About two years ago, I stepped into this role with a primary responsibility being to help get GotDotNet back on its feet. As the first Microsoft community for .NET, GDN held a dear place in the hearts of many. However, it had clearly fallen on hard times and there was a strong proposal to end the site. Personally, I had used GDN way too much to see it go down without a fight. When Betsy Aoki left the team, I gave a little insight to the story of how we stepped up when no one else would. It's hard to believe all of that was two years ago.
It was a battle where we had some pretty nasty things said about us while we tried to right the ship. Our first move was "Project Tourniquet", which was literally to stop the bleeding. We then opened CodeGalleries and re-did the site design to usher in a new age of GDN. Outside of a tough deployment in November 2005 (when we rolled out the new chrome/site design AND moved from 1.1 to 2.0) and a pair of weird hiccups in 2006 that each lasted about a day, we've reached a smooth operating machine. I can remember when the tide truly turned. After the November 2005 deployment (at which time, I was so frustrated that I was ready to shut down the site then and there), I wrote a service to ping our eight most popular pages once every 15 minutes and ensure that the site was not only responding, but doing so with something other than the infamous "Troubleshooting in Progress" screen that so many people. As the months went on, I went from agonizing about those statistics to getting excited as the numbers started getting really good. Meanwhile, the general mood of customers completely changed. I can't tell you how many glowing mails I've gotten from people practically apologizing for their previous harsh words (although they were admittedly warranted). It's been a fun ride and we had some great uptime statistics in the last twelve months. I look at Betsy Aoki, Jana Carter, and George Bullock (the three PMs for GDN during my tenure) and see three people that helped turn site once called an "embarassment" into a legitimate example of a .NET web application. In the process, I learned a ton about running a web-site and dealing with customer requirements on the fly. You can say I owe a lot of my career sensibilities to GDN.
However (you knew there'd be a 'however'), the project we were doing in parallel with the rebirth of GDN was the birth of CodePlex. As proud as I am of the revival of GDN, I am more proud of the soup-to-nuts story of CodePlex. Jim Newkirk and I fought hard to build a site that would treat sensisbilities of a community developer as a priority and to do it from the ground up. With CodePlex, I think we really nailed it and continue to do so. As CodePlex approaches its one year anniversary and continually grows its traffic, the need for two communities from the same team addressing the same customers is nearing its end. GotDotNet hit an all-time high in traffic the month before CodePlex came out, but has been declining since then. It's clear that this isn't a conincidence. So, this summer, we will be closing the doors of GotDotNet. It was a hard decision, like having to put your dog to sleep (well, I've never had a dog, but I'd imagine it's similar). Over the next few months, keep an eye on the front page of the site to keep abreast of how we'll handle the migration. To those of you who supported GotDotNet and put such compelling content on the site, I want to say thank you. And if you have any great new ideas, I suggest you give CodePlex a try.