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Proposal: Magic: The Gathering

We are going to close the Magic: The Gathering proposal here on Area 51.

There are a number of reasons for this. I'll do my best to enumerate them:

  • Currently, Board and Card Games adequately serves the MTG community. There are 270 questions there, many with multiple answers. I see a number of questions tagged magic-the-gathering on the front page of the site right now. If a user were to designate this tag as his/her favorite, these questions would be highlighted for his/her attention.

  • We believe that a dedicated MTG site would be a mediocre site. Even with Draw3Cards’ peak levels of traffic, it would still struggle to maintain a user base with sufficient activity to be considered healthy. Stack Exchange sites work best with a large audience representing diverse but connected interests. Right now, Board and Card Games is a healthier site overall. A healthy site will serve its audience better.

  • The argument that BCG isn't a good place to ask Magic questions because there aren't enough Magic questions is self-reinforcing: by not asking Magic questions on BCG, there aren't enough Magic questions on BCG. The BCG mods have made it clear Magic is welcome on the site. Ask away! Ask questions that force scope definitions! Push the site to be more accommodating if that is what is needed! The mods will welcome challenging, engaged new users -- just the type of player Magic attracts. If you have suggestions for ways that BCG could better support Magic: The Gathering, post them on the Board Games meta.

Ultimately, while we believe that a site specific to Magic: The Gathering wouldn’t be a terrible site, we also believe this site will be most successful where it is. We have learned a lot about what can make a site great and what kinds of audiences thrive best with their own site. Both of these things are already available on an existing site in our network. We urge you to ask your Magic: The Gathering questions on Board and Card Games.

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    A great post: well reasoned, very sound and logic. – o0'. Mar 26 '12 at 21:59
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    Is there a way to email everyone who has committed to the MTG site and let them know their "site" has merged with B&CG? Most people don't check Area 51 regularly, and they may be expecting an email to let them know MTG has launched since it was getting close. – Jim McKeeth Mar 27 '12 at 17:26
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    Just tell them MTG launched, but it got a different name than they expected :P – Ivo Flipse Mar 28 '12 at 12:40
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    I won't be using the Board Games SE site for my MTG questions. I would much rather support a community that has proven in need of a dedicated site, like Draw3Cards. – n0pe Apr 2 '12 at 4:12
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    Your definition of "traffic" isn't the defining factor of any Q&A site. Its the quality of the community and quality of questions that matter. D3C (not Any3Cards) has proven its worth by being around for quite some time and has provided clear, concise and complete answers to nearly every question asked. THAT makes a good Q&A site. Traffic is a by-product of good marketing, something SE sites have a lot of. – n0pe Apr 11 '12 at 17:06
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    @MaxMackie - your argument of what makes a good Q&A site just proves that Magic would be fine on B&CG. B&CG has as many Magic questions with good, solid answers per day as D3C. And that's with many of this proposal's committed users not participating there. Imagine what would happen if you all rallied together and went to B&CG as well. – Charles Boyung Apr 13 '12 at 15:17
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    @CharlesBoyung There's no need to be rude or condescending, especially since some of us have worked hard to be welcoming to MTG on B&CG. It's not going to work for everyone and that's ok. – Stephen Apr 18 '12 at 2:26
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    Just got the email and I am, frankly, disappointed. This decisions seems to be more politically motivated than anything else. I've looked at board games and cards, and it doesn't have the robust features that draw 3 cards has. You can't display card images or rollover links inline. You can't tag questions with set symbols. BG&C is simply inferior in site functionality. Quite unfortunate. – Justin Standard Apr 18 '12 at 18:35
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    If you scroll through the list of Area51 proposals under Recreation and you get down to all the ones that are closed - the M:tG proposal sticks out like a sore thumb! Something is wrong here. All those other proposals had extremely weak support and, presumably, that's why they closed. That's just not the case here - it's embarassing that it has been shut down so close to making it to Beta. – Tom Auger Apr 18 '12 at 18:40
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    @Aarthi. I think the fact that you emailed the supporters more than 2 weeks late is also a big red flag for me. It may be just an honest mistake but I'll tell you what it looks like. It looks like you did so on purpose to limit the backlash from the nearly 200 people who supported a dedicated MTG site. – Justin Standard Apr 18 '12 at 19:09
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    @JustinStandard That's totally fair, but it was an honest mistake on my part; we've been preparing for a major company meeting, and I have been trying to clear out my entire queue of to-do items before it. I accept my liability in this, but it was an honest mistake. I've been keeping on top of this post and the responses here. This site has turned into a larger conversation within the company, and your responses are important, relevant, and (most importantly) valuable. – Aarthi Apr 18 '12 at 20:57
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    Seems to me that sending the email late leads to two rounds of complaints, not fewer complaints! – Pat Ludwig Apr 18 '12 at 21:16
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    @MaxMackie No. We stand by the views stated in this post; MTG is already well-supported on B&CG, and will be better supported by having more users commit to the magic-the-gathering tag on that site. – Aarthi Apr 19 '12 at 14:04
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    @JustinStandard While you may see this as a closed-door decision, we've had ongoing conversations about this since the MTG proposal hit 45% commitment. We've heard and seen lots of arguments for both sides. We made the choice that we felt would be best for all communities involved. The people who already participate in the magic-the-gathering tag on B&CG are firm in that the support is already there. It seems to me the biggest hurdle is the custom card support, which is being discussed. Also, I am part of a team, not a monarch. :) – Aarthi Apr 19 '12 at 14:53
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    @JustinStandard Those questions would likely not have been migrated anyway, nor would the questions from B&CG been migrated, either. The hypothetical MTG.SE would have been a wholly new site. – Aarthi Apr 20 '12 at 14:55
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MTG would really benefit from some game specific features (simplified linking to cards) and more specific tags (formats, sets, etc.) Including features like that will make it more appealing to more questions. Can features like this be included in board and card games without taking it over?

