Site History

All about the history of The Cave of Dragonflies.

How It Started

Way back in 2001 when I was becoming an avid Pokémon fan (I got my Yellow version, my first Pokémon game, for Christmas 2000), I eventually ventured online to find Pokémon websites. One of the first I stumbled upon was the old Pokemon.com, back when it still had cheats and so on, simply by typing in the URL to see if it existed. Later I discovered the fascinating phenomenon of Internet searching, looked for Pokémon websites and, rather unsurprisingly, found mostly very bad ones. (The only one that ever really engraved itself in my memory was one with a section called "CLICK HERE IF U HATE PIKACHU" that contained badly edited official art of Pikachu being killed by various other Pokémon like Beedrill and Arbok; it really disturbed me, since I was eleven and considered Pikachu my favorite Pokémon at the time.) None of them kept me there for more than one visit, as they tended to irritate me with all the blatantly fake cheats, gratuitous chatspeak and an abundance of advertisements: not my type of website, I knew right away.

Then one day I came across a site called Mew's Hangout, at the time located at http://www.mypokekitty.homestead.com, and it was love at first sight. It had all sorts of fun content, fake Pokémon, no advertisements, and just generally struck me as a much better site than all the forgettable ones I'd been to before. And the owner lived in Japan, which clearly made her cool and knowledgeable. This was the site that made me start dreaming of one day having my own Pokémon website. I started mentally making up sections to put on my website in my free time, word for word; I can't say at the time I really expected I would ever actually make that website, however, so at the time it was just another one of my things-I-kind-of-wanted-to-do-sometime (as a child I was also going to write several books, for example).

But, well, then sometime in late 2001, my dad started teaching me HTML. He had taught my brother a little bit long before; I don't really remember whether I asked him to teach me for the purpose of finally becoming able to make my Pokémon site or if he just started teaching me for the heck of it, but in some manner or another it happened. I made a site in Icelandic about cats while at the same time secretly making that Pokémon site of mine. The prototype of the front page (which never saw the light of the Internet, thank God) looked something like this, which should show you approximately how much I knew at the time; that is only a recreation from memory, but it really was pretty much like that. The "Games" link took you to a page in the same format where you could pick "The Red and Blue versions", "The Yellow version", "The Gold and Silver versions" and later "The Crystal version" (I got Crystal for Christmas 2001). Once you clicked one of those links you would get a list with, for example, "Crystal version cheats", "Crystal version truth" and "Crystal version walkthrough". The "Truth" thing was already one of this site's most important principles; those were actually the first sections I decided to make, inspired by all those fake cheats on those early bad Pokémon websites that I visited.

However, I didn't actually write any of the sections just yet, and I forgot about my plans to make a Pokémon site for a while, partly out of laziness and partly because I vaguely realized that my site wasn't quite the quality of stuff like Mew's Hangout at this point. Eventually, however, I decided I still wanted to do this, asked Dad how to make colors and a sidebar menu, and created my first table layout. I made some sections, all with different eye-hurting background colors (I had no idea how to include the menu on every page so I didn't), and finally the site was launched on November 2nd 2002, at the URL http://www.vilhjalmur.com/butterfree. (That URL just gives you the current site now.) As I had previously coined the alias "Butterfree" to use in the Mew's Hangout guestbook, I extremely originally titled it Butterfree's Pokémon Site.

I excitedly told everybody in the aforementioned guestbook about my new site (it had turned into more of a chatroom than a guestbook by that point - it was more or less my second home with all the fun people there, some of whom I am still in contact with), and they all loved it. Then I continued adding sections to the site, updating my silly fanfic, etc., and basically, to make a long story short, I'm still doing it to this day.

Noteworthy Changes, Additions and Dates

All the important stuff that's happened since then, organized by topic.

Sitely Features and Historical Events

Late January 2003: The site did not have a splash page when it started. That was added at this point, because everyone else had one and I thought that meant I must make one too, and featured a badly drawn animation of Charizard and Butterfree (who had before this not been actual site mascots, though they were my favorite Pokémon) talking about not letting humans into their secret hideout (the site). This remained the basic backstory behind the splashes.

February/March/April 2003: I got my first affiliate, which was my favorite website, Mew's Hangout. Naturally, I was ecstatic about it.

