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    I remember ZU when...
    • There was a period of time when ZU could not stick with a web hosting service. The first change involved the site becoming molasses-slow, and I suppose it was the start of the implosion that culminated in the events of 2014-2015.
      O Gods dethroned and deceased, cast forth, wiped out in a day
      From your wrath is the world released, redeemed from your chains, men say.
      New Gods are crowned in the city; their flowers have broken your rods;
      They are merciful, clothed with pity, the young compassionate Gods.
      But for me their new device is barren, the days are bare;
      Things long past over suffice, and men forgotten that were.


      Algernon Charles Swinburne, "Hymn to Proserpine"
    • Man, I wish I had a better memory. I joined ZU almost exactly 15 years ago, and I can remember...almost none of it. << If you mention something to me I might go "Oh yeah...", but I'm mostly drawing a blank on amusing anecdotes.

      Mind you, from fairly early on I stuck to only a handful of boards, so I missed out on a lot of the drama regardless.

      Lemme see...Oh, I remember the old IRC channel. Heck, that thing was the only reason I ever used IRC, and is probably why I can type at ~85 WPM these days. I definitely remember being overwhelmed by how long it took me to type out replies with the chat just scrolling by at first.

      I remember the debate about if a debate forum should be made (I...think I was vaguely opposed to it at first?) and bits and pieces of what Serious Discussion has been over the years. Including its time as "Internet: Serious Business".

      I remember the community podcast, which was fun, too.

      I, of course, remember the blue skin, which, frankly, doesn't look terrible even today. A bit dated, a bit busy, but I've seen worse. Not at all mobile friendly, though.

      Oh, right, I remember...ad-clicking drives to win a sock from Lars? Or something? That stopped when it was pointed out that ad network TOSes pretty explicitly banned that sort of thing.

      I have vague memories of dabbling in timeline theorizing, and the havoc the Oracle titles caused, with characters in them who simply could not be there. Maybe it was only me who cared about that, since in hindsight they were pretty obvious references/cameos, rather than anything to be taken seriously. :P

      Hrm...oh, I do remember the hype around Twilight Princess. In part due to that being the first Zelda game I really got to anticipate, and in part simply due to how long the buildup towards it was. Oh, the rumours, the excitement, the frame-by-frame analysis of the trailers...


      ...Huh, guess I remember more than I thought I did. That's always nice.


      Cody wrote:

      I joined in 2003 and the forum started in 2002, so I remember a lot of things.

      One thing that was important in the early days was reaching 1000 posts so that you could have a custom user title (like the "Divine Dragoon" below my name). it was a big deal to have one back then.
      Man, I remember how impossible that seemed when I first joined. 1000 posts? How was I ever going to reach that many? Given I'm now at 1 600 per year (and at my peak I think I was closer to 3 000) that seems kinda hilarious.


      Edit: I do remember the 4Chan attacks. I don't remember why, but there were a few DDoSes and I think one actual hack? It was all very strange.

      May those who accept their fate be granted happiness;

      Those who defy it, glory!

      The post was edited 1 time, last by John ().

    • Max Nichols wrote:

      There was a long period where the webmaster who took control of the site after Lars sold it (I don't even remember the guys' name) basically ignored the community. It was anarchy. The chaos, drama, and infighting in the moderator section was... really embarrassingly petty and dysfunctional, in hindsight!
      I think there were two owners between Lars and Jason...and it's driving me nuts that I can't remember their names, it's on the tip of my tongue.
    • I can remember a time when people hated Jason. Or at least thought he was incompetent.

      ...People don't still think that, do they?
      O Gods dethroned and deceased, cast forth, wiped out in a day
      From your wrath is the world released, redeemed from your chains, men say.
      New Gods are crowned in the city; their flowers have broken your rods;
      They are merciful, clothed with pity, the young compassionate Gods.
      But for me their new device is barren, the days are bare;
      Things long past over suffice, and men forgotten that were.


      Algernon Charles Swinburne, "Hymn to Proserpine"
    • Max Nichols wrote:

      John, what was your old username?
      Ganon_Dwarf > GDwarf > John

      Galedeep wrote:

      Max Nichols wrote:

      There was a long period where the webmaster who took control of the site after Lars sold it (I don't even remember the guys' name) basically ignored the community. It was anarchy. The chaos, drama, and infighting in the moderator section was... really embarrassingly petty and dysfunctional, in hindsight!
      I think there were two owners between Lars and Jason...and it's driving me nuts that I can't remember their names, it's on the tip of my tongue.
      One was...Yusuf? I think? Don't remember the other one.

