Anatomy of A Fan Site

Would you believe I still need to load all this stuff?

Would you believe I still need to load all this stuff?

Editor’s note: This is a revised version of a previous post from 2016 that I think is worth readdressing.

You’ve probably visited one while surfing the web for some topic that piqued your interest and while you might have found the answer you were looking for; you may wonder what kind of person is on the other end of that information.
I’m referring to fan sites and their owners.

I have been busy with work and facilitating distance learning, so unfortunately the two other blog entries I have in the works got pushed to the back burner. Still, I figured I should talk a little about what goes into maintaining this site.

For those just stumbling into this blog, it’s attached to a larger site, www.ilovegetsmart.com. The site marked 21 years last July. The internet was a different world when this was built – a slower, smaller world. The site still reflects that era – well just a little.

The fan site of 20 years ago was probably one that had visually distracting wallpaper in the background — coupled with a few annoying midi files that played when a page was opened. Maybe there were frames. Maybe there were image maps and roll over text. Sure, it was gaudy but, hey, everyone has their guilty pleasures.

Believe it or not, there were actually a bevy of Get Smart sites back in the late 90s.

Media - old school. A stack of VHS taps and a few boxes of floppy disks are probably the foundation of any longtime website.

Media – old school. A stack of VHS taps and a few boxes of floppy disks are probably the foundation of any longtime website.

They focused on aspects of the show ranging from fan fic to photographs. A handful of these sites shot up in the early 2000s during TV Land’s run of Get Smart. Over the years a good number of those sites vanished. Many of them went by the wayside with the demise of Geocities, which closed down in 2009. Others likely remained inactive long enough that their service provider pulled the plug. There are still a few of us that, despite changing media trends, life, universe and everything, are still hanging around.

In the summer of 1999, I taught myself HTML and started my site over on Geocities, focusing on three different topics: Swing music, The Beatles and what would eventually overtake the whole thing — Get Smart.  At the time I was — and still am — part of an email-based fan group dedicated to the show. Some of the topics we discussed there and during our weekly chat made their way to my website — like that noted painting of Agent 99 we see in two episodes. My angle has been to take those sort of topics — like Max’s cars and all of Control’s female agents — and craft fun content.

I have some photos here and there — enough to illustrate things, but this site was not photo heavy for a few reasons. When the site started years ago, there were a couple sites focused entirely on photos, but I didn’t want mine to look like a copy of those — I wanted maybe more unique things.

Technology back then was different. There was little space to work with and adding and acquiring photos was a process. If you wanted art in your site, you had to spring for a flatbed scanner — or if you were really well off, a digital camera. There were no such things as screen grabs. Since technology has improved, there is more room for that kind of media. However, I still see keeping photos to what they are — except for when there is a new blog post – then I’ll add a few relating to that topic.

Over the years other sites have lifted photos from my site without asking or even referencing the site, hence why I’ve added watermarks. I’ve also seen people building social media sites with images that they’ve grabbed from Google – images that I know belong to other sites. I used to have a page featuring original artwork, but because of this growing trend, I deleted it.

Required reading: Webmasters wanting to create a site with substance had to be ready to do their homework.

Required reading: Webmasters wanting to create a site with substance had to be ready to do their homework.

If you’ve found a fan site on your favorite show that’s still hanging around, keep in mind it’s a labor of love for that webmaster. There’s not a paid team of writers, editors and graphic artists working on these. There’s also no monetary gain from this hobby, and in all likelihood the webmaster is probably operating on a deficit. Not only do we have to pay for hosting services, but we also must pay for some of the content in it. Fifty-some year old Get Smart collectibles and photos do not come cheap.

That being said, it’s not cool to troll. I’m not going to lie, being on the receiving end of rudeness does suck after putting out time, money and effort. Frankly, I wish people would use their energy for niceness — and producing their own content. As an old newspaper editor that I once worked for told a critic, “If you don’t like what we do here, buy yourself a barrel of ink and print your own damn paper.”

My world doesn’t entirely revolve around this — as hard as that might be to believe. 😉 I have a job and a family to tend to, as well as a ton of other interests that take precedence, so opportunities to work on this website can be sporadic. Thankfully, my husband humors my nerdity.

Now for a fun fact! What has turned out to be the most popular part of my site? Interestingly, the most referenced and visited section is about a gun Max is pictured with — the AR-7. I’ve found that page linked to various message boards over the years and people still come back here to read about that topic.

The guts of a fansite or, in this case, scrapbooking for geeks.

The guts of a fansite or, in this case, scrapbooking for geeks.

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