Ten years later
by, 29th December 2012 at 05:35 PM (2991 Views)
Since evkl kindly reminded me, and since it's been a decade for me too (a decade and a day, technically)...time to reflect on the past ten years of Bulba...
The pokémon community was in a pretty sorry state, back in late 2002. The completely abysymal early Gen III games (yes, FR/LG and Emerald would later improve the generation a great deal), coming after a long wait with no game release and the death of the pokémon fad, had pretty much left the fandom a shadow of its former self. The old sites were all dead, dying, or run by petty tyrants). Serebii was growing, but (phrasing it nicely), its management style did not agree with a lot of people - tastes being what they are.
This is around when I heard through the grapevine (I think it was Zak who told me) that Archaic was planning to restart the old Bulbagarden. Now, you have to appreciate my relation with Archaic at the time. I thought he was a childish little troll. He had a long history of being a rule-breaker, of yelling at mods when they enforced the rules, and of organizing gigantic spam-filled thread (aka shippers proms) and then declaring war on website that had the nerves to close them. I, on the other hand, was a very active moderator on a number of site that he declared war on. There was basically only one thing he and I agreed on: the fact that Little Pikachu (then the administrator running Pokemasters, who was my boss), and Serebii (who was Archaic's boss) just weren't the sort of people we really wanted running our pokemon websites.
It did manage to get us to work together, and that actually turned out pretty well, given that I got put in charge of lots of things. In a few months, he decided to put me in charge of everything, since he had very limited availability.
I don't think I appreciated back then how sysyphian my job really was. Looking back, it's clear that short of a miracle/stroke of genius, in the situation the fandom was in back in 2002, there just was no room to establish a new fansite. No amount of actually building a pokedex of our own, of original forum design and ideas, of forum games, and so forth, would have changed much of anything to that in the post-Ruby/Sapphire fandom. Not even Bulbapedia, alone, would have done much at the time, because interest in pokemon was as low as it's ever been. The best we could do, much like the fandom as a whole, was survive. For us, that meant a variety of small project and reorganization that revived the site for a few weeks, then fell back down. For the games, that was FRLG and Emerald. But between me, @evkl; and many others, we manage to keep things surviving. There was the World project, Evolutions, the Diplomacy Game; there was a series of forum reorganization...and probably many other things I'm forgetting. None of them lasted very long, but each of them got us busy for a little while, for a little time, and kept us going another week, another month.
The downside of it all was that it was - very - draining mentally. Add to that a fair bit of obstructionist staff, and constant conflict with Serebii (which is probably the single thing that helped us the most: Serebii constantly getting into fights with us, which both advertised our existence and positioned us as the anti-Serebii site), and by 2006 I was just drained. The fact that Archaic relied on me to get everything done, but refused to actually let me do the things I felt needed to be done, didn't help either. I wound up slamming the door, denouncing his inaction, and stepping outside.
I spent the next few years in a weird position in regard to the site. I talked about site things a lot with evkl, and others, and I had quite a few mods who kept me posted on most anything that was going on among the staff.
Meanwhile, my old job went to evkl who did most awesomely at it, and, thanks to Gen IV, was able to do what I never could : grow this site into a successful one. At first, he had the same role I did: being in charge of everything as Archaic's second in command, and running the forums. Eventually, though, as the other project got more and more important (see: bulbapedia), that job ended up being split. evkl retained his role as second in command to Archaic (first as chief of staff, then as vice-webmaster. He still has that job, though he now shares it), while he eventually passed the task of running the forums to SaturnYoshi, then on to Musashi (both of whom kept the name "head administrator").
(I should also mention the importance of Zhen Lin and Magnedeth. The two of them brought a lot to Bulbagarden especially with Pedia, and there is a *reason* why they have those silver bars next to their name, too).
I talked, once or twice, about coming back to help, but nothing came of it - until, at some point in what I believe was 2009, Archaic started teasing me about staff secrets and asking if I knew and "Oh, well, I suppose you'd have to be staff to know". That's around when I said "Oh, just make me staff already if you're that desperate, geez" (or words to that effect), and stepped back in as head of the Real World section. Well, head of the Real World section in theory. In practice...not so much. In practice, it took about a few weeks after I came back before Archaic, evkl and I got back into the habit of running things together. It took us another two years to finally admit it and create the vice-webmaster rank. (I'm sparing you the loooooong list of ranks and titles we tried to invent to describe things in-between). 0
So here we are, ten years and a full circle later. Bulbagarden has grown many, many times larger. The staff outnumbers what we had back in 2002 on the order of 10-to-1. We often get as much post in a single day as we got in a month back then. Bulbapedia is very well known.
And some things haven't changed. The same people are still running the show, despite whatever happened in-between. Archaic still spam us with nutty ideas (not to mention spamming my twitter feed), and still doesn't impress me :p. He still puts up with my questioning him and arguing with him on just about everything (which, oddly enough, is the one point where he impresses me: he's really good at swallowing his pride and putting up with criticism). And Bulba keep rolling, on and on.
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