Late May 2003: I realized that "Butterfree's Pokémon Site" was a silly and unoriginal name for a website, so I decided I wanted to change it to something better. Because the splash had already established the site as being some sort of a place in which the mascot Charizard and Butterfree lived, I figured the new name could keep to that theme, and because I've had a strange thing for caves as fictional living spaces since I was little, calling it a cave of some sort was a natural next step in that train of thought. I also liked various bug and dragon Pokémon (note the noncapitalization: I mean Pokémon that look like bugs and dragons, not Bug and Dragon-type ones necessarily), Charizard and Butterfree among them, and dragonflies sort of embody a combination of both, so I settled on The Cave of Dragonflies, which I thought had a nice ring to it.

June 4th 2003: I created the first forums. I used Conforums because the Pokemonicons forums, which I'm fairly sure were the only forums I went to at the time, used Conforums. (Later I strongly regretted that decision, because Conforums was one of the most featureless free hosted forums out there - I just didn't know of any other ones.)

September 25th 2003: I revived a feature of the original site called the Poll of the Week, except that this time I called it the Almighty Random Poll and started changing it, well, randomly when I felt like it, instead of every week. The Almighty Random Poll is still around, though it doesn't change very often.

Late October 2003: I stopped simply deleting the older updates from the front page as I made more, finally giving me an archive of old updates for reference purposes. (This made this page a lot easier to do research for, among other things.)

December 17th 2003: The styleswitcher was created for the first time, allowing the user a choice between "Cave Style" (black and red), "Green Style", "Dark Blue Style" and "Red Style".

Late January 2004: I discovered to my horror that for some reason I couldn't upload updates to the London server. I continued updating the local copy of the site anyway, but for all visitors could tell, the site appeared to be suddenly dead.

March 7th 2004: After somebody had made a thread on my forums proclaiming the death of the main site, at which point I decided to think realistically and figured that everybody would come to that conclusion, I finally went ahead and bought the domain name that I had been toying with the idea of getting - www.dragonflycave.com. (www.caveofdragonflies.com was too long and annoying, and www.tcod.com was already taken, aside from not being an "official" abbreviation of the site's name yet.) This domain was pointed to my dad's computer, where the local, updated copy of the site was stored, finally allowing people access to it again. Unfortunately, this domain name has since caused a very irritating phenomenon of people thinking the site is called "Dragonflycave". Just to clear that up, the site is called The Cave of Dragonflies and not Dragonflycave, Dragonfly Cave, Dragonflies Cave, Dragonfly's Cave or anything in that direction. I picked the domain because "dragonflycave" implies a cave dragonflies are involved with, just as "The Cave of Dragonflies" does, but it is not the actual name of the site.

June 21st 2004: The Invisionfree forums were opened, having been created two days prior. The old forums were still kept up, but registrations were disabled; however, Conforums has since deleted all its old inactive forums, so the oldest forums are no longer around.

January 1st 2005: I wrote the first New Year's Thanks, which have become a yearly tradition since.

June 2nd 2006: In January I made a decision to buy myself forum software to install on my own server so I could modify it for additional features and such. I went for vBulletin, my favorite forum software, bought it and got my dad to help me install PHP and MySQL on the London server so I could get the forums up. After that I had to install (and make) a heap of hacks to get it just how I wanted it, create all the styles and make images for them all, a long and tedious process that took a few months, but in June the vBulletin forums were finally opened. Curiously, I only noticed after this that every incarnation of the forums has opened in June.

June 21st 2006: I made the splash page so that if you had a cookied style you would be redirected straight to the front page after this had been suggested to me. This made the site a great deal less annoying.

May 27th 2008: I added the update commenting feature, utilizing the guestbook script I'd made to make it possible to comment specifically on an update, with the added bonus that all recent update comments can be viewed in the guestbook itself. Prior to this, there had been no update commenting, though I had often asked for opinions on things to be posted in the guestbook.

June 16th 2008: The forums and guestbook suddenly stopped working, and my attempts to fix it led to all the data being permanently deleted, including forum styles, user accounts and so on. The forums were brought back on June 24th, but the forum styles have still not all been remade as of writing this. Note how yet again, a fresh start with the forums happens in June. I think I should try to make an effort to make at least twice as many backups in June than any other month.

December 16th 2012: I removed the splash page after realizing I couldn't even properly keep up the sentimental tradition I was still keeping it for, since I was not in a position where I could easily draw things (I didn't have easy access to a scanner or a proper mouse). I may bring it back in some non-splash-page form later.

June 12th 2014: I created the Cave of Dragonflies Twitter account, which tweets when I make updates on the site.

