When I mention TextMarks to people and say something like “so you can build applications that communicate via SMS”, the general response seems to be “why would you want to do that?” And I normally use the bookmarking example that Russell gave, or a group messaging example. But today while I was in the car I heard the Live105 folks encouraging people to text in their votes for different styles of music in a head to head faceoff. Looks like punk won, cool. Perfect example I thought. Doing a promotion also, something like “the 30th person to text in gets to punch me!”
But screw the whole example thing, that’s booring, and people never believe things are easy to do till after you actually show them a working example. So I setup an SMS voting backend on Ning during Robot Chicken. The parts are pretty simple:
- http://smsvoting.ning.com/?vote=something – records a vote for “something” and returns a message for the voter formated with some text to make pulling the message out at TextMarks easy.
- http://smsvoting.ning.com/results.php?choices=thing1,thing2 – returns the current vote count for thing1 and thing2 in a very minimal html page. You could format the different and tag it up so that the vote tally can be queried via SMS also. Takes multiple names seperated by commas, so you can do more than 2 way voting if you want.
- The setup at TextMarks. Create a keyword for each option you want to be able to vote on and set the “text from a webpage” in the respond with dropdown, set the URL to the ?vote=something from the first bullet point above, the to left field to “msgbegin:” and the to right field to “:msgend”
Don’t get it? I setup voting keywords where you can vote either in favor of or against me so you can try it out. The results so far are here, and you can vote for me by texting “miker” to 41411, and against me by texting “nomiker” to 41411. You should get a message back on your mobile telling you the vote number for your submission, and if you go and reload the webpage you should see a different count. The Ning app creates new entries when it sees new votes, so you can use it for your own toys, or you can clone it and make it better. I vote you clone it. Go ahead, you know you want to.