30 May 2012

Why I stopped tweeting airtime pins #AirtimeAsseblief

I run a website that does daily airtime draws in South Africa - ehtime.co.za. I thought it would be a great idea to tweet R5 airtime pins to generate hype on Twitter and promote my website(s). I even got the okay from @Vodacom to piggy back on their #AirtimeAsseblief Twitter campaign. It seemed like an excellent idea, but in reality it wasn't so great...
  • Tweeting airtime pins generated mostly negative sentiment
  • People were accusing me of Tweeting invalid / used airtime
  • Losers were playing the guilt card and trying to make me give them airtime
  • Winners didn't even tweet a lot of the time, so this offset all the negativity even more
  • People were wasting entire days refreshing my Twitter stream and harassing me - This point by itself was enough to make me stop, I had not intended for people to sit glued to Twitter all day, rather that airtime tweets would be a nice surprise that winners might stumble across by pure chance
  • It wasn't unusual for the same people to win repeatedly - even after I started tweeting the airtime pins backwards to try and give other people more of a chance
  • This meant that it wasn't unusual for the same people to lose repeatedly and become even more unreasonable about not winning
  • My website(s) did not experience any increase in traffic as a result of the airtime tweets (and traffic is what pays the airtime bills)
  • I don't think anyone got much sustainable value out of any of the above points
So I stopped tweeting airtime pins and reallocated the entire airtime budget to my airtime draw website (I am still giving away as much airtime as before, it's just all from ehtime.co.za now).

If you would like to win airtime then please enter the draw at http://ehtime.co.za, it runs every day! Additional entries are accepted after a waiting period that the site will display to you, so people can enter more than once a day to increase their chances of winning if they would like to. This way people's involvement influences their chance to win airtime directly and it does not require them to waste their time watching @mobidk tweets all day. Instead, winners are randomly selected (without human intervention) at 4pm and their voucher pins are sent to them by SMS. Entries for all the South African cellular providers are accepted as well, so it's not just limited to Vodacom or MTN.

If you ask me this is a much better #AirtimeAsseblief deal for everyone, and that's why I'm not tweeting airtime pins any more.

24 May 2012

How I made a global Joomla! website compliant with EU cookie legislation

I have seen a lot of solutions to make UK Joomla! websites compliant with the new EU cookies laws that come into effect on 26th May 2012 (2 days time as I write this). But I have not come across any solutions for global Joomla! websites, where not all visitors are from the EU, so the cookie opt in requirements do not apply to all visitors. Here’s how to target cookie opt-in at just EU visitors, without affecting visitors from else where.

  1. Do a cookie audit of your site to figure out what cookies are set and which of them are not essential to the functioning of your website – Tabulate all your findings to describe all cookies that are set by name, lifetime and description in your privacy policy. (Joomla sets an initial session cookie, and another to keep track of authenticated sessions when users login – I judged these 2 as essential). Work from the ico.gov.uk privacy policy if you need a guide.
  2. Install the ‘MetaMod’ Joomla! module – This is a really powerful and versatile module for user experience customization, but I used it specifically for its ability to display modules to visitors based on their location (determined by IP address) in this instance.
  3. Create a ‘Cookie opt-in’ form module that sets a ‘CookiesAccepted’ cookie (for 2 years) and reloads the current page when users 'opt in'.
  4. Identify modules that are setting non-essential cookies and replace them with MetaMod modules that only load content when ‘The user is not from the EU OR the CookiesAccepted cookie has been set'. Otherwise you should insert a message to explain that ‘This content can not be loaded, unless you accept cookies from this site…’. Common examples include: Analytics, Twitter, YouTube and DISQUS*.

e.g.  where $optinCountries is an array including all 27 EU countries..
$optinCountries = array('AT','BE','BG','CY','CZ','DK','EE','FI','FR','DE','GR','HU','IE','IT','LV','LT','LU','MT','NL','PL','PT','RO','SK','SI','ES','SE','GB');

if (!(in_array($fromCountryId, $optinCountries)) || isset($_COOKIE['CookiesAccepted'])) {
//full cookie loading code goes here
} else {//you need to accept cookies message}

5. Using another MetaMod module, set the Cookie opt-in form module to load for EU users (27 country codes) who have not opted in to accept cookies from your site (the ‘CookiesAccepted’ cookie is not set yet).

Now when an EU visitor hits your site:  The cookie opt-in will display as long as they do not accept cookies from your site. If they accept cookies then the correct functionality will display in the MetaMod modules and the opt-in form will disappear. Your Joomla! site will be compliant with EU cookie legislation without affecting non-EU visitors!

*DISQUS is a Joomla! plugin, not a module but it can be toggled (hacked) to be compliant using the same logic as shown the example above.