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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Thanks to your feedback, more major changes at HobbyDB. And yes, they need you to share your expertise...


We will always pass along to our readers any new developments at HobbyDB.  As I have said numerous times, I am a big fan of this site, and have a lot of interest in seeing it succeed.  One place to catalog all models is a very good tool for collectors.

But of course it has to continue to evolve.  Christian and the team at HobbyDB have just announced a major change in how they list variations, and it especially impacts Hot Wheels.  I will let the update below explain it all.

Before you read that, I will let you know that I was fooling around with the new layout - I started with the 67 Camaro link below and ended up at the 2013 Super TH list - and found it much easier to navigate.  I clicked on the Toyota 2000GT image on the Super TH page, and that took me to the Toyota 2000GT page, which then took me to all the versions and variations of the 2000GT page.  I was able to maneuver through easily, and then go back when needed.


Of course for all this to work, HobbyDB needs Curators, and that can be you.  You may not know all about a specific brand, but you know a lot about certain models.  I HIGHLY recommend contacting the HobbyDB team about becoming a Curator.  You will be able to pass along much of the knowledge you have compiled about the castings you collect.  Email them at contact@hobbydb.com to find out more.

I am a Curator for HobbyDB, and plan on adding some of my favorite models to help expand the database.  I hope you do the same.

Read below for more info on the new developments, which were instigated after comments from collectors.  How cool is that?

Enjoy...


When South Texas Diecast moved their data over to the hobbyDB platform, one of the driving forces behind the decision was that hobbyDB would allow to ascend to new heights of detail in the cataloging of variants, including card variations and many other detailed points which, up til now, had not been included.

But with some items running into hundreds of variants, we rapidly realized that this meant we’d need to make some changes to how we displayed them in order to prevent users from being overwhelmed with information and leaving them unable to find what they were looking for.

Users told us that these issues were happening in search and on the variant pages (the page where you see all the variants of an individual item). We knew we needed to give our data Curators better tools to deal with this. So to start with, we introduced grouping.

At the highest level, the grouping function lets curators group variants by series. That lets them put all the (for example) First Releases, Mainlines, Treasure Hunts and Set Releases in together. Here’s an example, the Dairy Delivery;



This creates a nice overview page where you can see the high-level history of the casting, and the Curator can write about its overall history. Within the groups, however, it deals with something we rapidly saw was becoming a huge problem; variants that are different, but look identical in their pictures.

Curators can now group these items together too. That gives a convenient page where they can write about the detail differences between them. And then we made one last change to make things even better at this level.

From the start of the site, we automatically generated a list of differences between variants which showed in a pop-down on each variant. That worked fine when the differences were just things like Red/Blue paint and Black/Brown interior. But when the differences were across dozens of fields and hundreds of variants, the pop-downs stretched to gargantuan size and became impossible to use.

So we got rid of the pop-down entirely. Instead, Curators can now write a short description of what makes each variant different. This displays below the image on the variants and also shows up in the search results, taking care of the issue there.



We hope you all like the changes; we think they’re a big improvement over the old version, make things more accessible and minimize confusion. 

Of course, now we need as many Curators as possible to help fill in those descriptions. We already have 162, plus STDC Hot Wheels Powerhouse Rob of course, but more are needed! So if you’re not one of those already and you’re interested in getting involved, just shoot us an email at contact@hobbydb.com.



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48 comments:

  1. I'm sorry to say this, but the Hobby DB website remains cluttered, hard to use and ugly. I just tried to search for a couple of specific Hot Wheels models to see all the variations as a list, and I got muddled results which included other models with similar names.

    My big problem with Hobby DB is that the South Texas Diecast Collectors website used to give me EXACTLY the information I want/need. Sure, the format was a bit old school and maybe was due for an overhaul. But the information was 'clean' and orderly and comprehensive.

    It's a crying shame the STDC database has been lost. Hobby DB just doesn't provide the information with the same reliability and clarity, so I simply don't use it. I doubt I'm alone.

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  2. I have to agree with Lightbrick.
    STDC was much easier to use and I saw every variation from one casting and not one big marketplace.

    I really miss the old catalogue from STDC.
    HobbyDB ruined it for me and I barely visit this site...
    Please bring back STDC.

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  4. Like I always say... if it works, if it's not broke, don't fix it!
    I miss the South Texas Diecast Collectors website. It was just so simple and easy to use and it wasn't tied in to other sites trying to sell something.

