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Author Topic: TheManaDrain.com - New Direction?  (Read 8523 times)
Smmenen
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« on: February 23, 2016, 01:36:59 am »

From the front page:

Quote
Hey guys, it's Andy Probasco, your friendly neighborhood Brass Man - new owner and operator of www.themanadrain.com. I'm sorry for the delay in putting up this message. There was only expected to be a short downtime, and this message was going to be delayed until a redesign in a few weeks. Some technical problems made that impossible, so I wanted to let everyone know what's going on.

Vintage was once described to me as "The format where every player in the top 8 gets dinner together afterwards." There are many things I love about vintage but this is the core truth that makes vintage a part of my life. My closest friends are the people I learned the game with, and the people I met while playing.

When TheManaDrain.com was founded over a decade ago, there weren't many ways to play "Type 1". There was no Vintage Championship, and if you weren't one of the lucky few players to live near a vintage shop, there was no way to learn about it. The TMD community changed all that, it set a new standard with strategy content and major vintage tournaments like Waterbury and the Bazaar of Moxen. In a few years Wizards of the Coast and StarCityGames picked up that ball and ran with it.

Today we have a passionate international community. We just had the largest Vintage championship ever. Players anywhere in the world can play in tournaments every week on Magic Online. There are more Vintage writers, streamers and podcasters than ever before, and the Vintage Super League broadcasts Hall of Fame players battling alongside community pillars.

Vintage has never been bigger or better than it is today. But TMD has not caught up. Here's my vision for how we could.
TheManaDrain is the hub of vintage

TMD can't be the only source for Vintage content online - but if you visit TMD every day, you shoudn't miss anything. If there's something going on in Vintage, I want a link to it. If you're producing vintage content, I want to use TMD to direct people to it, whether it's paid or free, even if it's a link to a "competeing" website, because in vintage, the competition should all be willing to grab dinner with each other after the event.
TheManaDrain is the landing page for new players

If you had never played vintage before, and you wanted to learn about it, how would do it? If you google "Vintage Magic the Gathering" today, themanadrain shows up on the third page, and that result is a year-old thread.

The vintage community has been doing a great job getting new players into the format. TMD hasn't been doing as well. If you meet someone who sounds interested in vintage, I want you to be confident that you can give them a link to www.themanadrain.com, and they'll be able to quickly learn the ropes, learn the terminology, and learn what makes the Vintage community so great.

This means cultivating a community where new players aren't afraid to ask questions, but it also means designing the site in a way that people can quickly find information that matters to them.
TheManaDrain is the greatest community of magic players in the world

To me, vintage has always been about relationships over cards. Not because "it's only a game." It's been so much bigger to me than a game. Competition is important to me. I love it and I love how it pushes people. But I know that competition with friends is as good at is possibly gets. Some people think that high-level competition and a welcoming community are at odds - but I know nothing could be more complementary.

The kind of vintage player I want on TheManaDrain:

    reaches out to new players, is never hateful or exclusionary
    has strong opinions about the game, but expresses them in a civil way
    is happy to post about what they've been playing, but never exaggerates or lies about results
    is gracious in victory and humble in defeat
    contributes to the community at large, by running or attending tournaments, writing articles, producing video content

If that's NOT you? I don't want to kick you out - I want to win you over. Try it out, you might be surprised. I'm going to investigate reputation/karma systems to help the community police itself, but it might be a while before we find the right fit. I'm not going post a codified list of bannable offenses. If those values don't resonate with you, don't worry - there are other places to talk about vintage, and you probably wouldn't have liked this site, anyway.
How are we going to get there?

Together, and probably not without making some mistakes. Over the next few weeks we're going to see some changes. If you don't like the direction things are going, tell me. There will be a metadiscussion board for talking about the direction of the site, but if you have concerns in the meantime you can email me at aprobasco@gmail.com, or message me on facebook as tmdBrassMan.

I'll update this page with any new information about the site's status.

I'm really looking forward to making TheManaDrain the greatest community in magic again

Thanks,
- Andy Probasco

Really excited for the Probasco era, and the community control of this site.   When I saw that TMD was down, I had flashbacks to what happened with BDominia. 

