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A potential opportunity? (@Dolby) - WoWInterface
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10-18-20, 09:12 AM   #1
StormFX
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A potential opportunity? (@Dolby)

Disclaimer: I've no experience with OW myself.

With OW taking over CF, there's a lot of chatter about dropping CF altogether (some people really hate OW). I'm not sure what sort of resources you all have, but it may present an opportunity to increase traffic, etc, here.

Authors and users need a centralized hub to host and download add-ons that's reliable and trustworthy. Currently, there are some third-party add-on managers that are scraping, etc, which is great for users but not so much for hosts (including WoWI) and authors.

If a system were implemented similar to NexusMods, where the site uses a combination of non-intrusive ads and download restrictions to encourage subscriptions that remove the ads and restrictions, that would help cover the overhead of the service. Additionally, third-party managers would be given authenticated API access based on community reviews (to keep out the riff-raff) and they would have to require users to login so that the aforementioned download restrictions would apply when using such a manager. (Similar to how ModOrganizer works).

As I mentioned, I'm not sure what resources you all have or if it's feasible on your end, but I thought I'd mention it just the same. Though, you'd have to stop beating this dead vBulletin horse.
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10-18-20, 02:58 PM   #2
SDPhantom
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https://minion.mmoui.com/

WoWI is a part of MMOUI and this is their 1st party addon manager.
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10-18-20, 03:21 PM   #3
StormFX
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Originally Posted by SDPhantom View Post
https://minion.mmoui.com/

WoWI is a part of MMOUI and this is their 1st party addon manager.
I'm aware of Minion. I'm not sure how that's relevant to my post. Minion is MMOUI-exclusive, which is part of the reason people are using third-party managers to scrape this and other sites.

Last edited by StormFX : 10-18-20 at 03:37 PM.
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10-18-20, 07:00 PM   #4
SDPhantom
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Then what is it you're asking for? You're pretty much describing everything that WoWI already does besides forcing download authentications.
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10-18-20, 08:45 PM   #5
StormFX
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I'm not asking for anything. I'm merely pointing out a potential opportunity. Yes, WoWI offers a lot to users and authors, but it does have its limitations (which can be said of any site).

I'm sure that there's plenty of improvements that a lot of people would like to see implemented (I'm still waiting on Markdown support. ). But that isn't the point of my OP. I just wanted to pick Dolby's brain about the potential and see what they thought.
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10-20-20, 03:44 PM   #6
zealvurte
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This made me laugh to see posted -- for good reasons.

I've long been absent from the WoW community, but I contacted Dolby privately yesterday about the same topic, with some input I wanted to provide. Your thinking of what the future of addon managers might look like is similar to mine from the sounds of it, so fingers crossed.

Off-topic: Hi Storm, glad to see Masque is doing well and that Apathy still exists.
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10-20-20, 04:11 PM   #7
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We are certainly looking into providing an api for 3rd party managers to use, just working on a way that is affordable and doesn't bankrupt us with crippling resource expenses. I certainly like your suggestions so far.

Also want to do it in a way that requires the least if any changes for addon authors and 3rd party managers.

I think we can find a way but you'd also have to convince others sites like us to provide an api too. Just having one side do it isn't all that useful since there are authors that stick with curseforge because they have some nice ad rev sharing which is totally understandable. I in no way fault any of them for wanting to stay exclusive with that and really only jealous its something we can't provide for authors here.

Last edited by Dolby : 10-20-20 at 04:17 PM.
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10-20-20, 07:33 PM   #8
StormFX
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Originally Posted by zealvurte View Post
Your thinking of what the future of addon managers might look like is similar to mine from the sounds of it, so fingers crossed.
Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of users having an array of manager options available. But it cannot come at the expense of the authors (in the form of bypassing analytics and revenue streams) or the hosts, by way of skipping whatever means they have in place to support their site.

