Beside gardening and collecting plants I am spending quite some time on computer programming and web design. I'm currently working on an experiment with a full automatic international plant trading platform.
To turn this experiment in something useful I was curious what features plant traders or swappers would (not) like to see in such a platform. I will try to convert your suggestions and ideas into php codings and see wat comes out. (hopefully something useful because living in Europe is a real nightmare for Coleus collectors like me :-/ )
Features might be things like favorites, mail alerts for plants in your wishlist or a trade system where you buy plants with 'favor' which you earn by giving away other plants.
Thanks in advance (I hope this thread is posted on the right place)
I'm wondering why it is so difficult to start a plant and seed trade in Europe. There're so many gardeners how like to trade. I did some plant trades in Europe with succes.
The plants arrived in a good shape. It is a challenge to get plants, cuttings and seeds you looking for and it feels good sent plants to another gardener. I realy hope gardeners in Europe enjoy this project.
Cumulus is there a webside already?
Actually theres already a working beta on floraswapper.com.
A handful of people joined this, but they didnt make use of the trade interface, fora, chatboxes etc and left again. They never left any feedback and i tried to reinvite them but to no avail. Its a little bit frustrating as I'm already working on this since september 2007 and nobody makes use of it.
So i hoped to find out what people actually expect from a trading platform and make changes where needed. Maybe it looks too commercial or so since I wanted to anticipate on the unaffordable webhosting costs by using a system with premium memberships in case of heavy use.
But it looks like i'll never need to worry about high webtraffic costs ;)
I will check out your beta. The only thing that pops into my head as a potential concern is that international trading has some very complicated laws associated with it (Import/Export certificates, CITES, ESA, Phytosantiary requirements, etc...). I am not sure this effects your project but I know some people are hesitant to do international trading so they can avoid the complication. Perhaps somehow bundling in information about these forms or a way to automatically complete appropriate permit forms would be an interesting feature.
By the way, what are you using to build it (I am a software developer as well)
Probably that's also the reason why this forum doesn't show alot of life either :(
I have been considering to make include files for each country in the world and each time you want to accept a trade, the file for your and your trade partners country loads in a window (div tag). But it is extremely complex to do that for each country and even if I manage to get this done I'll have to deal with updates and changes so my info will never be complete or up to date. One thing that is in the pipeline is that I would put all the names from the CITES list in a sql database, and each time someone trades a plant that is in this list he or she will receive a warning message. But this list contains thousands of plants and it will also be a huge task before it is done.
I have been writing all this stuff in php script. I'm only a beginner so there will be some codings that could have been done in a more efficiŽnt way but it works and I never expected from myself that I would be able to do programming, neither dit I expect that I would spend 1150 hours to get this project done.
I am working on a site right now that does something very similar. Perhaps we should talk.
Is your project a for-profit or not-for-profit project?
By the way, THANK YOU for being mindful of CITES!!! I am so sick and God damned tired of people not caring about/disregarding international threatened species treaties! It really ticks me off!!! As rare plant collectors we are simultaneously threatened species' potential best friend and potential worse enemy. The damage we have done to many species and their native habitats because of trading for collections alone is absolutely horrifying!
Another thing that totally irks me! People do not realize (or sometimes they just flat out ignore this fact), just because a plant is not protected under CITES appendix 1, does not mean it is not on the IUCN red list as an endangered species, or even critically endangered! There are literally species which are red listed as critically endangered which are legal to trade/import into the US without a CITES permit. If a native country has lax laws, this spells potential disaster!
Example: Nepenthes dubia
- IUCN critically endangered status (last time I checked)
- CITES appendix 2 which means they can be imported into the US so long as you are importing less than 12 plants and state it is for personal cultivation and not sale.
- Laws in Indonesia as I understand them, so long as a plant/animal is collected outside of the designated protected area- little legal consequence.
So moral of the story, if I may offer a suggestion. Importing the CITES list is a very good idea but dont stop there- import the IUCN red list as well (even that has flaws- some plants like Drosera regia are not on it but really should be...).
My project is non profit although I was hoping to get some financial income to afford the huge webhosting costs.
It would be interesting if we could work together to make something useful from it. I don't know if you have tried the website and took a look to the interface and features inside?
In which stage is your website? I encountered a few similar sites too but they are either non- active or only available to the united states while I want to make something worldwide.
Concerning the CITES and IUNC lists I have made notifications of it in the terms and conditions and tips, so if someone trades such plants on my website he will violate my terms and conditions automatically while there is also a user report system where you can report users who trade illegal plants. That's the least I can do for it right now.
"My project is non profit although I was hoping to get some financial income to afford the huge webhosting costs."
- Sounds cool, I can certainly understand wanting to get some financial assistance for webhosting costs- that stuff can get expensive depending on the company and product used.
"It would be interesting if we could work together to make something useful from it. I don't know if you have tried the website and took a look to the interface and features inside? "
- To be honest, I have not a close look yet. I meant to but have been busy lately and it slipped my mind. I will make a point of taking a good look today. If I am interpreting it correctly, It sounds to me like you have a very worthwhile project, certainly a good idea if this thread is any indication.
"In which stage is your website? I encountered a few similar sites too but they are either non- active or only available to the united states while I want to make something worldwide. "
"Concerning the CITES and IUNC lists I have made notifications of it in the terms and conditions and tips, so if someone trades such plants on my website he will violate my terms and conditions automatically while there is also a user report system where you can report users who trade illegal plants. That's the least I can do for it right now."
- Like I said before, that's a heck of a lot more than most places seem to do. Honestly, I do have my opinions regarding CITES- to me the bigger picture is protecting threatened species. CITES should be a tool to help with that. A big challenge; however, is I do not think a lot of people know about it. The fact that you want to draw awareness via your site will be a help.
I'm looking forward to hear/see more from your project.
So you are making some kind of plant database? It might be a good idea to let my scripts make use of it, depending on which kinds of information it provides. I was working on a plant database in the past too, and it handles the suitability for hydroponic culture from plants. But it was in the days I didn't know anything from php/mysql. You can see it on http://hendrikmertens.com/Engels/HendrikEnglish.htm when you click on hydroponics on the left menu. At a certain point I gave up because the pictures took much webspace and I couldn't afford an upgrade to a larger hosting package. And later I lost some of my enthousiasm for hydroponics so my whole testing project died somewhat.
About the CITES matter: I guess the biggest problem is that people almost never read terms and conditions, and directly agree with them upon registering. So it looks like importing the whole list into a database with alerts on matches is the only solution for it. Don't know if there exist such databases which I could download somewhere and use them in my scripts.