Technology

August 27th 2003: I learned how to use SSI to include the menu on every page and give all the pages the same background and so on instead of having them all be different.

September 23rd 2003: I started using ASP.NET to allow visitors to choose their background music, which I had previously just obnoxiously included whether you liked it or not.

September 25th 2003: The site was moved to a dedicated server (which I generally refer to as "the London server") that Dad was using for his company's website - now I could play around with the site on his computer as I wanted without anything changing on the actual site. This server was also faster and capable of serving a larger number of requests at a time, meaning the site stopped going down every time too many people direct linked my sprites at the Pokémasters forums (where I had a sprite request thread).

December 29th 2003: I got an e-mail from a Firebird (now Firefox) user, informing me that the layout looked messed up in it. That was when I first actually realized that the site looking fine in Internet Explorer did not necessarily mean that it would look good in other browsers. I downloaded Firebird, Opera and Netscape and fixed some CSS errors and box model misusages to make the site finally cross-browser compatible after having been operated for over a year.

March 7th 2004: After a couple of months of being unable to update the London server, I switched back to having a live copy of the site on my dad's computer at the new domain name, www.dragonflycave.com. This was originally intended as a temporary solution, but ultimately even after the London server (which the www.vilhjalmur.com/butterfree URL was still pointed to) was back up, it stayed this way.

March 2nd 2005: After converting the site menus into lists instead of a series of divs, I finally validated my HTML and CSS. They have remained so to this day, barring mistakes on individual pages.

June 18th 2005: I changed the hit counter counting the front page hits from the free Sparklit counter I'd been using to a homemade one.

January 15th 2006: I made a guestbook on my own server instead of the free guestbooks I'd had before, which were universally terrible, had ads, didn't properly filter spam and so on.

January 20th 2006: My dad's computer broke down and we pointed the domain back to the London server, which was working fine now and had an updated copy of the site. The site is still hosted there today.

January 22nd 2006: I made my own poll script, which meant the site no longer used any remotely hosted services save the forums (which would soon be moved to the server as well).

December 28th 2006: I started logging hit milestones to a file, making it much easier to keep track of when so and so milestone was reached.

January 4th 2007: I made custom 404 error pages for the first time.

February 22nd 2010: After a long period of wrestling with the London server and its poor performance in trying to handle both the site and forums, I realized that the simplest solution to all my troubles would be to move the forums to another server but keep the site. Kat of Route 50 offered to be the new host for the forums, which were moved to the new server on this day and have been there since. The same day, I also finished revalidating all my HTML, actually fixing those mistakes on individual pages I mentioned above.

March 16th 2011: While trying to update the site with the fifth-generation Zodiac, I accidentally broke everything. While I managed to get most of the site fixed in a frantic panic afterwards, this was a bit of a duct-tape solution, slower than the previous way things worked, and necessitated temporarily changing the Featured Section on the menu to being static rather than randomized (as it had been before).

February 11th 2012: I finally made the featured section work like it was supposed to again.

January 26th 2016: I started the process of converting the site from a lumbering mutant legacy ASP.NET monster to a Flask application written in Python. This necessitated porting all of the actual code used on the site, converting the hundreds of .aspx files to Jinja2 templates (most of them, thankfully, were completely static and could be converted with an automated script), and rigging up a system to make sure every old URL would still work and redirect to its new location, as while I was at it I also organized the site's URL structure better.

August 8th 2016: I finally finished the Python port of the site that I'd started in January and officially transferred the domain to the new server.

Content

April 2003: I found Mewtwofan's Pokémon Page and was introduced to Anti-Anti-Pokémon, which I got quite obsessive about for a couple of years afterwards. I had an extremely lengthy page of counters to Anti-Anti-Pokémon arguments by the time I decided this was all kind of extreme and immature. Thankfully the current AAP sections are more sensible.

July 17th 2003: I put up a gallery of my sprites. This is noteworthy because at this time, Pokémon spriting was pretty much only just starting; there was one massively popular request thread for recolors at the Pokémasters forums, and everybody was all "OMG! I DIDN'T KNOW YOU COULD DO THAT! THAT IS SO COOL!" about it. I hijacked a couple of requests in that thread and later opened a thread of my own (after somebody else had thought up splicing two different Pokémon using sprites, which was just mind-boggling at the time), where I took requests for what we today call recolors, splices, revamps (original idea taken from Pokémon Forever's Pokémon Recolor Project, which was quickly closed because everybody's recolors, including mine, were ugly and paint-buckety) and edits. This was where most of the sprites that ended up in this gallery were requested. After this, a lot of people told me they got into spriting because of my gallery, although of course by now it's only a drop in the ocean of Pokémon spriting.

