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Pinned thread 20 Years of SpongeBuddy Mania!

spongedude

Wumbologist
Staff
Joined
Apr 6, 2004
Messages
4,136
Likes
984
Location
Under the Sea
Time certainly flies. :yousure:

spongebobmaniathumb.png
spongebuddy1thumb.png


Earlier this month we (quietly) passed the 20-year mark of SpongeBuddy Mania. April 3rd traditionally marks the occasion. That was the day, back in 2004, that SpongeBuddy "officially" opened. The forums premiered a day later. @Spongey34 and myself had been working on the site since mid-January, after being inspired by a now long-gone fan-site, SpongeBob Area. @ssj4gogita4's own site, SpongeBob Mania, had premiered sometime in mid-2003 (if I'm not mistaken), and while I worked on the technical side of things, @Spongey34 and @ssj4gogita4 fostered a friendship and collaboration on filling our respective sites with SpongeBob content. This was in the run up to the first SpongeBob movie, so there was plenty of SpongeBob excitement in the air.

About a year or so on, the server both our sites were on was the victim of a hack (this was early days, so we didn't have the cash to pony up for the best servers). After mostly recovering (sans a month or two of data), we decided to team up our efforts into a single site, and voila! SpongeBuddy Mania came to be. Since the SpongeBuddy forums had become the shared community of both sites even before the hack, I think we just kind of defaulted to adopting SpongeBuddy's birthday as SpongeBuddy Mania's birthday. This far on, it all melds into one long-ago blip of time, but since April 2004 is about midway between SpongeBob Mania's beginning on 2003 and our "merger" in 2005, it still fits.

I won't wax poetical much more. The original staff (@ssj4gogita4, @Spongey34 and myself) are still "around" but much less active than we used to be. We're all in our thirties now, and work/family/adulting obligations take up most of our time. Around 2009-ish, @abney317 came on as a staff member and eventual admin, and eventually took the reigns of the site along with @ssj4gogita4 for about a decade before stepping back significantly in the past year or two. Throughout all of this, we've been helped by some wonderful fellow staff (moderators and admins) who have come and gone, whose names are too numerous to list. Many of our ex-staff are in a special "Friends" group and their usernames are colored purple, so if you see a purple username, that's what that means.

What does the future hold for SpongeBuddy Mania? We don't know exactly. Someday SpongeBob will end production (though when that is is anyone's guess), but of course just because the show ends doesn't mean the site will. Our core group have invested enough time and energy over the years that, at this point, we don't see ourselves letting the site "die". We intend to be around for many years to come, though perhaps less active than our hey-day. That's okay. Everyone has to mellow out as they get older. SBM is no different. We'll age gracefully... we hope.

As I say in my profile: Times change, but the little square dude is still awesome. :sbface:

To mark the occasion, here is a smattering of threads from our previous birthdays/anniversaries:


And here are some of the staff's responses to member questions posted earlier this year:

What are the biggest changes you've seen in the SpongeBob fandom between 2004 and now?
SpongeBob went from being liked by other kids to being liked by everyone. SpongeBob being referenced by coworkers is a common occurrence, just like it was with fellow students at school. So it has grown with all of us, whereas many other things you like as a kid, or are intended for a youthful audience, sort of stay back in that time of life. ~ @Spongey34

The show definitely had a popularity falloff in the late 2000s, but the first few seasons have remained classics and are still popular to this day even with new fans. The show has been around for so long now that new fans are able to enjoy the hundreds of already existing episodes. The show is at a level where everyone knows about it in some way. I'm not sure that it has as many diehard fans as it once did, but has already cemented itself in pop culture for many years to come. ~ @abney317

With the passage of twenty years, I've largely grown beyond the seemingly insular SpongeBob fandom that appeared to exist back in 2004 (when I was just 15 years old). So it's difficult for me to say, first-hand, the differences I see in the fandom. I think that SpongeBob has far outlasted our wildest expectations back in 2004, however, both in pure cultural staying power, and in the simple fact that it's still in production 25 years after it first debuted. That simply doesn't happen with a lot of shows. Corollary with its surprising (but perhaps not so surprising) longevity is the fact that the fandom spans generations. I think it always did - I recall my parents and grandparents enjoying the show back in 2004, when I was only a teenager - but as an adult I see teenagers today enjoying the same show I grew up with, which is cool and somewhat unique. As an adult I can quote SpongeBob to my co-workers (and of course, my siblings) as a shorthand and verbal meme for many different things. It's a very large fandom now, as I see it. ~ @spongedude