      May those who accept their fate be granted happiness;

      Those who defy it, glory!
    • @Max Nichols my man! It's great to see you again! Congrats on all your success, buddy, I'm very happy for how far you've taken yourself. I hope all is just as well outside of your career.

      John wrote:


      Max Nichols wrote:

      John, what was your old username?
      Ganon_Dwarf > GDwarf > John

      Galedeep wrote:

      Max Nichols wrote:

      There was a long period where the webmaster who took control of the site after Lars sold it (I don't even remember the guys' name) basically ignored the community. It was anarchy. The chaos, drama, and infighting in the moderator section was... really embarrassingly petty and dysfunctional, in hindsight!
      I think there were two owners between Lars and Jason...and it's driving me nuts that I can't remember their names, it's on the tip of my tongue.
      One was...Yusuf? I think? Don't remember the other one.
      Lee. He was immediately after Lars and stuck around in the community for a very short time before largely becoming absent, and leading to the havoc Max described.

      The post was edited 1 time, last by Mirren ().

    • Max Nichols wrote:

      There was that one time where someone (Maybe Joshua?) made a special forum -The Stone Watchers I think - that was ONLY for Zelda webmasters and other prominent community members. Influencers, they'd call us nowadays. There were like 20 of us there. I think we were supposed to operate like illuminati or something. Didn't stay active long.

      Edit:
      Joshua: "North Castle is not only the oldest Zelda fan site still online - it is also the oldest Zelda fan site that the community has any record of at all. As far as I am concerned, Juliet is the founder of our community. "

      I think that Zelda Headquarters - the original, not Mike Damiani's version - predates North Castle. The one started by Niels T'Hooft and then continued by Conrad (I think his last name was van der Woude). But I could be wrong about that!

      That said, Juliet and Kirsty Singletone were involved with that original ZHQ community as well - I remember reading their fanfics there when I was, like, 12. Juliet especially is a towering figure in the history of the online Zelda community, and stayed with us far longer than Niels or Conrad did.
      I am going to comment on these things backwards.

      North Castle / Zelda Headquarters
      I did a little bit of research tonight, but I am not completely certain about the timeframe yet. I am going to make a note to look into this more. Zelda Wiki has kept a listing of Zelda Fansites for years, but admittedly, it is not maintained well. I did not realize until this evening that it completely omits Zelda Headquarters. It only mentions ZHQ2, which became The Hylia.

      I did a quick search on Archive.org and found Zelda Headquarters. The website closed in 1999, and in the final update it states "It's almost three years ago now, that I came up with the idea to make a website about The Legend of Zelda." That puts the idea at 1996. I also found a history page, and in it, it states that in 1996 he first had an Internet connection and started dabbling with web design. However, the history page is not completely clear about when the website actually launched. However, it seems you may be right about it being older than North Castle.

      Regardless, I learned something new tonight. I thought Zelda Headquarters was a 1998/1999 website, but it does appear that it launched either in 1996 or 1997. I did not have Internet or begin visiting any of these sites until 2000 or 2001, so this is a little before my time.

      The Order of the Stone Watchers

      This is still not a commonly known fact. It did at times feel like the Illuminati, and some of us (i.e. me) still like to have fun with it as if we are in fact some kind of secret organization - because why not? However, it is true that we deliberately kept the forum a secret from everyone - I assume to avoid the community thinking there was some secret discussion going on behind their backs.

      The reality was something far more useful. It was a space for working out disputes between the websites and building community projects. You could almost say it was "The U.N. of the Zelda Community."

      I did not start Stone Watchers; I was invited later, by Jason. My understanding is that it was a joint effort between the Dennis (Capt. Cornflake), Mases, and Jason to create a space for collaboration between the websites. If I recall correctly, they had even split the costs and ownership of the forum (e.g. one person owned the domain, one provided hosting, etc.).

      I do not recall Max being especially involved with it, but it actually lasted for quite a long time. The most active years were probably 2006 - 2008 or so, but it lived on much longer for one reason: Zelda Wiki.

      Stone Watchers started as a place to collaborate and work out problems. Its greatest success was Zelda Wiki, which is still operated by Zelda Universe today. The "mastermind program" was established (shortly prior to launching Stone Watchers) to convince many Zelda fansites to collaborate on one big Wiki. At the time, the hope was that we could keep large wiki farms - specifically Wikia - at bay by working together. The approach worked for a while (that's actually how I met Jason - I asked to be a part of the Zelda Wiki project).

