It's Our Ten Year Anniversary! A Look Back On the Last Decade
Ten years ago today, 17th Shard opened, with myself as its first account. I can't believe our tenth anniversary is right now; 2010 feels like ten thousand years ago.Think about how many books we've gotten since that June--The Way of Kings wasn't even out yet! Now we're three massive tomes through the Stormlight Archive with the next one coming so soon. This site and community has evolved so much over this decade. So many of us were brought together through Brandon's books. If you'll excuse me for getting sentimental, I'd like to take you down memory lane now, and celebrate all of us together.
I want to thank each and every one of you who have come to this community, whether you're new here, if you've been here since those first few months, or anywhere in between. This place would not exist without you. From the bottom of my heart and all of us at 17th Shard, I'm so glad you're here.
Before we get too far in the weeds, I wanted to remind everyone we're doing a special, tenth anniversary Shardcast on Saturday, June 6th, from 11am to around 3pm Pacific time on our Twitch channel (https://www.twitch.tv/17th_shard). Celebrate with us! The VODs will be posted on YouTube, so don't worry about that.
Long ago in the mists of time--and by that I mean 2007-2009--Brandon's forums were on a site called Timewaster's Guide. Created by his brother, Jordan, this was a place where they could hang out with all of the buddies they met at BYU. It also held several boards for each of the writers in the group, which included Brandon.
In 2008, I joined TWG. At that time, Brandon had been pulling away from forums (which is why you see him essentially never here, because forums are such a time sink), but Peter was there as a moderator. Peter wasn't Brandon's assistant yet, and as we'd learn when Hero of Ages came out, Peter was as surprised with some of the deeper cosmere connections as the rest of us. Peter also trolled us forumgoers consistently, and we totally deserved that.
I met Mi'chelle (firstRainbowRose) at this time. Mi'ch was one of Brandon's very earliest fans, having gone to an early Elantris signing. She attended Brandon's class, and at one point I did a road trip to visit her, and Mi'chelle insisted I meet Brandon. I kept resisting because I didn't want to bother him after his class, but she said I absolutely had to meet him, and I'm sure glad I did. He's such a kind and warm person. They always say you don't want to meet your idols, but having gone to so many signings, that kindness has never gone away, even as his popularity has exploded.
Mi'chelle met Josh (Rubix) at a Brandon signing in late 2009, and they were always adorable and perfect for each other. Together, we--along with another guy, Chris who exited the fandom a bit later--had the idea to make a site solely on Brandon's works. Chris wanted to name it Hoid's Compendium, but then either Josh or Mi'ch asked Brandon if there was some sort of worldhopping organization we could name ourselves after. Brandon said--before Way of Kings, mind you--there was this organization called the Seventeenth Shard, and so we named ourselves that. Well, sort of, because who was going to type out "seventeenth" all the time. We went with 17th Shard.
As you can see, the initial designs weren't great. I’ve gotten a lot better over this decade:
The original home page. The blogs were super hacked together.
The original forum page. It should have the same background as the other one, but Wayback Machine does weird stuff. Ignore the obvious typo in the "News" line at the top. I'm real good at forgetting words.
The pain, so real. I think I need to give that pain to Odium there...
Also joining us at the start was Will (Shivertongue) who makes our graphics to this day, even if you don't see him much now, and Kerry (KChan) who has consistently helped me with site design, and also runs the Mistborn RPG. Matt (Comatose), an old TWG member, was soon added into our mix.
We also made the Coppermind, and started the tradition of its content being woefully out of date. But things were about to get better.
Late 2010, Joe ST joined the site and the Coppermind, and came with a ton of technical expertise. He has overall had the most edits on the Coppermind, and I don't know what we'd do without him. Importantly, Joe did something really special in February 2011: he helped pay for us to get some better forum software. Gone was SMF, and we were on to Invision Power Board, which we still use now. That allows us to have a single piece of software that not only lets us do the forums, but also news articles and an image gallery, which was a massive improvement.
In 2011, Timewaster's Guide was hacked and its emails were leaked (I still get loads of spam to this day because of this). Jordan Sanderson wanted to take down the site since its custom modifications made it difficult to update. The site died, but we offered to host the Brandon forums and we had some subforums for some authors from TWG for a time. We also keep an archive of the TWG forums to this day.
Many staples of our staff like David (Windrunner) and Ian (Weiry) joined in this time period, which feels like an eternity ago. David, for one, has the most added content to the Coppermind in full, and we'll talk about Ian's grand project down below. Of course, there's so many more, like Alyx (Feather) who I remember first joined the fandom when she was 17 and it's hard to remember a time before she was here.
