Wheel of Time site wotmania shuts down

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The wotmania Wheel of Time fan site will shut down this week after more than eleven years of operation, although some of its community energy will likely migrate to a site, Read and Find Out.

The site is one of a handful of massive online resources that fans have used to obsessively discuss all possible aspects of Robert Jordan’s fantasy masterpiece over the past decade, even after his tragic and untimely death in September 2007. In a post in January, wotmania founder Mike Mackert wrote that he had lost interest and had little time to maintain the site any longer.

It sits alongside other sites such as the Wheel of Time FAQ and Dragonmount, which hosted Robert Jordan’s official blog until the Wheel of Time author’s passing, in terms of its fame in the Wheel of Time community of readers.

The site hasn’t quite shut down yet, and readers are still posting in the wotmania forums, but in a post on the 19 of July, wotmania founder Mike Mackert wrote that 31 August would be the last day of the site’s operation. The source code to the site will be placed online in a new SourceForge project.

In a lengthy post, Larry at OF Blog of the Fallen (which has its genesis as an offshoot of wotmania), posts some of his memories about the site and his involvement as an admin with it:

I have visited that site regularly since February 2000 and posted there since October 2000 … I have seen and done a lot during my time there, learning valuable lessons about myself along the way. I’ve seen molehills rise to the size of mountains in the hearts and minds of many there, with some of those molehills taking on a sentimental value that words alone cannot express if one was not present to witness them.

Back in January Dragomount’s Jason Denzel paid tribute to Mackert in an open letter:

For the last 10 years, wotmania has been a pillar of the WHEEL OF TIME community. The fact that you have decided to begin the process of slowly closing down the site makes me terribly sad. No other community or webmaster has challenged DM quite like you have. We practically opened our websites on the same day (1 month apart exactly from what I recall), and have ever since pushed and encouraged the other to do better. Our sites competed, of course, but more than anything else, they complimented each other. saidar and saidin. With wotmania, you have set a standard by which Dragonmount still tries to live up to. I will miss your presence and your competitiveness.

Opinion/analysis
I’ve never posted on wotmania, but I’ve been aware of it for a long time and often browsed its forums to find discussions on certain points of interest in Robert Jordan’s masterpiece that I wanted to know more about.

It’s a tragedy that the site is shutting down, given it’s huge level of community energy, but perhaps some of that energy will translate into the new site, Read and Find Out. We can only hope!

I’d like to personally pay tribute to Mackert for the amazing contribution he’s made to the global Wheel of Time and broader fantasy and sci-fi fan community; without pioneering sites like wotmania, much of readers’ thoughts and theories about the books they love would have gone without a venue for discussion. I know personally that running a web site with as much reader involvement as wotmania is a huge amount of work and I’m sure Mackert has made plenty of sacrifices along the way to keep it going.

I’ll raise my glass to you tonight, Mike, and wish you the best of luck with all your future endeavours. To whoever is going to run Read and Find Out, I’ll be keen to check it out.

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