August 11th, 2018: This is an announcement that I will be discontinuing support for the dAhub bot. This account will continue to exist, but the bot will be terminated in the near future.
In the next few days I will refactor the bot to automatically issue refunds, specifically for donations received in the past few weeks that have not yet been processed. My intent is to close out all outstanding balances owed in a responsible manner so that the bot may be taken offline indefinitely sometime in the coming weeks.
I expect this announcement may appear sudden and unexpected to many. I want to emphasize that this decision was not made lightly.
I started this account as an experiment and a proof-of-concept. Shortly after the points platform was introduced by dA, I saw that 100millionPOINTS had set up a service to exchange them between donors and earners. However, her account was very manual and time-intensive to manage; I felt something similar could be accomplished much more effectively through software.
I didn't know what to expect when I launched dAhub back in 2011. I didn't know if it was a viable concept, if it would immediately be shut down by the staff, if it would be met with a massive outcry from the user base, or something else entirely unexpected. However, after some initial tweaking, the services quickly took off. Due to the automated nature of the account and the popularity it developed, the initial test run evolved into an extended operation that I saw no reason to stop. The account earned points and collected new and interesting data every day, so dAhub continued...
As the account grew, I encountered code scalability issues. When the site changed, the bot stopped performing key functions. Various competitors came and went offering similar services; some proffering ideas I had not considered in my initial design. I updated the bot as new challenges arose and so dAhub continued...
Over the years things changed. I wrote the first bot version while I was in school and the second version while looking for my first job. I didn't realize it at the time, but the bot was a useful resume-building activity: I acquired experience in creating, maintaining, and managing a sizable code base. I made the decisions and accepted the consequences, which was useful from a project management skill set point of view. However, once I joined the work force, my free time became much more limited. But the bot only required occasional updates to compensate for rare site changes, so dAhub continued...
This year has been tough. Wix bought out dA in the recent past, and some notable changes started to get rolled out. Page loads became throttled, which directly impacted the bot's response times. There have been some security updates and message center changes. More importantly however, the staff broke their multi-year silence and demanded a cease-and-desist of my services. After about a month of dialog back-and-forth I was able to clear up some key misconceptions, negotiate a go-forward plan, and bring the bot back online. However, this incident has left me with some grave misgivings: when the pinnacle of success is begrudging tolerance by the staff, I'm not particularly optimistic about the future. This was the first instance I thoroughly considered closing this account, but decided to fight the allegations so that I would have full control of the situation if and when I decided I was done.
In other news, the staff have been relatively vocal about an upcoming major site revision. I assumed this would occur in early August like previous site updates, but that assumption appears incorrect. Additionally, several official questionnaires have been sent out asking users for their impressions of proposed site features. Normally this is something done at the beginning of the design cycle to prioritize what code to develop, not just before a major code release where changes would be costly to implement. Thus I am confused by dA's mixed messages about the future and status of the site.
Regardless of when the next version of the site is released, it will mean the bot will stop working entirely. Based on the changes seen to-date I anticipate I would need to code the bot effectively from scratch to bring it back online. I have had several false starts doing this in the past; in the best of times I have found time and motivation lacking. The core issue is I no longer see a benefit to building and maintaining this bot. In the early days I learned many skills through my operations here. After many years I collected virtually all the interesting data there was to be had. Eventually, I rationalized that the profit from the bot was the last significant contributor to why I continued to run the bot. However, only recently have I attempted to use these accumulated points in earnest, and I believe this was a contributing factor in the staff's crack-down. While the staff have now permitted me to continue commissioning artists, I view the added scrutiny as additional friction to what was already a cumbersome process. With the novelty and exposition worn away long ago, it has become increasingly difficult to find personal motivation for dAhub to continue...
At this juncture I have many opportunities: more than I have time to pursue. On one hand I can refactor the bot with multi-threading and add additional services. However, this is not particularly novel and requires a significant effort to simply get the bot back to where it currently is. On the other hand there are options available to me that involve group projects, computer vision, and GPU coding, none of which I have attempted before and would be far more meaningful growth opportunities. Disappointing everyone who has come to rely on the services offered here weighs heavily on me, but it is time to be definitive and clear about the future of this account. I developed this account over half a decade ago: people and technology change, and I intend to close this chapter of my life to begin another.
My intent is to bring the operations of this bot to as graceful a conclusion as I can. That starts with issuing refunds: once I have re-coded the bot, the refund process will begin automatically. I also will be coordinating with the groups I provide services for to minimize disruption.
I have kept a log of all the noteworthy interactions and data collected during the history of this project. Following the termination of the bot, I intend to compile my findings into a final report and publish it. I think it would be fitting, and more entertaining to read, to illustrate the report with artwork commissioned from artists on dA. Commissioning and writing the report I expect will take many months. My plan is to publish the report as journals on my account; those watching me will be notified when the report is done. My hope is that with a detailed guide to the inner workings of this account, and documented concepts for new services that could be offered, someone else may pick up the torch and continue this project forward with new life.
Thank you all for the journey. It has been an incredible experience working with so many people for such a long time.