This website finally reaches the one million mark!
It all began out of complete and udder boredom. The Minnesota Timberwolves were swept out of the playoffs for the sixth consecutive year, and there was very little to fill up my free time at Messiah College other than the daily 11:00 AM airing of The Price Is Right. So in the midst of pointless internet surfing, an ad for angelfire.com caught my eye, and well, the rest is history...
It was April, 2002. Tom Brady and the New England Patriots had just shocked the world by winning their first Super Bowl title. The WWE was still the WWF. And I had yet to meet another human being who had heard of Coldplay. Looking back on it now, it seems like an eternity's gone by. But in other ways, it feels like only yesterday. In any case, a lot has changed since the day the official hit counter went up, June 1st, 2002. Yet 1,176 days later, one thing remains the same - you won't find a more creative, uplifting, and completely unpredictable site on the internet. Now 1,000,000 hits strong, there's still only one www.DeROK.Net!
The good folks at Angelfire hooked me up with 50MB of web space and 1 GB of bandwidth. Not a bad deal at all, considering it was free. However, when you realize that DeROK.Net currently takes up 500 MB of web space and has reach bandwidth levels of 60 GB per month, it was a partnership that wouldn't last long. But it was on that borrowed space that I would begin creating my finest masterpiece. www.angelfire.com/falcon/derok was the original URL. The site featured eight main areas at its debut, each with it's own fancy button that would change colors when you scrolled your mouse over it. There was the infamous Grill, which let you know what was "cooking" with DeROK. Of course, there really wasn't much interesting news to post at that point, which was why I was building a website. Bible Topics had a handful of verses, and not much else. The Minnesota Timberwolves Den laid barren for quite a while since the team's season had just ended. My Dawgs and Cats was a great way to humiliate my friends in front of the entire world, but took a while to actually get up and running. The Video Games section allowed people to take a stroll down memory lane and play some old-school Nintendo classics! Speaking of which, The Classics really formed the heart of the site at that time. The pages covering Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Count Chocula, and Mr. T. were the some of the few sections that actually contained real content. Elevation: A U2 Music Site kept the site alive during its beginning, as it was the one area that showed up on search engines initially, and brought in traffic. And finally, there was the unlikely hero that put this site on the map - "DeROK's Woman?".
"DeROK's Woman?" started out as a pathetic filler to even out the number of areas on the website. I had seven quality ideas, but space for eight buttons. And so I decided to create an online application to be my girlfriend that women could fill out. The results were sometimes humorous, and often disturbing. This section became famous overnight, and traffic numbers began began growing steadily. I ran out of web space and had to create three new Angelfire accounts in order to keep up with the traffic. Eventually it was time to move on, since the bandwidth strain was knocking the site down for days at a time. In less than a year, my tiny website had grown beyond my wildest hopes.
I purchased the domain http://www.derok.net/ in the spring of 2003. At the time, there was no advertising on the site, so in order to keep costs down, my friend EMan offered to host it for me. I could now create pages and add content without giving a second thought to webspace and bandwidth, and the site expanded at an incredible rate. The big change was the addition of The Creation Station as the official eighth section of my site. The Woman Application got delegated to the Grill which had become less about myself, and more of a holding pen for random stuff that didn't fit in another category, such as The Hall of Legends and DeROK's Funniest Videos. The Creation Station was a section that I had wanted to add at the start of the website but had to put off due to the large amount of time required to make it. At it's launch, the Creation Station was home to the Mega Mallards, and DeROK's Parodies. But that would only be the tip of the iceberg, as the the next milestone in this website's history was on the horizon.
"One Shot" turned DeROK.Net from a college kid's hobby into a "real" website. The name went from being a footnote buried sixteen pages deep in a Google search for Bret "The Hitman" Hart, to being viewed by 30,000 fans in the Target Center. The bar continued to raise over the course of the next year, culminating in the site's finest moment - "Can You Feel It?" The movie coincided perfectly with the greatest days in Timberwolves history. The T-Wolves nation grabbed hold of the mantra and made "Can You Feel It?" their rally cry as the Wolves finally broke out of the first round and onto the Western Conference Finals. Two years of countless hours of work had finally paid off. The Timberwolves made my dream come true with a free trip to the Wolves first playoff game, where I watched my movie play on the scoreboard. The movie also helped DeROK.Net reach the point where advertisers started enquiring about potential partnerships. Without their support, the next phase in this site's history would not have been possible. (So why don't you thank them by clicking on a link???)
The hits continued to roll in, and the large amount of movies, music, and pictures that this site contains began to take their toll on EMan's server. When the site began to go down for days at a time, the problem became clear - I had created a monster. DeROK.Net had grown so large that it was crashing a T3. It was time to bite the bullet and make a decision. I had an offer on the table from an online sports organization that wanted to buy this site for $10,000. It was an easy offer to turn down considering the fact that I'd poured my heart and soul into this website. But now that the hosting service could cost a considerable amount, and I was in medical school, I did have to think twice about the offer. However, thanks to my great partners, the cost of running this site was covered. To commemorate this new chapter in DeROK.Net's history the site's slogan was changed from "If You Smell What DeROK Is Cooking!" to "Can You Feel It?"
While I couldn't crash my new server, I did have a bandwidth limit to adhere too. It was difficult at first, especially since ten days after I switched over, Super Bowl XXXIX took place. February 6th, 2005 set the record for traffic with 3,960 hits from Patriots and Eagles fans who were looking to kill some time before the big game. But now that I had a full set of stats on my site, I was able to see exactly where changes needed to be made. By messing around with image qualities and getting rid of unnecessary extras (goodbye fancy buttons) I was able to settle into a nice groove. At least until I started approaching the big one zero zero zero zero zero zero.
A million hits was my ultimate goal when I began this site. It was a dream that I wasn't sure I would ever realize. Initially, I had hoped that maybe in some distant year like 2011 I'd have crawled my way to the milestone. After all, I was maxing out around 350 visitors a day until "Can You Feel It?" burst onto the scene. All of that quickly changed over the past year and a half. And the way it looks now, the sky may be the limit. With that in mind, I decided that the "college kid's hobby" format just wasn't going to cut it anymore. It was time to ditch the dark grey background, Comic Sans MS font, and button navigation format. The prospect of doing so seemed enormous. DeROK.Net has over 500 pages, and each of them would be reformatted. After hours and hours of work, I finally finished and established the format you see now. There's far more than eight sections. The Creation Station has been broken up into Flash Movies, Parodies, and The B.C. The remaining creations have been moved to the Grill which is now the way I intended to be, about myself. The Hall Of Legends and the Funny Videos are now their own entity. And the advertisements have been moved from cluttering up your screen to the navigation bar on your left. All in all, it was by far the largest renovation in the site's history. But it also has paved the way for even larger things to come.
My new goal is to reach 2,000,000 hits by January 1st, 2007. It's a goal that would require further growth, but is very reachable. In the end, it all depends on you, the loyal fans of DeROK.Net to keep coming back for more. And as long as you keep coming, I promise to do my best to continue molding this site in new and exciting new ways for the next million hits, and beyond!