    Matter of fact, I just went on during this writing, and went to look for a couple models.. I found partially what I wanted but became a little confused and a bit overwhelmed at the same time. Seems like i'm not sure where to go.

    STDC provided a basic format with exact straight forward information. Unfortunately, i don't use HDB too often, I like Wikia, it's the next best thing after STDC.

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    1. Sorry to hear that you do not like the different experience on hobbyDB. Please see some of my replies below and if you like get in touch, I love to hear what you want us to change (please keep in mind that hobbyDB is only 18 months old and other sites are more than a decade, we are working hard to get the best one out there).

      Christian

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  5. I have to agree with the comments above. STDC was great and I used it often. HobbyDB is not an improvement to our hobby, get rid of it.

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  6. Maybe hobbydb can use STDC website as a template to make it easier to present the variants of a model. Even the Johnny lightning website is a good example.

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    1. Thanks for the suggestion, different views are planned. See my more extensive reply below.

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  7. Sorry, I'm with the rest of the posters above. STDC gave me what I needed with few clicks.

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    1. Please see the reply below to Lightbrick, you can get to results very fast if you know how to. More than happy to give you a tour.

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  8. Maybe we can make this a less emotional and more fact-based debate. The new site has much more data and therefore you will need to search using its tools, no different than you have to use Google now in a very different way than when it started.

    Lightbrick or Wheaterz, could you please give me 2 examples of what you were looking for?

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    1. Ease of use should be a #1 priority . I don't care if it has more information if I can't find what i'm looking for . Look up " pikes peak celica" and look at how many duplicates pop up.. Iv used over 50 wikis and this ones by far the worst..

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    2. If i coudl make a recommendation it would be to have ONE page for each casting , on that ONE page have links to every BASE variation of that casting and after that it links you to the car . If you want i can draw you a quick example !

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    3. Hi

      In response to your question: I wanted to find out how many colours there were of the 1955 Chevy in the Hot Wheels Classics Series 2 (a genuine query, because I wasn't sure if I had all the colours).

      On STDC, I would have chosen either "1955 Chevy" or "Classics Series 2" from the main menu and got a straightforward list of the models in the category I'd selected. I could then click through to a photo of each model, knowing those photos would invariably be in a standard format. It was easy to access the information I needed.

      This search is a great illustration of the simplicity of STDC versus the cluttered nature of Hobby DB. There are various other HW castings of Chevys from 1955 (Nomad, Gasser, Panel Wagon etc), but I was able to select exactly the casting I needed and to ignore the others.

      On Hobby DB, I first put "1955 Chevy" into the search function (I'd forgotten Hobby DB isn't a Hot Wheels only database, and there are pros and cons to that). The search returned 198 listed items, including various diecast brands, trucks and even badges and pedal cars. These are spread over 10 pages and are in no obvious order, so hard to drill down into.

      I then changed my search to "Hot Wheels 1955 Chevy" and got 67 list items. Fair enough, the casting I wanted was half way down the first page of results and described as "1955 Chevy Bel Air" (it's called that in later releases but not for the Classics Series 2). The photos of the casting are in a whole range of formats, which looks messy.

      I can then click thorough to "Classics Series 2" and sure enough, there are the sox colours, but again the photos are in different formats, there's no narrative (STDC would have said, for example, "antifreeze/white spectraflame") and it's all cluttered/disfigured by the "X for sale" banner across the corner of the photo.

      So I've gone from a couple of clicks and clear information and narrative on STDC, to lots of clicks and a fair amount of head-scratching on Hobby DB. And I'm still left to interpret the photos to guess what variations there are.

      I realise all the hard work that's gone into Hobby DB, but it really doesn't feel like progress. Sorry to say that, but I'd much, much rather have the old STDC database back.

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    4. Hi ThreDaysofDan, hobbyDB is fundamentally different to STDC but it should give you exactly what you are looking for!

      When you search for Pikes Peak Celica you say 29 results, every one of them has a link to the page that you asked for. It's the blue link that says "29 Variants". On that page you will find what you are looking for, including being able to drill down to card variations (I have done the red Mainline version but not the others yet - if we had a curator for this Pikes Peak casting this would been done now, let me know if you are interested).

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    5. Hi Lightbrick,

      Thanks for the explanation. So you can achieve what you want to do a number of ways.

