The Departed

We have an announcement to make.

Erik and Piet have indicated that they want to stop working on iCheckMovies. They find that it's asking too much of their free time and they would like to do other things instead. Things they don't have time for when they remain with us. I however, will continue and Piet will help me finish the new design before he quits.

I know this may come as a surprise to you, but rest assured I've been running iCheckMovies alone for some time now. Technically, it hasn't been a problem so far. However, my knowledge about movies and list quality isn't as extensive as Erik's and I will rely on the moderators and you guys more than we have in the past. Not just for new official lists, but maybe also for detecting cheaters. In the future I might even need some help with moderating comments, removing cheaters, updating movies and answering tickets. I'm hoping some of you are willing to help me with that. But if you don't that's fine too. I can use all the help I can get.

Erik and Piet wrote about why they are leaving the team below. It may clear things up a bit for everyone on why things have been so quiet and slow the past few years. I also want to take this opportunity to thank them again for everything they have done. There wouldn’t be iCheckMovies if it wasn’t for them!

So here it is. I’d like to start fresh and build an awesome iCheckMovies for everyone. The first thing is the new design and after that the backend needs a lot of work to make things run smooth again. I’m highly motivated and hope you guys will help me along the way. I will also be working closely with the moderators to determine what needs to be done first.

And last but not least, if some of you are or know great designers or developers that would like to help, please let me know!


Here is Erik’s story:

iCheckMovies began as a simple, command-line script to help me keep track of the IMDb top 250 movies I had seen. To improve my programming skills, I wanted to try and make it into a (very simple) website. Unfortunately, I could not design a website to save my life, which is why I asked Piet if he would be interested in doing the design of the website, which he generously agreed to. After working on the basic version of the website for a while, we were finally ready to unleash it upon the world. At that point, Marijn got involved as he could host our website and manage the hosting infrastructure. This resulted in us releasing the first version in may 2009.

In my mind, the website at that point was "done". I never expected more than a couple of dozen people to use the website. To my astonishment, we soon had over a thousand users and it was growing fast. Most of those users did not consider the website to be "done" though, they wanted more! More lists! More features! Responding to the steady influx of e-mails was becoming a considerable task. To cater to the (many) wishes of the users, we added lots of features, such as more lists, recommendations, messages, and more. Even though I worked whole weekends on adding new features, I could not keep up with the demand. Luckily for me, Marijn not only knows his way around a server, but can also program! From that point, Marijn and I worked on the backend software together, whereas Piet worked on the frontend part.

What not everyone realised was that all work on iCM was (and still is!) done in our spare time. We all had (and have) full-time jobs. This sometimes meant we could not fix or add things as soon as we would like, to the chagrin of both users and ourselves. It is at this point that I slowly started realising that I didn't enjoy working on iCM as much as I used to. Where I used to tirelessly work on iCM in my spare time, I found that it became harder and harder to put myself to working on iCM. This feeling can best be summarized as follows: working on iCM began feeling like work. I did not work on iCM for my own pleasure anymore, but only for that of others. One result of this was that I started doing other things, like doing exercises on, contributing to other people's projects or writing my own blog. Although I loved working on these side-projects, this of course meant I was spending less time on iCM. I felt bad about this, as I felt that I was letting down Marijn and Piet. Therefore, I forced myself to work on iCM for a while, but not with great enthusiasm.

In the end, I decided that I was being dishonest to both myself and my iCM partners. If I liked doing other things more that iCM, I should not be pretending that I was still 100% committed to working on iCM. That is when I finally decided that I would quit working on iCM. This decision was taken with pain in my heart, as iCM has been an important part of my life for over 6 years. However, having made the decision also lifted a huge weight from my shoulders, I could finally work on my blog or contribute to other projects without feeling guilty. It is a classic case of: it's not you, it's me! Note that wanting to stop working on iCM is not something recent, but rather something that has been growing for quite some time (over two years at least). Thus, I like to stress that it is not an impulsively made decision.

The last thing was to break the news to Marijn, which I kinda dreaded as I know how passionate he is about iCM. Obviously he was disappointed, which I take as a compliment. As you know, Marijn has decided to continue working on iCM by himself. Let me start by saying that I am absolutely confident that iCM is on good hands. Marijn is of the three of us the most all-round: he knows how to code, how to manage servers and his styling skills are not too bad either! Furthermore, what you may not know is that over the past two years, the majority of fixes/features were already done by Marijn, as I worked less and less on iCM. Not only does Marijn have the technical skills required to keep developing iCM, he is also very passionate about it. In fact, I think Marijn has become a passionate about the project as I was in the beginning. I hope that you'll be able to help him out wherever you can, he deserves that.

Finally, let me thank you, the users, for the help, encouragements, feedback and compliments we have received in those 6 years. The users make the website great and it is also the users that made working on iCM fun. I never expected the small, command-line application to become the website it has become now. I have learned so much while working on iCM, but from now on I won't be an iCM developer anymore, but just another avid user of the website.

Thanks for everything, it has been a hell of a ride. Hasta la vista, baby!

And Piet’s:

Hello everyone, this is my reasoning behind leaving iCheckMovies development. I could write a book about it, but you and I don't have time for that. So this is a summary of my thoughts and feelings. Feel free to respond, I'll answer questions if necessary.

First of all, I want to thank Erik, Marijn and all iCheckMovies members for the experience of doing this website thing together. I really liked seeing something we created from behind a desk come to life in the hands of people actually using it. I also want the thank the people behind the iCheckMovies forum, who've done a great job pushing the website forward and curating the site's contents.
When Erik came up with the idea behind the website in 2008, my life was very different from how it is now. I had just started my first real job (where I met Marijn and Erik) and was still trying to discover what made me so passionate about making websites. I liked designing stuff, making graphical user interfaces that didn't stand in the way of what people came to do. I didn't know much about programming, maintaining large projects or anything else for that matter, so these were exciting times for me. Everything was new, it almost felt like we were doing magic.

When we went live with iCheckMovies (12 May 2009) I was so very excited. I couldn't believe that people were actually using something we created! People kept signing up for accounts, I told everyone I knew about this website we made and had a thousand ideas to improve it. I also thought we could make anything we wanted now. That was as magical as all the programming and designing stuff we did.

Over time, this magical feeling slowly but surely faded away for me. We did a redesign of the website, continuously improved parts of it, answered emails from users and spent a lot of time maintaining our creation. I realized that maintaining this creation of ours wasn't as exciting to me as the whole creative and exciting process of starting it up. That's okay in a work setting, but this wasn't supposed to be work for me.

Still, I invested a lot of time and Erik and Marijn even more so. I felt obligated to continue in a way, but I managed to convince myself and the guys the magic would surely come back. In the meanwhile, I got married, moved houses twice, got new jobs, had our first kid, then another one. All more important to me than 'doing iCheckMovies'. I tried my hardest to get inspired to work on the new design and implementation, but I slowly came to a grinding halt. When Erik expressed his doubts about continuing, I knew I had to stop fooling myself and just quit already. This wasn't working and I felt I was holding everyone still invested in the website hostage.

This isn't a 'kill your darlings' kind of deal, because the website is not some creation that you make once then can discard of if you don't like it anymore. Besides, I'm not its sole creator, I'm just one of its spiritual fathers. So I will help Marijn get the new version online. I will also continue using it and visiting the iCheckMovies forum. But from this point on, I'm no longer an active contributor to its future.

Again, I want to thank everyone for the great and inspiring last seven years. They will always be part of me and have certainly shaped me.

7 October, 2015