I went to a few release parties over the years, starting with Alloy and met a ton of our staff. I met even more at the Words of Radiance release. I have fond memories at Alloy's release doing trivia with Matt, and trivia at Words of Radiance with Alyx. Every experience with fans I've had has been wonderful, and you all are great and lovely people.
The site went through a few incarnations over this time, one in 2014, and another in 2016, where we changed our logo to the one you see today. This year I think we are due for some updates, too, so stay tuned for that. We made an IRC server at some point, which eventually died, but it was good for a few years (we have a better replacement with Discord now).
The Words of Radiance release led to massive expansion in our membership, and Shadows of Self, Bands of Mourning, and Mistborn: Secret History boosted it further. Still, the fandom felt tight-knit, small, and cozy, and you could still recognize most people.
Things exploded even further with Oathbringer's release.
Oathbringer to now
The site really changed from 2017 to 2020 and the Shard evolved into its current modern incarnation. We made a Discord server, which now has over 4500 members. Discord has been great for me keeping in touch with staff members, getting to know all of you, and it's my primary chat app these days. My forum use had been declining for a while due to how busy I was, and this keeps me more involved with less of a time commitment. It does change the nature of our community, though, and I find myself not posting too much on the forums nowadays. I don't think it's a net negative. Discord is great for fast, more ephemeral discussion, and it's nice to have less structure. If I was to post a large theory or something more involved, I'd still use the forums, and I don't think Discord is particularly great for in-depth book discussion.
There's another massive change: Arcanum, the Brandon Sanderson Archive. What an incredible achievement. Before this, we were using Theoryland's Interview Database to log what Brandon had said, but let's just say that interface wasn't amazing. Mestiv came to us and had the idea: what if we could get the actual audio playing next to the Word of Brandon itself? Mestiv put in so much effort to make this a reality, and Palanaeum (the software Arcanum uses) is open source, so any fandom can use it. It's unlike anything the internet quite has, and it's such a cosmere fandom thing to do. Other big thanks goes to Ian for directing this and all our Arcanists who do transcription work and review edits there.
The Coppermind came into its own after Oathbringer's release in 2017. Not too long before, over half of all edits on the Coppermind were made by just individual staff members. Discord changed the way we as editors interact with others and has led us to a new Coppermind golden age. We made a new Keeper position, which is Coppermind staff, and our first ones were Grace (thegatorgirl), Joshua (jofwu), and Hadhad. We now have the most complete and reviewed articles ever on the site, and with the least stubs ever (and if you're not familiar with wiki parlance, stubs are terrible, short articles that need expansion). Over fifty percent of every content article is done, and over two-thirds of the wiki is reviewed or needs reviewing. Big thanks to some of our new Keepers (Coppermind staff) like Big Smooth, LadyLameness, Stargazer, and Rasarr, and many other editors making the wiki the best it has ever been.
And Shardcast is finally a thing! It might amuse you that the first form of the forums above had a Shardcast forum. In 2010, you could say that was... optimistic. We had a short run of Shardcast in 2012 reading Elantris, which fizzled out, and the Shardcast you know today came at Oathbringer's release. Thus far we have 112 episodes, and I'm just incredibly thrilled so many of you have come to listen and watch. I've learned so much these past years about video and audio editing, and it's only going to get better from here! We'll get some non-Shardcast content on YouTube too eventually (content takes a long time to edit). Big thanks to Evgeni (Argent), Grace (thegatorgirl), Shannon (Grey) and so many other people I've already mentioned here for making this happen. Thanks also to Ben (Overlord Jebus) and Alyx (Feather) for helping me with editing on occasion.
Of course, it hasn't been the smoothest ride, as there was quite a bit of forum drama regarding Oathbringer, and I think we have learned a lot about forum moderation. The community is much larger now so we need more clear expectations from all of you, and also clearer moderation guidelines. You can check out our new and improved Code of Conduct, which improves on rules made in 2011, quite nicely. We want to make the site a pleasant community for all and as we approach Rhythm of War, we intend to make this place respectful for everyone.
In case you're curious about how far the Shard has come in this decade, here's some fun numbers:
Topics: Nearly 32,000
Posts: 923,813 (whoa, I bet we'll hit a million this year!)
Registered accounts: Nearly 24,000
Content articles: 3,263
Total edits: 128,467
Audio recordings: 379
Total audio recordings length: 454 hours and 28 minutes!
