Scott Hardie | October 27, 2021
Happy anniversary! Funeratic turns 25 today. It seems crazy that we've lasted a quarter century and that we're still going, but somehow it's true. I still remember how it felt the weekend that I put together the very first form of this website in plain HTML in my college dorm room, how exciting the possibilities were, and how I couldn't wait to make more silly content. In an odd coincidence, I had a vivid dream of revisiting that campus last night, so I guess those days have been on my mind. (This was not a realistic dream. Anderson Cooper kept calling me angry that he couldn't find a parking space to join the D&D game that we were supposed to play in the student center.)

I grappled with how to celebrate the milestone occasion today -- some kind of virtual GooCon would have been great if I'd had the foresight to start planning it six months ago -- and I settled on writing this update about how the site is doing and what I plan to do with it next, because we're not done yet.

Participation is up a little bit this year, thanks to some weird discussions and the return of some old familiar faces and a long RB tournament. I'd love to keep building on that momentum. Please keep participating and keep spreading the word about the site if you know anyone who might be interested in our nonsense. And if there's anything I can do to improve your experience, I'd like to hear about it -- for instance, when we discussed eliminating the lucky cats, several people said that they were so bored of the format that they were on the brink of giving up on the game. I want to hear about that kind of thing so that I can act on it! I cannot always quickly implement suggestions, but I save them all and act on them when I can, and I want to make the best possible experience for everyone. This site belongs to us all.

Here are some of my plans for the future:

Celebrity Goo Game: The first season in this new scoring format is going well in my opinion, but there's room for improvement. The main problem is, it's possible to manipulate your odds just a little bit by timing the submission of your created goos, and I've been racking my brain trying to think of a solution, but I have come to think that it's impossible and that I should embrace this quirk instead. In fact, I've been pondering the backlog of player-created goos, which goes back years for some players (forcing me to edit out-of-date hints in the clues), and I've been wondering if we shouldn't open the floodgates by removing the delay between goos by the same player. If a single prolific player submits, say, 50 goos in a busy weekend, and I process them all and consider them all worthy of inclusion, and if the site has built-in preferences towards variety (it already tries to vary the categories and difficulties that it serves each day), then why not allow all 50 of them to run right away instead of staggering them over two years? I'm very curious to hear your opinions about this. I recall discussing on a video call last year whether reducing the timeframe to one goo per creator per week would be good (the consensus was that it would), but what I'm proposing is of course more aggressive than that. If I make the change (which I am seriously considering), it will be made at the start of a new season, not mid-season. Other than that, I'm looking forward to some fun goos and fun themes coming up. Full House and Star Trek fans should be pleased.

Tragic Comedy: This part of the site is mostly as good as I'm able to make it right now, though as always I'd love to see more participation (including from myself). I have grander plans that I'd need a lot more time to implement, so those are on the "someday" list. I'm grateful for every discussion that people start, whether it takes off or not.

Thorough Movie Reviews: The big news here is the imminent addition of a sort of weekly "book club" for Marvel nerds like me. On New Years Day, I plan to launch The MCU Project, a series in which we'll slowly re-watch the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe in order, over a period of many months, and discuss it as we go. This is perfect both for longtime fans who want to revisit old favorites, and for brand-new Marvel neophytes who have been curious to try the popular MCU but don't know where to start. I have some friends off-site who are vocal about their interest in this project, so they might join in, but even if I wind up doing this alone, I'm committed. You won't be required to watch or discuss everything in order to stay involved; simply drop in and out of the conversation whenever you'd like. Beyond that project, I'm still working on long-term initiatives to secure the Oscars contest against cheating and to improve the layout of the page for each movie.

Rock Block: This section of the site is quiet at the moment besides a few new artists being added, but I do have plans for a tournament in the new year that will hopefully offer a fun new way to play the game. (Some dance to remember. Some dance to forget.)

overall website: I plan to eliminate some old member data that we don't need any more -- why in the world did I ever start collecting height and weight data per person? how very out-of-date is the "friends" data that links person to person? -- and I'll have more to say about that as I go. I'm also in the early stages of making some UI improvements (finally we'll be able to utilize modern UI elements like toasts) and some rather significant back-end improvements that will probably be a gradual years-long effort, but I have complicated reasons and plans for those that are beyond the scope of this discussion. I realize that I'm being vague and not making much sense, but my reasons will become clear in time. My point is, stuff is happening. Think of the analogy of the swimming duck: It appears peaceful above the water's surface, but underneath, it's furiously paddling around, and that's kind of what's going on with Funeratic.

As with every anniversary, there are new additions to The History of Funeratic today. I deliberately left out the goo game scoring changes because I want to see how they play out first.

What do you think of these proposals, especially the part about publishing a lot more player-created goos? What more would you like to see in the website? How can I make this experience better for you? Thanks as always for your feedback. and for sticking around over the course of these twenty-five years. :-)

LaVonne Lemler | October 27, 2021
Happy Anniversary, Scott! 25 years of fun --- what an accomplishment! LOVED your 1996 page of Funeratic History! Lots of interesting news that brought on so many smiles --- I can visualize your energy and excitement bringing Funeratic to life! Can't wait to jump into 1997 history, and on-going!

