I entered the world of online fandom in 1998 shortly after season 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I was looking anxiously for spoilers after that season finale, and being new to online fandom, I naturally went to the official WB network BtVS site, buffy.com, and the Bronze Posting Board. I hung out at the Bronze during seasons 3 and 4 of BtVS, and was known for pointing out nods to various philosophical ideas that I found in different episodes. The first one I ever noticed was the contextuality of knowledge, which appeared in a debate between Giles and Jenny Calendar in I Robot, You Jane.
Some of my Bronzer friends encouraged me to create a webpage where I listed all the philosophical references I found. A web PAGE. I sort of suck at brevity. "All Things Philosophical on BtVS/AtS" was born on January 1st, 1999. Hard to believe that was 15(!) years ago. 15! The website soon became more than one page as Joss and company continued to produce deeply intelligent television. From '99 to '04, I lost entire weekends to my website analyses.
I occasionally got emails from visitors to the site. Some of those folks urged me to create a discussion board where they could discuss the show at deeper levels than other discussion boards they frequented. On June 14th, 2000, I set up one of those canned forums. The folks that came to hang out there did the rest.
The ATPo board included folks from all over the world, males and females, teenagers to 60-somethings. Posters wrote essays that brought in philosophy, psychology, politics, critical theory, literary analysis, you name it, somebody did it. The archives are a good read. Discussions were sometimes deep, sometimes shallow, sometimes serious, sometimes silly, sometimes paragraphs, sometimes essays (that were actually (Long) when warned to be so). The board's hey-day was from June of 2000 to Spring of 2004, but a lot of those folks are still my good friends. I was reminded of how important they are to me when we recently lost one of our own, atpolittlebit.
Whenever I stop to think I've accomplished nothing in my life except earning a PhD I've done very little with, someone tells me a story about how ATPo touched their lives. And I take heart in that.