Audio snippets length (so, pure WoBs basically): 129 hours and 5 minutes
Number of entries with audio snippets: 6,617
Size of our raw audio database: 39Gb
You are all phenomenal. This place wouldn't exist without you. Thank you so much.
Bringing people together
Brandon's books and this site has brought so many people together. I've met friends here that I think I'll keep my entire life, and they are some of my closest friends of all. We live in a day and age where fandoms and the internet can really do that, so for all the bad that is in the world, it is pretty great to be alive and experience that. And for some of us, we haven't just met friends, but lifelong partners, like Josh and Mi'chelle. (Fun fact, Josh and Mi'ch are in Alloy of Law, and Wax interrupts their wedding. Brandon gave that scene to them as a wedding gift, and also attended their wedding itself.)
So now I'm going to get especially sappy and talk about my wonderful, darling fiance, Jessie (LadyLameness on the forums, Discord, and the Coppermind). She joined the fandom in 2018 and edited the Coppermind, and that's how I met her. Her work was excellent and in that October, we made her a Keeper. The week of Skyward's release we began talking more--we had a huge Connection (capital-C intended) almost immediately and fell for each other fast. One slight problem: she is Australian and I'm American. She's perfect, but we really did maximize the "long-distance" aspect of our relationship. But I still remember the first weekend, after video and audio chatting for more than 24 hours in a three day period, we told each other that there was something more we could explore. You might be thinking it is a bit silly to fall so quickly for someone, and I can see that, but thinking about it, 24 solid hours talking to someone is an absurd amount of time. It felt like a week or more was packed into three days, like time dilation.
We quickly realized that if we were to see each other before March, flights needed to be booked immediately for the end of December, and so two weeks into our relationship we did. Things were incredible and getting better by the day, but I still worried that when we met in person, it would be different and terrible.
I've never been so pleased to be wrong. That first trip was magical, and Jess and I fell together perfectly. It was easy, like no relationship has ever been for me before.
Let's fast forward some, because I could talk about this way too long. After several more trips, we knew everything was perfect, and we knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. I took her out to a nice dinner and midway through me telling her how amazing, sweet, smart, and gorgeous she is, and how lucky I am to be with her, I randomly got out my phone and said, "Hey, here's a pretty crazy Coppermind edit I found." Now, before you cringe, note that we are gigantic dorks and frequently interrupt each others' conversations to discuss Coppermind edits. Before we did this, I went to the bathroom and edited the Coppermind home page like this:
You know what her first response was? She read the top quote and said, "A top quote isn't supposed to be on the Coppermind home page." Dork. A Keeper through and through. She didn't quite understand who did the edit, and I told her to read further. The rest is history:
I love you so much, Jessie. (She said yes, in case you're wondering.)
My mom always told me to go out and do things I enjoy to meet people, well, jokes on you, I stayed inside and found the love of my life.
So, of course, I have to give my personal, heartfelt thanks to Brandon who has made these wonderful worlds and stories that bring us together. Thanks for helping me meet the love of my life, and everyone else who met their partner through these worlds. And if you haven't met the love of your life, have you heard of this great dating site, the Coppermind? I highly recommend it. Get editing!
Looking to the future
We've gone through massive changes in the fandom over the last decade, so it's hard to say where we will be in the next ten years. We're getting a ton more books, like Rhythm of War and Stormlight 5. I imagine all of Mistborn Era 3 and Elantris sequels, and maybe we'll start the back half of Stormlight. We'll get a bunch of noncosmere books (Maybe a Rithmatist sequel, but let's not hold our breath).
With all those new books, we're going to get a lot of new members, and we want to work to welcome them into this great community. One thing we might want to prepare for is if cosmere works get a movie or TV show, as that will pretty radically expand the fandom. We want this place to remain respectful (and get even kinder), and so let's all do our part to make that a reality.
I'm sure some of you reading this now might fall out of touch with the Shard or the fandom. The crew of active members has shifted a lot over the years, and the people who post the most now are quite different than even just a few years ago. I wonder what things will look like a decade from now. But I know this site will be here, better than ever. Know you're welcome back here whenever.
Thanks each and every one of you for making this place one of the best corners of the internet.
Thanks to all our staff, past and present, for everything they have done to make this place a reality.
Thank you to Emily, Peter, Karen, Isaac, and Kara, and the rest of Dragonsteel Entertainment for making these lovely books possible.
And lastly, thank you, Brandon, for not giving up on writing when the time was tough before Elantris sold. You wrote what you loved, and that was what mattered. You've made such a big impact on so many people's lives. Thank you, and here's to many more years of great stories ahead.
Want to share your stories from the last decade? Share them in this thread!