September 2003: I made the original Marquee of Doom, which at the time was completely original, believe it or not. At the time it was called "Do Not Click Here", which was not completely original.

November 2nd 2003: I decided I wanted to make something big for the site's first birthday, so I manually made a huge database of Pokémon information that then became a rather poor Pokédex. I finished it on time despite some problems (such as accidentally deleting all the data for the Hoenn Pokémon after finishing it and having to retype all the information), but I have since realized that I was wasting my time; there have always been much better Pokédexes out there that I couldn't possibly have begun to compete with, and eventually the Pokédex just got taken down. Don't make my mistake.

September 24th 2004: Sometime in 2004 - I'm not sure when exactly - I realized fleetingly that there were exactly 365 non-legendary Pokémon as of the third generation; I had counted the legendary Pokémon (there were 21), and then I happened to subtract that from 386 to find that convenient number that seemed to be just screaming to have one Pokémon assigned to each day of the year. This eventually became the original Zodiac, which has been a distinguishing feature of the site ever since in the form of the unique date displayed at the top of every page.

November 14th 2004: I put up my first and only walkthrough, the FR/LG one, which I had been working on ever since getting the game. After doing it, I swore never to make a walkthrough again. I have kept that promise.

February 18th 2005: I put up the Fun Facts section, whose facts have been copy-pasted all over the place ever since.

February 2006: I made the first Irregular Crossword, then called the "Monthly Crossword". I'm not very good at keeping things scheduled.

September 28th 2006: On the release date of Diamond and Pearl in Japan, I put up a news-based minipage called The Cave of Speculative Theories. I updated it reasonably diligently at first, but after missing almost the entirety of the fifth-generation coverage out of laziness, I finally put it out of its misery on February 14th 2011. News reporting was never my area and it was mostly a chore to maintain, without adding much of interest to the general discussion.

December 24th 2006: I made the Clue Game, the next ludicrously difficult game on the site.

November 2nd 2007: A new Zodiac including the fourth-generation Pokémon was put up on the site's fifth birthday.

December 2007: I added a tool to the Zodiac that would generate images showing the Zodiac Pokémon for one's birthday. This feature hasn't seen that much use, but I like it anyway.

October 13th 2008: Magikarp: the Gathering was put up (on the Day of Magikarp and Gyarados, no less) as the latest impossibly difficult game on the site.

August 17th 2009: I put up the first of my Pokémon movie reviews, a series of reviews aiming to critically analyze the Pokémon movies in depth.

February 24th 2011: I took my first steps into analyzing the assembly code of the Pokémon games by completing a_magical_me's analysis of the R/B/Y capture algorithm. At the time this was completely new information, not found anywhere else on the Internet to my knowledge. Much later, in 2014, the article was posted to Hacker News and picked up by Hacker Monthly.

March 18th 2011: The fifth-generation Zodiac was put up.

June 8th 2012: After having some adventures with trying to shark an encounter with a level 52 Blissey and get Crystal to divide by zero, I put up an analysis of the second-generation capture formula. Again, it contained completely new information that had never before seen the light of the Internet - while the formula had been around on some sites in a vague form, the implications had never been analyzed, and some bits of information had been missing altogether.

January 26th 2014: The Zodiac was updated for the sixth generation.

April 27th 2014: I put up the R/B/Y stat modification page, explaining the gloriously buggy way that stat modifiers work in the first-generation games. This, too, was the first such complete analysis of R/B/Y's stat modification behaviour, to the best of my knowledge.

August 16th 2014: I put up the Favorite Pokémon Picker, a tool to let the user find their favorite Pokémon through a process of elimination. I sort of just threw it up because people had been asking me about it (I'd originally linked it from my Tumblr in September 2013 when I created it on a whim without putting it up on the site proper), but from there it blew up, becoming one of the site's most-linked pages.

Layouts

Butterfree's Pokémon Site (November 2002-May 2003)

In its first online incarnation, the site looked like this: bright blue background, black text with links that were not supposed to be distinguishable from normal text until hovered over, huge yellow Comic Sans title... bad, in other words. It also had horrid browser support, because at the time I didn't have the faintest idea that something other than Internet Explorer that could also access the same Internet existed. (I might also note that for the heck of it, I later made an Oldie style which will make the current site look almost exactly like the site looked back then in all of its eye-hurting, unreadable glory, though with better browser support.)