I was just looking at the Board and Card Game tag listing and see that Magic is the most popular game on there by a health margin: 271 MTG questions and 100 Dominion questions (2nd most popular). In fact MTG has almost as many questions as the next 4 most popular games combined (Dominion: 100, Settlers of Catan: 71, Go: 56, Bridge 54). Even C#'s popularity on Stack Overflow doesn't have that big of a lead.

So it looks like we already have a MTG site that is just miss labeled, which leads to confused people asking off topic questions (sarcasm). If there was a way to import Draw 3 Cards' content and everyone moved from there to B&CG then it would be more obvious that MTG needs its own site. As to if that site will be spun off from B&CG or replace B&CG we will need to wait and see.

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    Have you tried suggesting an improved way of linking to cards on Meta.B&CG? If you can make a good case for how you think it would help, then they might take it under consideration. Mentioning it here, probably does not (sadly). Also on Gaming Skyrim is also the leader by a healthy margin, as is Windows on Super User, so its not unique – Ivo Flipse Mar 28 '12 at 12:39
  • @IvoFlipse: Good advice, I will do that. On Gaming the Skyrim tag isn't over 2.5x Minecraft, as is the case for MTG. In fact, any 2 of the top 4 most popular games match Skyrim's popularity. Although that does make a good case for my finally trying Skyrim! – Jim McKeeth Mar 29 '12 at 1:19
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    @IvoFlipse Yes, the proposal was delcared status-declined because there is no standard API available from Wizards, despite the Gatherer site having been stable for many years. – Stephen Mar 30 '12 at 15:31
  • I believe Skyrim is only so high on gaming because of the large event they had to encourage posting to it. 1200ish of the questions occured in the last 2 months of last year, while only 500ish in the first 3 months of this year. It has questions coming in at about a quarter of its popularity during that time. – corsiKa Mar 30 '12 at 16:58
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    While MtG might be the #1 game tag on B&CG. Calling it a "MTG site" would be misleading as the site has a pretty long tail. MtG questions are only 16.5% of the total currently. – Pat Ludwig Apr 1 '12 at 6:14
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    @PatLudwig thus my sarcasm tag. – Jim McKeeth Apr 1 '12 at 23:08
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    The 'improved linking' already exists on Draw 3 Cards. Ugh. – Justin Standard Apr 18 '12 at 18:37
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    It looks like neither B&CG, nor the proposed M:tG SE would have been able to leverage the kind of lookup tools that one can see at Draw 3 Cards. More than any other reason, this would be a reason to support neither B&CG nor M:tG SE - it seems to me that it's absolutely essential to be able to see the rules text of a card whose rules are in question, or to be able to read the rules of a series of cards in a combo, etc. In terms of overall User Experience, it seems to me that these enhancements are on the critical path. – Tom Auger Apr 18 '12 at 18:45
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    Card popups or equivalent means of seeing the card rules in-place are absolutely essential to effectively discuss Magic questions. Having no standard API for Gatherer sounds like a lame excuse, considering the vast number of other Magic-related websites that have this functionality (let alone the code in Draw3Cards, which I hacked together in an hour over a year ago and is still working great). – Avish Apr 18 '12 at 20:10
  • Here's the link to a current conversation which also links the original status-declined. If there's no legal way to do this, then every support site is in violation. The answer "it can't be done" also means that M:TG will eventually have to leave SE because it is simply too labour intensive and irritating to flip screens to see cards (and with 12k cards it's impossible to remember them all). – Stephen Apr 19 '12 at 1:09
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    @Stephen I added a new request for a status that satisfies the original concern. – Jim McKeeth Apr 19 '12 at 4:46
  • When I spoke with the development team, they said that the hesitance isn't the ability to do this -- it's the fact that doing what you're all asking, and what D3C uses, is in violation of the WotC TOS. While Wizards hasn't sent out any C&Ds that we know of, Stack Exchange is a company with venture capital backing; if we violate the WotC TOS, then we open ourselves up to real legal action. – Aarthi Apr 19 '12 at 15:05
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    @Aarthi, so what action is being taken to get permission from WOTC to do this? Such a thing is not impossible. – Justin Standard Apr 19 '12 at 23:29
  • That is a good point @JustinStandard. I know WoTC does all sorts of things to hel the Reddit MtG community. They might offer to license something. Doesn't hurt to ask. – Jim McKeeth Apr 20 '12 at 1:29
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    @JimMcKeeth We've contacted them repeatedly and they just don't return our calls or emails. If you can fix that (and get us an all-clear) then I am happy to pass that along to our dev team. – Aarthi Apr 20 '12 at 14:56
18

