Today’s the big day – Watchers on the Wall turns a whopping one-year-old!
To celebrate the occasion, I’ve asked each of the Watchers to share her favorite memory from the past 12 months, or, conversely, what stands out the most to him about being a crow. The answers I’ve received are sometimes funny, sometimes heartfelt, and always nostalgic – perhaps not the most thematically appropriate to Game of Thrones, with its murderous rampages at each and every family-friendly gathering and all, but a wonderful trip down memory lane nonetheless.
Renew your vows with us, and then be sure to share your own favorite stories from the past topsy-turvy year in the comments below.
I remember from that time the hard work of Sue and Oz to get the bare bones of the site up with the generous input of the other original members – the many grueling hours and long emails between the “Fantastic Four” and my grateful and lucky self to be a part of this transition to something wholly new.
Sue is the mother and the incredible leader of this site, so getting her email to participate was a no-brainer. I felt an honor to be included in this adventure.
I remember this time because the official launch of the site was the final day of a painful professional/personal experience for me, and it was so exciting to see the development of Watchers on the Wall before we social-media-blitzed it and opened it to the public. It was a new beginning, and I’m grateful to be a part of it, as well as grateful for all the time along the way.
Even if I have not been as involved as intended because of personal and professional reasons, I have always wished the very best for the site and its amazing and meteoric rise. Watchers on the Wall is a phenomenon in its truest form, and I will always recall the weeks – and the breath-held moments – before its birth. The meticulous care and many, many emails it was given speak to a commitment of quality, I think, readers can recognize.
Rather than having a single favourite story, I would like to list a couple of memories, many of which are milestone markers of sorts.
In the very beginning, I thought it very important to stick together in order not to split the community – and I was very happy (and still am) that we succeeded. One of the big days was when we were able to announce that Game of Owns had made the move and become officially affiliated with WOTW. Another big step was having George R.R. Martin giving the site a shout-out on his Not a Blog – first in the comments, and later in several of the posts themselves. And, most importantly, we have established Watchers as the prime source of reliable Game of Thrones information with a thriving fan community of commenters and followers over the past year. Thank you, guys!
When we broke the news on the big batch of new season six roles in May, it was lovely to watch our traffic go up as numerous other sites acknowledged our efforts. It’s only appropriate that a very similar thing happened once more this week, on the occasion of our anniversary, with our posting of Kit Harington sightings.
Oh, and lest I forget: there was that placeholder post full of kittens we had up in the days before the launch, of course! Who needs direwolves when there are cats around?
I am sure others will add several more memories that I haven’t mentioned but which I am happy we all have in common.
When we set to create a new site on our own terms, no one could be sure it would be a success. We’d be shouting into a void if our readers and commenters stayed behind, and the true strength of our old home was always its community. The posts are satisfying to write, sure, but they serve as a jumping off point for discussion and debate, and that’s where the fun starts.
That’s why I was so happy when people made their way over to WOTW, and we got off to a busy start with Comic Con ’14 and season five filming. Getting to share the exhilaration of the season five casting announcements with everyone was such a relief! That was when WOTW really became home.
I’m incredibly grateful for my fellow rebels, and the new people who joined the Watchers on the Wall crew over the last year.
For me, it was just about making a new home for us.
It was more than a little strange, after WIC had been bought out, to suddenly get various mandates regarding content, post titling, daily output, etc. I know a few of us kind of looked at each other and said, “They know we don’t get paid for this, right?” Because almost overnight it felt like we were being treated like employees at a newly purchased conglomerate.
I understand business, and, in essence, that’s what it was (and probably still is over there); Phil, a creative mind, ceded control to a corporation where the bottom line was the bottom line. Like, as a businessperson, why wouldn’t you hope to keep the people who had worked for free and helped make the site a profitable one at the same nonexistent pay rate? That’s, like, a no-brainer. (I mean, aside from basic human morality.)
And people like to say “Well, it isn’t about the money,” when, in fact, it usually is very much about the money. But in our case, it really wasn’t, because once things started falling apart, I know for a fact many of us were ultimately offered compensation – and more than most sites pay out to their base writing core – in order to try and keep that listing ship afloat.
But, ultimately, for us it was about having the freedom to do the thing we loved doing – and doing it the way we wanted. Me, personally, I don’t like writing a lot of stuff in the off-season. I like revving my engines once the season kicks off and then hibernating like a bear for nine months when it’s done. Watchers on the Wall gives me the freedom to do just that.
And I’m pleased to say we have truly found a home. The writers I held most dear (Marko, Sue, Bex) followed me to Oz’s brave beck and call, and we were able to add to the stable some truly talented people; Nate and Geoffery were fantastic gets, and Dame Tina, who knows more about modern computing than any Gen-Xer has any right to really know. Marc-freaking-Kleinhenz, one of Tower of the Hand‘s old mainstays, who I have long admired… not to mention Cian, who was a long-time quiet contributor, finally able to fully flex his considerable talent here with us.
And then to bring in Zack and Game of Owns was, like, the cherry on top. (We were sweating that for a while, since Zack was essentially put in charge of WIC once the bulk of us left… but Sue rightly predicted that FanSided would drive him away with their various weird demands, and that, too, came to pass.)
And the best part? The fandom followed. You all have no idea how tickled I am when any of the old-school WIC names pop up, as they regularly do, in any post’s comments. It’s really like settling back in to a comfy chair and having a fondly-worded, agreeable conversation with people you really enjoy talking to – and all about a show you all really love.