      1. The easiest is to put in the toy number, here J2785 will give you six colors and one errors, all explained.

      2. You type in "1955 Chevy Classics Series 2" and again you see the all 6 colors.

      3. You type in "Hot 1955 Chevy" (you don't need all of Hot Wheels) and get 67 results, you could then add "-Mainline" and do other manipulations to get the number of results down or use the filters that become available if you click on the type on the left.

      4. If you find any of the 1955 Chevy castings you can click on the blue "24 Variants" button that gets you to the casting overview and from there you can click on the Classics section.

      5. There are a number of other ways.

      Trust me, once you understand how hobbyDB works there is no looking back. You do however need to learn finding the info in different ways. If you wanted a personal tour I would be more than happy to organize it.

      I suggest you read why Rob made the change he did. You find his musing on the hobbyDB blog (just search for Rob in the blog search).

      Could you try any of the above and let me know if they work for you?

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    6. duplicate pages still exist and the issue is it seems to me ALL of the work done at STDC was thrown away .. At this point the hot wheels wiki is beter and id rather invest my time there than starting from scratch . The 30 variations ( not 29) has duplicates and random names =/

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    7. There are 29 and none of them is a duplicate. I assume you took card variations as duplicates (and I have now finished that page). There is now no website that has more information about the Pikes Peak Celica.

      Just to be clear I fixed that page as we were speaking here and that is the process we are going through all of our 33,000 catalog entries that have more than one variant (that includes around 3,000 Hot Wheel castings). Let me know if you like to help!

      Lastly, if you find something that looks like a duplicate flag it (there is a flag button on each page).

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    8. Hi Joschik

      Thanks for your detailed response, which I appreciate. I've tried hard to "get on" with Hobby DB but, like others on here, I just don't like using it. I just don't find it user friendly or intuitive and that's a really significant failing for that type of website. Sorry to sound harsh when you've put in so much work, but it's my honest feedback.

      Let me give you another genuine example to illustrate the point. I wanted to find out what So Fine cars had been issued in the various Garage series. I typed "So Fine Garage" into the search function and got five results. All for the So Fine casting, showing 39 variations but all with different photos. These are duplicate results, which is unnecessary.

      If I click through on one of those results, there's no category for "Garage" so I have to go to "Premium". There are seven cars in there, in totally random order, with photos in various formats (looks messy), no narrative descriptions and lots of clutter (including those "X for sale" banners which cover the photos. It's then up to me to work out which of the seven cars are from the "Garage" series, there are no model numbers, release years, descriptions etc.

      Whereas..... On STDC I'd have just clicked on "So Fine" or "Garage" and would have got a list of cars with years, model numbers, descriptions and click throughs to photos in a consistent format. In other words, precisely what I needed.

      The truth is our hobby has lost a key resource with the STDC database having been taken offline. I'd urge STDC to reinstate it, even if they have to charge a small subscription fee to use the database.

      I respect your hard work on Hobby DB but it doesn't give what I need and so I won't be using it. Like others, I find myself using the Hot Wheels Wiki these days. It's not perfect, but it's closer to what STDC used to provide.


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    9. Hi Lightbrick,

      Come on, this is unfair! You said you could not find the Classic Series 1955 Chevy and I listed five ways of how to find it within seconds and no reply from you on that. Did what I propose not work?

      Anyway, re the new challenge of thee So Far Garage cars, search for "So Far Garage" and you see five of them, four in the Larry's Garage series and one that came only in the Larry's Garage set. That would have been the answer. And as I explained we are going through to write explaining sentence to every Hot Wheels (I have added them for these 5, so you can see what difference it makes).

      Re the images feel free to add some and make the the standard image for that item. We have all images from STDC, so if it is different than STDC did not have one (and in this case the Larry's Garage set exclusive in blue can obviously not be shown on card so will always look different).

      Re the random order, it is currently showing them in the order they got created and we are changing that.

      Re the for sale overlay you cannot really say that it hides any of the image and while you might have all of these another user might want one and thus can buy it from a 3rd user of the site - this would be good for both of them and both for the future of the site.

      Re seeing more information on the various cars on the Premium page, did you try the details view (top right)?

      Finally re STDC, you might not have known that that catalog was build by one person alone and that he joined the hobbyDB team as he loves our vision; you can read all about that on the hobbyDB blog. Like Wikipedia this effort will need some time and for you to change how you search for information.