The fan base has grown with the show. Those who watched SpongeBob in its early years are now adults, while new generations continue to discover the show. This shift has resulted in varying levels of nostalgia. The rise of social media has created platforms for fans to connect and share content. I think there was a good amount of fan theorists that led to deeper discussions about SpongeBob characters, storylines, and cultural impact. but I think that has died down a little in recent years. Spin-offs like Kamp Koral: SpongeBob's Under Years and The Patrick Star Show have also contributed to the evolution and popularity. I think those who discovered the spin-offs first and then experienced the original after has helped raise the fandom grow. ~ @ssj4gogita4

Did you ever think this website would become as popular as it did back in 2004?
I thought we would rule the world! So I suppose yes. We certainly put in a lot of work when we started things up. But there weren't any quantitative goals being chased, nor can I say at 14 that I could envision anything 20 years into the future. It doesn't really make sense to the brain. ~ @Spongey34

It's crazy to think back on how many SpongeBob fansites actually existed around that time. In the mid and early 2000s, there were tons of them and it seemed like new ones were popping up every month with unique bits of content. The sites with a ton of content and features had a lot of activity, and SBM certainly had the most content on the main site back then. I think a lot of the dedicated work on this site over the years, and especially in the early years, helped to make this site as popular as it was. ~ @abney317

I don't recall thinking we'd be around this long, or become as popular as (apparently) we have been - but as a young website creator in the early 2000's (and with at least half-a-dozen other popular SpongeBob fan sites around at the time), I'd be lying if I said we weren't shooting for popularity at the time, and pleased to receive it when it arrived. From our early days to the height of our popularity, to the lean years to now, we've always been fortunate to have really devoted and friendly staff and members contributing to the site. There's only so much credit for our longevity and occasional popularity that the staff can take credit for - a lot of it comes down to timing and luck (and us not caring much how many people visit)! A few other sites had only one or two admins who, once they left, left their sites to wither. We've always been fortunate to have 3 to 4 long-time admins who have somewhat organically taken turns steering the site while others were less active, so the site has never fallen silent like others have. ~ @spongedude

I was hoping it would go on for a while, but I truly never expected it to go this long, especially with a hiatus from the first movie and then the decline in seasons 6-8. We had some dark times in our history but somehow overcame it. The amount of websites and forums that have come and gone, some still going after a decade, is a testament of how awesome this show continues to be, along with some of the members who have been able to share their opinions on the show and random topics as well. Did I expect to still be on here after twenty years, half of my life? Absolutely not. It became an insanely busy 'hobby' on the side that long nights getting most of the content I think turned out worth it because this is still going. The numerous amount of fansites and forums that were here in mid-2000s was scary because there were more popular ones than SBM, but somehow we still stayed afloat. I want to personally thank all of the staff in the last twenty years that have come and gone and what they've contributed. It's truly remarkable what this site turned out to be. I miss carterhawk @spongedude. :P ~ @ssj4gogita4

How was the website during the dark era? (Season 6-9a)
I had to look up the dates of this. These season were when I was in college, so I wasn't watching new episodes then, or putting as much time into the site as I did in high school. Evidently, the site survived and advanced and here we are more than a decade past that! Then as now, Sponge may be the captain of this site, but there's still a whole ship worth of other things we talk about here. ~ @Spongey34

A lot of the old SpongeBob fansites died out during this time. People grow up and move on, but SBM had enough people around to keep it going even when we were less active ourselves. Site updates slowed down a good amount during that time, but eventually we came back and did some major overhauls that brought back a lot of activity. Was always fun adding waves of new content and designs for the site. ~ @abney317

For better or for worse, I haven't closely followed the lore of this site and how it correlates with SpongeBob seasons. We've definitely had some quiet years, but with the administrative staff growing into adulthood and taking on those responsibilities outside the site, I haven't been too concerned about our numbers or popularity for a while. So long as a smattering of people continue to visit and find the site or forums worthwhile, that's reason enough for us to keep the site around. ~ @spongedude

