October 27, 2011

Tweeting JCP Offices’ Redirection Services

Filed under: Jobcentre Plus Database Mirror — Tags: , — Martin Sullivan @ 2:04 pm

The following post, it should be noted, has been superseded. Read it in a historical context knowing that, although the links all still work they’re now using the official system under the covers rather than some scrape-and-cache hack of my own artifice.

A number of 'official' Jobcentre Plus (JCP) offices are now active on the micro-blogging site Twitter. There they fall into two broad categories, those that use ZOIS redirection services and those that don’t. Although the redirection services are dealt with at length in several places on various ZOIS web-sites, I thought I’d produce a quick guide for the uninitiated. I could then point to it from my own Tweets, usually directed at new JCP Twitter users. Although it probably merits something a little more formal, a Blog post is a good place as any to start.

[Picture: Movie Poster]

An excuse for another ‘Tweety’ movie poster

Jobcentre Plus vacancy postings appear on the Jobseekers Direct web-site, these days. There they have to be searched for, even if a reference is readily to hand. Once found the vacancy details are subject to a rapidly expiring session-identification mechanism, that defeats bookmarking and, more importantly, direct linking. Clicking on these things after a little while either gets you a cryptic ‘session expired’ message or dumped unceremoniously back to the front page. JCP Twitter using offices seem to find this out early, and it leads to tweets, as these things are known, that contain instructions to go to the Jobseekers Direct web-site and search for a vacancy reference, rather than a simple link.

While perhaps understandable, the vacancies don’t last for ever, it is very frustrating. And it lead to the indignation that spawned the unofficial Jobcentre Plus Database Mirror. Part of that work included a redirection service that allowed a click-able link to be produced that displayed the original posting. It did this by effectively going ‘under the covers’ and doing a Jobseekers Direct search on the users behalf. This was rapidly found by others, and lead to one or two problems. Don’t you just love the Internet? It also lead to rework that made the whole thing a good deal more efficient and cached. Latterly, a URL shortening service has been added and a number of the official twittering JCP Offices are using it.

The ‘original’ vacancy will have expired by now, but you get the idea.

Briefly, as an example:

[Picture: Movie poster]

Sharing data is good

I hope that you find this service of use to you too. Feel free to experiment with it. The official position, from Whitehall and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) seems to be ambivalent. I’ve not been encouraged, but I’ve not been told to stop. Indeed, the JCP Mirror work is mentioned on a ‘.gov.uk’ web-site.

Twitter and social-media are important. And although I look down my aged Lisp-programming nose at them, they are not just for organising riots. Any number of geeky wonks and wonkets seem to be saying so, but you, my dear JCP Office, are doing something about it. You are David Clark’s “code and consensus”; I like this grass-roots approach, and I’ll help in any way I can. I’ve a number of experiments in this field running at the moment too, and I’ll write them up shortly. Your feedback would be very much appreciated.

Update Jobseekers Direct have now introduced a non-expiring ‘direct’ link of their own. It re-writes, under the covers, to a normal session-id larded effort, which in itself is un-bookmarkable. These links have the form:


The ZOIS hacks, described above, still work, but now use this mechanism rather than the preceding mini-scrape and cache system. They will continue to work as expected. 2012-04-04

Update: I’ve now written my Twitter experiments up as a ‘Technical Note’, http://www.zois.co.uk/tn/tn-2012-01-01.html, entitled “Timely Notification using Micro-Blogging“. The executive summary is that I don’t consider it a success. 2012-04-26


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  2. […] out a good referenceFolk are using the Redirection Service and it seems to be an important and successful part of my pro-bono work. It is still useful to […]

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  3. […] The ‘Redirection Service’ was used to counter the use of short-lived state information in links to vacancies on the Jobseekers Direct web-site. This allowed book-markable and referable links to be posted in a variety of media. It was used extensively, including, with some irony, by the Department of Work and Pensions themselves. […]

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