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A Brief History of Hamster Time

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The Founding

It was July 2002... Nelly was gettin’ “Hot in Herre,” gas cost less than $1.50 a gallon, Austin Powers was bringing “Goldmember” to theaters and “Big Brother 3” had just warned us to “Expect the Unexpected.”

Marcellas had just started his reign as the second HOH and hundreds of people were click-click-clicking refresh on their web browsers (raise your hand if you remember IE6 and Netscape Navigator) to find out what he would do with his new power.

And then it happened: Television Without Pity crashed.

It was still early days for the website, only a few years out of infancy (raise your hand if you remember Mighty Big TV) – back in a time before it literally sold out. And their servers had crashed ... because of us and our constant refreshing of the recaps thread. What was a website to do?

With what we choose to assume was a heavy heart, TWoP was forced to eliminate its BB recaps thread. But the addicted masses would not be denied. Several groups spunoff their own recap sites, including a little operation lead by a lady (screen)named Highwaygirl98. On July 25, 2002, a bulletin board called Hamster Time was created on a service known as EZBoard.

Almost immediately, a flood of posters joined. Many of them split their time between the recaps on HT and the other BB threads on TWoP, but by the end of that first season it was clear that HT was the place to be, even for non-recap conversation. Highwaygirl and her team (most notably Raptorgirl and Overgme) continued the TWoP tradition of strict rules and banning of emoticons, signatures and other forum-staples that still today make many other boards look like a garbage heap. After an initial investment by the founder, HT members quickly stood up and offered to donate what they could to keep the board ad-free – and 10 years later, we are proud to say HT is still run and funded by members with not an ad or corporate minion in sight.

When HT was founded (at an address that included “bb3livefeeds,” which would stick long after BB3 was over), a banner image was needed for the top of the page. The founding team decided that the image of a fist would show our solidarity after the exodus from TWoP. The black-and-white image was pretty bland, though, and Mark S. (seriously, this is all we know about him; anyone with details, please let us know) drew a colorful cartoon hamster that was surrounded with cartoon headshots of the BB3 cast. It was perfect to be used as a logo, but the cast photos would quickly date it. HT asked for a version with just the hamster, and Fisty as we know him today was born. HT’s new mascot took his name from the original image and sentiment of perseverance and community it carried. A animated image of a spinning hamster also carried the name Fisty the Hamster Slut for a time and was used for various purposes around the site.

At the end of BB3, it was clear HT would be sticking around for as long as CBS kept the series on the air. At the time it was far from a ratings hit and continued seasons were not a certainty.

Trials and Tribulations

For three more U.S. seasons and a brief flirtation with BB Croatia (Hrcak!), EZBoard was Fisty’s home. In early 2005, a hacker targeted EZBoard and deleted content from thousands of boards across the platform, HT included. Much of the threads and data were eventually recovered, but it proved the unreliability of a free service. So, the administration team lead by Highwaygirl98 (HWG) and raptorgirl75 (rappy) began testing new board software from Invision Power Board. Though that year’s BB6 was primarily spent on EZBoard, the domain HamsterTime.net was created and members were encouraged to create accounts on the new site. That winter, HT officially migrated to its current home.

During “Big Brother: All-Stars” (aka BB7), HT was targeted with some sort of Trojan virus, but that wasn’t the most upsetting thing to happen to our recappers. Here enters Joel Hardy who was plagiarizing our recappers’ hard work by posting entire articles made up of our recaps on Reality News Online. After the owner of that website was made aware of the issue, Mr. Hardy wrote a (somewhat insignificant) apology and resigned as a writer for the service. The owner of Reality News Online, David Bloomberg, wrote a lengthy and much more sincere apology “in person” on HT and promised to remove the plagiarized work from his website. HT would face plagiarism again in later years at the hands of members of the CBS boards, but that affair was not so cleanly wrapped up.

The Times They Are a-Changin'

2007 would be a year of changes for Hamster Time. In June, Highwaygirl and Rappy announced to the moderation team that they would be stepping down as co-administrators and owners of HT. (They wanted to go get real lives or some such – can you believe that!?) Magpie, MrsGryn, gforce and Tsylyst were raised to the level of administrator and took over the day-to-day operations of HT in time for the summer premiere of BB8. Early that season, HT got its first major makeover in honor of its fifth anniversary.

During that summer, the Previous Webhost That Shall Not Be Named shut down access to HT and told Fisty that he was using so much bandwidth he either needed to purchase his own server for a huge chunk of change or find somewhere else to host the board. With flashbacks of being kicked off TWoP, Fisty scrambled to find a new home while utilizing the Backup Board as the main community. In early August, HT migrated to server space on Versus Technologies. The new administration team breathed a sigh of relief – they had made it through a major crisis, surely that would be the worst of their tenure, right? On Labor Day they were proven to be wrong when the Hack Attack of Ought Seven wreaked havoc on the board. Fisty’s Main Man Devin over at Versus worked through the holiday to get HT out of the mess.

In 2008, the Writers Guild of America strike provided a nightmare: BB9 would premiere in February and be love-themed. Moderator jerrye and poster Feed Me Coffee began a series of podcasts that year, which proved popular and continued when BB10 premiered in its normal summer spot that year. Fisty made it through these seasons relatively unscathed, thank OGG.

Branching Out

During the off-season in late 2008 and early 2009, Fisty got social by joining Facebook and Twitter, where you can still find him today.

When 2009 rolled around, HT got another redesign as Fisty waited on the premiere of BB11. The season and the one that followed went off without much of a hitch, board-wise, and Fisty decided it was time to branch out a bit. Instead of watching the board fall into dis-use between seasons, HT launched its first dedicated forums and recaps for “The Amazing Race” and “Survivor” in the fall of 2010.

HT’s Invision Power Board software had not received a proper upgrade in several years and was far behind the curve. In the off-season of early 2011, that software was upgraded, requiring a significant redesign. Fisty rose to the challenge in time for the premiere of BB13.

During BB13, Fisty launched his first Line of the Day contest. Each day, the administration staff choose a particularly fantastic line from a post on the site (usually from the recaps) and posted that on Facebook. At the end of the season, members voted on the top 20 lines to pick their favorite.

Shortly before BB19, HT underwent another upgrade and redesign just in time for the board's 15th anniversary.

In addition to the moderators and administrators named above, many others deserve thanks for their service over the past decade-plus. Among those that have served HT are former administrators Highwaygirl, Raptorgirl and Overgme; former moderators Meggin, Hipp, Lifeonhold, Doom Song, toolettajerrye and lurker.

Perhaps the biggest thanks goes to the hundreds of members that have come and gone, but mostly come and stayed. For over fifteen years, you have been the lifeblood of Hamster Time and Fisty thanks you with as much of his cold heart as he can muster.

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