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    10. Hi Joschik

      Thanks for your reply. Apologies, I should have mentioned that your suggested search for the "1955 Chevy" did give better results. And I do recognise there are several Chevy castings from 1955 which complicated matters - but the search I described in my previous message was a genuine one, which I think demonstrates the issues I and others have been having.

      I recognise how much work is going into Hobby DB. But as I mentioned, STDC was one of my "must go to" websites and - as others have said - it was straightforward, comprehensive and easy to use. That's what made it the "go to" database for Hot Wheels collectors.

      It's a huge task to build Hobby DB and I'm not seeking to be critical. I recognise the effort you and others are putting in.

      It's the loss of the STDC database that's the main issue for me and seems to be the main issue for others who have left comments. If the STDC database was still there, I'd still be using it daily as a key reference source and, at the risk of sounding blunt (when it's just meant to be truthful), I probably wouldn't ever have looked at Hobby DB.

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    11. Blunt is good; generally leads to the best results. STDC had the advantage that it was only covering one subject - Hot Wheels cars in 1/64 Scale - and that it was all hand-written. That was of course also its biggest handicap as it was maintained by one person working on it for many hours every day (if you ask me Rob is one of the nicest people out there, a real hero). We are working on distributing this work amongst thousands of people covering 1000x the content, so it will take a while.

      As you are interested, knowledgeable, expressive and critical would you mind if we arrange a call? I would show you some of the stuff we are working on and see what you think? We benefit mostly from our critics; let me know. You can email me at CHRISTIAN at HOBBYDB dot COM if you are up to it? And if you like you could report back here afterwards.

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    12. Hi Joschik

      Apologies for the delay in replying. I'm in the UK and it has been a holiday weekend here.

      Due to work commitments, I can't spare time to contribute to Hobby DB. That's one reason why I recognise the effort and hard work that goes into developing the site.

      My thoughts can really be summed up in one sentence: Please reinstate the STDC database just as it was. Others have said the same thing. STDC gave people exactly what they wanted. Clean and comprehensive information, easy to search with a couple of clicks, model information and consistent photographs. We could talk on the phone, but that's all I'd be telling you - please reinstate the STDC database.

      And it's not just me, that's what most of the commenters on here have asked for.

      Regards

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    13. I hear you but that is not going to work. Maybe we should write an article explaining why as the question comes up often.

      Re contributing to hobbyDB, that can take the form of a single edit on a single page, so everybody could help if they want. Just try it!

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  9. I think that the information is too cluttered on the site. STDC worked because of its simplicity.

    I also think there's too many people touching the site. I would rather have information tightly controlled by a select few. I find the non-uniformity of pictures a turn off also.

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    1. Hi Tim,

      It is hard to argue with non-uniformity of pictures and that is something we are working on (i.e. have a gallery with some standard angles and preferences such as clear background). You can find a list of features and changes to come here http://help.hobbydb.com/new-features-to-come/.

      Re the select few, in the case of STDC it was one and you can read his reasons of why to change here http://blog.hobbydb.com/2016/05/16/expert-only-versus-crowd-sourcing-a-personal-perspective-on-how-to-build-collectible-databases/. Why not get involved? We are working hard to create a group of curators that monitor the data and that self-organize via a forum that we created for that purpose. It is that group that determines where we go with the site as concerned to Hot Wheels (and there are other groups of curators for Matchbox, for JLs and other brands).

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  10. After reading the above comments (of which I agree with most), why couldn't both formats exist? Those of us who don't need to see a photo of every model - as we can usually find that on Ebay - provide a compiler that can produce a list with all pertinent information (as the former STDC website did). Also, I don't necessarily want to purchase every model. KISS (keep it simple stupid).

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    1. If you send me a mock-up of your idea (or post it here not sure how to add images to comments) I will reply and if possible we will do it.

      Re the buying you do not have to do it, all that the buying does to the catalog is a flag in the top right hand side corner of the image (the space we felt least likely to hide anything important); so not sure why that is an issue?

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  11. I find that contributions are almost entirely towards the Hot Wheels section, leaving the Matchbox, Tomica, and Majorette sections MUCH less informative. I have no problem with Hot Wheels, but when all efforts go towards HW, I can only use hobbyDB to merely confirm the existence of a variation of MBX, Tomica or Majorette, instead of finding useful information.

