It's a bit like Star Trek's answer to ff. Also runs the ASC awards. And from there I found links to enough people's personal web pages, which tended to have enough web rings and recs to have links to other people's personal—there was a big culture of everybody having like a GeoCities page or Angelfire or whatever at the time. Because there was supposed to be an official big Star Trek archive for everything that was published in any of the alt.
And it was several years behind in the queue, it was not automatic. And it was also just very poorly designed, with no good search function ability. So pretty much people read on the mailing list or they read at personal websites. I just remember it as not being terribly useful. There wasn't a sort of, like, just type in something and it will find it.
There were a lot of menus that you could search by. Author name, or story title, or something. But it was very hard to do that "the story about this thing that I remember that time"—yeah. It was difficult to use. I mean, part of it was just that, it was—had probably been state-of-the-art when it was coded, but that was already several years ago in And so there were frames within frames, within frames, within frames.
It got very slow and clunky. And it tended to give you even on the great big things like "All Stories," it would not let you change how many things got displayed on one page.
And, you know, it would do the thing with little numbers that collapsed in the corner of the screen and you'd just have to go through pages and pages. And for all that, when you finally got to the story page, they'd mostly been sort of just scraped off the newsgroup or the mailing list post with all of the headers intact, and just slapped right up there.
So it still—if you were lucky, they were still formatted for newsgroup posting with the really short lines and the hard line breaks to preserve it. And if you weren't lucky they hadn't been properly formatted in the first place, and they were just all over the place. So it was just a plain ASCII file with no more formatting than you would have gotten as an e-mail message once you got there.
Even the "part one of however" things were sometimes still in the file. If you wanted a pretty version you had to just copy the whole thing and do it yourself. But really all of that—like I said, it was —standards were lower for this sort of thing. The main problem was it was something like a year and a half, two years behind.
I don't actually remember for sure, but I think Stephen Ratliff was doing the whole of the archiving himself? I mean, if there was a team, it was a really small team. I mean, the archive was, like, one person's pet project, and I'm sure it's gone down since then. It can't possibly be around. But yeah, it was being maintained by one person who didn't have time to keep up with it, and there wasn't, even though the idea was that it was supposed to include everything that was posted with "fic" in the header on any of that hierarchy—it didn't have any sort of automation in place.
It certainly—it had been put together before the Automated Archive codes had been written. It was just—yeah, it was one person's very clunky attempt to take on a project that they didn't have the time or the coding ability to handle. I mean, it was a very generous and community-minded thing to attempt. But it really needed more infrastructure, needed more resources.