A Newly Re-Built Wrongcards Means No Ads

Throughout 2018 — and perhaps beyond — there will be no third-party ads displayed at Wrongcards.

Here are my reasons:

  1. They’re distracting and interfere with everyone’s general enjoyment.

  2. The world is becoming saturated with advertising — wouldn’t it be cool not to need it? Especially when:

  3. I don’t currently need to make money from Wrongcards.

From here on in, things are going to get technical. If you’re not interested, click here to skip to the Too Long Didn’t Read section.

In the bad old days (from 2008 until, um, last month) Wrongcards was somewhat expensive to run. It was a deeply and troublingly complex Ruby-on-Rails application that we hosted on Heroku, and was powered by an Amazon RDS database. There were lots of additional services (like external email servers and DNS and storage) and, altogether, monthly costs tended to range upwards of $120-150 per month.

For a long time this annoyed me.

The site’s complexity was also maddening. Over the years it had grown into a fairly complicated content management system that was doing a lot of fairly advanced and cool stuff, but still — the back-end could also be very time-consuming. There were many minor issues behind the scenes; we had upwards of a dozen ‘annoying things to fix’ for years. In short, the back-end of Wrongcards was never much of a joy to think about.

Then one day, back in July, I was thinking about all the icky complexity and stupid expense when I had a very good idea. (If it seems obvious to you, then that’s because hindsight works that way when it comes to good ideas, and anyway: Shush! And why aren’t you a bitcoin millionaire?)

Wrongcard’s main two functions — browsing cards and sending/receiving ecards — could, I reasoned, be split into two distinct websites. All I needed to do was to build a small web-app to handle the sending and receiving cards, and then I could re-build Wrongcards in a simpler way, perhaps using my favourite static website generator, Hugo.

You see, I’d been building sites with static generators for years. I really like their elegance and, even though they’re all the rage nowadays, I started working with them in 2011. I’m still proud of this Jekyll site I built for a mate back in 2012. (You see? I’m a static website hipster.)

Anyway.

Building a special micro-app to send/receive cards took me a few days. Rebuilding Wrongcards — the site you browse while looking at cards — well that took a bit longer. I spend each day writing books nowadays, so I had to do it in my spare time. I redesigned everything, improved it in every way I could think, and it took me roughly five months.

To say that Wrongcards being powered by Hugo dramatically reduced both the CPU and memory requirement of the site is a silly understatement. 99% of the site is now static images and html, served from Amazon’s S3. It’s never going to slow down, and if it does, it’s because Amazon’s having a bad day, which technically means it’s their problem.

Long story short: by the end of December 2017, running Wrongcards would now cost me less than $20 dollars each month. Crucially (for me) it is also a very simple website to work with and think about — and trust me, that matters; less time spent coding and doing system administration means more time making cards and writing books.

The point, however, is that I’m actually comfortable being out of pocket $20 dollars each month and having no third-party ads on the site.

I can also probably make the cards more tastless. Not that I would, of course, because Wrongcards does not do tasteless material.

In Conclusion

Of course this ‘no third-party ads’ policy may need to change one day. If traffic swings up above a certain level, I might be forced to acknowlwedge that I’m shallow and corruptible. But in the meantime — and at least throughout the next year or two — indulge me with this ‘no advertising’ venture.

Too Long Didn’t Ready Summary

Summary: Wrongcards has no advertising now, because: reasons.