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    1. There are around 3,000 new Tomicas and Tomytecs in the last few months added to hobbyDB. In general new data depends on people that want to help. We are working on many other brands then HWs, here for example a new MB page that I think shows the new way to show an overview of all variants in a good way https://www.hobbydb.com/variant_definitions/29863

      Ping us if you like to get involved as a curator for one of those brands.

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    2. I think the main problem I have is not that it is inadequate, but that by being called HobbyDB, it sets an expectation for a fairly comprehensive database, which in reality is only happening very very slowly.
      Currently, HobbyDB is only fourth on my to-go list for Matchbox reserach (as in I infrequently visit it), behind gems such as the MBX Forum, Matchbox Dan, and the Matchbox Wiki.

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    3. Yes, I agree with the expectation setting (but then again it is hard to change the name in between) and with that it takes time. That you give us 4th rank is I believe pretty good given that we have been at it for around 18 months and those other (excellent) sites are much older. We are already #1 or 2 for Playart, #2 for Siku, possible #1 for Majorette, #1 for Tomica (besides Japanese sites) etc etc and have a lot more data coming. It is also my experience that those other sites will eventually close (the inspiration for hobbyDB came to me when I noticed that all 3 Lonestar sites I relied on have closed down).

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    4. I didn't quite mean that it was the 4th best on the Internet - rather it currently sits at 4th for my to-go list for researching Universal-Era Matchbox, so if I don't find something in the other 3, I look it up in HobbyDB.
      I'm not a Lesney Regular Wheels collector and collect Lesney Superfast (1970-1982) only occasionally, so specific sites for those, which are also excellent, are visited less not because the quality is poor - rather that the subject matter is not what I currently collect.

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  12. As a contributor to HobbyDB I will say this: If the vehicle is an off-brand (non-Hot Wheels, for example) it is very easy to list and find the variations; however, when it comes to searching for a Hot Wheels car and all of their variations, i've noticed duplicate search results for the same model. Why not clean the database up so that no one can create another model from the same brand and instead be redirected to the current model with a form to add the new variant? (For example, if someone was to create a new Matchbox Mazda Miata to the database that was already there, they would be redirected to the same database item and instead would only be allowed to add a new vairation; if the model is not found in the database then the model can be added to the database.

    I've added a few Welly diecast models to the HobbyDB, and added a few pictures to the ones that were already added to the database. Yet everytime I search for a specific Hot Wheels models I get duplicate search results for the same model!

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    1. Duplicate pages totally ruin the experience

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    2. Hi TwoLane Desktop, thanks for your help! I like your idea but would not know how to implement that. We are working hard to create the new variation descriptions per hand that were mentioned above but it will take some time (we have around 33,000 entries that have variations, sometimes more than 150). We are also working on a buddy program where new users have limited abilities and get paired up with a "seasoned" user (I put that in quotation marks as our site is really only 18 months old). Lastly we are looking for more folks that want to help in curating and then later the natural progression, being a champion (a curator looks after one or more castings, champions can deal with issues across the site).

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    3. As an example of duplication - here are 4 entries for Welly's 1:60 Aston Martin V12 Vantage. It appears for brands other than Hot Wheels as well.

      https://www.hobbydb.com/catalog_items/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&keyword_query=welly+aston+martin+vantage

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    4. Thanks, dealt with. Part of these are a leftover of taking all data from a number of site in the early days (in this case from www.diecastlovers.com). If you flag items they will be dealt within 24 hours by our admin team.

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    5. That's one i'll have to second that... NO DUPLICATES! Drives me crazy! Just try the STDC format and I bet your website will CRASH, I guarantee it!

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    6. We have a Flag button for duplicates and deal with all flags next day, so next time you see one please flag it. We are currently checking everyone of our 34,000 pages that has variants.

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  13. I think the biggest thing about STDC is that I can search for whatever I want without having to type anything at all. Everything could be found just by a max of two or three clicks.

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    1. Hi Tim, yes, that is a fair point. We are trying to achieve the same from the main Hot Wheels page (https://www.hobbydb.com/subjects/hot-wheels-brand). Is for a number of reasons not as good yet but will get there.

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    2. It was just that simple and effective ~ I particularly liked the grid/divider grid which separated all the information.. and it was the right amount of information.

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    3. Of course i'm talking about STDC!

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  14. BRING BACK STDC,PLAIN AND SIMPLE,ENOUGH SAID

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    1. I am more than happy to reply to every reasonable comment and love to hear suggestions, you have not offered either yet.

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