The Cave of Dragonflies Original (May 2003-December 2003)

Soon after the title change to The Cave of Dragonflies, the site looked like [WARNING: contains background music that can't be turned off!] this, although those updates have been stuck on there from a later archived copy of the front page since the saved version didn't have any updates. With the name change, I decided that to fit with the "Cave" part, the site would have to have a black background, so it was black with a red Comic Sans title and light yellow links. The browser support was still poor, I had these little "New Update" icons for the menu that I no longer use, and as seen from the warning above, I'd gotten the brilliant idea of including background music.

Styleswitcher Div Layout (November 2003-January 2004)

Shortly before I first made the styleswitcher, I remade the layout using divs instead of tables, since somebody had told me at some point that you weren't supposed to use tables for layouts. It was lucky I did, because without that, I couldn't have made the styleswitcher. Cave Style then looked like this, black with ugly gray menus and finally a smaller update font (which had admittedly come about in October), but still looking quite similar to the previous version. This version is from before I made it properly cross-browser compatible, though, so a lot of it is still kind of messed up in browsers today. I also unfortunately have no versions of the other styles saved, but they were Red Style, Green Style, Dark Blue Style and (a bit later) Snow Style.

HTML Guide Layout (January 2004-February 2004)

In January 2004 I started making an HTML guide and made a sample layout for it. To my frustration, I realized that this layout looked better than the layout I was using for the site itself. So I actually switched, leaving Cave Style to look like this. The bad thing was that it was a table layout, so in a way it was a step backwards after I had been using divs for a while before.

Second Styleswitcher Layout (February 2004-February 2005)

Somebody e-mailed me to tell me I should really, really use divs to lay out my page, and I made this layout, though this copy is from a bit later, after I had changed the colors of Cave Style - originally it had the same colors as it always did, but this general layout.

List Menu Layout (February 2005-October 2005)

After learning a bit more about conventions in layout-making, I made the menu into a list in the HTML, instead of the old series of way too many unnecessary divs, and used CSS to make the links in the menu change background color when hovering over them, additionally making the links reach all the way from one edge to the other (the link used to end with the linked word before that). The site afterwards looked like this in Cave Style - not very different in looks from before, but I changed the font in the menu links from Comic Sans to Verdana, did the aforementioned hover background color trick and randomly changed how the Older Updates link was presented.

The New Layout (October 2005-present)

In September 2005, I decided my site had ugly, messy HTML and I should redo it. Therefore, I began a conversion of all active pages of the site on October fifth, which unfortunately was not finished until February 8th 2006. This is the layout you're looking at right now, and I don't foresee ever needing to change it again, since the HTML is about as clean as it gets and when I want something new looks-wise, I'll just edit the styles.

Hit Milestones

  1. 50,000 front page hits: August 28th 2003
  2. 100,000 front page hits: January 28th 2004
  3. 150,000 front page hits: May 28th 2004
  4. 200,000 front page hits: August 2004
  5. 300,000 front page hits: December 10th 2004
  6. 400,000 front page hits: April 8th 2005
  7. 500,000 front page hits: August 12th 2005
  8. 600,000 front page hits: February 19th 2006
  9. 700,000 front page hits: July 1st 2006
  10. 800,000 front page hits: September 28th 2006
  11. 900,000 front page hits: December 28th 2006
  12. 1,000,000 front page hits: February 15th 2007
  13. 1,500,000 front page hits: January 31st 2008
  14. 2,000,000 front page hits: October 9th 2008
  15. 2,500,000 front page hits: April 1st 2009
  16. 3,000,000 front page hits: March 13th 2010
  17. 3,500,000 front page hits: April 7th 2010 (I suspect somebody with no life pretty much spent all day refreshing the front page here in the hope of getting a new splash or something; of course, by bringing about a milestone so ridiculously soon without it being in any way meaningful, they didn't get one. Interestingly, the flood of front page hits stopped after I said this in the guestbook.)
  18. 4,000,000 front page hits: February 21st 2011
  19. 4,500,000 front page hits: December 11th 2012
  20. 5,000,000 front page hits: May 28th 2014
  21. 5,500,000 front page hits: December 24th 2014
  22. 6,000,000 front page hits: May 24th 2015
  23. 6,500,000 front page hits: March 14th 2016

Page last modified August 25 2016 at 21:46 GMT