I have to say, this was an astounding and disappointing decision, and one that is entirely contrary to the way Area 51 is supposed to work. If the site wouldn't have enough usage to reach critical mass, that would be identified quickly and it would be shut down. Why shut it down now that it has almost 90% commitment?

The only people that don't want it shut down are those who originally belong to the BCG site. Obviously there are at least 178 people who thought MTG should be its own site.

A few further points:

  • Having talked with Magic experts (those who go to major tournaments and have consistent wins in tournament and casual environments) they have consistently made it clear that a site not fully devoted to Magic would not be attractive.
  • D3C did not have the kind of publicity opportunities that this does. Spontaneous ads on StackOverflow would bring in a LOT of traffic, as the demographics of Magic players are shared heavily among that of StackOverflow. So using it as a comparison is a bit of a straw man.
  • Where are the Magic experts at BCG? Looking through the "top users" of the tag there, I see none that publicly state they are even a certified rules advisor. None. No experts.
  • Saying "We believe < some outcome of the site >" is a pretty poor defense. You might be right. You might be wrong. What is everyone so afraid of in giving it a shot?

I could see your hesitation with the recent results of "game of go" and "poker". But isn't that the point? That some make it and some don't? There's no harm in letting it try.

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    I agree with you. MTG has a culture that "MTG isn't like other games" and would benefit from a dedicated site. A mixed game site will scare away any experts. I disagree with closing down the proposal just because someone didn't understand the culture. – Jim McKeeth Mar 31 '12 at 4:26
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    I would ask why this is relevant, unless you have actually seen someone get the rules wrong ... I see none that publicly state they are even a certified rules advisor. None. No experts. – user1873 Mar 31 '12 at 14:44
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    @user1873 being an expert in something implies that you are more than just an enthusiast, but instead that you are recognized as a leader by an official body. In most cases, that would be a certification organization or an educational institution. In this case, it's being a rules advisor. During tournaments, those are the people you ask tough questions. We won't know when people get the rules wrong, even if they quote the rules, because we're not advisors. – corsiKa Mar 31 '12 at 23:40
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    You also don't know when the experts get the rules wrong either. I have posted questions on community.wizards.com, and gotten wrong answers before. Only after pressing the issue has another rules lawyer made the correction (it would take a while to verify that the responses came from a L1+ judge). Of all the MtG questions posted on BCG.SE, none that I can think of have wrong answers that have a higher upvote rating than the correct answer. Why didn't the mtg rules community move to the SE site if they wanted it to succeed? If it will make you feel any better, I will take the L1 judge test. – user1873 Mar 31 '12 at 23:47
  • It's simple: if the site was truly attracting experts as it should be, wouldn't you think there might actually be one? – corsiKa Mar 31 '12 at 23:53
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    "Obviously there are at least 178 people who thought MTG should be its own site." That assumes that each of those people thought MTG needed to be its own site. Some of could have been ignorant of B&CG, or simply weren't clear that they could post MTG questions there. That's not to say that none of those people think it needs to be its own site. But it's equally wrong to say that all of them do. – Nicol Bolas Apr 1 '12 at 2:27
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    corsika: being an expert in something implies... that you are recognized as a leader by an official body. In most cases, that would be a certification organization or an educational institution. Bwhahahaha! I've seen programming answers from CompSci college graduates that show profound ignorance. Expertise does not imply or require recognition; you're an expert if you're right a lot of the time. And if B&CG is able to answer MTG questions right, especially hard ones, then experts are there. Whether "certified" or not. – Nicol Bolas Apr 1 '12 at 2:31
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    Stackexchange has a built in method of determining expertise, reputation. These are our experts. They have to prove their worth with every answer to earn more reputation. Besides your conclusion that there are no rules advisors because noone mentioned it seems like more of an assumption than a fact. – Pat Ludwig Apr 1 '12 at 6:25
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    @NicolBolas There is almost no chance that the people who supported this proposal were unaware of B&CG since one of the top comments on the proposal was "Board and Card Games is open and ready for your questions" – Stephen Apr 18 '12 at 2:29
