Directory of UK #hyperlocal sites gets a makeover to become – can you help us?

We have given the old OpenlyLocal map of UK hyperlocal sites a new home and a makeover as with support from Carnegie UK Trust. We’d like you to help us shape the map’s future with suggestions for new features and what should be in it.

Chris Taggart’s OpenlyLocal provided sterling public service for years with a user-driven directory of around 700 UK hyperlocals.   Academics, businesses, regulators and the public have found it invaluable.  We gave Chris an (un)award some years ago for his work but he told us he wanted to retire the OpenlyLocal empire.  Talk About Local had administered the old map for a while so, working with developer Adrian Short and supported by Carnegie UK Trust, we have used the data to create continue a new central lookup of UK sites that we shall run as a public service.

A fair few bits of the OpenlyLocal service had broken so we decided to replace it all, keeping the data and do a simple rebrand as .  We wanted to be a simple, durable service as its predecessor.  Adrian has written new code the data is gathered and presented now via an open source wordpress plug-in within a bespoke theme.  And results are presented in Open Street Map – which improves the detail.  Overall it’s also quicker and much easier for people with basic blogging skills like us to administer.  The data (minus personal contact details) can be downloaded for re-use.

We haven’t carried across all the features of OpenlyLocal as many had broken and we weren’t inundated with complaints.  At present it’s basic product – submit your site, see it on the map, search for sites.  We have added a couple of new features – a listing by country (handy for those who like administrative geography), some tallies of platform types and we are working on a sort by Local Authority.

We didn’t have a way of mailing all users who were using the old Googlemaps api that OpenlyLocal used.  So some people (we don’t know who) might be surprised to see the service vanish, please let us know if you are affected.  We presume though that anyone sufficiently skilled to have used the api will be able to use the raw data.

So now we want to ask people who use the service what features they would like to see and for some advice.

If we could do one thing with what would it be?

We are going to clean the data – our own Mike Rawlins will do a Mechanical Turk/Mechanical Mike exercise and plough through all 700 entries, once.  In particular weeding out the broken ones.  If for instance it was possible to add a field to each entry in this crawl through what would it be? (it needs to be something managable to do) – could this be for instance labelling as  Commercial/non-commercial, news/community, rural/urban for instance?

How should we treat sites that are appear dormant or are 404dead (given that we know they can come back to life) or taken over by spammers (LocalPeople we are looking at you)?  We think there are about 200 of these.

Was anyone using the aggregate RSS feed of feeds from the sites, should we create a new aggregate feed of ALL hyperlocals?

Any other countries want to use the service ?

Anyone want to help us administer this?

Should tourism sites be in here? We can now see a few that are basically tourist guides not quite a hyperlocal.

Let us know in the comments

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William Perrin

Founder of Talk About Local, Trustee of the Indigo Trust, member of UK Government transparency panels, former Policy Advisor to UK Prime Minister, former Cabinet Office senior civil servant.Open data do-er, Kings Cross London blogger. Loves countryside. Two kids, not enough sleep.
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