Seven years of wonko.com

Now that I've regained control of this here website and returned all those naughty monkeys to their filthy cages where they belong, I'd like to take a moment to celebrate a momentous occasion: the seventh birthday of wonko.com. Okay, it's not really that momentous, but still. Seven years. Seven Intertron years. That's like twenty dog years, which is like 100 people years.

The domain was a birthday gift from Mom. I had no idea what to do with it at first. For several months, it was just my pointless personal website. Then one day I was trying to find ways to avoid doing homework, and I figured I'd write myself some blogging software. Of course, back in those days, "weblog" wasn't really a word. The closest thing we had to weblogs were Slashdot and a few other sites along those lines. So I modeled my software after Slashdot, and the site as well.

The only web development environment I knew anything about in those days was ASP, so I built an ASP/MSSQL-based content management system and hosted it on Microsoft Personal Web Server (a stripped-down version of IIS) on my Windows 98 desktop. The site went live sometime around April 1st, 1999 (I'm still not sure of the exact date). I called it WonkoSlice for some reason that I can't remember. Throughout the day I posted summaries and links to news items I found interesting, and readers (mostly my friends) commented on the stories. PWS was hard-coded to only allow 10 concurrent connections, which wasn't really a problem until I got Slashdotted and my poor desktop almost exploded.

That early Slashdotting helped the site establish a base of loyal readers that slowly grew over the years. In those days, there were only a few notable Slashdot-style geek news websites: Techdirt, GeekNews, and some others that aren't around anymore. We all grew gradually. I posted stories from school, from work, from wherever I could get a 'net connection. I even managed to talk one of my high school teachers into giving me an elective credit for posting stories during school hours.

Eventually, though, everyone and his dog was running a geek news website. Then someone decided to start calling them weblogs and realized he could post angsty poetry and crap, and the entire world started blogging overnight, and it suddenly wasn't as cool anymore. The crappier geek news sites began to die off or at least lose their popularity, and WonkoSlice was no exception. Techdirt, of course, only got more popular, because those guys were pretty much at the top of their game (and still are). These days they're hot shit, which is pretty cool.

I kept running WonkoSlice in spite of the readership dropoff, because I enjoyed it. Enough people read it that there were still interesting discussions, and it gave me an excuse to learn PHP and write a brand new content management system every year or two. Eventually, though, the whole geek news thing got pretty old. With so many other good sources for news, it just didn't make any sense for me to write about things that everyone already knew about. I decided I'd much rather write about me. So, in 2003, WonkoSlice disappeared overnight and was replaced by this blog.

It's amazing how much the Internet has changed since wonko.com was born. I wonder how things will look in another seven years.