      It did eventually fall apart. There were disputes that could not be worked out, and Zelda Dungeon and Zelda Informer left the project and launched their own Wikis. However, before that happened, Stone Watchers became the home of the Zelda Wiki staff forum. It stayed there for years after everyone else had abandoned the forum. And was finally moved to the ZU forums instead after the "mastermind program" was officially declared over.

      But Stone Watchers was a very useful space for collaboration. We tried (and failed) to get a few other big projects off the ground over the years. However, it was a good private space for the webmasters to ask for design advice, hosting advice, etc. It was an incredibly useful resource - especially for people who operated smaller websites (like me). I met many people who I still know today entirely because I was invited to be a part of Stone Watchers. Heck, that was probably where I met Cody.

      We had a little logo, which I still use for fun, and if you go hunting around old Zelda websites you can still find it - sometimes hidden. Members of "The Order" would place it on their websites without any explanation as a sort of secret symbol. Sometimes they would try to hide it somewhere, and other times it was placed in the open. North Castle still displays it prominently.

      The forum is long gone at this point, but many of the Zelda Universe leaders were members of the forum. No one ever sees this - and this is probably the first time it has ever been announced - but interally, we refer to the Zelda Universe Leadership as The Stone Watchers. Our private Discord and Slack channels are all named Stone Watchers, and we generally use it as a term when referring to the group.

      Though, admittedly, those of us who were around back then use the term more than the newer team leaders - and I absolutely 100% use it more than anyone else. If you can't tell from reading my last post and this one, I am an obscenely sentimental person. I hold the history of the community and our collaboration in very high regard, and I consider The Order of the Stone Watchers to be the ultimate proof that we can work together to make the community better.

      To drive the point home further, just read my custom user title. It's been there for years - before the Zelda Universe leaders adopted the name (at my request). Now, I should probably end this post before I go on another 100 paragraph rant about how important this place is to me. I've spent more than half of my life building Zelda websites, and it doesn't take much to make me just pour out emotion.

      You're all awesome. This community is the best. I am blessed to be here.
    • Joshua wrote:

      Cody summoned me. I am the self-proclaimed keeper of knowledge of the history of the Zelda community, and it's my favorite thing to talk about. So, many thanks to my boss, the illustrious Cody for letting me know about this thread.

      Many people have mentioned old Zelda websites and the people from them, so I thought I'd elaborate on some of those topics since I have some details that aren't often discussed.

      But first, I'll answer the original question asked in this thread.

      I joined the community (with one of those small Zelda websites to call my own) in 2002, and joined the forums in 2004. Does anyone else remember Anakin / Lars, the founder of Zelda Universe? When I remember the old days, that's who I remember. My little Zelda website was one of the Zelda Universe hostees in the final days before he stepped down. I owe him a great deal.

      We work hard to keep in touch with the people who built the community. Zelda Universe is 17 years old now, and the community is more than 20 years old now. Preserving our history is important.

      Finally, I saw some complaints about the Temple theme. My forum banner says I'm the Guides Director, but that's actually out of date. I moved on to some bigger picture things. I can't elaborate much right now, but please trust me when I say that we hear you, and I'm working on it.
      Hey Josh! Nice to see such an imformative post by you detailing not only the history of ZU but of other zelda communities.

      I have to say I remember ZU when we had the blue skin. That was so nostalgic to me and even when new skins came out I always wanted to stick with the blue. It was the perfect color for typing for some odd scientific reason.

      Max Nichols wrote:

      Mirren wrote:

      Lord of Shadow went on to work in gaming development, but I couldn't tell you where, sadly. He popped in for a brief period a few years back.
      I'm at Bungie now, working on Destiny!
      Oh man, gotta thank Cody for pointing me to this thread. Let's see, what's some juicy stuff I can recall.

      Well, when I first started here it was a young upstart Zelda site. Those of us from Zelda Legends, Ice's Zelda Central, North Castle, Ganon's Tower, History of Hyrule, Hyrule: The Land of Zelda, and some of the other old guard fansites felt secure in our established communities, surely nothing could threaten our supremacy!

      Lars (Anakin) and Zephka were the two webmasters who built the site. Lars once almost banned me position because I was badmouthing him at another forum. ...I was a little shit.

