Introduction to Clippings

Introduction to Clippings
Photo by Museums Victoria / Unsplash

Have you ever stumbled upon an interesting classified ad or listing, only to find it mysteriously deleted when you wanted to revisit it? If so, you're not alone. Many Internet users have encountered the frustrating message, "This posting has been deleted by its author," leaving them with no way to access the content they were interested in and possibly yearning for the days of the newspaper, or at least the non-ephemeral quality that technology possessed. The digital age sometimes lacks the tangible charm of those yesteryears.

"This posting has been deleted by its author"

In the past, newspapers were the cornerstone of knowledge-sharing, where people gathered in libraries or homes to pore over the latest stories, share their discoveries, and connect with one another. You might have an image in mind, perhaps reminiscent of a black-and-white photograph from the 1950s, portraying a group of friends or classmates sitting together, engrossed in newspapers. There's an undeniable nostalgia attached to that scene – a time when words were inked on paper, and sharing meant physically passing on a page rather than hitting the 'send' button.

Enter Clippings, a remarkable service that not only preserves the spirit of these moments but elevates them for the digital age. It allows us to relive the joy of sharing, discussing, and preserving online content – just like those who gathered around newspapers did. In this blog post, I invite you to embark on a journey through Clippings, a digital haven that resurrects the magic of shared discoveries and makes them accessible whenever you desire. I'll take you behind the scenes to explore how Clippings works and how it seamlessly combines the nostalgia of the past with the convenience of the present, all while addressing the challenges of the transient digital landscape. Let's delve into how Clippings brings back the enduring camaraderie of yesteryears while embracing the technology of today.

The Challenge of Disappearing Classified Ads

If you've ever used online classified platforms like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, you're probably familiar with the common scenario of ads vanishing shortly after being posted. Whether it's a unique item, a job opportunity, or a one-time event, these listings often disappear for various reasons:

  1. Scammers and Fraudsters: Some users post fake ads to deceive people or engage in fraudulent activities. Once their motives are achieved, they remove the ads.
  2. Right-to-Be-Forgotten Laws: In some regions, individuals have the legal right to request the removal of personal information and content about them from the internet. This may result in the deletion of relevant classified ads.
  3. Limited Shelf Life: Many classified platforms have a policy of automatically expiring ads after a certain period. This can lead to the disappearance of valuable listings.
  4. User Preferences: Ad authors sometimes delete their posts when they've achieved their goals, such as selling an item or filling a job position.

The challenge is clear: once these ads are gone, there's often no way to retrieve them, causing frustration for users who want to revisit or reference the content. However, Clippings offers a solution to this problem.

Introducing Clippings: A Bridge Between Digital Discovery and Lasting Connection... Your Classified Ad Archive

In the age of fleeting digital content, the timeless allure of shared discoveries often remains just a distant memory. Online classifieds, with their transient listings and often abrupt disappearances, can be a source of frustration for those who wish to revisit the gems they once stumbled upon. Clippings is a unique and innovative service that aims to preserve and archive classified ads from various online platforms. It offers an invaluable resource for users who want to retain access to these listings even after they have been deleted. With Clippings, you can archive and revisit classified ads on-demand, ensuring that valuable information is never lost.

Sharing a CL ad using Clippings' mobile PWA 


The resulting links are shown below. Three are made available with each archive:

  1. Dynamic Vue SPA archive page
  2. Static GitHub Pages hosted page
  3. Direct Git repo url


How Clippings Works:

Clippings is a robust open-source platform built on industry proven building blocks that empowers users to 'clip' online ads with ease. This is achieved by pasting ad links into the user interface (UI) or sharing ad URLs from other applications after installing the Progressive Web App (PWA). The uniqueness of Clippings lies in its ability to perform these actions seamlessly in the background, freeing up user resources and enhancing privacy.

Once a user clips an ad, Clippings goes to work. It meticulously crawls and archives the ad to the cloud. A thing that sets Clippings apart is its collaborative nature – all clipped ads are accessible to users globally, creating a community-driven database of online ads. To ensure rapid access to frequently searched ads, Clippings caches this data using Redis, while MongoDB handles longer-term archival, ensuring a comprehensive historical record.

When you clip an ad, you receive not one, but three valuable links:

  1. Immediately Available Content: This link takes you to the dynamic, real-time version of the ad, providing an instant and immersive experience.
  2. Static Web Content: Hosted on GitHub, this link offers a stable snapshot of the ad, preserving it for reference and analysis.
  3. Git Repository: The direct link to the Git repository created for the ad content, housing everything from ad text to images. This is a treasure trove for those who love to dissect and understand the inner workings of ads.

But that's not all. Clippings provides an added layer of safety through its revokable time-based emergency alerts. Before meeting someone via an ad posting, users can enable this feature. You configure a list of emergency contacts, and in case you don't revoke the alert within the predefined timeframe, such as 30 minutes or a few hours, a message you've set will be sent to your chosen contacts. This feature adds a crucial safety net for potentially risky interactions with strangers.

Additionally, there's the Clippings Chronicle, a mailing list that recaps the most noteworthy ads archived each day. It's a curated snapshot of the dynamic world of online advertisements, appealing to both casual users and ad enthusiasts.

In terms of the tech stack, Clippings leverages MongoDB for robust data storage, Redis for lightning-fast data retrieval, and is powered by Node.js for the backend and Vue.js for the frontend. Docker Swarm orchestrates the entire system, allowing for seamless scaling and management of this innovative platform.

In summary, Clippings is a smart platform that combines rock-solid technology, collaborative efforts, and enhanced safety features to provide a unique and exciting way to interact with online advertisements. Whether you're an ad connoisseur or a technology enthusiast, Clippings offers a fresh perspective on the digital ad landscape.