The website definitely had some dark times because of the decline of these seasons, but even darker times because of how the site, where I take full blame, handled some issues as well. Even after all of the hoopla that went on, I stayed dedicated to keeping this site going with missing and new content. I do want to sincerely apologize for anyone I've hurt in the past, no matter what decision was made (good or bad). I admit I've made some idiotic decisions, but I think we can all agree we did dumb stuff as younger people and it's made us wiser, though it took me a little longer than most I'm sure. I am in no way even remotely close to the person I used to be. The website during the dark era was mainly just adding content than having interaction on the forums and a good re-design thanks to Abney317. He is a genius. ~ @ssj4gogita4

~~~

I'd also like to thank our current staff who are tireless in their work to keep the site in ship-shape. Staff, please feel free to edit this post to add responses or correct my memory of events. Or reply. As cool as it is we're 20 years old, we are just a website, and it's the community of people here that has always been most important. Hopefully it's one that brings joy to some of you.

One last thing: don't forget to do as @ssj4gogita4 says and fill out your entry in the 2024 SpongeBuddy Mania yearbook!

Thank you for being a part of SBM and letting me control your lives. ~ @ssj4gogita4
:whoo:
 

Hugs4Softie

South Park Elementary Student of the Month
Joined
Feb 19, 2024
Messages
592
Likes
398
Location
Minnesota
Time certainly flies. :yousure:

spongebobmaniathumb.png
spongebuddy1thumb.png


Earlier this month we (quietly) passed the 20-year mark of SpongeBuddy Mania. April 3rd traditionally marks the occasion. That was the day, back in 2004, that SpongeBuddy "officially" opened. The forums premiered a day later. @Spongey34 and myself had been working on the site since mid-January, after being inspired by a now long-gone fan-site, SpongeBob Area. @ssj4gogita4's own site, SpongeBob Mania, had premiered sometime in mid-2003 (if I'm not mistaken), and while I worked on the technical side of things, @Spongey34 and @ssj4gogita4 fostered a friendship and collaboration on filling our respective sites with SpongeBob content. This was in the run up to the first SpongeBob movie, so there was plenty of SpongeBob excitement in the air.

About a year or so on, the server both our sites were on was the victim of a hack (this was early days, so we didn't have the cash to pony up for the best servers). After mostly recovering (sans a month or two of data), we decided to team up our efforts into a single site, and voila! SpongeBuddy Mania came to be. Since the SpongeBuddy forums had become the shared community of both sites even before the hack, I think we just kind of defaulted to adopting SpongeBuddy's birthday as SpongeBuddy Mania's birthday. This far on, it all melds into one long-ago blip of time, but since April 2004 is about midway between SpongeBob Mania's beginning on 2003 and our "merger" in 2005, it still fits.

I won't wax poetical much more. The original staff (@ssj4gogita4, @Spongey34 and myself) are still "around" but much less active than we used to be. We're all in our thirties now, and work/family/adulting obligations take up most of our time. Around 2009-ish, @abney317 came on as a staff member and eventual admin, and eventually took the reigns of the site along with @ssj4gogita4 for about a decade before stepping back significantly in the past year or two. Throughout all of this, we've been helped by some wonderful fellow staff (moderators and admins) who have come and gone, whose names are too numerous to list. Many of our ex-staff are in a special "Friends" group and their usernames are colored purple, so if you see a purple username, that's what that means.

What does the future hold for SpongeBuddy Mania? We don't know exactly. Someday SpongeBob will end production (though when that is is anyone's guess), but of course just because the show ends doesn't mean the site will. Our core group have invested enough time and energy over the years that, at this point, we don't see ourselves letting the site "die". We intend to be around for many years to come, though perhaps less active than our hey-day. That's okay. Everyone has to mellow out as they get older. SBM is no different. We'll age gracefully... we hope.

As I say in my profile: Times change, but the little square dude is still awesome. :sbface:

To mark the occasion, here is a smattering of threads from our previous birthdays/anniversaries:


And here are some of the staff's responses to member questions posted earlier this year:

What are the biggest changes you've seen in the SpongeBob fandom between 2004 and now?
SpongeBob went from being liked by other kids to being liked by everyone. SpongeBob being referenced by coworkers is a common occurrence, just like it was with fellow students at school. So it has grown with all of us, whereas many other things you like as a kid, or are intended for a youthful audience, sort of stay back in that time of life. ~ @Spongey34

The show definitely had a popularity falloff in the late 2000s, but the first few seasons have remained classics and are still popular to this day even with new fans. The show has been around for so long now that new fans are able to enjoy the hundreds of already existing episodes. The show is at a level where everyone knows about it in some way. I'm not sure that it has as many diehard fans as it once did, but has already cemented itself in pop culture for many years to come. ~ @abney317

