It was 2008, December 12th. Probably a cold day with dreary gray skies just like it is today. But regardless, some ambition grew inside me, and having never been involved in any wiki beforehand didn't stop me from making my first edits on the Total Drama Wiki (back then, was known as Total Drama Island Wiki).
Back then, it was a very different world. All that existed at that time was the original Total Drama Island season and the the TDDDDI special, though it had only aired in Canada back then (I believe the US release was actually less than a week after my first edits - actually, its anniversary is tomorrow!). Though Total Drama Action was in production at that time as well, and many of us were eager to see how the series continued.
My very first edit was for That's Off The Chain! Around this time, the only way to obtain any kind of footage from the series was to rely on Youtube ussers who posted meh-ish quality recordings of the episodes when they initially aired in Canada. Or in some cases, especially for TDDDDI and TDA, rely on full recorded episode files made by Canadians shortly after TDA episodes aired there and shared them via seeded torrents.
This was a funny little era since the Total Drama series never show their episode titles on-screen, so the people made up some of the names for later TDA episodes before they were officially announced. Here's a nice little example of that:
There were no DVDs, I'm pretty sure streaming (and consequently Netflix as a whole) wasn't really a thing in the late 2000s, and full-body stock pictures of the characters weren't available. They did eventually release something to that effect for the TDA cast, but that didn't cover ALL the characters, and the pics themselves were quite small - which Wikia for some reason made even smaller when I tried posting them.
So I embarked on a truly grueling task. Proper stock art of the TDA characters did eventually become available (which I may have been the first to add to the wiki? It was around that specific time that I was promoted, so..), but that was several months away from where we were back in December 2008. And again, that only covered the TDA cast, so there was still nothing for the TDI originals who didn't make the cut.
To obtain full models for most of the contestants, I went to Teletoon's official TDI website.I knew taking pics of them in the ratio the Flash animations presented them in would probably result in the same disaster that happened when I posted the modest, small initial TDA cast pics. So I was gonna have to make them big. That was made possible by zooming in to enlarge everything. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get full-body shots in the ideal ratio this way because of the cutoffs.
On top of that, all of the characters were almost constantly moving on the website. So on top of having to printscreen characters piece-by-piece, I had to make sure each piece matched the frame the character was in. Which, y'know, is pretty hard to do when the characters are slightly animated even when standing still.
And there were so many characters to do this for. But I was a maniac and did so anyway. I would show that work directly here, but I imagine that would be a waste of space on the wiki, so I made a gallery folder here if you want to see the building blocks that became at least the initial stock profile pics for the characters. Tomorrow's the 8-year anniversary for when I started this masochistic endeavor, coincidentally!
Of course, there was a lot more I did for TDW than simply stock pictures. I made tons of episode screenshots for TDI, TDDDI, and the first half of TDA. Around that time, FreshTV was releasing their official art on their blog and materials were becoming more readily available. As previously stated, the source for Total Drama screencaps were via Youtube uploads and whatever I could get from torrents, i.e. far from HD quality. I tried to manipulate a lot of pics to make them sharper, clearer, cleaner, et cetera. I even had quite a few color saturated.
I'll admit here and now that it's all amateur work, though. Some of the vectoring I did for the stock art did get wonky (since erasing the background erased a lot of the outline fixtures of the characters, meaning I had to remedy that with my own vectoring ability), and in this day and age, a lot of it is really dated. Still, it holds sentimental value for me. And nowadays people have ascended to being able to rip all of the animations from the website out. Total Drama Wiki's really come a long way.
Non-visual content also evolved greatly. A lot of you may not know this, but in the profile templates back when I first came to Total Drama Wiki, there was a section called Counterparts? It was a really meaningless and purely subjective topic, and it really held no weight. I wrote in length about several characters in their profile sections, added lots of trivia, along with goofs and continuity nods and recurring character traits due to watching the TDI episodes many, many times over. I was REALLY invested in the Cartoon Network page. I was keeping track of the inexcusibly stupid edits CN did to TDI and adding whatever I could (not saying I entirely made it, of course). I also expanded the List of disgusting meals page and I was so happy to see the bowl of gruel in the page!
But what's kinda funny is that for all that work, there's only one actual topic page I know I created from scratch: The Gilded Chris. I might've been the one who first suggested the concept of navbars for most pages? I know I tore out a lot of coding from Bulbapedia of all places to make the first navigational bars, at least. And for being a novice when it comes to coding, that's at least some kind of achievement.
I acknowledge nowadays I'm more of a relic of the past. Total Drama anything has become much more accessible now, there's a LOT more manpower keeping the wiki going, and a lot of my contributions are obsolete and dated. I can't deny it stings a bit even to this day whenever some contribution I made is replaced or erased, but life goes on and TDW is ever stronger for it.
It probably sounds laughably stupid, but I suppose I fear the inevitability of being forgotten. Or at least only being remembred for the bad things. There was drama here and there, but really, for a place called Total DRAMA Wiki, I would've been more surprised if there wasn't any drama at all and things were kumbaya 24/7. The fanbase outside of TDW has been explosive for a long time, after all. But I'm very glad and thankful for the friends I made here, and I can only apologize for not keeping in touch. It's been so long and I'm terrible with names, so I don't think I can do a proper shout-out here, but if you happen to comment, I'll be more than happy to give you props.
That's about all I have to say, I guess. I was aiming for a memoir of sorts, since it's been over 8 years for my anniversary now. Looking back on the earliest of my days, and how the span of less than a decade drastically changed the Total Drama fandom. But I don't regret, even for one second, my decision to get involved with Total Drama Wiki and its community.
Cheers to you all; those who are long retired like I am, and those who still keep Total Drama Wiki running.
Even though the series itself is likely over for good, the TDW community still lives on, and it shows no sign of stopping.