Originally Posted by zealvurte View Post
Off-topic: Hi Storm, glad to see Masque is doing well and that Apathy still exists.
Long time, no see, Zeal-bud! :P

Originally Posted by Dolby View Post
We are certainly looking into providing an api for 3rd party managers to use, just working on a way that is affordable and doesn't bankrupt us with crippling resource expenses. I certainly like your suggestions so far.
As I mentioned, NexusMods uses a mix of advertisements and slower-speed servers. Users who subscribe to a premium account see no ads and get access to high-speed CDNs for their downloads. Granted, there's a huge difference in file sizes between say WoW and Skyrim, but still. The cost is relatively cheap (I have a lifetime premium @ Nexus). You could do like, $1/mo, $10/yr and then like $40 for lifetime. Hell, I pay $12/yr for AMR and I don't even use it that often.

As far as API, the biggest change would be requiring authentication for downloads. This would be to enforce the server limitations of non-subscribers, etc, even through third-party managers. Then you really wouldn't even need to worry about the third-party clients, as it would force them to incorporate authentication into their application (via user credentials).

Also want to do it in a way that requires the least if any changes for addon authors and 3rd party managers.
I can understand that. But also, admit it -- you just like your vBulletin. :P

I think we can find a way but you'd also have to convince others sites like us to provide an api too. Just having one side do it isn't all that useful since there are authors that stick with curseforge because they have some nice ad rev sharing which is totally understandable. I in no way fault any of them for wanting to stay exclusive with that and really only jealous its something we can't provide for authors here.
So implement a rewards program of your own! It's clearly semi-profitable, since CF did it for all these years. It may seem a bit daunting, but I'm sure you can handle it. :P As far as CF in that regard, if OW hasn't gotten their shit together since selling off users private info, they can't pay me enough to stay there. I'm not risking mine or my users' data for a few bucks in ad revenue.

I can see the need for additional hosts. The problem is that it makes it more difficult for authors to maintain consistency across the sites. I know I've given you a hard time about the lack of Markdown support, but there's a reason for it. Any time I update my ReadMes, I have to spend a few hours formatting them into reasonable BBCode. Luckily BigWigs packager makes short work of the change log. I guess I should just write a shell script to run pandoc and convert it and post it via the API, but meh. That's more work!

Last edited by StormFX : 10-21-20 at 10:28 AM.
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10-20-20, 10:34 PM   #9
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As a developer of one of those 3rd party apps this is something we've been looking into helping with as a group. There is a model we're building just need the buy in from authors to really dig in
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10-20-20, 10:37 PM   #10
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I did my part by making my addons available at as many alternatives as I can. Will be grabbing my popcorn and seeing where the crowd goes!
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10-21-20, 05:51 AM   #11
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Milton Friedman, is that you?

*ahem* More seriously, as the developer of an add-on manager I am not in favour of any aspect of this proposal. I am not in favour of putting any kind of rewards programme in place. Rewards programmes are exploitative - they are a thinly-veiled attempt to create a monopoly. The most-downloaded add-on on WoWI (Leatrix) is now abandoned I would assume for this exact reason.

I am also not in favour of introducing download restrictions for free users as a means to recoup expenses or requiring users of third-party managers to log in, which is more than likely to backfire with WoWI’s current hold over the ‘market’.

The way *I* drive traffic back to WoWI is by limiting the amount of information presented in the catalogue and by linking back to WoWI. If users want to see what an add-on looks like or view add-ons created by the same author or discover add-ons in a category or interact with the author, they have to visit WoWI. My add-on manager also accepts WoWI URLs so that users are not obligated to use my catalogue; they can browse WoWI like they normally would.

I have obviously no idea what WoWI’s costs look like and I’m not in a position to assess whether third-party managers pose an actual threat. If real, such a threat should not be countered in a way that is sure to drive WoWI’s remaining user base away.

P.S. Third-party add-on managers are not ‘scraping’ WoWI. They are using the undocumented MMOUI API used by Minion.

Last edited by kkot : 10-21-20 at 07:48 AM.
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10-21-20, 10:18 AM   #12
StormFX
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Originally Posted by jliddev View Post
As a developer of one of those 3rd party apps this is something we've been looking into helping with as a group. There is a model we're building just need the buy in from authors to really dig in
Do you have an more information on this? Eg, a discussion of some sort or something?