The Comment Feature: Fostering Community and Nostalgia Appeal

In a recent Wall Street Journal[1] article by Madison Conte, inspired by the work of Sarah E. Needleman's article, the timeless practice of mailing newspaper clippings stirred poignant tales from readers who shared their own experiences. Clipping articles transcends generations, with some finding solace in preserving memories and forging connections through the exchange of these carefully selected snippets. Whether rooted in nostalgia or as a means to bond with friends, family, or even medical professionals, the act of clipping and sharing newspaper articles remains a cherished tradition that endures.

For many, the act of clipping articles isn't just about preserving information; it's a way to connect with loved ones. Some recall trading mail with family members who have passed away, rekindling fond memories of sharing stories through printed clippings. Clippings, in its own way, serves as a modern-day version of this cherished tradition, enabling users to collect and share online ads with friends, family, and even acquaintances. It's a powerful tool that bridges the digital gap, fostering connections in an increasingly digital world.

"I love print newspapers and the people who clip from them"

"I love print newspapers and the people who clip from them," said Janet Helgeson of Columbus, Ohio, reminiscing about her school days. Her principal would read from newspaper clippings, captivating the students. Now, with Clippings, we aim to capture that same spirit, allowing users to share well-written ads, design inspirations, art, and more with their friends, just as they would have with newspaper clippings. Clippings revives the tradition of sharing intriguing content, keeping conversations alive.

Another compelling aspect is the diverse circle that clippings connect. Leslie Hauer from West Richland, Wash., sends WSJ articles to her stepdaughter in Canada to help her understand U.S. politics. In return, her stepdaughter sends articles about Canadian politics via email, reflecting the seamless sharing that Clippings encourages. It's an experience that transcends generational boundaries and geographical distances.

Moreover, the comment feature in Clippings adds a layer of community and interaction. Just as people sometimes scribble notes or circle interesting sections of clippings, users can engage in discussions about ads, share their thoughts, and build a sense of community. In the digital age, the comment feature creates a space where users can show they care, respect each other's viewpoints, and keep conversations alive.

"I like to think of myself as a librarian, purveying information to the not always eagerly awaiting world."

The nostalgia appeal in mailing newspaper clippings transcends generations and cultures, just as Clippings transcends the limitations of classified ads. In the words of Anne Moon from Victoria, British Columbia, who now clips articles online, "I like to think of myself as a librarian, purveying information to the not always eagerly awaiting world." Clippings empowers users to become modern librarians, curating and sharing content with their community effortlessly.

By connecting people through shared interests and memories, Clippings carries the spirit of nostalgia while embracing the digital age. It's a tool that revives traditions and fosters connections, making it an indispensable resource for users of online classifieds. So, whether you're an avid collector of ads or just someone who appreciates meaningful connections, Clippings is the platform you shouldn't be without.

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Why Clippings Is a Must-Have Tool for ANYONE using Classified Ads

In the vast landscape of online classifieds, where hidden gems and remarkable opportunities are often just a few clicks away, having the right set of tools can be a game-changer. Clippings, with its innovative features and user-friendly interface, stands out as a must-have companion for users of all kinds.

  1. Accessibility for All: Clippings opens its doors to a wide spectrum of users, whether you're a savvy online shopper, a diligent job seeker, or someone who simply loves exploring what the classifieds have to offer. Its versatility caters to all, making it an essential tool for anyone navigating the intricate web of classified advertisements.
  2. Ad Tracking Made Effortless: Keeping track of classified ads has never been easier. Clippings empowers you to seamlessly "clip" ads of interest. By pasting ad links into the intuitive user interface or conveniently sharing URLs from other apps, Clippings takes on the task of crawling, archiving, and storing these ads securely in the cloud. This process occurs in the background, saving your device's resources and enhancing your online privacy. Your clipped ads become accessible to a global community of users, ensuring the benefits are widely shared.
  3. Enhanced Safety with Time-Based Alerts: In an era where personal safety is paramount, Clippings takes your well-being seriously. It introduces a unique feature that allows users to set time-based emergency alerts, which can act as an added safety net when visiting individuals behind classified postings. By simply enabling the alert and configuring your emergency contacts, you gain peace of mind. If you fail to revoke the alert within a set timeframe, your emergency contacts receive a predefined message, ensuring your safety remains a priority.
  4. Stay Informed with Clippings Chronicle: To keep you informed and up-to-date, Clippings introduces the "Clippings Chronicle," a mailing list that provides daily recaps of the most significant ads archived. This feature keeps you in the loop about the latest opportunities and noteworthy finds within the world of online classifieds.
  5. Never Lose Valuable Content: With Clippings, you won't have to worry about classified ads disappearing before you can make use of them. Your personal archive ensures you can revisit the content anytime.
  6. Protection from Scammers: Clippings can help protect you from scams and fraud by keeping a record of ads you've interacted with, which can be helpful for reference in case issues arise.
  7. Legal Peace of Mind: In regions with "right-to-be-forgotten" laws, Clippings ensures that content you're interested in is preserved, even if it's removed from the source platform.
  8. Time Savings: Instead of manually saving or taking screenshots of ads, Clippings automates the process, saving you time and effort.
  9. Powered by Industry-Proven Technology: Under the hood, Clippings employs robust and well-established technologies, including MongoDB for data storage, Redis for swift data retrieval, and Node.js and Vue.js for a seamless user experience. The entire ecosystem is managed by Docker Swarm, guaranteeing the platform's reliability and scalability.

Clippings is not just a tool; it's a game-changing companion for anyone exploring the diverse landscape of online classifieds. Whether you're a casual user or a devoted enthusiast, Clippings enhances your experience, making the world of online classifieds more accessible, safe, and exciting than ever before. Don't miss out on the Clippings advantage; it's an essential tool that empowers you to explore with confidence.