I'm considering writing a metawishlist program.
December 20, 2004 11:10 AM   Subscribe

I'm considering writing a metawishlist program that would allow you to save items, descriptions and price information from a bookmarklet and add metadata/tags ala del.icio.us to your items. I find that I have a lot of things I run across that I want, and so I have wishlists scattered from Amazon to ThinkGeek, and lots of other items on sites that don't have wishlist functionality that I lose track of... I think that a central repository would be cool, and the social aspect might have possibilities also. What do you guys think? What other features should something like this have to make it a good app?
posted by hansbleep to Shopping (18 answers total)
I think you've come up with a great idea for a web site: a wishlist collator. Could be used for wedding registries, too. A web site would be better because it allows you to present your collated list to others.
posted by Mo Nickels at 11:16 AM on December 20, 2004

There are a few sites that do this already, but most of them are burdened with nasty interfaces, don't have any cool features like RSS feeds, and don't let you add metadata to your items.
posted by hansbleep at 11:19 AM on December 20, 2004

Tags would be a very attractive feature. *Everything* is better with tags. Obviously the attraction of social wishlisting is the power to find interesting recommendations, ie. windowshopping through items tagged "humidore." But recommendations should also be done Amazon-style, based on the items themselves. And you should be able to select subsets of your wishlist to seed recommendations. That way you could tag items according to your friends preferences and get recommendations that aren't overwhelmed by your preferences.

RSS would also be a very attractive feature. I have a blogger blog and it's a kludge to fit rss feeds into my template. I shoehorn them in with feedfire.com. It's nice when there's an option for javascript includes. Er... something like that. I'm out of my element here.

I would suggest making it easy to get your data in and out. Import wishlists from Amazon at the very least. I have 350+ items in there. I must have close to 100 items in my Baggle wishlist. Any new wishlist site would have to be astounding to get me to convert unless it could import these two existing lists. The site should poll amazon regularly for additions to my amazon wishlist in case I want to maintain it.

Better sorting and filtering. Watchcow.net gives me an RSS feed of price changes in items on my Amazon wishlist. It gives the complete price history of the item and the price history for the item in the Amazon marketplace. This way, I'll know that some book is available for 30% of retail, for instance. It would be nice to have a web interface to this data. That way I could get an on-demand list of all books whose marketplace price is less than $x or less than y% of their retail price.
posted by stuart_s at 11:52 AM on December 20, 2004

How should this app ideally operate when adding items that are non-Amazon items? Say you go to tigerdirect.com and want to save a new LCD screen that looks cool... how should this process ideally work for you?
posted by hansbleep at 12:00 PM on December 20, 2004

I'd like to see some kind of interoperability with Pricewatch, Pricegrabber, Pricenoia (compares international Amazon sites), etc. If Tigerdirect has a fresh new LCD, but Newegg has it cheaper, that's the kind of thing I'd like to know.
posted by box at 12:05 PM on December 20, 2004

Seems like it might be kind of hard to scrape the data from the individual wishlists, as they are set up to encourage gifters to buy from that particular merchant...not something that's in Amazon's interest to open up to aggregators. Not saying it can't be done, as I have no idea whether it's technically feasible. Just a guess that the owners of the individual wishlists have no reason to make it easy for you and every reason to make it hard.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:10 PM on December 20, 2004

I've been working on such a tool for about 6 weeks. It's online in a very small way, just for friends and family while I continue development. For me it's just a fun project, but it seems like there has been a lot of interest in this kind of app lately--certainly a lot more than last December, when I first started thinking about it. I imagine that this time next year we'll have a lot of new sites offering great wishlist services.

As far as my site goes, the basic setup is just like you described: users create an account, enter their personal information, and begin to add items to their list. A nutr.icio.us-style bookmarklet is available, so users don't have to go back to the wishlist site every time they want to add a new item.

Wishlists are connected like friendster profiles. You can set the privacy level of your list to allow access by anyone, no one, or only your friends.

For each item, there is a field for "desired quantity". When you are signed into your account, you can also see the "received quantity" for each item, but only on your friends' lists--not your own (don't want to spoil the surprise). When you buy something for someone, you can update the "received quantity" next to the item on their list, so all of their friends can see what has been purchased already.

As for RSS... If the user enters his or her Amazon ID, then that Amazon wishlist is imported automatically. Also, an RSS feed of the central wishlist is available to the user.

It seems like something people will use. Aside from the seasonal benefits, it's nice to have a centralized repository of addresses, birthdays, anniversaries, etc.
posted by hartsell at 12:12 PM on December 20, 2004

I like the idea of tracking prices over time. Integrating a comparison engine might be outside the scope of this project, but linking to Pricewatch, et al. would be easy and useful.

stupidsexyFlanders, Amazon makes wishlists (and all their product information) available over RSS because they expect the purchase to be made through Amazon. I guess they assume that most developers want the sale go through Amazon as well, because of their affiliate program. So, anyway, directing the user to a different merchant is a piece of cake; the developer just forfeits the potential affiliate fee.
posted by hartsell at 12:23 PM on December 20, 2004

I imagine that this time next year we'll have a lot of new sites offering great wishlist services.

I imagine that this time next year, Amazon will let you add wishlist items from any store to your 'zon wishlist, and everyone else's efforts will be obsolete.
posted by kindall at 12:59 PM on December 20, 2004

How would you integrate the price comparison search engine when many items, say a t-shirt from Hot Topic, are utterly impossible to get standardized data in any format for?
posted by hansbleep at 1:07 PM on December 20, 2004

ah, deepleap, so ahead of its time.
posted by judith at 1:31 PM on December 20, 2004 [1 favorite]

Just another data point, 43 Things seems to be a collaborative wishlist site by Robot Co-Op and 37 Signals. It is in limited beta now and there is a teaser called Hugster up now. Since I'm not in the limited beta, I don't know exactly what this thing is, but the interface seems juicy.

As for "features" - tags are a must and easy public/private items or lists. And the ability to create groups such as friends/family/work/etc to control the permissions of those items/lists on a group by group basis (more privacy granularity).
posted by plemeljr at 2:04 PM on December 20, 2004

I really like that social angle. Finding popular gifts and gifts for my girlfriend that were tagged by other people as "marine bio."

One thing I'd really like added though would be to give it MY amanzon associate ID and other associate IDs I might have so that visitors to MY wishlist would be contributing to MY associate code. If I didn't have a code, I wouldn't mind if YOUR associate ID was there, but if I had one I'd like the ability to add it.
posted by pwb503 at 2:25 PM on December 20, 2004

I think that 43 things is substantially less materialistic... Looks like a great app, and I'm on the list for a membership. But definitely a horse of a different color.
posted by hansbleep at 2:27 PM on December 20, 2004

also, pwb503, would you consider having google ads on the site as a tradeoff for getting to use your amazon id for purchases?
posted by hansbleep at 2:29 PM on December 20, 2004

Too bad y'all,


Welcome to modern patent law, now with more rain on your parade.
posted by blasdelf at 9:38 PM on December 20, 2004

I noted some features that I was looking for in a universal wishlist in this question.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:36 PM on December 20, 2004

I forgot to mention one thing. Please remember to add your projects to the MeFi projects list so that we can see how it turns out. Hansbleep and Hartsell, please. Thank you.

Good luck.
posted by stuart_s at 12:46 PM on December 21, 2004

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