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Oodle’s Real-time Stream of Classifieds Listings

From a platform perspective, Oodle has a lot in common with Twitter…

1. We index a real-time a stream of perishable, unique “tweets” (800-900k new messages a day) in the form of classifieds listings. Actually, we do more than just index these listings.  Our real-time infrastructure tags, enhances and prunes the messages flowing through our system.  For example, if someone posts a listing a for “2006 Prius,” we determine that it’s a car listing (hybrid subcompact), year=2006, manufacturer=Toyota, make=Prius and enhance the listing with all the standard features, including a stock photo if one was not submitted.  (In other words, we auto-apply hash tags.)  Moreover, if someone posts a listing that is fraudulent or inappropriate, we have a range of proprietary technologies that automatically detect, flag and remove the message.

2. Users search and browse our stream. Due to the volume and structured nature of our stream, we enable users to quickly slice and dice the stream both through keyword search and by selecting attributes (or tags).   Moreover, we’ve applied our parsing technology to search, so if someone searches for a 2006 Mercedes, we convert the query into year=2006, manufacturer=Mercedes Benz to deliver the most relevant results.

3. Users post “tweets” (classified listings) into our stream.  And the post is a quick and simple process. Recently, as part of the work we did with Facebook Marketplace, we streamlined our post process to make it as lightweight as possible.  It’s not quite 140 characters but we’re getting close. More importantly, we bring the user’s identity into the listing.  So rather than a stream of anonymous content, listings are tied to the identity of the poster (on Oodle, Facebook, MySpace, etc.).  Someone can also see the previous listings posted by that user.

4. Users follow relevant topics in the stream. When you’re looking for a car, you want to see all the listings that are currently posted, as well as new listings as soon as they get introduced into the stream.   With a single click on Oodle, users can easily follow any search (e.g., Acura TLs for under $10k within 60 miles of Burlingame, CA).

5. Users share and discuss “tweets.” It’s easy to share an Oodle listing with your friends on MySpace, Facebook and Twitter.  You may see a listing you think a friend would be interested in — or want feedback from a friend (should I buy this car?).   Having said that, we’re really only just getting started in this area.  There are a lot of interesting features coming soon…

It’s exciting to see users become more comfortable with metaphors around streaming, subscribing and sharing.  It not only enables us to better represent the cool stuff we’ve built over the last few years, it serves as a wonderful launch pad for where we’re going with “social classifieds.”