With the passage of twenty years, I've largely grown beyond the seemingly insular SpongeBob fandom that appeared to exist back in 2004 (when I was just 15 years old). So it's difficult for me to say, first-hand, the differences I see in the fandom. I think that SpongeBob has far outlasted our wildest expectations back in 2004, however, both in pure cultural staying power, and in the simple fact that it's still in production 25 years after it first debuted. That simply doesn't happen with a lot of shows. Corollary with its surprising (but perhaps not so surprising) longevity is the fact that the fandom spans generations. I think it always did - I recall my parents and grandparents enjoying the show back in 2004, when I was only a teenager - but as an adult I see teenagers today enjoying the same show I grew up with, which is cool and somewhat unique. As an adult I can quote SpongeBob to my co-workers (and of course, my siblings) as a shorthand and verbal meme for many different things. It's a very large fandom now, as I see it. ~ @spongedude

Did you ever think this website would become as popular as it did back in 2004?
I thought we would rule the world! So I suppose yes. We certainly put in a lot of work when we started things up. But there weren't any quantitative goals being chased, nor can I say at 14 that I could envision anything 20 years into the future. It doesn't really make sense to the brain. ~ @Spongey34

It's crazy to think back on how many SpongeBob fansites actually existed around that time. In the mid and early 2000s, there were tons of them and it seemed like new ones were popping up every month with unique bits of content. The sites with a ton of content and features had a lot of activity, and SBM certainly had the most content on the main site back then. I think a lot of the dedicated work on this site over the years, and especially in the early years, helped to make this site as popular as it was. ~ @abney317

I don't recall thinking we'd be around this long, or become as popular as (apparently) we have been - but as a young website creator in the early 2000's (and with at least half-a-dozen other popular SpongeBob fan sites around at the time), I'd be lying if I said we weren't shooting for popularity at the time, and pleased to receive it when it arrived. From our early days to the height of our popularity, to the lean years to now, we've always been fortunate to have really devoted and friendly staff and members contributing to the site. There's only so much credit for our longevity and occasional popularity that the staff can take credit for - a lot of it comes down to timing and luck (and us not caring much how many people visit)! A few other sites had only one or two admins who, once they left, left their sites to wither. We've always been fortunate to have 3 to 4 long-time admins who have somewhat organically taken turns steering the site while others were less active, so the site has never fallen silent like others have. ~ @spongedude

How was the website during the dark era? (Season 6-9a)
I had to look up the dates of this. These season were when I was in college, so I wasn't watching new episodes then, or putting as much time into the site as I did in high school. Evidently, the site survived and advanced and here we are more than a decade past that! Then as now, Sponge may be the captain of this site, but there's still a whole ship worth of other things we talk about here. ~ @Spongey34

A lot of the old SpongeBob fansites died out during this time. People grow up and move on, but SBM had enough people around to keep it going even when we were less active ourselves. Site updates slowed down a good amount during that time, but eventually we came back and did some major overhauls that brought back a lot of activity. Was always fun adding waves of new content and designs for the site. ~ @abney317

For better or for worse, I haven't closely followed the lore of this site and how it correlates with SpongeBob seasons. We've definitely had some quiet years, but with the administrative staff growing into adulthood and taking on those responsibilities outside the site, I haven't been too concerned about our numbers or popularity for a while. So long as a smattering of people continue to visit and find the site or forums worthwhile, that's reason enough for us to keep the site around. ~ @spongedude

~~~

I'd also like to thank our current staff who are tireless in their work to keep the site in ship-shape. Staff, please feel free to edit this post to add responses or correct my memory of events. Or reply. As cool as it is we're 20 years old, we are just a website, and it's the community of people here that has always been most important. Hopefully it's one that brings joy to some of you.

One last thing: don't forget to do as @ssj4gogita4 says and fill out your entry in the 2024 SpongeBuddy Mania yearbook!

:whoo:
It's crazy this site has been around for so long
 

SpongeVol93

Floating Shopping List
Joined
Aug 25, 2021
Messages
143
Likes
194
Happy 20th! I followed this site along with SpongeBob Area, SpongeBob .org, and whichever others I could find 20+ years ago. The combination of college and bad new episodes led me away from SpongeBob but since the 20th anniversary I've been back full force and finally joined the forum here. I'm glad this site is still going strong!
 
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