Hello PucaFam! Today we're going to talk about our platform statistics! We'll start with an overall view including points in the system and total members, then we'll move to our rate of trade, and finally some conclusions about the data. It's my hope that these numbers will give you a good picture of where we're at and what we are working towards. Just a small disclaimer before we jump in: These numbers are always changing. The numbers in the article are from January 30, 2018, so depending on when you read this, they might have changed.
Total Points in the System
Total Registered Members
"Active" Members and Points
The first thing that I'll point out is there are two sets of numbers: One is the "Total" and one is the "Active." The difference is based on whether a member has accepted the new Terms of Service or not. If a member has, then they'll be counted as "Active." If they have not, then they are counted as "Inactive" and their points are in stasis which means that their wants do not show up on the send page. This fact shifts all trade activity to the members who have accepted the ToS, and it suspends the inactive points from the economy.
When determining economic health it's important that we focus on the "Active" numbers, because the "Total" numbers could give a false perception. For example, if you spread the total points over the total members you end up with a per-capita of around 756 points per member, which would be great if all those members were actively trading! On the flip side, if you do that for the "Active" numbers you'll get around 6,018 per-capita. That's a huge difference. I'll admit that there are better ways to crunch this data, rather than my gorilla-math, but it illustrates the idea that we should be focusing on the "Active" numbers if we want a more accurate reading of the site health. Speaking of which, let's talk about trade activity.
Instead of showing a spreadsheet of numbers, I'm just showing a graph. If you're curious about the actual data, it can be viewed here. This graph will give you a good idea of the trading activity from last year. We based this on "completed" trades rather than sent trades, because "completed" equals a successful trade. It generally means that these points are the equivalent of cards in someone's mailbox! Here's the breakdown for last year:
Reference: Number of Trades Per Month Graph
Trade activity was on the decline over most of 2017—this is something that every PucaTrader felt. You'll notice that in July activity stabilized a bit, and even started to rise. It then fell steeply in October. I've heard it said that PucaTrade is typically less busy during the holidays, but I've only reviewed data for 2017, so I can't confirm if we've had previous patterns of reduced trade activity in the holiday months. I can say that we implemented Common Dues (now terminated) in September which presumably could have caused a drop-off in October. Trades sent in the middle weeks of September would be received and "completed" through the end of the month which could be why the drop didn't register until October. This is speculation on my part because I can't know for sure the reason for the steep decline at the end of the year. I tried to look at the daily data to find a clearer picture, but I see a gradual shift in the lower point brackets instead of a significant dive.
The graphs above show last year, but I wanted to graph January separately, so we could see clearly if there was some improvement since our announcement at the beginning of the year. Here's the graph for January. You'll see that trade activity did improve. We went from December's low of 13.8 million points in trades to around 16.5 million points in January. We still have some distance to go to get back to July numbers (around 19.6 million points) but we're headed in the right direction!
Points in Escrow
Before we head into the next section, let's talk about one more aspect of this equation: "Total Points in Escrow." If you're on our Discord chat, you'll notice I give an update on this number from time to time. Points in escrow show how many points in trades are en route to their destination and it can be a good indicator of platform activity. The more trades on the way to their destinations, the more the platform is being used. Points in escrow also can have an effect on the overall active point pool. Since points in escrow cannot be used, it temporarily shrinks the point pool. Over the month of January, our points in escrow have been above nine million, reaching at least 9.6 million in the middle of the month. This number fluctuates regularly; for example, as I write this, the points in escrow are 8.3 million. Despite its fluctuations, it's important to understand the number and its place in the overall picture. This is explored below.
Question You Might Ask
When looking at these numbers, one can't help but ask some questions: What does a healthy economy look like? Is 8.3 (or even 9.6) million points in escrow good? How many points per-capita should there be? These are all good questions! Based on my research, the number of points in escrow was about 25–35% when PucaTrade was healthy. With 86 million active points in the system this, this means that we would need to start seeing something like 21.6 million points in escrow. With 21.6 million points in escrow, that would shrink the point pool to about 64.8 million. If you spread that over 14k members, you get a per-capita of about 4k per member, so about a playset of $10 cards at base value. If you factor in promotion rates, then you could be looking at getting two $10 cards for 4k.
Anecdotally, having enough points in your account for one or two $10 cards seems like a good baseline to go by. This means that this 4k number could be a good starting goal for per-capita since people who go below this number would probably start feeling the crunch to send cards again. Keep in mind that if we did get the points in escrow up to 21.6 million, that would more than double the rate of trade as well so your points would stay in your account for less time. Let's switch gears a bit because everything we've talked about assumes that the number of points is staying the same, which is not the case. Every day we're destroying points to help drive inflation down.
Last year we destroyed a total of 30,517,447 points. As long as we keep in step with that this year, then we can see the active points shrink to 56,000,955. If we then subtract our current points in escrow which is 8.3 million (the lowest it's been all month), then spread the remaining amount over the 14k members we'll come to around 3,300 points per-capita which is under the 4k that we talked about above. I'm not trying to make 4k the official target, I'm just trying to illustrate that one year's time could have the same effect on the economy as boosting our points in escrow up to 25%, and it should! Destroying over a third of the active point pool is a pretty huge step towards a healthy economy. The only snag is that we would have to wait a year for that. This is not something any of us want to do. So, what's the plan?
After talking with the community, I think we can accomplish our goals much faster with some key features for the site. I'll repeat what we said at the beginning of the year: The money for development is not there. However, we do have leads on some volunteers and we've been working in the background to get these people set up to work (more information on this is coming in the weeks and months ahead). In the end, I think features are necessary.
New features would not only speed up point destruction, but they would also be a great response to you, the PucaTrade community, for the goodwill you've shown. I've made many of the policy and documentation changes that I want to make, for now—some still need to be rolled out. In the coming weeks, my main focus will be on trying to position PucaTrade to develop new features. It's a tall order, but I'm prepared to work hard to make progress for our members.
Wrapping it Up
In closing, I want to say that I'm really grateful to the community for January 2018—it was a strong month. You all showed up in force and pushed our rate of trade up. Some of you ran contests, others increased sending, and many of you simply renewed your membership as a vote of confidence. Thank you, I appreciate the tremendous goodwill! It just invigorates me to push towards a better platform for you all. I hope this article was helpful. I think that we need to talk more often about the numbers and expand on topics discussed here. I will plan a "numbers" update for the end of March. We'll also do a Campfire (voice chat in Discord) this Tuesday, February 6, 2018 at 11 a.m. EST.
Before I go, one last shout out to Dennis for helping me crunch the numbers and make these really great graphs!
Thank you for reading, let's keep the dialog open.
|Jonathan Medina (@MedinaMakesGame) is a casual Magic player and lover of people. He has a long history of writing for various Magic sites. He's currently the Director of PucaTrade, and a semi-regular writer at GatheringMagic.com. You can find him on Twitter at @MedinaMakesGame|