On 1 May 2018, Swapfig reached its fifth birthday. It's a significant milestone, not least because it had previously celebrated its 5,000th completed trade.
As seems to be the tradition, Swapfig's more vocal users celebrated its fifth birthday by - you've guessed it - complaining.
While we don't like to dwell on the not-so-nice things when it comes to Swapfig, we wanted to address the complaining with respect to recent developments.
Our fifth birthday celebration.
Usually we would post about Swapfig's birthday here in the News section and on social media. But as we're the only ones celebrating: this year we decided to make a point, by shutting the entire site down between 1 and 8 May.
We shut the site down completely, in remembrance of our humble beginnings back in 2013. Swapfig was finally launched after a round of crowdfunding hell, and we'd ended up spending an entire week - day and night - trying to get Swapfig up and running on a then unfamiliar web server.
Even back then there was complaining and ridicule as things continued to go wrong... and silence once things were going right. It's been that way ever since, to the point where the lack of support relegated Swapfig to a "hobby" (infrequently maintained) site.
But we'd still managed to fit in a celebratory dessert this year: not a cake as usual, but a homemade berry crumble.
GDPR and The House Rules.
We've already mentioned the important changes made as a result of the General Data Protection Regulation coming into play. On a similar note, the fifth birthday celebration was a great time to implement an important update: confirmation of accepting our House Rules.
After Swapfig came out of hibernation on the 8th May, existing users were required to confirm their acceptance of the House Rules. New users are now also required to read and confirm their acceptance of the House Rules upon registering. Either way: use of Swapfig is subject to adherence to the House Rules, whether you've read them or not.
The House Rules were created around respect: for each other as users, for people we trade with, and the people behind the scenes.
The Big Redesign is here!
As mentioned over on social media: one thing that was completely ignored on 25 May was that Swapfig has finally been redesigned. We're calling this iteration 2.0.
The biggest challenge with the redesign was replacing the aggressive styling and functionality used in the last version. The framework we'd previously used was the best solution for mobile compatibility at the time, but particularly aggressive when it came to modifying things. So aggressive that the redesign had to be done all in one go.
What you probably wouldn't have guessed is that we'd tried to complete the redesign before Swapfig reopened on 8 May. We actually came very close, but the more complex sections (Inventory, Trade Manager, Statistics, FAQs) required more time.
In any case, we're very pleased with how the redesign turned out. It was inspired and based on the site design paid for through our second crowdfunding campaign.
All done in the face of adversity.
After our call for volunteers a few months ago, we've finally brought on some Contributors to Swapfig. These Contributors have been helping out with adding and maintaining the items available to trade. It's a much more difficult process than you'd think, and we greatly appreciate their help.
With that said: redesigning Swapfig, introducing the necessary changes for GDPR and the general maintenance has all been done with virtually no income. The owner of Swapfig is in financial difficulty right now, having not been paid in months from the day job.
This makes the ongoing complaining from non-supporters, and our fifth birthday celebration all the more notable. We remember too well the ad verbatim complaints about finding the adverts "annoying", and even being called a "money grubbing [expletive]", in the early stages. If the latter was true, we wouldn't have shut the site down on our birthday week (which cost us a lot of ad revenue).
We're not asking or begging for donations; we're merely putting things into context.
Will there be a sixth birthday?
If you'd paid attention to our original crowdfunding campaign video, you'll have heard that the plan was to have Swapfig up and running for five years. It's our fifth year.
We believe we've succeeded in reintroducing the concept of trading/swapping as an alternative to buying and selling, which was our initial goal. We've also been successful in creating a site that makes the trading process much easier than before, and that we've facilitated 5,000 completed trades says a lot.
But we have to admit that Swapfig has also failed. If it was a "business" - as some had lectured to us during our crowdfunding campaigns - it would have gone under within the first two months.
Our biggest failure has been in gaining respect for the time and energy spent, and the occasional sacrifice made. While we have seen and heard some people recommending or even mentioning Swapfig to others, we've seen and heard far more complaining about it - direct and within earshot. In one case we've had a specific threat of being badmouthed.
We'd really like to say that Swapfig will be around as long as trading/swapping is viable. We've instead decided that what happens this year will determine the site's fate.