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    The reasoning is quite sound from the beginning, but my opinion is boiling it down to "Why shut it down now that it has almost 90% commitment?" MTG is a huge and strong community on its own (the general community) and they expect the sites they visit to be MTG focused. That is something that is really not looked at imo. Also, suppose we all do start using BCG as the main site, Magic can quickly overwhelm other games (as it's starting to do already) isn't there a large possibility of turning off those experts in the other games to see a MTG dominated Q&A site? – Wil Apr 18 '12 at 6:51
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    I can't agree more with the comment that shutting down the proposal short-circuits the democratic process that Area 51 is supposed to be about. I'm surprised that it could even BE shut down (by which I mean, I'm surprised the SE mechanic allows for it - though I can see there might be some off-colour proposals that might need to be shut down in a hurry). I agree with others who say - let it run its course. If it fails, it fails, merge the contents with B&CG and you're no further behind. – Tom Auger Apr 18 '12 at 18:26
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I started to participate in Board and Card Games because I found it through the Magic the Gathering proposal: one of the questions linked in that proposal was Board & Card Games exists and is ready for your questions!, but I would not have entered Board Games otherwise. Magic the Gathering may be big now in Board and Card Games, but was it that way before the Magic the Gathering proposal started? By closing the proposal, you could be killing the reason why it has been growing in the Board Games beta (and if that was the reason why it has been growing, then some kind of replacement should be found. If that's not possible, the perhaps the Magic the Gathering proposal should not have been closed)

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    If MTG grows really large (and BCG with it), it can always be spun off into a site of its own, but there's no reason not to give it a try on BCG as it is – Ivo Flipse Mar 27 '12 at 13:49
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    @IvoFlipse At what point of my post are you answering exaclty? My answer is not about if it could be spun off later if it became big enough. – Pablo Mar 28 '12 at 21:12
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    After careful reading I guess it doesn't really address your post, though I think you're exaggerating the value of the link on the proposal. Most sites get 90% of their visits through Google, so while its great it got you there, that surely is not the case for the vast majority – Ivo Flipse Mar 28 '12 at 21:41
  • @IvoFlipse I looked at the newest users in Board and Card games and it seems a lot of them already were participating in other stackexchange sites. So it seems a lot of the new users indeed come from other stackschange sites. – Pablo Mar 30 '12 at 13:53
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    But not necessarily through the MTG Area51 proposal ;-) – Ivo Flipse Mar 30 '12 at 14:57
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    @Pablo - as a moderator at B&CG I can tell you that the traffic is very similar to other SE sites, IE, mostly from google. – Pat Ludwig Mar 30 '12 at 20:59
  • Also, MtG questions are only 16.5% of the total at B&CG (going by questions tagged as MtG). The site would be doing fine without MtG but will do even better with it. – Pat Ludwig Apr 1 '12 at 6:26
  • @PatLudwig MtG is only 16.5 of all questions, but it is 60 of the 150 most recent questions (40%) That means that it have grown much, much faster than the rest of the site. Perhaps I'm wrong and it is not because the magic the gathering proposal, but then, why have it grown so fast? – Pablo Apr 1 '12 at 10:45
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    @pablo - the Magic proposal was open for a long time, since before B&CG was released into beta. I'm not sure what you are trying to prove by cherry picking recent results? Growth at B&CG has been pretty steady over the last 18 months. – Pat Ludwig Apr 1 '12 at 14:56
  • @IvoFilpse saying that you "could spin off later" you are just arguing to win this argument via a war of attrition. You just want to let the status quo continue until inertia carries forward B&CG. Again, I really feel this is political with B&CG stakeholders fearing that MTG would suck away too much traffic from them. The longevity and body of questions at Draw3Cards shows that MtG deserves its own site. Also, B&CG is functionally inferior at displaying questions and answers w/o the card linking features already existing on D3C. Its been said, and its true. Mtg experts won't use B&CG. – Justin Standard Apr 18 '12 at 18:48
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    @JustinStandard - If you've watched the outcome of the Go and Poker proposals perhaps you'd be skeptical of how well a Magic site would do as well. We have a proposal to add linking to B&CG, it is something that I would fervently like to see done as well. – Pat Ludwig Apr 18 '12 at 21:10
  • @PatLudwig add the linking by all means. It is critical for a successful MTG qa site. From what I've heard so far there is a lot of hemming and hawing on that issue, a lot of foot dragging, and I'm not optimistic it would get done. And you still aren't escaping the point that MTG experts are going to want a site that is 100% MTG focused. B&CG is kind of like Red Mage... sort of a Jack of All Trades, but never reaching the highest level of expertise in any one area, because you can't attract the hard-core experts. – Justin Standard Apr 19 '12 at 3:19
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I've been active on B&CG but I still think that M:TG deserved it's own beta cycle to see if it could work.

