History of World of Anime: Part 1

  • Many of you do not know the history of World of Anime, so I am going to create a series of blog posts talking about the site, and its importance to me.

    The roots of this site go back to the late 1990s. It was a great time to be on the Internet. Back then, it seemed like everyone had their own personal web site. I had several, I really enjoyed creating things to put online for anyone who managed to find them. Two of my favorite sites to use back then were Slashdot (it was way better back then) and Anipike (it was *the* anime site back in the 90s). I wanted to build something similar to those sites myself, and being a big fan of anime, I wanted the site to be anime focused. The initial idea was to have a site for posting news stories where users could come and discuss anime. Since I wanted the site to be all about anime, I came up with the name World of Anime, and I registered the domain name worldofanime.com in early 2000.

    I started work on building a site, completely from scratch, for this massive goal that I had. I put up a "Coming Soon" image of Sasami (my favorite anime character) looking out a window, seemingly daydreaming about the future. You can still see the image in the favicon for the site today. You can see the earliest archived version of the site, from June 15, 2000, at archive.org here. Note the "Buy Pokémon Cards!" link at the bottom of the page. While I was building the real site I wanted, I used worldofanime.com as a place to sell Pokémon cards back when it was a huge craze.

    You can also see a link where I ask for anyone who wants to help contribute to the site. Unfortunately, no one ever did, and I was left to try to build my ultimate site completely from scratch by myself.

    I must have started and stopped and started completely over at least 2 or 3 times throughout the years. It became a running joke for people who knew about my idea. "When World of Anime is available" became a synonym for "never". Finally in early 2009, I decided it was time to start over one more time and push all the way through to something complete this time. Since social networking sites were all the rage back then, I decided to change focus and try to create one of those for anime fans. This may or may not have been a good decision, and I'm actually a little surprised I made it. I hated social networking sites back then, and still do now. Why I decided I would try to create one, I'll never fully understand. I think it was more for the challenge, just to see what I could do, and to see how many people would find it and use it.

    On the "Coming Soon" page, I had put up a small "E-mail me when the site is available" form. Without any promotion of the site, people were managing to find the site and care enough to ask to be notified when it was available, with nothing more than a picture of Sasami looking out a window. By the time I had the first version of the site ready, I had over 500 emails from people asking to be notified when the site was ready. This number really motivated me to keep pushing through finally and get something out for people to use. I love building things and then watching people use those things I've built.

    I worked on the site for about 9 or so months in 2009, spending almost all of the available free time I had on it. In the first version of the site, everything was custom created by me, including the visual design, which is definitely not a strong point for me. I finally had the first version ready to launch in early December, 2009. I got the site live, registered the first account, and then on December 5th, 2009, I sent out the Welcome e-mail to the 500+ people who had asked to be notified when the site was ready. You can read that e-mail in a previous blog posting.

    This seems like a good place to stop for Part 1. I'll pick it up in Part 2 and talk about the very early days of World of Anime after the initial launch.