One year running Draw3Cards

Hello dear Magic enthusiasts.

I want to talk a bit about our situation at Draw3Cards, what we’ve been doing for the last year, and where we’re headed. It’s been one heck of a year!

First, D3C launched little over a year ago. I enlisted the aid of every Magic player I knew, posted lots of questions & answers myself, and even opened an alias in order to make the site look a bit more lively. Bootstrapping is hard – but it worked!

The site now is self-sufficient. Its traffic has been steadily rising over the last year, and I believe it is now a great place to find answers to all kinds of Magic questions, from cool albeit obscure rules questions, through drafting strategy, to our famous new set spoiler discussions (which I admit aren’t really questions).

We (mostly Avish, Shushoto and myself) did some improvements to the infrastructure of Draw3Cards. Starting from the important ability to include images in questions, mana symbols, adding and maintaining set tags, a “random posts” link (top right), and generally making sure Draw3Cards is running smoothly. The biggest challenge we’re facing right now is the fact our hosting provider, Stack Exchange, will stop hosting the site as it stands today in three months. We have a few major options to respond to this:

Option #1 – we migrate to OSQA, an open source alternative to Stack Exchange. The plan is to purchase hosting from Amazon EC2, and setup our instance of Draw3Cards (with a meta site).

Option #2 – we migrate to Stack Exchange 2.0. The implications is that we lose control of the site, and the move is permanent (D3C will be owned by Stack Exchange). It will get the new & improvement software that’s running the impressive Stack Exchange 2.0 network, and that’s a big plus. On the other hand, we won’t be able to do any further customization to the code ourselves, and will play by SE rules (I’m still not entirely sure what this entails, I’m in discussions with Stack Exchange to find out if there are any implications).

While option #2 is possible, because of its irreversibly I would like to pursue Option # 1 to the fullest before going that route. However, I find that I don’t currently have the necessary time needed to setup a good, stable, fast instance of OSQA that will be a good replacement for D3C. I have started to experiment with setting up a meta site, and the experiment wasn’t that bad, but it has shown me that to complete it fully and migrate the main Draw3Card, I’ll need to invest more hours than I currently have to spend.

What do you think we should do with Draw3Cards? The main motivation for starting Draw3Cards was always about building a successful site, make that the number one site for questions & answers about Magic. Both options are viable directions, but to continue with OSQA at this point, it seems I would need help. If you have an opinion, please share it on this post and/or email me at ron.gross@gmail.com – if you want to become a Draw3Cards admin and help us migrate the site to OSQA, doubly so!

I hope you all have a great year, and that we’ll all play many enjoyable games of Magic, and always have the answers we need at our fingertips.

Ron

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About ripper234

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7 Responses to One year running Draw3Cards

  1. Alex says:

    Is meta really up? Every time I’ve tried to go to http://meta.draw3cards.com/ since mid-December, I’ve got 404s. I’m really not very impressed with OSQA so far. Shapado seemed a bit better, but kinda amateurish.

  2. Alex says:

    But anyway, congrats on one year of Draw3Cards! I keep mentioning the site to my friends and in my signatures on other sites, so let’s hope it keeps growing ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. ripper234 says:

    @Alex – no, Meta isn’t up. This is not really OSQA’s fault – we shut the server down after we had some problems with it. Until further notice, it’s down – I’ll remove the link from D3C until we fix it.

  4. Coldeath says:

    I’m a newer user here, but quickly I have become hooked. I really like what has been done with this site, and congrats are in order for the year and the traffic that has been brought to this site. Good luck with the meta site, I’d help but I know nothing of that kind of stuff.

  5. Justin says:

    Congrats on 1 year of d3c.

    I’m a developer myself, and I’ve seen my own personal projects waste away. Depending on your goals for the site, I’d argue for option 2 because the SE2.0 network should ensure the continued life and improvement of D3C without its founder needing to do all the work.

    But, as you said, D3C is now self sufficient. If you plan to monetize the site (and why shouldn’t you?) OSQA might be a better option. Probably, like you, I don’t have all the facts. With my initial experiments on the meta site, I was unimpressed with OSQA, but again, like you said, that may not be their fault.

    From the perspective of the community, without any regard for our founder’s personal goals for the site, I would want to go the SE2.0 route, so long as the current customizations of the site remain intact. You said no further customizations would be possible, but if we can keep the current customizations, to me that is probably enough for the site to thrive. Like you, I believe we need to learn more about what it means to play by “SE rules”, although I’m optimistic that it wouldn’t be too bad.

    As a developer, pet projects can be truly gratifying, but very time consuming. I understand that. Its one reason I think going to SE2.0 will be the right move for D3C — bringing it beyond the point where the success or failure of the site is dependent on the efforts of one person. (Who has done a fantastic job till now, and I think truly has the best interests of the site at heart).

  6. Vandermonde says:

    I’m curious: once we decide on a host, how does the transfer actually take place? Would it involve manually copying each post to the new site? How would past votes, reputation, and badges be handled? (I’m assuming Stack Exchange 2.0 is sufficiently similar to the current platform that such a move would be easier, but I am also interested in the other options.)

    Also, what skills would be useful in a new admin?

  7. ripper234 says:

    @Vandermonde – OSQA supports automatic migration of all votes, reputation, and even badges I believe. We wouldn’t have to copy everything by hand ๐Ÿ™‚

    The skills we’re looking for is some unix admin skills. Familiarity with python/django/Amazon EC2 is a plus, but not strictly required. Nothing is actually pre-required – you could learn everything on your own, it’s not that hard – the main quality that we actually need is someone without enough time to work on this.

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