I think that this decision flat out stinks. We thought the GO site would flop, and it did, but it was given a chance... B&CG gained those questions and some nifty expansion. Poker's in beta now ... these are on topic for B&CG as well... maybe it'll make it, maybe it won't. It's getting it's chance. Hey ... isn't chess on topic on B&CG? That's at 87% committed, will it be the next one to get the axe? Probably not, because there aren't many chess questions on B&CG.

Some of us worked to prove that there was sufficient interest in M:TG to justify a site, both by committing here and being active on B&CG. Now it appears that activity is benefiting B&CG to the detriment of M:TG.

I think this decision fails to pass the sniff test ... removing M:TG from B&CG severely weakens B&CG and I think that's the only reason M:TG isn't being given a chance to stand on it's own.

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    As I've commented in an number of the posts above. This is politics plain and simple. Go is given a chance, Poker is. Chess likely will. But not Magic. People running B&CG need to check their egos at the door. – Justin Standard Apr 18 '12 at 18:50
  • @JustinStandard - politics might be an issue, but not specifically against Magic. Go failed, Poker is failing, how many failures are needed? I believe that each attempt weakens B&CG, I seek to prevent that. – Pat Ludwig Apr 18 '12 at 21:12
  • To be clear ... because I do enjoy the SE network, I will continue to participate on B&CG. This post is just an opinion that ultimately changes nothing. – Stephen Apr 19 '12 at 1:03
  • @PatLudwig Given that there has already been a MTG SE 1.0 site that has > 2000 questions and a nice active community of experts (questions being typically answered within a couple hours at most), I think MTG can support its own site where games like GO may not. Go is a complex game but I don't know if it really lends itself to the Q&A format ... (The wiki site Sensei's Library is incredible... and maybe better suited to Go than a SE style site...) MTG and Go are not the same. MTG and poker are not the same. Saying that those failed and so MTG shouldn't be allowed a chance is ridiculous. – Justin Standard Apr 19 '12 at 3:16
1

Board & Card Games partisans have been very fond of pointing out that the B&CG site has 270 magic the gathering related questions "many of them with multiple answers". What a joke.

Draw 3 cards has 2196 questions, more than 8 times as many as B&CG... many of them with multiple answers.

And you think that Magic doesn't deserve a chance to thrive in its own site. What baloney.

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    None is stopping you from continuing to patronize D3C as far as I know. – Pat Ludwig Apr 18 '12 at 21:14
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    @PatLudwig So I guess that is what I'm saying... Lets just use D3C. I personally won't be asking or answering any MTG questions on B&CG SE... there's a better site already draw3cards.com – Justin Standard Apr 19 '12 at 3:20
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    You're surprised that a site that has been in existence for much longer than B&CG attracted more users and questions? B&CG is still in beta and still working to improve. The success or failure of B&CG to serve the needs of the MTG community is found in one simple question: can you ask an MTG question and get a valid answer? Thus far, the answer is yes. – Nicol Bolas Apr 21 '12 at 10:16

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