Change Notification Tools

About Change Notification Tools

Change Notification Tools notify me in different ways in different circumstances when something has changed on the web. This takes place in the forms of email alerts, page monitoring software, and RSS feeds. I will discuss RSS Feeds and RSS Readers separate here. On this page, I will focus on Email Alerts and Page Monitoring.

Email Alert Service

There are two types that I used:

  1. Set up by the website you are visit - [Example: Starbucks Investor Alert]. I will not focus on this in my analysis below because I only subscribed to the Starbucks email update and they sent me infrequent updates.
  2. Google Alert - Allows me to get emails when there are updates to certain queries I have set up. This is discussed in more detail below.

You can find examples of Google Alerts I've received here

Page Monitors

* I used WatchThatPage, which monitors specific pages (but not sites)
* Its downside is that there are lots of false positives unless keyword based
* When changes are made, it highlight them and sends me an email

You can find examples of page change alerts I've received here

Below I will discuss how I used them and my thoughts.

Name: Google Alerts
About: Email alerts can be very helpful because many sites that you may want to monitor might not have RSS feeds or some sites may provide too much information for a RSS feed. Google Alerts in particular, is customizable based on queries and types of sites you want. You can also change the frequency of update. It will alert you of new information regarding your query.
Access: Google Email Alerts. You cannot access my account and see my alerts, but you can create your own. For this project, I used comprehensive, but you can also ONLY use news, blogs, web, video, or group.


The alerts would be send in the form below. It held links with the key query words in them as well as a small blurb describing its contents.


Frequency: I have email alerts sent weekly. In most cases, each had new stories. As you can see below, because I had several email alert queries, I was getting an alert almost every day.


Information: I used industry wide email alerts as well as company specific email alerts. From my queries, you can see ones for coffee industry as a whole as well as some for detailed products like McCafe and Starbucks. I chose only a few based on the news I was reading. Most of them revolved around Starbucks and McCafe and Folgers. There was a period with a lot of information about Dunkin Donuts as well, but I thought the news stories covered that well already. I wanted the email alerts to be for topics that I wanted frequent updates. on.

You can find examples of Google Alerts I've received here

My Google Alerts queries included ["Coffee Industry"], [Starbucks], ["US Coffee"], [McCafe], [Folgers OR Coffee].


In terms of site based email alerts, I tried to search for more with this, but it did not turn out too many.
Evaluation: (8/10); It is useful for sites that do not have RSS subscriptions but are updated often. However, the Google Email Alerts returned less results than I had anticipated and not all of them were relevant given the way in which I structured my query. For instance, [Coffee] in the context of a blog search would return something like Hilary Clinton had coffee with (someone). However, due to the ease with which it sends information right into my hands, I can usually get at least one useful link out of each email alert, which for zero additional effort on my part is very good. Further, because it comes into my email account, I look at it much more frequently than I would go to my RSS feed reader.
Miscellaneous: I thought E-mail alerts seemed a bit unnecessary as all the necessary information can be tracked using RSS feeds but I was surprised to find that some of the links sent to me via email through Google alert was not in my RSS feed news. I guess the web is much larger than I anticipated.

Go here for an index of all the tools I used.
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