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How To: Make Grape Stories More Like Facebook

Friday, March 26, 2010

It's beta. I get it.  But when CellarTracker's redesign was released for public use a month ago a lot of us moved over and immediately started using the new site full-time.  A big question I had about the redesign was how much focus would be devoted to enhancing and expanding the social features of the site.  After playing around with Grape Stories the past few weeks, I've been pleasantly surprised by how immersive the site has become.  It's not too hard to see a path towards Grape Stories becoming the Facebook of the wine world.

That said, one thing that's not implemented yet is Notifications.  People leave comments on your tasting notes and you don't discover it until weeks later when you're poking around the site.  You don't realize that one of your friends has a bottle of what you thought was a quirky selection until you're looking around at tasting notes for the wine.  To help bridge the gap until Notifications are implemented, I've found a couple of searches I think are really useful in keeping up with activity on the site.

Create a Saved Search for "What My Friends Are Drinking":
  1. On the main Grape Stories page, click on "Advanced Search".
  2. On the "wines" page, select "Tasting Notes" in the Output View field.
  3. Select "Favorite Authors" in "User's Cellars" field (Favorite Authors are people you've elected to become a fan of.  Somewhat strangely, you can't currently select to see tasting notes from those you're Friends with).
  4. Click "Show Search Results" at the bottom of the page. You should now see a page of the most recent tasting notes from people you're a fan of. (Also somewhat strangely, you can't capture a list of recent bottles consumed or purchases for those you're fans/friends of. This is only available for Tasting Notes.  I suspect this has something to do with the nature of privacy settings and viewing cellars of people you're not friends with, although some people including myself have their cellars open for everyone to see and most people you're friends with would presumably be OK with you seeing their cellar contents.)
  5. To save the search for future re-use click "My Saved Searches" -> "Save This Page".  Call it "What My Friends Are Drinking".
See "Recent Comments on Your Tasting Notes":
  1. On the main page, click on "My Tasting Notes".
  2. Click on the "My Comments" tab.
  3. Click on "All Comments on My Tasting Notes".
  4. Click "Save This Search" and call it "All Comments on My Tasting Notes".
I think by now we can see the tremendous potential of the new site.  Merge the purchases, bottles consumed, and tasting notes of friends into a News Feed.  Create Notifications for comments on tasting notes and user profiles along with Private Messages.  Voila, the site immediately becomes a place you visit a lot more frequently.  Other wine tasting note sharing sites already offer this, but they don't have the volume of data that to date has been CellarTracker's strength.

Question of the Day: What tips and tricks have you found for making the GrapeStories beta more useful and enjoyable?

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