I'm writing this blog because there are a lot of thoughts I want to share with you about creating a new Dota site. This didn't happen overnight and it is something that has been discussed thoroughly. I have read all of your feedback as I always do. I've been doing this for twelve years now and being open to user feedback seriously is the main reason why we have gotten to where we are. Seeing such a negative response from the community that I've spent the last decade of my life on does have a big impact. I'll explain in more detail why we feel LiquidDota is necessary.
The goal of the design of TL
TL displays an enormous amount of information and it has always done so. Regular websites can't get away with showing this much information as it is generally overwhelming for the visitor. We manage because we attract a certain type of individuals that want to know in depth what is going on in the scene. They want to know who is streaming, which events are on, what news came out today, and how to find anything they need on Liquipedia.
This is how we like it. When you are visiting TL for a single game there's a lot of information but it isn't too much for our target audience. That's the way TL always felt when we did BW and it felt like that for a long time when we did SC2. I believe this is still the case for a single game and although there are always things to improve it is something that works. Our entry barrier was always high but it hit a spot that was good. Just high enough to get people we like and who like what we do.
However high our barrier of entry used to be, with Dota it took a turn for the worse. With our extreme amount of information about a single game we were still able to appeal to the group we wanted to attract. When we added Dota TL suddenly became way harder to use for a non-regular with an interest in a single game. Due to the messiness of our presentation we have far passed the point of entry barrier that we used to have. Not only do you need to want to know everything about a game, you also need to deal with half of the site not being the game you like.
TL as a community site
I follow a ton of sports and for almost all of them I use standalone websites. I want to read about football, bicycle racing, StarCraft and Dota, and MMA. I do not visit any site that presents sports I don't follow, so I only visit websites dedicated to each sport.
The more dedicated a site is to the game you love the more it will feel like home to you. If Gosugamers coverage in 2008 had been better, would you really have chosen them over TL, or would the fact that it wasn't a dedicated site have made you come to TL and our community feel? The more games a site tries to cover the harder it will be to establish the same kind of relationship. Even if we are delivering what we believe to be the best quality it is still very hard to compete with dedicated websites. The feel of a dedicated website is incredibly important. We should know, as it has played such an important part in the growth of TL.
Something like this is not necessarily a conscious choice. A user may be completely fine with our addition of Dota. Yet when it comes down to it over time he starts to prefer the SC reddit over TL because half of what he sees here are names, terms, sentences and images he does not understand.
Imagine yourself not a TL veteran but a Dota fan out there in the scene. When visiting TL you see an overwhelming amount of information largely not about Dota. You have no idea how to filter it and eventually just don't feel like this is a home for you. Originally we thought that with our filter system we would be able to attract new Dota fans and have them be a part of our Dota community. Unfortunately, we have come to the realization that the filter system is only used by people experienced with the way TL works.
TL has always been an evolving community where people with a shared interest could come together. With Dota there is no development and we're basically stuck for the wrong reasons. If you are unhappy about LiquidDota odds are that you are a TL veteran. I completely understand that someone who visits TL for both SC2 and Dota 2 is going to find the change inconvenient. Going from one site where you feel at home in the community to two sites with one where you don't is a big deal. If you tell me that you're not a fan of it because you now have to visit two sites I'm with you on that.
I want to ask you to look at it from another perspective. TL used to be a family open to anyone. In our BW and SC2 days people felt like they could come over and feel at home. New users and old users alike. That is what gave TL the feel that it has today. The way TL is currently set up is near impossible to get into for anyone from the outside. That is not how TL used to be and it is not how TL should be. With the new Dota site we create two families that are open to anyone and I completely stand by the belief that it is a better approach to taking care of communities.
As mentioned I have read your feedback and I also can see that there is a lot of dissatisfaction. A midst all this there is a lot of useful feedback that we take very seriously. The main point that we saw kept coming back is the sharing of community forums across sites. Previously we have been on the fence about this, in part due to technical difficulties, and after reading your feedback we're going to make it a priority to have shared community forums across all sites.
The second main complaint was that it was so convenient to have a calendar supporting multiple esports. This is something I have been thinking about a lot since yesterday. It's really nothing more than just a thought right now but in the future I would like to try and build an in depth calendar that covers the calendar inputs from our sites that everyone would be able to customize it as they wish. It's just an idea for now, but I'm hoping to make it a reality some day.
Going forward we're going to make TL a dedicated hub for StarCraft again. In the next couple of days we will be making changes to the forum and filter structures to resemble this. Accordingly we'll be making changes to the forum structure and streaming section. Again this will be a change that may not be popular with the entire community as it will also mean that the LoL forums will go into "Other Games" and the LoL streams won't be showing up anymore as default.
How we envision TL is that we want it to be a StarCraft community where anyone can do anything they want as long as there is support for it from other users. EVE, Smash, LoL, Hearthstone, Heroes, Mafia, you name it. If good articles are written in these sections we will spotlight them and promote them in other ways. These sections will have the potential to grow and if they outgrow their place on TL like Hearthstone did then we would consider moving it to its own place. As for LiquidDota the site is really, really good and I hope you give it a shot.