I'm sure Andy will have much more to say, but since no one had started a thread on this, I thought folks would like to comment, starting with myself Very Happy

Great to have TMD back!

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Bips
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« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2016, 01:57:06 am »

I couldn't agree more! I'm realy looking forward to see what TMD can become!!!
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matori
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« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2016, 02:46:23 am »

Huh, these few days felt like an eternity for me.
Best result would come from everyone in the group doing what is best for himself and the group.
I feel like great days are coming for this community.

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Godder
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« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2016, 04:38:19 am »

Welcome back everyone! Any suggestions welcome and appreciated.
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« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2016, 09:56:22 am »

Welcome back everyone! Any suggestions welcome and appreciated.

Off the top of my head, perhaps an Old School discussion forum and a place to list events?  This way they don't have to be relegated to the last possible sub-forum.
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« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2016, 01:07:16 pm »

Hi all -

You all have probably never met or heard of me, I'm Jerry, I collect Magic original art - I play, but not vintage, more casual, draft/cube/EDH etc - The passion you guys show for vintage is admirable, and I am just as passionate about the original art. Whatever you guys decide to do, I hope you keep the original art corner of the site, as myself and a few like-minded individuals are very active there.

Thanks and all the best!

Jerry
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KrauserKrauser
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« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2016, 02:34:51 pm »

It would be great to see the site expand in scope, moving from just a message board to a source for content and other resources.
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« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2016, 03:04:13 pm »

As soon as Rich mentioned on stream that someone had bought the site, I was really excited. Doubly so when I found out it was Brassman. Looking at the patreon, there are lots of awesome things lined up to modernize the Drain experience.

Personally I think that Twitch streaming (I regularly watch Rich, Brassy and Steve) has done a ton for this format, my first suggestion offhand would be a sub forum for people to advertise/discuss their streams, schedules etc.

Looking forward to what this site can become!
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« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2016, 03:33:44 pm »

I mentioned this to Andy, but definitely feel the tournament announcement forum could use some organization. If nothing else, at least a standard format for announcements. State, city, date, etc.

Some of us live in places where we could realistically drive to five different states for a tourney without issue, so being able to see this at a glance would be nice.

Doesn't even need to be fancy or interactive. Just easy to see ab understand, and maybe mention nearby metro areas.
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« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2016, 03:43:02 pm »

Personally I think that Twitch streaming (I regularly watch Rich, Brassy and Steve) has done a ton for this format, my first suggestion offhand would be a sub forum for people to advertise/discuss their streams, schedules etc.

In addition to this, I think it would be awesome to have a sidebar of people currently streaming vintage, similar to if you go to liquidhearth for hearthstone. This might be harder to implement, since we want people playing vintage in particular, and not streaming Magic in general. In general I really like the layout and the way Team Liquid's sites serve as portals for many games, whether it's hearthstone or starcraft or whatever.
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thecrav
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« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2016, 04:24:33 pm »

I'm so glad the community is now in the hands of one of its members. I had been mulling over how to word a post in the vintage issues forum about this for quite some time!
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« Reply #11 on: February 23, 2016, 05:14:15 pm »

I mentioned this to Andy, but definitely feel the tournament announcement forum could use some organization. If nothing else, at least a standard format for announcements. State, city, date, etc.

Some of us live in places where we could realistically drive to five different states for a tourney without issue, so being able to see this at a glance would be nice.

Really good idea.
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thecrav
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« Reply #12 on: February 23, 2016, 06:51:04 pm »

I mentioned this to Andy, but definitely feel the tournament announcement forum could use some organization. If nothing else, at least a standard format for announcements. State, city, date, etc.

Some of us live in places where we could realistically drive to five different states for a tourney without issue, so being able to see this at a glance would be nice.

Doesn't even need to be fancy or interactive. Just easy to see ab understand, and maybe mention nearby metro areas.

I'd like to go a bit further. Put the tournament information on an actual calendar. Currently, tournaments are organized region > event most recently posted about. This way, we could see all tournaments at a glance.