Player-created goos are always fun, but won't you need more players to contribute in this manner --- or is Chris the only creating maniac on site? :-) (It seems often that he tells me he created another goo.) Perhaps you already have a stockpile of created goos from other players as well. I've thought about doing a few ---- but only "thought", rather than acted! (At my age, "fast" is no longer a vocabulary word for me!)

Scott, you've done a tremendous job on this site --- hope it goes on forever! Thanks so much for the years of fun and enjoyment!

Steve West | October 27, 2021
It's been a constant thrill ride for me since I stumbled across the site in 2003. My only regret is not being able to participate in site hijinks before my arrival (oh, and the fact that my image error is forever part of site history). I've submitted a lot of created goos but can't access then to update or otherwise modify and resubmit. That would be nice. Thanks for the years of unbridled pleasure.

Matthew Preston | October 28, 2021
Stop it man, you're making me feel old! :-) I'm finding it hard to believe 25 years have passed since we roomed at Bradley University together. So much technologically has changed since then, but the memories still feel... "normal" to me. Remember when we had to rely on a tape answering machine for messages on a land-line? Cell phones and the internet changed so much in our days since then.

Anyways, I still remember when you learned HTML and you showed me what you created. I think I had gone home for the weekend and you spent the quiet time self-learning it. The start of your site also started me on my path of learning web coding and I am grateful you were willing to show me the basics. So, a big "THANK YOU" are in order for having the patience (and excitement) to share something new AND for genuinely bringing a smile to my face on thousands of occasions with your ingenious creations!

As far as the site changes go, I am fully onboard with the MCU Project! I actually did this back when I was travelling for work and on frequent long plane flights. Several movies have come out since, so I'd be happy to start again from the beginning. I'm also committed to continuing Rock Block and the Goo game, and look forward to another 25 years of awesomeness!

Erik Bates | October 28, 2021
[hidden by request]

Scott Hardie | October 29, 2021
Thanks for kind words, everybody. I really appreciate it. :-)

LaVonne, I re-read part of The History of Funeratic a few days ago and I was surprised at how different it was from how I remember it -- not the facts, but the tone and energy. There have definitely been subtle shifts over time in how I think and write about the site. That History feature debuted closer to the site's beginning than to today. And I know that I've written recently about how I regret the aggressiveness and black-and-white moralizing of my earlier periods as a TC author. Like Erik, I have changed over time, and if nothing else, it's nice to be able to see the progression.

I won't say how many goos Chris has in the queue, but I will say that it's more than anyone else. If there's a uneven strategic benefit to "opening the floodgates," and I think there is, then he'll be the one to reap that reward the most. And as much as I don't want to favor any one player over the others (regardless of whether he has already dominated the game for the last few years), I don't know of an even way to do it. Waiting for all goos currently in the queue and then changing the rules when the queue is empty would take a very long time, considering the rate at which more get submitted. And to be clear: Just because I don't have a problem with this proposed change inadvertently favoring Chris doesn't mean that you have to be quiet about it if you object. Object away if you'd like! Or message me in private if you'd rather not say so here. The last thing that I'd want to do is drive anyone else away.

Steve, I felt a little bad adding that Lugosi mix-up to the History, knowing that it pains you to think of it, but I thought it was important to acknowledge the game's sad tradition of the kind of photo mix-up and how we're trying to do better. If it helps, I revised the wording to emphasize that I've made the mistake many times. You're definitely not alone in feeling that regret.

The ability to edit goos in the queue: That's a very good idea! That could also help with goos that fall behind and need an update to their text. I will definitely find a way to code that.

Matthew, some aspects of those mid-1990s days seem technologically distant, but others not so much: To edit the earliest forms of this website, I had to use Telnet to connect to a Unix server on campus and edit the HTML files there. Today I use SSH to connect to a Linux server, and although I have version control to deploy changes, it's still a very similar process. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

When I said that the MCU Project would cover the entire MCU, I meant the entire MCU -- the feature films, the short films, the digital web series, and every narrative TV series, even the shows of debated canonicity. It's definitely a deep dive, but a slow one so that it's not overwhelming. The only things that I expect to skip are the documentaries and TV commercials produced by Marvel Studios. (There appears to be a forthcoming wave of non-MCU films being retroactively canonicized by multiverse crossovers and whatever Deadpool does, and for now I'm inclined to leave those out, but let's see where we're at on January 1.) Advance feedback about any part of this plan is welcome. If you're curious, it will take until November 16, 2024 to cover what's out as of now, but of course there's always more being made.

Scott Hardie | October 30, 2021
I want to hear from everybody, but I'm especially interested in whether Chris has anything to say about the proposed goo game change. Chris, are you out there?


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