Originally Posted by kkot View Post
Rewards programmes are exploitative - they are a thinly-veiled attempt to create a monopoly.
They can be exploitative, sure. But whether they are is dictated by the method and intent in which they're implemented. If a host uses ad and/or subscription revenues to cover overhead and the rest is distributed to add-on authors who opt in, there is nothing nefarious at play here.

With that said, I'm fine with an enhancement to the site that allows for more funding options and helps promote them.

The most-downloaded add-on on WoWI (Leatrix) is now abandoned I would assume for this exact reason.
And? If an author decides that maintaining multiple hosts is too much of a hassle and/or another host offers more benefits, how's that a problem? It's their project.

While I can sort of see where you're coming in regards to the "monopoly" bit, especially considering that "Big Business" had it's dirty fingers in CF, that really isn't applicable here. As Dolby mentioned, multiple hosts is a good thing. As is users and authors having options.

I am also not in favour of introducing download restrictions for free users as a means to recoup expenses or requiring users of third-party managers to log in, which is more than likely to backfire with WoWI’s current hold over the ‘market’.
Seems like you're saying that you expect hosts to allow third-party managers to bypass their means of recouping costs while utilizing their resources to distribute content that those managers may not even have permission to distribute. Also, WoWI doesn't current have a "hold" over the market. That claim is still held by CF and will probably remain so after OW takes over.

The way *I* drive traffic back to WoWI is by limiting the amount of information presented in the catalogue and by linking back to WoWI. If users want to see what an add-on looks like or view add-ons created by the same author or discover add-ons in a category or interact with the author, they have to visit WoWI. My add-on manager also accepts WoWI URLs so that users are not obligated to use my catalogue; they can browse WoWI like they normally would.
This doesn't even make sense. You don't "drive traffic" by limiting information. The less information a user has, the less likely they are to follow a link. Not to mention that it negates efforts by authors to ensure that users have as much information available as possible.

P.S. Third-party add-on managers are not ‘scraping’ WoWI. They are using the undocumented MMOUI API used by Minion.
That may be true, but they're still bypassing the system without any consideration of how it affects the host or authors.

So far you've explained why you don't like any of the ideas presented. Do you have any alternatives?

Last edited by StormFX : 10-21-20 at 10:31 AM.
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10-21-20, 10:44 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by StormFX View Post
Do you have an more information on this? Eg, a discussion of some sort or something?
Sure I am more available in the WowUp discord @zakrn if you are interested in discussing it
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10-21-20, 11:32 AM   #14
StormFX
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Originally Posted by jliddev View Post
Sure I am more available in the WowUp discord @zakrn if you are interested in discussing it
Awesome! Thanks!
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10-21-20, 12:16 PM   #15
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While I can sort of see where you're coming in regards to the "monopoly" bit, especially considering that "Big Business" had it's dirty fingers in CF, that really isn't applicable here. As Dolby mentioned, multiple hosts is a good thing. As is users and authors having options.
It sounds like you are agreeing with me.

Originally Posted by StormFX View Post
This doesn't even make sense. You don't "drive traffic" by limiting information. The less information a user has, the less likely they are to follow a link. Not to mention that it negates efforts by authors to ensure that users have as much information available as possible.
If we are to follow that logic the user will not install add-ons from WoWI and the add-on manager will not incur any costs. The exact wording that I used was "drive traffic back" to WoWI - the intention is not to showcase add-ons or generate "clicks" but to compel users to seek information from the source if they are interested in installing an add-on or if they want to browse around, etc. In other words, the search function is intentionally gimped out of respect for the host.

That may be true, but they're still bypassing the system without any consideration of how it affects the host or authors.
Add-on managers employ a variety of other mechanisms to minimise their impact on the host. instawow in particular caches the WoWI catalogue for one hour; will not retrieve the catalogue unless the user is attempting to install or update a WoWI add-on; it will perform batch requests when resolving add-ons and cache file details for five minutes; and it will cache downloaded ZIP files indefinitely. It also identifies itself with a custom user agent string so that the host is able to rate limit requests originating from instawow as they please.