(What? That sometimes happens.)
So, here’s to another year, and then another… and then maybe an HBO-fueled Targaryen invasion spinoff prequel. What say you?
When I first joined the Wall, I wasn’t quite sure what I’d find there. A three-eyed raven? White Walkers? The Ice Dragon?
No, instead I found community, a family amongst my fellow Watchers, and friends amongst our faithful users. That, I’ve discovered, is the heart and soul of Watchers on the Wall, and what makes this site so unique.
It is a privilege and an honor to be a part of such a talented group of people sharing the same passion and dedication for the source material.
Simply put: I love it here. These people truly are my brothers (and sisters), and I’m glad to have taken the Oath.
Thank you for being so welcoming to me, and happy birthday, Watchers!
As a newcomer, I can only speak of my experiences as a Watchers on the Wall reader. I graduated college this spring and didn’t have access to HBO on campus. So, from April to May, I kept up to date on season five through WOTW, indulging in snippets of “spoilery” material like they were super-rich maple candies I could only eat one at a time.
It’s been an amazing first year for WOTW. For me, watching the site develop from the very beginning, lurking around in the comments section to becoming a member of the posting community and, finally, as a site-writer has just been fantastic. I am thrilled to be part of such a wonderful online space and proud to have seen it develop in the way it has, with the freedom for us to express our love and knowledge of the Thrones universe in our own way.
But if I had to single out one particular memory from my time here, it would have to be when we were able to announce that casting had begun for season six. Having access to exclusive Thrones news – especially Greyjoy-themed news – before anywhere else had announced it was just the biggest thrill for me. Getting a couple of mentions on GRRM’s Not a Blog was also brilliant.
All in all, I’m just happy to be along for the WOTW ride. I shall raise a glass of Arbor Gold (it’s not poisoned – I double-checked) in the hope our next year will be just as fabulous!
Having been a reader and frequent commenter at the old site, I was thrilled to join Watchers a month or two after the move. My initial intentions were to primarily be a “techy” and let the core group of writers do that thang that they do so well. But, over time, I started contributing to the content, as well, and that has been surprisingly rewarding.
I have two favorite moments, really. The first is when I posted my first “brush-up” video and no one sent me a dirty bomb in response. It really motivated me to continue posting. And the second is really a silly fangirl kind of thing, but here it is: it was when GRRM finally acknowledged our site in a Not a Blog post after I bombarded him with a request for said linkage through his publisher, his Facebook page, and his Not a Blog site. Who knew sending several copies of the same annoying email would grab his attention!?
Those are just of my two favs, but the whole experience has been great not only because of our enthusiastic and dedicated readers, but also because my fellow Watchers are a bunch of incredibly smart, funny, and insightful people who I am privileged to have met.
Now, let’s get this party started. Who brought the beer?
Shortly before I joined the Watchers crew, I emailed the “other site” to request writing for them. Admittedly, I had not been frequenting the site as much as I had in previous years, and, as such, was completely unaware of the drastic changes that had occurred. I received no response or acknowledgment, which I am now thankful for. In fact, I only became aware of what had happened via Twitter, as it was happening. WotW was born, and I asked Axey on Twitter how I could go about hopping on board. He directed me to Sue, and soon after I became a Watcher. I am so grateful to our mutineers for allowing me into their ranks so early in the game. To be honest, that in itself is one of my most memorable moments.
Before joining the site, I had little to no experience in sourcing and citing news and stories. As such, the first news post I wrote back when we found out about Jaime and Bronn on the beach was terrifying. With the help of the fine folk at this site, however, it has since become second nature.
Another memorable occasion was being allowed to write a few Curtain Calls for season five. As far as I was concerned, that was sacred ground, and I couldn’t hope to match the finesse and heartfelt grace of Axey’s writing. The ones I wrote seem to have been well-received, though, and that’s all I can ask for. I’m just delighted I was even considered.
A year and 80 posts later, I’m still loving it. These last few years before the show ends will be bittersweet, and we’ll never have them again. I can’t wait to share them with all the great fans who continue to show their support for the site.
It’s incredibly hard to pinpoint one favorite memory/story after what has been endured over the past 365 days. The creation of the site was instituted on the belief in a community and the resulting camaraderie of the supporters of the bottom. And the dissension at the old apartment was about to sever an important portion of the fandom as we knew it, forever.
The Wall was a leap of faith. But it was also built with a “nothing to lose” mentality. Worst case scenario was that nobody read it, and, as a result, we would all ride off into the sunset carrying a good story with a tragic ending to brag about to the grandkids one day… similar to Game of Thrones, I suppose.
But the biggest question was, would the community support and help us build the internet’s version of ice and rock?
I’ve always been a (somewhat naive) believer that if you do the right thing for the right reasons, good things will eventually come to you. I also believe in quality over quantity. And while those values don’t necessarily translate to monetary gain, at least I sleep good at night. It was never about money or benefits or the goddamn t-shirt Phil was supposed to send me. It was about holding together a group of intelligent readers and writers who shared a common devotion to a work of art and making sure that the gate was always open to anyone who was interested in Taking the Black with us.
The results speak on their own. I get to work with one of the best teams I have ever been associated with and provide content regarding a show that should go down as a groundbreaker in television history. Oh, and that phone call from Kate Dickie (Lysa Arryn) and the resulting friendship is pretty sweet, too.
But most rewarding is that we created a successful community… and you can’t put a price tag on that.