2016 was one heck of a year and I have to say, I am sure glad to be done with it. I know a lot of you have been asking development/ glitch-related questions and I want to address what’s happening with that. If your curiosity will be satisfied by hearing “We’re working on it,” then you should know we’re working on it. You don’t need to read any further. :)
Still here? Ah, you are a curious one, aren’t you?
For those of you who haven’t caught on- you’re clever folks, so I’m fairly certain you have- development of the Mug mostly stopped shortly after we got here. It was a twofold issue. The budget was blown and I had trouble getting a developer. My goal was to find the tech equivalent of me- someone who could be my right hand in all things development, but actually knew how to code. My areas of expertise, for better or for worse, are managing the community and business aspects. We’ve been through a lot of developers and have interviewed dozens more. Some ran away screaming after looking at the code and others took a stab at it and couldn’t finesse the code the way it wanted to be finessed.
So, for the past several months, my focus in the background has been on finding a dev and coming up with ways to grow revenue in order to cover development costs. I’ve also worked with a handful of devs on individual smaller projects, but the things that are bothering us all the most- those really need the help of a “unicorn” of a developer.
We had one dev here through 99% of the build, but he ran into personal issues that took him away from work altogether. A second dev helped us do the migration and, with the little bit of money that has been raised through ads and a couple of donations (thank you!), I’ve asked him to come back this month and take care of our Saturday night log-off/ mass notification delete, fix the inability to delete notifications when we click them, integrate a solution that allows for manual deletion of individual notifications, and correct the oddity that stops likes from registering and comments from showing up right away in blogs, polls, etc. He should start on those in about a week.
My main goals for February are to bring back the questions we lost during the migration and have the company that designed our chat come in with an upgrade that should fix the chat issues. (If you’re curious to know why chat is such a pain in the butt, I addressed it on a question a few days ago.)
These are the most problematic issues based on user reports and they’re also the most expensive to fix. We also have a list of about 50 other smaller bugs to work out, which will start getting knocked out of the way after the primary fixes. It’ll probably seem slow-going because the other list is stuff that doesn’t affect everyone, so even as we’re knocking issues out of the way, you might not notice it if you aren’t using the browser or device we’re targeting or don’t venture outside the Q&A much. The grand finale will be to streamline the codes and speed up the site.
We never went corporate and we don’t have investors, so the money to pay for these fixes and keep the site running comes from 1) Ad revenue: Some of our ads increase in payment just based on how many times pages here load, while others, like the Taboola content ads and Google ads require clicks to generate any money. 2) Credits: You can purchase credits and the money goes straight into the development fund. In the future, we’ll probably set up occasional credit fundraisers for non-profits, but right now, they only go to development. 3) Member donations: A few kind souls have given financially via PayPal. 4) Me. While I realize low funding can make the development of the site/ correction of issues insanely sluggish, I also think it’s a healthier model for the Mug long-term. We don’t have to “answer” to any corporation or keep investors happy, which means we can continue to put members first, whether we’re implementing design/ feature changes or considering policy changes.
I’ve got some fun things planned in the coming months, but I’m still focused on the site development projects right now. However, we do have some online events planned as well as some contests and prizes. As mentioned earlier, I also plan to start featuring a non-profit on a monthly basis and doing a donation drive with one week of credit proceeds going to the non-profit. If anyone knows of a specific non-profit (like Toys for Tots, the ASPCA, etc.) that you think would be a good fit, let me know.
You guys keep the lights on just by using the site. The more active you are, the more money is raised and that alone can help us push through these remaining fixes more quickly. You guys also help us out by reporting issues and providing feedback via the feedback tab, so please keep using these tools. Every little bit helps make the site better, even if we can’t make all the changes. Thank you for pitching in and continuing to make the site feel like a community. Also, I appreciate the wave of positivity that’s surrounding the tone of the questions. Although only a few people joined the group devoted to question diversity, I see a whole lot more people out and about and there’s a much broader base in topics. While the type of questions being asked isn’t so much an issue for me, I know it mattered a lot to some of you. You guys made that change. It’s very cool to watch it happen! And, in case you’re wondering, yes, we’re busier. Site traffic has been up about 10% in the last week, compared to 8 weeks ago. I’m sure the new Muggers coming over from BlurtIt have something to do with that as well (Hi and Welcome!), but undoubtedly, the general member base has made a huge change.
I’d also like to give a MAJOR shout out to M2C for her tireless assistance as a volunteer mod. She’s been helping for probably 6-9 months at this point (I should have written down the anniversary! Sorry!) Also a big thank you to GoatJumper, who pops in and helps moderate when he’s free, as well as to others who have volunteered in additional ways- Hartfire, Bozette, and those who wish to be anonymous. All of you have contributed in your own ways to this site and make it the great place it is to be. The tech behind it will never be as awesome as you guys are, but we’ll get it caught up as close as possible soon.
Here’s to 2017!!!