In fact, given that someone who cares now has control over the site, it shouldn't be hard to have a tournament form for people to fill out which automatically adds the event to the calendar and posts to the forum. Heck, I'm pretty sure I could bang it out in an hour or two.

And to go even further, it's not a significant technical jump to determine nearest tournaments by ZIP code.

Personally I think that Twitch streaming (I regularly watch Rich, Brassy and Steve) has done a ton for this format, my first suggestion offhand would be a sub forum for people to advertise/discuss their streams, schedules etc.

In addition to this, I think it would be awesome to have a sidebar of people currently streaming vintage, similar to if you go to liquidhearth for hearthstone. This might be harder to implement, since we want people playing vintage in particular, and not streaming Magic in general. In general I really like the layout and the way Team Liquid's sites serve as portals for many games, whether it's hearthstone or starcraft or whatever.

Lazy/easy way - Scrape the twitch MTG page for streams with "Vintage" in the title. Only requires that streamers put Vintage in the title but potentially open to abuse from random streamers throwing it in.

More curated way - A list of approved streamers who can toggle whether or not they're currently streaming. This makes sure only the quality streams are displayed but does have the problem that the streamers would need to remember to toggle. That could be slightly offset by hitting the Twitch API to check whether a stream is live before displaying a user.
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« Reply #13 on: February 23, 2016, 10:23:59 pm »

Welcome back everyone! Any suggestions welcome and appreciated.

Off the top of my head, perhaps an Old School discussion forum and a place to list events?  This way they don't have to be relegated to the last possible sub-forum.

I'd love this!
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« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2016, 10:39:59 pm »

I think a huge upgrade would to have instant messaging so you can quickly communicate with people. (For Player run events and things like that)
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« Reply #15 on: February 24, 2016, 06:03:24 am »

We actually have a tournament calendar already, but nobody really uses it. Clearly, it could be more prominent...
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« Reply #16 on: February 24, 2016, 01:28:21 pm »

A reddit-ish reputation system would help a lot. There are many terrific and also many worthless contributors on here, so having a simple up/down vote system with some system with kudos for top performers and punishment for consistent detractors would be good. I would bet a lot of off-the-shelf forums software systems come with a feature like this nowadays.
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« Reply #17 on: February 24, 2016, 02:29:11 pm »

A reddit-ish reputation system would help a lot. There are many terrific and also many worthless contributors on here, so having a simple up/down vote system with some system with kudos for top performers and punishment for consistent detractors would be good. I would bet a lot of off-the-shelf forums software systems come with a feature like this nowadays.

I find these turn problematic pretty quickly
  • People point to their rating as evidence that they're right rather than actually arguing their point
  • All vote carry equal weight so the 5 votes I got on one great post are effectively the same as the single votes you got on 5 crappy posts
  • Newer members are at a disadvantage as their rating will not have had as much time to grow. This problem grows as the site ages. Even when a newer member's account ages and gains more reputation, the older members will have gained more reputation, effectively giving them higher reputation for being around longer
  • When added late into a forum's life (as would be the case here), older posters who consistently post good content start from the bottom, at the same rank as the worst troll

Some of these problems can be solved by weighing votes or other algorithms. That adds significant complexity and opens up potential for complaints about the algorithm.

I think all of these problems can by mod action. At that point, I'd prefer the current system - mod-defined user classes. Perhaps this process could be more codified or replaced with a nomination and/or voting system.
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« Reply #18 on: February 24, 2016, 04:11:29 pm »

The community is small enough (and a lot of us know each other off the boards by now) that the rating thing seems really unnecessary. I don't really see much upside to it compared to the current system. As it stands now, we have a way of marking people who have made significant contributions, and who have caused significant problems. No need to go further than that. In addition to all the problems listed above, rep systems and up/downvoting create a very us vs. them mentality, which when combined with the outsider viewpoint seeing us as both elitist and pretentious  seem like it would have only negative effects on growing the community. 
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« Reply #19 on: February 24, 2016, 05:03:15 pm »

A reddit-ish reputation system would help a lot. There are many terrific and also many worthless contributors on here, so having a simple up/down vote system with some system with kudos for top performers and punishment for consistent detractors would be good. I would bet a lot of off-the-shelf forums software systems come with a feature like this nowadays.

