Another make-up post! This one was meant for December 13.
: How you came to compile your absolutely kickass and indispensable handbook for the Gateverse.
Believe it or not, it was kind of an accident.
And oh, hee -- this has morphed in my head over the years to just "I wanted to write SG-1 and was intimidated by the sheer amount of information in the show, and wanted to have a way to look things up by subject rather than episode (which is how existing sites, like the fantabulous rdanderson.com, tended to organize things)." But I've been poking at old versions of the site and just came across a note that says that I started it because I wanted to know what Jack's medals were, which sounds... exactly right.
But the other is also right, if less specific. I'd never been involved in a military-based fandom and didn't have a strong grip on the military stuff, and for all I've been an SF fan forever, I'd never written any before. Plus there were lots of characters to keep track of. I wanted information at hand to look things up as I needed to when I started writing, and going by episode was too cumbersome for me. I wanted things organized by subject so I could see at a glance all the times Jack got injured, or whatever.
So just for myself, I started organizing some vital stats on a webpage so I could get at it from anywhere; I think the very first one was just a plain list. Eventually I organized that into a nice little table, and I think that's the point at which I told a few friends about it, since I knew they were also writing SG1 and thought it might be useful for them.
Then a while after that, someone on a list asked a question, and someone I'd never heard of linked them to my page. Oh dear god. *g* I'd never actually intended it for broader public consumption; it wasn't that good! I'd never even linked to it from my main page. But clearly it was
public now, and I had two options: buckle down and make it better, or take it down quietly (at that point, there was still some info on it basically taken directly from other sites -- when this was a personal project, I wasn't worried about that, since I knew I was using those sites for reference, just reorganizing the notes a bit. So I didn't have disclaimers or whatever up.)
I enjoyed the taking notes and organizing info, though, and honestly it was really happy-making to see people getting use from the site, so I decided to keep going with it. I reworked everything that I'd borrowed with my own notes/observations, I expanded things, I started putting updates pages up.
Note-taking got steadily easier and more complicated at the same time: I went from tapes and a pen&paper to a TiVo (pause and rewind, omg yay) and eventually a laptop (no more transcribing!), then DVDs and a better laptop. Easier and easier! I built myself templates for as much as possible, so I could just plug things in as I went through episodes. But the easier it got to focus on tiny details, the more tiny details I wanted to focus on.
I went from tracking major things happening to the main characters to tracking everything that happened to everyone, every race, every planet, every Earth-based organization, every bit of technology, every scrap of alien language. It originally took me a couple of hours to take notes on an ep, I think, and then another couple to transcribe and format the info to put up. By the end, it was taking me 5-10 hours per ep for notes, and several hours for formatting/inserting into the site (which meant not just putting the info in its own slot, but crosslinking it anywhere it needed to be crosslinked, keeping the Site Index updated with new terms or additions to old terms [like new SG teams, new people in established races, new tech], repeating everything in a structured, easy-to-read format on the Updates page -- there was lots of detail work).
I revamped and/or relocated the site every couple of years, trying to make it easier to navigate and more useful for people. I was really set on keeping it all on one page for many years, though; I didn't have a search engine, and I think I wanted people to be able to just ctl-f to whatever they needed. When I started breaking things out, it was sloooowly.
I loved it; it had become my main form of fannish engagement (I wound up barely ever writing a word of SG-1, I was so caught up in the canonical details of the show), and I just really loved being useful to people. I tried hard to keep the site shipping-neutral, and tried hard not to present my opinions as facts; I included them when I felt strongly about something, but I tried to make sure they were clearly marked as opinions in that case. When it got too unwieldy to include SGA information, I revamped the entire site into CSS and created two versions, one for each show (oh my god, coding a site that big and sprawling, all written in plain html, into CSS -- it is not fun. But for a while there, I was really good at coding basic CSS! Okay, it wasn't good CSS, it was kludgy and odd in spots. But it mostly worked, and I think the site looked cleaner and easier to read.) That took months (I was starting from less than zero, and there were a lot of failed attempts), and that put me months behind on eps. So I spent the next year trying to catch up, and failing, and burning out. Which made me cranky, because seriously, I cannot tell you how much I loved working on that site.
At some point I decided, okay, instead of just failing to catch up, I'm going to take a break, and let myself not worry about it for a month or two. I was clearly burned out and needed to recover. I spent the next several years absolutely convinced I was going to go back to working on it, any day now, and just utterly unable to face starting, because in the meantime I'd rediscovered the rest of fandom. I was reading fanfic again; I was watching vids; I was watching tv and reading books. And I had so much
to catch up on in terms of notes for SG-1 and SGA that I knew it would take over my fannish life again. (I was also suffering from an undiagnosed sleep disorder that meant I was beyond exhausted all the time without even realizing it, so looking back on it, it's no wonder I couldn't face the effort it would take to pick it back up.)
And by that time, there were SG wikis, and all kinds of other resources out there. My site was no longer necessary the way it had been originally; people could easily find out whatever they wanted. So it languished, and I've largely stopped feeling guilty about it.
But hey, for what it is, it's pretty complete and useful, and it's not bad for something I started completely by accident, because I didn't want to forget how many times (and when) people got injured. *g*
Every now and then I've had a moment in other fandoms where I wanted to start it all up again for something new; the urge to catalog ALL the details can be really strong for me. But I think the SG Handbook is going to stand alone. <3( Okay, I'm hijacking this a bit for my own purposes here - I'm figuring how and when I changed things, with links to old versions where I have them )
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