      Speaking of me being a little shit, my very first post ever at the site was me accusing Lars of stealing an analogy I liked to use in arguments about Zelda art styles from my posts at another site. Also, I once abused my super mod powers to ban some dude that I was jealous of because he was talking too much with a female poster I liked, and was just spammy enough that I could get away with it. I don't even remember who the girl was. Andi, maybe.

      Kari Fry used to do a weekly Zelda webcomic for the site. Nowadays, she makes awesome books for fangamer, like these:
      Stardew Valley Guidebook
      Banquet of the Wild
      Legend of the Hero
      Kanto Field Guide
      A Guide to Village Life

      I used an article I wrote for ZU as a my college entrance essay. That same article helped inspire at least two other ZU posters to go to the same school as me. All three of us got game design degrees. One of them was HylianDan, who wrote the seminal The Message of Majora's Mask.

      I got around - I was a supermod here, at Zelda Legends, Ganon's Tower, Zelda Headquarters, and the Great Deku Tree all at once. Even once I was webmaster at Zelda Legends, I still wrote articles for ZU.

      Speaking of articles, I've spent the last year off and on writing an article series about Ocarina of Time's impact on the series. Expect those to be published one of these days.

      Timeline theorizing was amazing back before The Wind Waker. I considered that my personal domain here at the site. DrZaius and I reigned as kings and argued a lot. ...I was pretty full of myself. Once The Wind Waker came out, it got too hard to fit everything into a timeline without making up too much stuff, or using multiple timelines (which I hated). I fought long and hard against the multiple timelines idea. I considered it a huge cop-out. Then, years later, Nintendo confirmed it, hah.

      I once got really angry at the sheer number of spammy and low-quality threads in all the Zelda forum sections, and spent like 5 hours locking threads I felt were low-quality. Then I posted an announcement about thread expectations. I probably single-handedly scared half our posters away that day. Those were the days when we had 100 active users at a time at peak hours every day, so we could afford to lose a few!

      There was a long period where the webmaster who took control of the site after Lars sold it (I don't even remember the guys' name) basically ignored the community. It was anarchy. The chaos, drama, and infighting in the moderator section was... really embarrassingly petty and dysfunctional, in hindsight!

      There was that one time where someone (Maybe Joshua?) made a special forum -The Stone Watchers I think - that was ONLY for Zelda webmasters and other prominent community members. Influencers, they'd call us nowadays. There were like 20 of us there. I think we were supposed to operate like illuminati or something. Didn't stay active long.

      I remember attending E3 2006 (back when Twilight Princess was first playable) when I was 18, using Zelda Legends to get a press badge. I met up with Davogones (Zelda Legends Founder), Mike Damiani (TSA), Melora from History of Hyrule, and Robin from Ganon's Tower there. One of the first big webmaster meetups.

      Good times. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

      One last thing. Here's the website from around the time I joined:
      web.archive.org/web/2002112906…www.zeldauniverse.net:80/

      And here're the forums:
      web.archive.org/web/2002120620…dauniverse.net:80/forums/

      I gotta say, growing up in the Zelda community was pretty amazing. I'm still active friends with 30+ people from those days: my facebook wall is basically a home for retired Zelda webmasters.


      Edit:
      Joshua: "North Castle is not only the oldest Zelda fan site still online - it is also the oldest Zelda fan site that the community has any record of at all. As far as I am concerned, Juliet is the founder of our community. "

      I think that Zelda Headquarters - the original, not Mike Damiani's version - predates North Castle. The one started by Niels T'Hooft and then continued by Conrad (I think his last name was van der Woude). But I could be wrong about that!

      That said, Juliet and Kirsty Singletone were involved with that original ZHQ community as well - I remember reading their fanfics there when I was, like, 12. Juliet especially is a towering figure in the history of the online Zelda community, and stayed with us far longer than Niels or Conrad did.
      Long time no see Max! Glad to see you back for a post.

      You brought up some very important events in the 2000s. I do recall when we had that one webmaster that was reallly detached from the community. I believe i know his name but I don't want to post it here in case it may be incorrect -- I wouldn't want to slander anyone (if anyone is curious shoot me a PM).

      Anyhow, I remember when all this chaos was happening, Jason actually left ZU. For the members who weren't around back then, Jason was a well respected moderator back then (now current webmaster) so it caused even more chaos upon his departure. Heck, I remember some posters started to question if this was the end of ZU.

      My memory was a bit fuzzy from the point on but I do remember Jason eventually came back and bought the website --something like that.