I find these turn problematic pretty quickly
  • People point to their rating as evidence that they're right rather than actually arguing their point
  • All vote carry equal weight so the 5 votes I got on one great post are effectively the same as the single votes you got on 5 crappy posts
  • Newer members are at a disadvantage as their rating will not have had as much time to grow. This problem grows as the site ages. Even when a newer member's account ages and gains more reputation, the older members will have gained more reputation, effectively giving them higher reputation for being around longer
  • When added late into a forum's life (as would be the case here), older posters who consistently post good content start from the bottom, at the same rank as the worst troll

Some of these problems can be solved by weighing votes or other algorithms. That adds significant complexity and opens up potential for complaints about the algorithm.

I think all of these problems can by mod action. At that point, I'd prefer the current system - mod-defined user classes. Perhaps this process could be more codified or replaced with a nomination and/or voting system.

We were talking about this kind of thing on TMD IRC yesterday, but that is an interesting idea we didn't come up with. I personally hate the idea of a public rep-based system, but some places use it effectively.  Perhaps a +/- rep button should be on posts, but the total value is hidden from all parties, but after some threshold of +rep the mods get a notification to look at a particular poster as a possible candidate to be bumped up to the next class. This would only be necessary if the posting population got much higher than it currently is, but growth of the community is one of the goals, so it may become necessary.
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« Reply #20 on: February 25, 2016, 08:12:01 am »

What rating system on the OP that you could use to sort by in the topics lists.
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« Reply #21 on: February 25, 2016, 06:25:21 pm »

fair points. I think there COULD be SOME rating system (there are many types) that would be beneficial. The genesis of my suggestion was frankly that I sometimes see combative/useless posts on TMD and want to report them somehow but don't because they probably aren't breaking the rules. A simple +/- per-post voting mechanism, with a "filter out negatively-ranked posts" option in my profile would make a big difference. The reverse would be true of promoting good comments. I imagine many forums software solutions these days have features like these.
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« Reply #22 on: February 25, 2016, 06:32:37 pm »

Hey guys, just wanted to let everyone know that I've definitely been following this thread closely as I work on the new forum software behind the scenes. I've been getting lots of great suggestions, concerns, and offers of help both here and through email, facebook,etc.

I share your concerns about a rating system being potentially dangerous, and I know it's a bad thing to implement incorrectly - but I think there might be a fit for the boards that balances our concerns. I want to encourage and reward good posters, but I definitely don't want people using their rating or an upvote as a substitute for good discussion.

As far as I'm concerned, status quo is not an option - there are just too many vintage players and potential vintage players avoiding the site. So we're going to try some things, probably including some kind of voting, and definitely including the ability to flag a post even if it doesn't violate the stated rules. If it works the first time, awesome! But if it doesn't, we'll scrap it and try something else.
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« Reply #23 on: February 25, 2016, 09:40:40 pm »

Andy,

In addition to instant messaging, another upgrade would be additional ways to customize your profile.  For example:  With the player run league that I intend to run again, it would be nice to be able to click on the users name to see their profile.  Once in profile, one may be able to see MTGO user name and availability.  Should be optional to the user, of course.
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« Reply #24 on: February 26, 2016, 03:09:17 pm »

Would love to see a gallery section, cards, art, sketches, proofs, pics of cons/gps, all that!
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« Reply #25 on: February 26, 2016, 03:46:27 pm »

Modernize the forum. Reply's to posts that aren't just quotes, have them go underneath or something intuitive like that.  Maybe a like button?
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« Reply #26 on: February 26, 2016, 06:50:34 pm »

A way to format decklists nicely for forums posts, with a card preview.
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« Reply #27 on: February 27, 2016, 04:17:08 pm »

A site you may want to check out is Stimhack.com. It's the main fan site for FFG's Netrunner, especially the competitive players. It has a lot of the stuff people are recommending here.