So far you've explained why you don't like any of the ideas presented. Do you have any alternatives?
I have already explained why I am not proposing alternatives.

Last edited by kkot : 10-21-20 at 12:23 PM.
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10-21-20, 02:09 PM   #16
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I imagine a future with API authentication tokens being used for addon managers moving forward, but probably also on a host's own website when downloading. This would entirely prevent the direct access currently exploited to bypass a host's terms and monetisation schemes. That part is really on the hosts to sort themselves out.

Addon mangers will either conform with the terms set by the hosts, or their access gets revoked. Hosts can live or die by whatever terms they set and the impact that will have on their users and authors, but when providing access to a host through third party software, the developers of that software are obligated to abide by that host's terms. The terms of access are set by each host, not developers of addon mangers, so any good intentions to provide some concessions to hosts are rather moot.

I agree user logins aren't something I'd want to see become mandatory, but optional support for it would be ideal, allowing for premium access where it exists.

I would love to see a future of many addon managers and hosts, where addon managers are selected by users for good UX, and hosts are selected by authors for best offering of services and by users for UX too, but that's not viable if everyone continues in this manner and repeating mistakes of the past. It's a future I envisioned 11 years ago and had to abandon, and the recent situation is why I decided to reach out now to see if my past work could contribute in any way.

P.S. All third-party add-on managers providing downloads from WoWI are currently scraping; the definition includes the use of any APIs to obtain data, not just web crawlers parsing HTML/DOM.
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10-21-20, 02:41 PM   #17
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I don't know whose definition that would be but I've done my fair share of scraping for open government NGOs and nobody would consider using an API as scraping. I also fail to see why this keeps getting brought up unless the intention is to denigrate add-on manager authors. Evidently, developers who've spent years working on freely-licensed software for no compensation are worth less than add-on authors (who at least get to benefit from CF's rewards programme) or host staff because of some ingrained capitalist notion of impropriety.

Last edited by kkot : 10-21-20 at 02:44 PM.
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10-22-20, 10:14 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by kkot View Post
It sounds like you are agreeing with me.
In the case of Amazon/Twitch's acquisition of Curse, absolutely. But I'm fairly certain CF's rewards program was in place prior to that. Your claim that rewards programs are "exploitative", etc, was made with no qualifiers so is inherently false.

If we are to follow that logic the user will not install add-ons from WoWI and the add-on manager will not incur any costs. The exact wording that I used was "drive traffic back" to WoWI - the intention is not to showcase add-ons or generate "clicks" but to compel users to seek information from the source if they are interested in installing an add-on or if they want to browse around, etc. In other words, the search function is intentionally gimped out of respect for the host.
I understand the logic you're using here, but the average user is less likely to see information about a project if viewing that information requires an additional action that removes them from their current context.

Additionally, any information that an author includes in their project's description, etc, needs to be readily available to the user. That is why this information exists.

Add-on managers employ a variety of other mechanisms to minimise their impact on the host. instawow in particular caches the WoWI catalogue for one hour; will not retrieve the catalogue unless the user is attempting to install or update a WoWI add-on; it will perform batch requests when resolving add-ons and cache file details for five minutes; and it will cache downloaded ZIP files indefinitely. It also identifies itself with a custom user agent string so that the host is able to rate limit requests originating from instawow as they please.
That's great. But it doesn't mean that all AOMs follow similar protocols.

Originally Posted by zealvurte View Post
I imagine a future with API authentication tokens being used for addon managers moving forward, but probably also on a host's own website when downloading. This would entirely prevent the direct access currently exploited to bypass a host's terms and monetisation schemes. That part is really on the hosts to sort themselves out.
Most users already have an account with WoWI. Having to login via their preferred AOM wouldn't be that big of a deal. That said, you're right that it's on the hosts to figure out how to best handle things on their end. But it's more beneficial if everyone works together.

I agree user logins aren't something I'd want to see become mandatory, but optional support for it would be ideal, allowing for premium access where it exists.
A fair point.

