up with for it that I haven't seen other sites do, or do correctly.

"Self-moderating" photo system. It's annoying when a site makes you wait 24+ hours for an admin to come by and approve every pic you upload. So on Siikir, I came up with a better way: all public pics go live immediately!

If a user flags your pic as being inappropriate, then it goes into the "Pending Approval" mode and is temporarily taken down until an admin can look it over. If the admin judges that the pic is perfectly fine and not in violation of the rules, it goes back up, and cannot be flagged ever again by other users; it has the admin's blessing. If the picture is indeed in violation of the rules, the admin will have it deleted.

This whole system is full of statistics keeping though, if a user abuses the system and keeps on flagging pictures just to be a pest, the admin can see how many pics they've flagged and how many of those flags turned out to be false. Eventually in a future update I'll be building in a karma system, so that users who consistently upload good pics will require more flags before it goes into "pending approval" mode.

All free. SO annoying when sites ask for money to use some crucial and obvious feature, like replying to messages or seeing who thinks you're hot. Siikir will make its money in other ways, like Google Adsense or a "featured profile" feature to come.

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Grindr Stalking

Noah Petherbridge
kirsle
Posted by Noah Petherbridge on Wednesday, December 15 2010 @ 10:59:32 PM
This is just a blog post about my latest project that's still in development, where, among many other things, I'll be attempting to mitigate the "Grindr stalking" problem in my project.

First I should say what my project is. It's called Siikir (pronounced like "seeker"), and it's a gay social network website and mobile app. I'm creating it because I'm disappointed in all the currently existing things that it will be competing with; they all have features that annoy, or else a lack of features that is also annoying.

If any of y'all know me from when I was like 16, that's when I programmed a gay social network site from scratch that I called RainbowBoi; I abandoned it a year later from lack of interest, but the disappointing sites out there today have motivated me to try a second time.

I won't spoil the full list of features just yet, but one of the big ones is that "Grindr stalking" will be much more difficult (if not made impossible) to do with it, than it is on the iPhone app, Grindr.

Grindr is an iPhone app for gay guys where you can locate all the other gay guys near you. Its feature set is rather limited: one profile to a device, you can have one pic, a small set of profile details, you can send messages and pictures to other users and you can bookmark users. Sure, Siikir will be competing with this, but the competition will look like RiveScript vs. AIML; my feature set already surpasses Grindr. But this post isn't about that.

No, it's about Grindr's bookmark feature.

You can boot up Grindr, locate somebody you know (such as an ex boyfriend that you haven't quite gotten over yet), and... bookmark them. Don't send them a message, just bookmark them. This will place them at the very top of your list of guys, forever. And the poor victim has no idea that you've even bookmarked him.

And now you can just silently stalk him ad infinitum. He can't upload a new picture, change his profile or anything without you knowing about it. He can't delete Grindr and reinstall it, because Grindr ties a profile to a device and he'll still be bookmarked on his stalker's phone. He has to be lucky enough to find out what profile is the stalker's and block him to be free.

Siikir will prevent this sort of abuse.

On Siikir, when you locate a profile in a "public" place (like the search results page), the link to view their profile will be temporary (but share-able). The link in your browser URL won't look like "/users/kirsle", but rather something like "/users/hash.432ebc113ac1662=". The URL is encrypted, a random hash that will expire after 15 or 30 minutes or so.

Search result URLs are temporary, but are shareable; if you find somebody you wanna show your friend, you can paste that URL over MSN Messenger; but regardless the URL has been generated by the server and has an end-of-life already ticking down to zero. This URL can't be bookmarked in your web browser, for it won't be there anymore when you try to return to it.

The only way to get a permanent URL, then, is to make contact with the user. Siikir will have a bookmark system, but the user you bookmark will be notified that you have bookmarked them. Sending them a message and saying hello is just as fine. Either way, before you get a permanent link, the user has to also be aware of who you are.

The obvious loophole is that you only need to find somebody who already has the permanent link and just get it from him. Sure. That's why for the extra privacy-conscious individual, they can turn on an optional "Make my profile unlinkable" feature. This will make it so that, even on a user's bookmark or inbox page, the links to your profile (which would've been permanent links) are also temporary. Only, these links cannot be shared on MSN; they are temporary and tied to the session of the end user who sees the link. Search result links can continue to be shared though, but are, of course, still temporary.

I only have a couple key components of the site left to develop and it will go live with a public beta shortly. I plan to have it up and running by the new year. The Android app will follow quickly after the site goes up, followed later by an iPhone version (as soon as I work up the courage to wrestle Apple with their app store procedure).

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