Dear Go fellows, dear members of ASR League !
It’s five (5) weeks now since I overtook ASR – Advanced Study Room with full responsibility (see my former “From the Office desk…” notices here). Besides the huge work which has to be done to bring the ASR league back to life, I give it a short moment to look back onto the first month of my “new job”.
More than expected, the website of ASR has seen a great number of visits and visitors. It overstepped 28,000 visitors with more than 280,000 visits – in total. I had expected 25,000 visitors till end of July.
The average number of visitors / day for July had been 261. – The ASR community now counts more than 280 members (inclusive ~ 40 GO teachers).
So it seems the new activities to link ASR – Advanced Study Room with different Social Medias (Facebook page + FB group and Google plus, Twitter, Reddit, Youtube Channel, Twitch.TV) was the right decision.
Beside this unexpected positive progress there are some bigger “buts” ! – Actually the last five weeks felt like a dirty clean out and some urgent jobs had to be done to limit the damages and risks which experienced ASR – Advanced Study Room (and its league members/Go players) over last few years by a very careless maintenance.
It let me feel like ASR is an “old barn” which needs lots of renovation to become a homely place for enjoyable Go playing.
From old to new…
I am very aware, that it’s a dramatic metaphor (analogy) I am drafting. Looking back at ASR’s long history which exists since 2007 (and some of its roots even since 2002) we may remember, that the ASR – Advanced Study Room and it’s uniquely league was the strongest Study Group in Western world which counted in it’s peak times up to 300 active members. Actually looking at the younger statistics we are far away from it. We have reached roughly 20% of the “golden times”.
I am very confident about, that with the image of ‘Modern GO’, which hyped around the globe in March 2016 by AlphaGo/Deepmind with more than ~100 mio. viewers around the globe the ASR league can look to a great future ahead. The 60th European Go Congress in St Petersburg/Russia counted more than 1,000 registrations.
As you notice the work of renovation has started five weeks ago. I am sure, we will do it proper and succeed positively… if we – as (new) ASR Team – manage it to modernize the whole existing system. Some steps here about by following insights.
The Solutions: Work in Progress…
Actually there is not to complain about the past. I overtook ASR – Advanced Study Room to lead it into a new future. The first month had been very busy to set a new ground for ASR’s safely future, technically, legally, socially and commercially (under marketing aspects).
Beginning of July I have promised transparency and an open dialogue. No hiding behind the curtain shall be the policy for the ASR Team. So here we go with a short overview of the different tasks which had been done… and some very interesting work-in-progress projects:
- Connectivity of all relevant social medias (Rec.: Whatsapp as cross-platform for mobile messaging is undergoing a critical proof to attract the younger generation of Go players as Facebook is already “out of fashion”.)
- Technically server upgrade of the Debian Linux 8 and it’s clean out to optimize the server performance (e.g. by doubling the processor capacities to avoid 2-3 crashes per week of the MySQL databases).
- Security upgrade + update of the website (e.g. protection against brute force attacks, Re-captcha based registry + login) and Debian Linux 8 server (AntiMalware + Virus scanners) as by detailed analysis there was not existing anything. Actually the website counts ~20,000 malicious login attempts per year (1,500-1,600 monthly for now, steadily growing).
- Setup of a new event calendar system, e.g. with individual Bookmarking features (iCal / Google Calendar)
- Implementation of a new rating system the ASR league members can vote on postings and pages of the ASR website. Some relevant criteria (scoring values) are to be defined next weeks (see example here).
- New Game planning tool: PM system (private messages) + calendar (game plan) + text chat system… since beginning of July going through the alpha test internally.
- email marketing (using MailChimp) + email based announcement system + ASR newsletter (email subscription)… going through the alpha test since midth July 2016. The closer target: to be ready mid of August 2016 with a full “subscribe feature” (email newsletter).
- three-part Personal developement concept for the new ASR team of core competence, yet in a very early stage. The fields of competences are described in the ASR Forum here.
- building a refreshing and renewed GO Teacher pool (for weekly Go lectures) to get contracted on long term with high Pro Dans from Japan, Korea and China
- Complete re-start of the “donation system“, based on a new “Policy on Donation and Sponsorship” (yet to be written). The status quo and ongoing process are fully documented in the ASR forum here (ref. donations) and here (ref. support).
The pre-plannings already have started for part projects in the closer future, e.g.
… live streaming outside of KGS Go server to reach a bigger audience
(e.g. via Twitch.TV, livestream on Facebook, Google Hangout).
… video chat for live reviews (webRTC – Real Time communication).
… video-on-demand community (with own video library, playlists, media player, rating system).
… browser based access to KGS Go server (for now going through the alpha test).
Summary of first month (since 30th June 2016)
ASR’s younger history (which is documented back to 2007) and it’s early roots (going back to 2002) document that the ASR – Advanced Study Room went through many ups and downs, was overhanded from hand-to-hand and organized by many different passionate GO players over the last years.
The ASR league remembers me a position on the Go board, called Moonshine life. It refers to a (seemingly) dead group with a false eye in ko, which cannot be captured because the owner of the group has an unlimited number of unremovable ko threats. (SGF Source: Sensei’s Library | Ko Pages – Taxonomy – Moonshine Life)
It’s up to the league members if ASR – Advanced Study room and it’s league can experience a healthy life – without steadily Ko threats. I have the hope we can manage it. Actually in the address database we count ~230 league players (beside 40-50 teachers for GO); monthly we get 40-50 new league members.
– It’s up to you all to support the upper described renovation of the ASR project, either by donations or your core competences in the upper described fields (as volunteer you can pre-register here). We just do not believe purely in enthusiasm, passion and lots of talking. It needs much more.
In 21st century even for a NGO project like the ASR league it needs knowledge on high level to become competitive in the world of mind sports and gaming… and it needs steadily financial support to purchase all the monthly expenses (payment of the Go teachers, server costs, bandwidth, (communication) design, software license, legal advice, tax consultancy and others).
Warm greetings from Hangzhou/China
Guillaume Douron (aka litchee)
P.S.: The ASR team requires Beta Testers (e.g. Usability tests of new features). Please apply in the ASR Forum here. – Its fun !