The Birth of fireflyfans
Sunday, April 24, 2005

Sometime in early 2002, M31 retired and Haken was born.

M31 was the screen name of the creator of* – an online community for fans of the sci-fi TV show Andromeda. The end result of many hours of programming was impressive: a community of over 600 registered users, close to 200 threads, more than ten feature articles, episode guides, encyclopedia entries, and other assorted content. What was even more impressive was that, when he began the project, M31 could not even watch the show – Andromeda was not aired in his home state of Hawaii.

M31’s passion for Andromeda waned and in early 2002 he decided to close down the site. Or, rather, he decided to take all his hard work and modify it to support a different science-fiction television show. This time, instead of investing a significant amount of time and resources towards a show he couldn’t watch, he chose a show no one else could watch either. A show that hadn’t even started filming. A series being developed by Joss Whedon called Firefly.

The first Firefly related content was posted on 28 February 2002 and consisted of seven threads that recapped news releases from the previous three months. This content was: an empty thread [7,187]**; an announcement from that Gina Torres, Ron Glass, and Summer Glau were joining the cast [7,188]; a reprint of a 19 December 2001 article by Mark Armstrong titled, “Whedon Bites Off Another New Series” [7,189]; short descriptions of each of the main characters (excerpt: “River- Borderline psychic. She can read most minds and has a tendency to speak not only what is on her own mind, but others' as well.”) [7,190]; background information on the actors and additional character information from Trek Today [7,191]; a duplicate of the content in thread 188 with a different title [7.192]; and Marti Noxon’s description of the show that concludes with the classic line, “We're focusing on their struggles, not a guy with a gorgon on his templok or something.” [7,193].

During the month of March news was posted as it happened. On the 6th the announcement that Rebecca Gayheart would play the role of Inara was relayed [7,195] along with a picture of the actress [7,196]. Six days later Rebecca Gayheart was gone [7,200] and, after a little more than a week, Morena Baccarin became the last of the nine cast members to join [7,201]. The only other Firefly thread was related to the ongoing development of the site – a test of emoticons [2,204]. This month also saw the beginning of the phase out of the M31 persona and the creation of two new accounts: NewsAdmin and Haken. The site creator would use the NewsAdmin account to post information updates and the Haken (an abbreviation of the Street Fighter battle cry Ha Do Ken)*** account to discuss Firefly with other fans.

Details continued to emerge throughout the next month. On April 1st, Cinescape reported that the special effects shop, Radium, would do most of the FX for Firefly [7,205]. The next day, Joss announced that Chris Buchanan would take over as President of Mutant Enemy Productions [7.206]. On the 6th, USA Today observed that the Firefly pilot, at a cost of 10 million dollars, would be the most expensive of the year [7,207]. Two and a half weeks later, FilmForce reported that a studio was searching for a writer and director to work on the movie adaptation of Iron Man, roles that Joss Whedon had previously held [7,208]. And on the 24th the first potential fandom conflict, in a reprint of a Firefly: Ultimate Resource article titled, “Firefly Contributing To The End Of Buffy?”, was presented [7,209]. was shaping up as a nice online resource. But one thing was missing, people. At this point it was a community of one. Most of the user accounts for the old andromedatvfans site were deleted in March, along with a majority of the content [7,199]. (A few threads - [2,151], [2,182], [4,197], and [X,XXX] – are still available). Of the sixteen accounts created before 29 April 2002 that survive, nine users did not post in a thread, two users posted in Andromeda threads (Jeremiah Stokes and Excalibur), one user showed up to ask where the old site went (Anumahi in [7,213]) while another re-registered and hung around lurking until August (cwcandromeda in [8,461]), and the remaining three accounts were the site creator (M31, NewsAdmin, and Haken). Over a period of two months, more than fifteen threads had been started and received no replies.

All that was about to change. Almost two hundred accounts would be created in May and 66 of those users would contribute to the community by posting in the 76 new threads. Some of those users are still coming back three years later (FilmCritic3000, Hjermsted, Ness, and others). The fireflyfan community would grow and thrive throughout the summer of 2002 becoming strong enough to survive the tragic cancellation of the show.

But at the end of April, Haken was the only fireflyfan. And then along came Tieka.

* For a screen capture of the old site, see

** This is my short hand for the thread links. The numbers represent [section#, thread#]. Just plug these into the fireflyfans urls where b=section# and t=thread#. For example, the sixth thread would have the url of:

*** Is it scary that I can recall exactly what it sounded like when Ken and Ryu yelled this line as they threw a fireball?


