Over the past few weeks, other Poptropicans on this blog have shared their stories. While theirs mostly led up to how they ended up on the PHB, that would only be the beginning of my story. The story of the PHB can also be found on our History page, but this MPIP focuses a bit more on the founder herself (yours truly). Here we go: Slanted Fish’s “My Place in Poptropica”!
2008 | the PHB’s foundation
My Poptropica story began a long, long, time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…
Well, sort of. It did begin early on, in the summer of 2008, when Poptropica itself was only a year old and islands fit on a single map page. I was eleven, and I had just been introduced to the game by my brother, who was only slightly younger than me. He’d discovered it via Funbrain, a site we where used to read Diary of a Wimpy Kid before it had even been in print (let alone been a bestseller – such hipsters we were!).
Anyway, the name I ended up going with was “Scary Tomato” – what a fine name it sounded like at the time – and my username was tentacle, just evidence of how young the game was that I could create an account with a common word. Scary Tomato was a boy with tan skin and spiky blond hair, while I was a girl from Hong Kong, which meant I looked nothing like ST. But whoever said we had to look like our Poptropicans? At the time, I just felt that boys had better customizing options, so that’s what I went with.
At around this time, I tried making a WordPress blog, and it was going to be about Club Penguin, another game I was an avid player of at the time. But I changed my mind when I started testing URL options and realized that poptropica.wordpress.com wasn’t taken – it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up, and so, instead of joining the hundreds of amateur Club Penguin blogs that already existed, I made “Scary Tomato’s Weblog” – the first ever active Poptropica fansite. With a very amateur Microsoft Paint job for a header.
Super Power Island (the 5th island) had just been released a few days before the blog began, so to get the ball rolling, I wrote my first guide on it. The blog soon took off in popularity, further than I had ever imagined, especially with the hype surrounding the release of the next island – Spy Island. Countless comments came in asking when it would be released, and it took a fair bit of time every day for me to stay on top of everything that was happening and post sneak peeks from the Poptropica Creators’ Blog.
About three months in, I hired my first couple of staff members: Smockers, a frequent commenter, and Codien, who was interested in helping with graphics and even came up with a new name for the site: the Poptropica Help Blog, or PHB. The header images improved quite a bit after that.
We even reached 100,000 site hits in November, just four months in, which was pretty impressive for a site run casually by just a few kids.
2009 | unimagined growth
At the start of the new year, the PHB had already reached 300,000 hits. With regular posts about sneak peeks posted on the Creators’ Blog, advertisement games, and even Codien’s PHB Sneak Peeks series, the site continued to grow in content as well as its fanbase.
One of the highlights of that year was our ingenious April Fool’s prank – we turned the whole site into a “Club Penguin Help Blog”, and what’s more, we seem to have fooled even the Poptropica Creators. Or maybe they were playing along? Sadly, they’ve since removed this little acknowledgement from the official blog, but the evidence remains in our hearts – and on the internet’s Wayback Machine.
Before the end of May, we reached one million site hits, and the blog wasn’t even a year old yet! 😀 To celebrate, we gave away rare costumes that were leaked from the then-mysterious Monster Carnival Island. (If you don’t know that story, click here.) We also expanded our community to the now-defunct PHF (Poptropica Help Forum), a site run by Coderkid, as well as the PHC (Poptropica Help Chat), which continues to exist today. (However, do check out our PoptropicaHelp subreddit – our relatively new Poptropica mini-forum! And check out our Hub for all the Poptropica Help Network sites!)
I also changed my screen name to Hijuyo, to reflect the names of me and my brother, since I was no longer the only ST around and didn’t really like the name ‘Scary Tomato’ anymore. For a while, I let people think that Hijuyo (or Juyo) was the two of us, as it felt too weird to say that it was just me all along – but, it really was just me all along for the most part.
2010 – 2012 | changes & fishes
A lot of eventful things continued to happen in the Poptropica community, with me heading up the blog, which you can read about on the PHB’s History page. Among them: we nommed Captain Crawfish, got our own website domain to reflect the growing Poptropica Help Network, and changed our website theme a couple of times.
In 2012, I changed my name again – goodbye Hijuyo, hello Slanted Fish. “Slanted Fish” has more of a personal meaning to me: it’s a warped translation of my Chinese name that someone made up, somewhat randomly, for me. Mandarin Chinese uses characters and tones to give same-sounding words different meanings, and one such version of my name led to “Slanted Fish”. The name stuck, so I went with it – and perhaps as a plus, it sounds a bit like a Poptropican name, even though it isn’t one.
2013 – beyond | cultivating a community
While I won’t get into every little occurrence, as that would go on forever, I can say that the little blog I started in the summer of 2008 continued to grow and fulfill its purpose of helping fellow Poptropicans with the game I knew and loved. When I started in 2008, it was simple: there were about five islands, and no Store, membership, and most other extra features to speak of. The game has grown so much since then – and that’s a beautiful thing.
The community has grown, too. As of this post, we have 21 million hits on the PHB and counting. Behind every author who has come and gone on this blog is where I stand, the person inviting them on board, managing this whole site little by little by finding authors to contribute, making edits here and there, and more. It’s an interesting job I’ve somehow created for myself, but it’s something that I love doing, and it amazes me to see this site become what it has and will continue to be.
Also, I’m happy to say my skills with graphics have grown a lot since those dark days of Scary Tomato’s Weblog. That’s what happens when you hang around your high school’s art room for way too long…
For all of you calculating my age from this post, yes, I am among one of the oldest in the Poptropica community – for a little bit of perspective, when this blog started in 2008, the PHB’s current youngest author was in kindergarten!
Countless Poptropicans have contributed to the Poptropica Help Network in various capacities. Whether it was simply replying to a comment asking for help somewhere on the blog, or bringing a little flair whenever they hung out on the PHC, or writing a guide for the PHB, or even just being a faithful reader of the blog, and so on – this area of the internet known as Poptropica Help could not have flourished without its community. So thank you, dear reader, for the part you play.
Thanks for reading ‘My Place in Poptropica’. I hope you find yours, too.
– 🐟 slantedfish 🐠 –