I would love to see a future of many addon managers and hosts, where addon managers are selected by users for good UX, and hosts are selected by authors for best offering of services and by users for UX too, but that's not viable if everyone continues in this manner and repeating mistakes of the past. It's a future I envisioned 11 years ago and had to abandon, and the recent situation is why I decided to reach out now to see if my past work could contribute in any way.
Agreed.

Originally Posted by kkot View Post
I also fail to see why this keeps getting brought up unless the intention is to denigrate add-on manager authors.
I doubt anyone's going through every AOM's code to see if they're technically "scraping". "Scraping" just happens to be shorter than, "using a host's API to provide direct downloads without the permission of the host or authors". Not sure why that's something you'd take personally.

Evidently, developers who've spent years working on freely-licensed software for no compensation are worth less than add-on authors (who at least get to benefit from CF's rewards programme) or host staff because of some ingrained capitalist notion of impropriety.
On the contrary, it's more beneficial for everyone to work together. I'll happily promote any host or AOM that is willing to work with the community to get this all sorted out amicably. But ranting about "capitalists", etc, isn't helping anyone.
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10-22-20, 11:02 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by StormFX View Post
In the case of Amazon/Twitch's acquisition of Curse, absolutely. But I'm fairly certain CF's rewards program was in place prior to that. Your claim that rewards programs are "exploitative", etc, was made with no qualifiers so is inherently false.
It doesn't matter if it was introduced with good intentions - that's what it inevitably leads to. An Overwolf employee recently described the rewards programme as a 'carrot' and shared his dream of consolidation - on their platform, one would assume.

Additionally, any information that an author includes in their project's description, etc, needs to be readily available to the user. That is why this information exists.
The information is readily available to the user at the source. I'm not really sure what you're suggesting here. I have a short description (where a short description can be obtained) and a button which leads directly to the add-on page. Would you want me to embed the add-on page in full? The UX is similar to performing a search on Google - there's a title, a link, and an extract or description from the page.

Most users already have an account with WoWI.
I rather doubt that's true. In any case, having to log in to every host that AOMs might interface with would be (a) very tedious and (b) unwelcome from the AOM's perspective. Handling user data is I think something all of us would want to avoid because of the security (and legal) implications and the concomitant maintenance cost.

On the contrary, it's more beneficial for everyone to work together. I'll happily promote any host or AOM that is willing to work with the community to get this all sorted out amicably. But ranting about "capitalists", etc, isn't helping anyone.
I'm not ranting about capitalists. I'm critical of the negative connotations attached to 'scraping' and broadly attribute them to capitalist thought.

Last edited by kkot : 10-23-20 at 12:01 AM.
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10-23-20, 01:38 PM   #20
StormFX
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Originally Posted by kkot View Post
It doesn't matter if it was introduced with good intentions - that's what it inevitably leads to.
Something is only as malicious as it is in its current state. Rewards programs are only exploitative if used in an exploitative manner. Generalizing them all as such is hyperbolic.

An Overwolf employee recently described the rewards programme as a 'carrot' and shared his dream of consolidation - on their platform, one would assume.
If true, another reason the community should come together. Not to sound like I'm doubting your claim, but I would like to see a source on this.

The information is readily available to the user at the source. I'm not really sure what you're suggesting here. I have a short description (where a short description can be obtained) and a button which leads directly to the add-on page. Would you want me to embed the add-on page in full? The UX is similar to performing a search on Google - there's a title, a link, and an extract or description from the page.
Given that I haven't used your program, I wouldn't know that. I was simply going off what you said about giving users as little information as possible.

In any case, having to log in to every host that AOMs might interface with would be (a) very tedious and (b) unwelcome from the AOM's perspective.
That's a fair point.

Handling user data is I think something all of us would want to avoid because of the security (and legal) implications and the concomitant maintenance cost.
Also a fair point.

I'm not ranting about capitalists. I'm critical of the negative connotations attached to 'scraping' and broadly attribute them to capitalist thought.
And yet you keep bringing it up. This isn't a political discussion, so keep that sort of crap out of it, please.
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WoWInterface » Site Forums » Site help, bugs, suggestions/questions » A potential opportunity? (@Dolby)

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