How to Create a Watch Area
Over the last few months, one of the most common requests for help we have received has been for guidance on how to make a watch area. As it turns out, this is a fairly straightforward process. Everything you need to know about the basics of making a watch area has been compiled right here. Now it's easier than ever for you to keep your finger on the pulse of what's affecting the quality of life in your community. If you still have questions after reading through this guide you still have a question, post it to the Discussions section of help.seeclickfix.com and we'll answer it for you ASAP.
Start by going to the community page of the town or city you want to make a watch area for. The easiest way to do this is to search for its name from the SeeClickFix.com homepage. It helps to put in both the city and state when you search (for example: New Haven, CT). That should bring you to a page that looks like this:
If you're having trouble locating a community page, there's some advice for you a little further down. For everyone else who's trying to create a watch area, once you've landed on the community page, the next step is to click on the "who's watching tab" near the top. It should bring you to a page that looks like this:
This next step may be a complete shock to some people out there....but now, we're going to ask you to click on the "Create a Watch Area" button. It will bring you to a page like this:
This is where the magic happens. You can see four text boxes, followed by three check-boxes. Let me explain what each one does:
The first text box is where you type the name of the person or organization who is watching. "Timbuktu Mayor's Office" would be a pretty typical one. If, later on, you check the box for "Make Watch Area Public" it is this name that will show up in the list of public watchers for a community.
The next box asks for the email to which reports will be directed. You can put in multiple email addresses separated by commas. These email addresses will not be publicly accessible to anyone; to reach you, someone will have submit a report or post a comment.
The next box asks you to put in keywords. Keywords allow you to filter a watch area so that a watcher is notified only about certain issues. For example, if I was making a watch area for the Timbuktu Streets Maintenance Department, I could filter it with the keywords: street road curb pot hole sign. They would thereafter be notified about issues that contain any one of those keywords and no other issues.
The last box is for a description. This is what is displayed when a user clicks "Messaging Details" underneath your name in a list of public watchers. In the aforementioned example, I might put something like "The Timbuktu Streets Maintenance Department is responsible for keeping our dirt roads free of broken glass and goat droppings."
There are three check boxes at the bottom of the page. If you check the first, you will be sent an email notification of any comments that are posted on an issue within your watch area. Checking the second means that you will receive some very infrequent updates from the SeeClickFix Team about changes to the site and to our service. (We send information about the site itself out very rarely. Mostly, we just roll new features out so that you can see them for yourself. This is just to let us know that you would be interest to hear about these updates.) Finally, checking the last box makes you a public watcher. That would mean that the name you typed in the first box will be visible to users in the list of public watchers on the "who's watching tab." Also, on issues within your watch area, users will be able to see on an issue's page whether or not you have been notified about that issue. If you weren't notified (either because it was filtered out, or because the issue was posted before you made the watch area) they have the option of sending you (only one) message encouraging you to start following the issue.
Finish up by clicking the "Create Watch Area" button at the bottom.
For everyone who was able to find the city they were looking for right from the start, that's about all you need to know. But suppose you weren't able to find your hometown, or you want to make a watch area that encompasses only a specific neighborhood within a larger city. Then what? Well, we have answers for you:
If you weren't able to locate a community page, or were taken to the community page of a nearby town, don't worry. There's a chance that we don't yet have a community page for your town yet. If this is the case, let us know and we'll add it as soon as possible. There are instructions on how to do that under the map in the right hand corner, in the neighborhoods list. It should say "Don't see your neighborhood? Ask us to add it." Click on "Ask us to add it" and give us as detailed a description as possible. Point us to maps, if you can. We'll make a new community page for you lickety-split, and then you'll just have to follow the instructions outlined above.
And what if you want to make a watch area for a particular neighborhood? Start by going to the city's community page. Underneath the map on the right side, there should be a list of neighborhoods. Find the neighborhood you would like to make a community page for and click it. That will take you to another community page for that neighborhood itself. From there, simply follow the steps as outlined above.
If your neighborhood isn't on the neighborhoods list for the city it is a part of, you've got two options. The first is to tell us to add it: see the paragraph two paragraphs above this one. The second option is to make a watch area for it yourself. Information on how to do that follows.
If you would like to make a watch area that doesn't directly correspond to any particular geographic entity, then the free-form geography tool is for you. Follow the steps until you click the "Create a Watch Area" button. After that, instead of filling out the boxes, click "or create a watch area with custom boundaries." That should bring you to a new page with a map window. Move and size the map so that it shows the area you'd like to make a watch area in. Be careful when you click: single clicking will be the first node of the watch area you are making. From there, click from point to point to outline the shape of area you would like to see. It will look something like this:
When you get all the way around and click on the point you started with to close the loop, your watch area outline will be complete. When you complete the watch area, the four text-boxes and three check-boxes mentioned earlier will appear. Fill those out. You should also be able to make adjustments to the watch area as well by clicking and dragging the nodes of the boundary-outline. As before, finish up by clicking the "Create Watch Area" button.
And that's about it! If you have a watch area-related question that hasn't been answered here, post it as a question in the Discussions section of help.seeclickfix.com and we'll answer it as soon as we can.
Thanks for working with us! Happy Clicking.
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