As some of you know (if you follow me on Twitter) my wife and I have been on vacation for the past week. “Vacation” is a somewhat deprecated term these days because who, really, goes on vacation? Do you really not check your business email? I check mine daily, even while I’m supposed to be on vacation.
Anyway, the point is that I haven’t been able to post anything new lately because we’ve been traveling quite a bit. But, towards the end of this trip, I’ve finally found a few minutes where I can sit down and give you all something great.
Before we left on our road trip, I took a few spare hours that were set aside for packing and instead decided to try to help make the world a better place, or at least help you help make it better.
Matt Herzberger (@mherzber) sent me a message with an interesting idea. Matt saw the @MissingChildren Twitter account I created, which sends out messages when a child goes missing, is endangered, or is found across the nation. Within the same family, he wanted an account which would allow people to submit ideas on how to practically make small steps toward changing the world for good.
Originally, we went through the ideas he had for it in about 20 minutes, and I said I could definitely do something like that for him. It was a great idea and for a great cause – making the world better. Although, in about 5 hours, I was leaving for a vacation and wouldn’t be able to code anything for him until I got back.
A few minutes later, the idea turned into a spec, which turned into a prototype, which turned into something I just couldn’t get out of my head. It was simple and brilliant, and the code itself could be worth quite a bit to extend this idea of world-changing into other realms (like, great business ideas, etc). So, 3 hours later I had the new service called @MakeChange tested and working.
The Overview / Back of the Envelope Drawing
There were a few things we wanted as “features” to this concept that was a little different from the @missingchildren account.
- The ideas were to be anonymously reposted onto the @makechange account.
- It would be best if the messages sent to @makechange were direct messages (behind the scenes).
- Everything except the moderation of the posts needed to be automated, including the re-following that’s needed to accept direct messages from other twitter accounts.
Here’s what we came up with on the back of an envelope (versus an earlier idea I drew on the back of a napkin):
The code turned out pretty straightforward. I am sharing it for your benefit. Hopefully it does greater good than just what we’ve put it to use doing.
Of course, if you use it, I’d love to hear about what you’re using it for, and I’d love the attribution as well.
Download: MakeChange Twitter Account PHP Code (.zip) (follow the directions in the readme.txt)
- PHP 5.
- Ability to create and run cron jobs.
- A Twitter account.
- A dedicated/separate email address which will receive Twitter notifications of when you’ve been followed by another user.
Feel free to comment here and I’ll try to answer to the best of my ability.