Ben Walters

MN ST Owners Club

MN ST Owners Club


Minnesota is a great place to be a car nut. With a huge variety of clubs, associations, and groups, there's no shortage of opportunities to stand around a parking lot and talk about cars!

One specific group I became regularly involved with was MNSTs. MNSTs is a grcoup of primarily Ford Focus ST/RS and Fiesta ST owners. Most of the members were active on a Facebook group, but a number of others didn't even have Facebook accounts. Since most of the event scheduling was done on our private Facebook group, making this information accessible to our other members became a problem that needed solving.

I came up with the idea of "scraping" various sources (such as forums, our Facebook wall, etc.) to aggregate member posts/group announcements into a centralized location. This created a number of unique challenges, mainly figuring out how to scrape forum posts and recognize/render quotes and conversation threads in a readable format, all while keeping performance and load times in check.

Due to time constraints, lack of use, and difficulty keeping up with Facebook's API changes, I decided to abandon the project after a year or so.

Overall this project was a great learning experience. In order to scrape the forum content efficiently, I created a Ruby gem (vbulletin_scraper). This was a great opportunity to implement some basic unit testing (using RSpec); something I definitely need to get in the habit of doing more often. In addition, learning Facebook's API was...enlightening!


  • Learn how to scrape forum content
  • Learn Facebook's API
  • Learn more about Ember SPAs
  • Design a fully responsive layout


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