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Monday, December 30, 2013

The State of Wowuction Data

I wasn't always a fan of Wowuction.  There have been a handful of folks who have come to The Consortium Forums after sorting out how to pull down AH data from the WoW Armory API and claim to have a better way to detect when an auction is sold than The Undermine Journal.  That used to rile me up into a good lather.  Because I corresponded pretty regularly with Erorus (the creator of The Undermine Journal) via email on the subject of sold auctions while TUJ was still in beta.

Erorus and I are smart guys.  I have a background in applied statistics, and one of the things I do regularly is consider the nature of data before analyzing it - because data analysis is very much a garbage in, garbage out proposition.  After some extended mulling over with myself and the greater community, Erorus acknowledged the shortcomings of the algorithm he used to predict whether an auction had sold, and tucked the feature behind a default option that turned it off.  Even now, you have to sign in and turn it back on to view sold auctions.

So when Sasa showed up introducing Wowuction as being able to detect sold auctions, Kathroman and I made no bones about being skeptical.  And it would turn out that we were right to be skeptical.  But Sasa did something that nobody else making such claims has managed to do - Sasa listened to our objections, and worked with us and the community to find ways to work around them or solve them.  In time, I would come to embrace the utility of sold auction data (more on this is an upcoming post).  Sold Auction data would become the cornerstone of Wowuction - it would give Demand and Estimated Posted - two other numbers that are included in Wowuction data - more actionable meaning.

The final flourish to all this was that Sasa included all these statistics - Estimated Sold, Estimated Posted, and Demand - in the Wowuction csv and tab delimited text files, so that adventuring goblins could leverage those numbers within their own analytics and spreadsheets.  And that would give rise to new analytical methods, including things like demand-based rebalancing, which I made liberal use of in my MoP Ore Shuffling Spreadsheet that I worked on with Mithrildar (in the tools section of the site).

That's a lot of background to say that Wowuction has been very useful.  Until recently, its developer, Sasa, has also been very responsive to inquiries and requests.  As I'm told, roughly a year ago, Sasa stopped being active  on the project.  Recently, I received an email from Wowuction explaining that the creators had made an RTS game for mobile devices that was now available to play.  I haven't tried it, but it's always kinda cool to see the guys who brought us neat goldmaking tools move on to bigger, more commercial opportunities.

All that brings us to the current state of Wowuction data.  The csv and tab delimited extracts which were once the very best that you could find are now outdated.  None of the new items from patch 5.4 have been incorporated.  That includes all Crafted Malevolent gear, all ilvl 553 crafted gear, all new engineering pets & Sky Golems, and all new glyphs and their recipes that were added.  That's a substantial amount of the current goldmaking opportunities that cannot be evaluated.

A couple weeks ago, I posted a spreadsheeting sandbox for folks to play around with that would easily import Wowuction data for you to play with.  It wasn't until afterwards, while I was working on building an Inscription-specific spreadsheet that I was planning to release, that I realized all the items missing from Wowuction data.  I'm going to leave that spreadsheeting sandbox up, because I still think that Wowuction data is useful for now - and I plan to write another post explaining in further detail why I feel that way and how it can be used.  But, in the meantime, I plan to create a spreadsheeting sandbox that will make use of TUJ data for you guys - so be on the lookout for that.

As for the ultimate fate of Wowuction?  I don't know.  The game that demanded so much of Sasa's attention is now released, and hopefully bug fixes will taper off and give Sasa more time to work on Wowuction.  But I also wouldn't be surprised if Sasa's next move involved another game or DLC of some sort - we've all got bills to pay.  What I do know, though, is that if no further work is done on Wowuction to add new items to the data extracts, then Warlords of Draenor will render it mostly useless.

That's a dour note to end on, but hopefully it helps us all appreciate the effort that add-on and other content creators put into their tools, ideas, and content.

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