1) Articles
2) Videos and Pod/Vlogcasts
3) Playergroup finder
4) Tournament winning decklists page

The forum is run on a system called Discourse. I think it will be the future of forum design. You may want to consult some webtech people if you aren't up to date on the newest technologies. It also requires a specific type of server to install.

It has a TON of features for it. The most useful ones I find are the summarize function that can help condense long threads, a lack of pages, it keeps track of the last post you read in a topic, and it supports directly embedding docs, which Stimhack users use to put google docs of tournament data in.

Another cool function is the built in "rating" system that it has. You can see Stimhack's list here.As you complete certain activities, you gain badges. The more you get, the more abilities you can unlock. It works under the assumtion that as people grow within the community, they will have a vested interest in helping it succeed, and are therefore granted more power. The admin can obviously veto this if they need to, but it is a great way of helping the community police itself.
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« Reply #28 on: March 01, 2016, 10:41:22 am »

I would like to see some way to organize online play, whether its MtGO, cockatrice or whatever.   And I don't even necessarily mean full on tournaments.  Just a place to come and find out, "Hey, I play on cockatrice, usually during these hours, look me up to play test."  would be super swell.
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« Reply #29 on: March 01, 2016, 12:25:56 pm »

I know that this is not something that everyone wants (for obvious reasons), but I would really like a separate forum dedicated to sales/purchases (albeit art, Vintage staples, rarities, etc.).   

I understand that liability has been a concern in the past, but we have enough lawyers on this site that I'd hope we'd be able to craft a statement that clearly put all responsibility on the backs of the people involved, not the website.

We have all been on the hunt for cards, and while there are other options (eBay, major retailers, Facebook, etc.) I wouldn't have to sort through a slew of chaff in order to get what I wanted because I'm dealing with fellow Vintage pilots.  The Facebook groups are awkward; the High End group has Standard foils above Wastelands, EDH foils beneath Drains.  Duals, Drains, Forces, Shops, Bazaars, cool alters, signed cards, foreign cards, and more are things that you see at every Vintage tournament. 

In dealing with other members of the community, I'm dealing with people whom I know.  And even when I don't directly know the person whom I'm potentially dealing with, others whom I'm friends with likely do. 

There are other motivators for this.  At this moment, the euro is down to $1.0844.  In dealing with European sites and European dealers, cards become cheaper for Americans as the dollar strengthens against the euro.  Many of these dealers and sites ship exclusively within Europe.  Putting members of this community in touch with fellow Vintage pilots who have access to these dealers and these sites potentially helps those members acquire the cards that they need at a break, likely resulting in fewer proxies in American events.  As the dollar weakens against the euro, we potentially help European players acquire cheaper cards in order to help them play with fewer proxies.  The few members of this site with access to Japanese markets are in the same position.   

Next up, it has the potential to supplant the need for the High End Group on Facebook for Vintage pilots.  In allowing sites like Facebook to get a handle on the community in any fashion, we weaken the relevance of this site.  The various Vintage groups on Facebook have thousands of members.  Facebook is ill equipped to have the kinds of running discussions, and easily referenced old threads that TMD has.  Why is this acceptable for us?  We should be fighting for each and every one of the members of those sites, in not only offering them strategy discussion, tournament announcements and reports, but also in offering the other things that they (currently) need to navigate away from TMD for.  The fewer sites that I have to deal with in order to do what I want to do within the format (pick up cards, discuss strategy, read tournament announcements, read tournament reports, write up reports, write articles, read articles, etc.) the better.

Within that forum, we'd also, if we so desired, we could create a means to show off our decks.  I take a lot of pride in the deck that I've assembled; it is the product of literally years of effort.  I am proud of it.  Beyond that, I also enjoy scrolling through and seeing what others have done.  A specific example would be the few times I've seen Commandant's decks on other forums.  They're beautiful, even if I don't want to buy Korean cards for myself.  Love of the format, and the game, takes many forms.

The people who would likely be interested in this, supporting my points, are currently on other sites.  Isn't this a fault we should look to remedy? 
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