Three big Simpsons fansites have gone offline just in the past month or so. Normally, I’d be ecstatic that three of my competitors have been knocked off in one fell swoop, but instead I’m perturbed. Is someone picking off Simpsons fansites? Who could it be? Why are they doing this? And who’s next?
Back in the late 90s, Simpsons fansites were a dime a dozen. Some, like the character sites, had their niches, but most were pretty generalized, meaning they had a little bit of everything: some character bios, episode guides, some .WAV files, some grainy framegrabs that would occasionally rouse Fox lawyers into sending threatening letters to teenagers, maybe some fanart and reviews, and ever-popular “grabpics,” which were framegrabs that were traced over in Illustrator or something and put on white backgrounds. But as time went on, webmasters grew up and moved on, the show got steadily worse, the dynamics of the internet changed, and the number of sites dwindled. That number dwindled even further this month as three Simpsons fansite fixtures met their frosty fate.
- Simpsons Folder, a longtime fixture in the community (although it seemed to be in stasis for ten years), just upped and disappeared, taking with a ton of information about the golden years of the Simpsons web community. Sure, you could look it up on the Internet Archive, but it’s JUST NOT THE SAME.
- Go Simpsonic!, which announced a comeback a few years ago that never amounted to anything, seems to have been suspended.
- After being down for weeks, The Springfield Connection – the biggest generalized Simpsons fansite that actually updated on a regular basis – has announced it’s not coming back. In a blog post, its webmaster Andy says he lost the site during a transfer to an unscrupulous hosting company. The only solution would be to relaunch on a new domain (again), which he decided wasn’t worth the effort.
So now, the era of generalized Simpsons sites is over, for the most part. Sure, there’s still a few lingering around (The War of the Simpsons and Simpson Crazy spring to mind) but it’s still a far cry from the days when entire trees had to be planted just to keep track of character sites.
Two big culprits: Tumblr, the easy-to-use blog platform that allows anyone to make their own gif repository in seconds, which has enabled a huge rise in specialized Simpsons tumblelogs ranging from the popular to the arty, and wikis. Why bother visiting a Simpsons fansite when more information that you could ever possibly want to know has been centralized either on Real Wikipedia or Wikisimpsons (not to be confused with the Simpsons Wiki, which is what it used to be, but now they’re two separate, redundant sites)?
Sometimes it feels like the only Simpsons sites these days are weird ironic joke ones, blogs where people complain all the time, brazen displays of copyright infringement, and niche Tumblrs featuring pictures of Homer cakes. Who knows what strange new developments the future will bring?