      Max Nichols wrote:

      Does anyone else remember a time when 4chan had a vendetta against ZU? Or some subset of 4chan at least. I vaguely recall us getting hacked a bunch.
      haha I remember that so well. I think one of their big hacks happened in summer of 2007. If my memory serves, I think they were annoyed at how obsessed some members were getting with timeline theorizing.

      Speaking of timeline theorizing, I won't claim ZU started this obsession but it certainly served as a profound influence for it. Eventually some members left ZU in 2007 and formed Zelda Informer since they didn't feel the moderators were respecting the theorizing community that much. Odd times

      John wrote:



      I remember the debate about if a debate forum should be made (I...think I was vaguely opposed to it at first?) and bits and pieces of what Serious Discussion has been over the years. Including its time as "Internet: Serious Business".
      Hmm if my memory serves I remember when the serious discussion sub was banned for some time due to flamming. I don't quite recall how long it lasted for but there was a community wide announcement about it.

      I'm glad to see a lot of old timers posting their nostalgic memories in here.

      ZU really is a special place.
    • Chel wrote:

      I remember ZU when... erm... the Winter 2017 Awards season was in progress? ^^;

      I will forever be a newbie in the grand scheme of things. :arch:
      girl you're gonna feel like a ZU old folk in like five years.

      I remember when I felt like a newb. I was particularly surprised when in more recent times I've actually won a fair number of awards. I need to protect my title as biggest flirt while still respecting people's comfort levels.
    • @John: Yeah, Gdwarf! I'm glad to see you're still kicking.

      Mirren, glad to see you too. You're an OLD member these days!

      Joshua: I guess I was wrong about the stone watchers! I'm sorry if I revealed something secret there - sounds like you didn't mind though. I had no idea it was active for so long. I think it was started at about the same time I started drifting away from active contribution to the Zelda community. I barely recall Zelda wiki getting started, I think that was mostly after my time.

      We tried to build a wiki over at Zelda Legends. It barely got off the ground. We didn't have anyone on staff who was willing to really push it or evangelize it.


      I'm gonna poke some of the other old timers and see if they want to get in on this action.

      EDIT:
      That moderator history list is shockingly thorough. Lists me under global mods instead of super mods, but I can forgive that one :P

      ZU Username History List and Moderator History

      Lots of names in there. Mercutio, Lioness, DarkTachyon, Andi, Jonboyshewell, Janus, Malony, Sadida, OldBeane,Ameera, Hasaki, Groovemeister, Miniblin, Pipking - THOSE are names I really remember from back then. The 2003-2006 era. I still have a poster that Lioness mailed me hanging on my wall. I still remember all of the modern webmasters and contributors best by their decade-old screen names. Cody, Jason, Joshua - I have to think hard sometimes to recall which old forum personalities they were. Once I recall the screen names all the memories come rushing back.
      Pronouns: He/Him

      The post was edited 2 times, last by Max N. ().

    • oh shit north castle? i was there before i joined zu <3 and was p good friends with jules and kirsty/thebawp. i was active there from like... early 2005 and a few years after that. brandon, who went by janus on north castle, actually helped to create the original forum, and then the later version of it. he and i were romantically involved until about a year or so ago, tho we're still really good friends. ive not visited nc in a long time, but it was my original zelda e-home and always has a special place in my heart <3
    • This is beautiful. I suddenly don't feel so old anymore. When I started posting again last year I felt like I was this old guy from a forgotten time surrounded by all these young newcomers :)

      But I've been seeing more activity from the vets and now seeing more of you back today. Stick around everyone :)

      edit: Just looking at the join dates and I think I've got everyone beat as far as earliest join date. At least those of us in this thread :)

      The post was edited 1 time, last by Hoju ().

    • Joshua wrote:

      This is still not a commonly known fact. It did at times feel like the Illuminati, and some of us (i.e. me) still like to have fun with it as if we are in fact some kind of secret organization - because why not? However, it is true that we deliberately kept the forum a secret from everyone - I assume to avoid the community thinking there was some secret discussion going on behind their backs.

      The reality was something far more useful. It was a space for working out disputes between the websites and building community projects. You could almost say it was "The U.N. of the Zelda Community."
      It was deliberately engineered as an intelligence operation for the ZI/HTLOZ wing to forge diplomatic ground contacts in neighboring nation-states. Tensions were high in the wider Zelda community after 4chan showed up, repeatedly, and for no reason whatsoever.