So why do this? Well, we’re coming up on the three year birthday of fireflyfans becoming a real community (I’m arbitrarily picking the first Firefly thread started by someone other than Haken as the date – 29 April 2002). And another reason is that I love fireflyfans. Since I joined the site a little over a year ago it has become my main virtual home away from home and I wanted to give something back. And it’s easy, with so many new flans joining daily and all the new threads and the professionalism of the site, to forget that we owe all of this to one person, Haken. So I decided to go digging through the archives to get a feel for the early stages of the site. Since Haken is very busy, I didn’t want to bug him by asking question after question so all of this information has been gleaned. Any errors are mine.

Depending on how much time I have, my next goal is to work through the early months of the site. I'd like to work on May 2002 over the next week or so but I'm not sure how long that will take. So this might be it.


* editted to add: If you were coming to the site back in 2002 I'd love to get some information from you (stuff like how you heard about the site, what the community was like back then, etc.). It would help me put a more personal touch on the history.


Monday, November 7, 2005 8:04 PM


Newbies to the board like me appreciate the history!! Thanks so much for taking the time to create all this fun for us.

Much appreciated.


Friday, October 14, 2005 5:09 AM


Thanks for this. This log is well considered, thorough, and filled with priceless gems I've been wanting to know for some time.

This is the first fansite I have ever wandered. I have been regreting a year's lurking when I could have been getting to know some of the people instead, ah well, shyness has its price. I only discovered the purpose of the profile section this morning. That was a relief, as I have been feeling uncomfortable with the level anonymity, and unfamiliar with the code of conduct. In an effort to avoid doing anything that might mean being escorted to the Blue Hands Room, and searching for a guide, I wandered into the land of the trolls. Where better to find out what is unacceptable than in the land of the banished. I read a few poisonous threads; enough to recognize that most of the participants have decamped for climates better suited to their aggressive natures.

The tone of the site is generally far more calm than I would have thought possible at this point. In general, people seem to be behaving with care and tolerance toward one another. I have been noticing the Hurculean effort you and the others have been putting in the past few weeks to keep it that way. You in particular are johnny on the spot when someone needs a link or question answered, and your tone is always level. Cudos, it can't be easy managing the level of chaos.

Friday, June 10, 2005 3:56 PM


Nice stuff! (better late than never, eh?)

Thursday, April 28, 2005 2:21 PM


I completely agree, AnotherFireflyfan. That's definitely one thing that is missing from all this (the perspective of Haken). Maybe at some point in the future I might shoot him an e-mail with some specific questions. But I figure he's busy enough with real life and keeping the site going - I don't want to burden him unneccessarily.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005 7:48 PM


Wow, that is very impressive, and quite interesting. You really figured things out!

I think it would be more complete with a nice insightful interview with Haken - about things like his personal motivations for creating the site, how he made it, what difficulties he encountered along the way, etc. I myself am curious how someone can know for certain that they will be a fan of a show long before it airs, or even starts production, and create a fansite on it!

Tuesday, April 26, 2005 4:55 AM



Monday, April 25, 2005 9:02 PM


Xie xie, everyone.

I'm not sure what the electronic equivalent of getting all dusty in the archives is (maybe getting all covered in bits and bytes?) but that's what it feels like and it's been quite fun.

Now if I could just figure out what happened on 13 May 2002. That's when people really started flocking to the site and registering and the number of accounts almost doubled.

Monday, April 25, 2005 4:03 PM


Cool, thanks!

Monday, April 25, 2005 10:27 AM


Thanks for doing this SoupCatcher! It's nice for us newer folk to learn the history of this great site.


Monday, April 25, 2005 8:42 AM


I've been coming here for three years? Wow. It doesn't feel like it's been that long. Judging from the date I first registered, I probably stumbled onto this site after reading an article about Joss' new show after checking my e-mail. I guess I have Hotmail and that stupid page that pops up after you logout for my Firefly obsession. rocked then and it still rocks now.

Monday, April 25, 2005 4:49 AM


Nice job, SC!

Monday, April 25, 2005 3:15 AM


That's great. Thanks for posting this. I know that FFF.NET is my favorite place on the net and will continue to be during and after the huge influx of N00Bs we're sure to get when the movie starts.

Monday, April 25, 2005 2:33 AM


Shiny!! I hope you do more, but if not, I appreciate this soo much. I came late to the party (Christmas 2004) and have found such a wonderful site here. I love reading about the history surrounding Thanks a lot for all your hard, wonderful work.

Sunday, April 24, 2005 11:00 PM


Neat stuff!!


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