Before I started blogging about Anime during a cold winter day back in 2009, there is a part of my past that I haven’t touched upon yet. Previously, I used to maintain a fansite, a type of website that was popular back in the day. While some older fans might remember this, I think newer fans should know how it was like back then. (Image Source)
During the early 1990s and 2000s, not that many people have broadband Internet such as Cable Internet and DSL. Not only that, computers used to cost over $2000 back then. The only way most people could get on the Internet is through a dialup modem. Because of that, web pages were simple back then, consisting mostly of text, images and links with no defined layout.
As expected, web hosting used to cost a lot of money. However, there were free ones such as Angelfire, Geocities, Tripod, which some should be familiar with. With free web hosting, many fans created websites dedicated to a favorite show/Anime, character or franchise known as fansites. These fansites usually consisted of synopsis, character information, pictures, etc. While it’s time consuming since one has to manually code these web pages in a text editor or use a web page editor like Frontpage or Dreamweaver to create them visually, it enabled fans to share their passion for what they like by sharing the latest information he/she has.
While I was not a big Anime fan back then, I used to create and maintained a fansite dedicated to Pokémon on a free web host. Although I initially used to use Microsoft Word to create webpages (which is a very bad idea), I eventually manually coded everything manually in notepad. It only consisted of a splash page, the actual fansite and a message board. Since I was a child (about 9 or 10 years old) when I created my first fansite. it looked unprofessional. However, I eventually changed to other free web hosts in subsequent years and eventually gained access to Photoshop, which enable me to drastically improve my web design of my site.
As for the content, I usually focused more towards the video games opposed to Anime since it was easier to share information based on personal experiences. Since I had the actual rom files (yes, I own the actual games), I simply took screenshots from the emulator to use on my site. On the other hand, coverage on Anime depended more on what I saw on television since I didn’t have access to broadband Internet. However, this changed in 2004 when I had access to broadband Internet for the first time. From there, I can simply take screenshots of the actual episodes.
Since the mid 2000s, the Internet started to become more interactive mostly because broadband Internet has become more affordable and accessible. As a result, fansites began to see a decline. This was main reason I stopped maintaining my fansite in mid 2005 since Bulbapedia (a wiki focusing mostly on Pokémon) basically had all the information any Pokémon fan would need. People today have access to information instantly, especially with social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. Not only that, most fans nowadays has access to new episodes via legal streaming sites like Crunchyroll or though torrents. Because of that, there is less of a need to maintain a fansite since mostly everyone would already know what happened.
Another reason fansites are not popular today is because of blogging. Instead of creating a website from scratch, a person can simply install WordPress on his/her host (or create a blog on WordPress.com), pick a theme and start creating content. Since blogging software handles the coding, he/she can focus more time on creating content. However, blog posts only remain relevant for a certain period of time before they are forgotten. This can be a problem, especially for reviews because most visitors would most likely overlook them compared to a page on a fansite, which feels more permanent. On the other hand, it allows for more interactivity since people can make comments and add some value to someone’s post.
As a whole, while I had fun making fansites back in the day, I admit that making one helped shape the future that eventually led me to create a blog dedicated to Anime. I learned a lot from this experience such as how to make a webpage from scratch to managing a website. While fansites are mostly a thing of the past and is there mostly for nostalgic value, it just shows how Anime fansites eventually led to Anime blogging becoming popular in general.
With that, what memories do you have with fansites? If you created one, feel free to share your experiences.