Fw: Fw: Fw: The Bizarroworld Time Capsule of 00fun

I occasionally use the Scratchpad to look at some truly odd goings-on from the internet at large. Before, we’ve discussed the curious tale of the internet’s first stab at PlayTunesifycamp, MP3.com, we’ve explored the downright pathologic world of Nirvana fan albums, and we’ve even taken a cursory dive into the small web! Yet, today’s less specialist and more into the shallow end, that which your grandparents might’ve trafficked in. That which gave email its reputation as a spammy nightmare hole where actual correspondence goes to die.

Today, we’re taking a look at a…gremlin from my past. One I cannot explain, nor excuse, nor describe without photographic proof and Wayback Machine captures. One that, again, has zero trace on the live internet. A Google search only brings up the aforementioned Wayback captures, something I’ve simply never seen before. I may be the sole person alive who remembers this site, but the Internet Archive proves I’m not lying. I hope you’re ready for puns, freaky squatty 3D people, and stolen MIDIs.

Here’s one to get us in the mood.

Enter 00fun. (And as for how you pronounce it, that’s our first mystery. I go with “ooh-fun”, but it could very well be oh-oh-fun. It doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense either way.)


00fun trafficked, ostensibly, primarily in “eCards”, which were probably most relevant in the early 2000s when everything had an eQuivalent and email was still a novelty. Thought being, rather than mailing off a physical mass-produced greeting card to be thrown out, you could instead forward someone an eCard to be deleted instead. And much like the Hallmark aisle, 00fun sure had one for every occasion.

00fun's front page
Featuring some of their most popular eCards.

Now, the vast majority of the eCards on the site were of course Flash animations, and given that Flash has been unceremoniously dropped like a bad habit and the corpse blown up to make sure no one could even think of enjoying all those hundreds of gigabytes of Flash content from the past two decades (preservation? don’t make me laugh), playing them in-browser is a bit tougher. Thankfully, no obfuscation here. All the ones I tried played fine in a Flash projector, which means I’ve been able to get renders of them. Not that the eCards are really what we’re here for, but…it’s to get you in the mood.

For example: say you know someone’s been down with a 103F fever and the shits. You could forward them a cartoon of a dog being neglected in the elements! Which would make me feel a ton better.

Or, say a man getting assaulted by an anthropomorphic ant! Geddit, because…nasty bug?

Not all of them were quite as funky as those, however. Some were instead just plain cheesy. And hey, I can’t knock a bit of cheese in my diet.

I like this one mostly because the music kinda reminds me of the theme from House. Who knew that grandmas were such big fans of Massive Attack?

There was one eCard I really wanted to find again because I actually thought it was kinda cute. I’m guessing it was one of their later eCards, but I did manage to seek it out: it was called “Warm and Fuzzy”, and it’s…well, about a hairball! But actually, it’s about friendship. It’s dumb and cheesy and kinda gross, but…I still approve. Cammy has a heart in there somewhere.

The truly bizarre stuff: Fun Forwards and Fun Pages

But lads, I haven’t proven just why this deserved a blog post! 00fun didn’t just do quirky Flash cartoons, no sir. They did proper email forwards. These were…well, email forwards. Usually very strange stories, made up nonsense, and ruminations on the kinds of topics that were on the minds of the newly-inducted internet folk in the early 2000s. We’re talking 9/11, airline food, lame-as-all-sin old people humor, cultural and country-based humor, Dubya, God, puns about menstruation, and so on.

00fun's "Outrageous Court Cases" page
I couldn’t be assed to see if any of these are real. Seeing ’em reminds me of classic Snopes, before they went political too.

These pages are nonetheless goldmines in the way they’re formatted, with their basic fonts, strong colors, the animated GIFs of squishy, cartoony people that have that unique Microsoft Agent look to them, and especially the MIDIs. Browsers nowadays merely download MIDIs rather than play them, but thanks to cammy.somnol, I now have a MIDI setup that can render out the files. Thus, I’ve sprinkled them throughout this post so you can have a listen for yourself.

And every single page encourages you, with that email form at the bottom of it, to SEND This eCard To A Friend NOW FREE:–actually, up to 12 friends! After all, they’ll get a kick out of it!

I’ll let you be the judge of that.

00fun's "You and Your Boss" page

00fun at its best is probably the CRAZY SLOGANS! page–I told you to expect puns. Or maybe it’s “The Trouble With Email”, which is kind of amazing in that utterly morbid way. Or this “brain teasers” page, which is…fucking stupid, and had me moaning “fuck youuuuu” over and over…but again, something kinda fun about it. With so many pages, at least a few of them have to be mildly amusing.

The rest…are charming. We’ll call ’em that.

00fun's "Fun With Telemarketers" page
You know, on second thought, I can see Colton doing some of these to amuse himself.

“Forwards from Grandma” has taken on something of a new meaning these days, something of an ironic, almost mocking look at the kind of humor people with no sense of humor indulge in, usually by people who consider “conservative” a four letter word (but no politics here :3c). Seriously, browse through r/forwardsfromgrandma sometime and see how mean-spirited and pointed it all is. It stops being about the quirky anti-humor of comparing work to prison and starts instead being a contest to see who can come up with the most ways to call your grandma racist and backwards.

I don’t like 00fun on a content level. Outside the cheese and the aforementioned mildly amusing pages on “how many months have 28 days” and slogans for gynecologists, most of the site really is just the kinds of Minions and patriotic stuff you see on Facebook instead nowadays. I just find the way that the miserable kinds of people that populate the internet today have essentially boiled down entire lives and worldviews into “fuck Mexicans” to be…kinda stomach-churning, especially given how little of 00fun is actually political in nature.

Who, what, where, when, why?

Finding out anything about 00fun was a rabbit hole I wouldn’t wish on any of you. Indeed, with Google results as utterly barren as what you’d get now, you’d be forgiven in thinking that it never really existed at all! Even their help and FAQs page was about as useful as a slotted soup spoon.

00FUN.com is the Internet’s largest FREE electronic greeting card website. Visitors can use our website as a medium to send eCards to their friends and loved ones, absolutely free. Over the past three years, we have strived to create a website that is easy to use, providing a fun experience for our visitors. New eCards are added daily, so check back often!

Comspec's old site page for MediaClay

Where I was able to get some information is in the software 00fun ran on. Linked around the site is this very old (so old, it ran on ASP) CMS known as MediaClay. MediaClay was built by a Canadian company called Comspec Communications. Using someone else’s CMS doesn’t prove much of anything, but out of curiosity, I looked at 00fun’s earliest Wayback captures (earlier than I remember, certainly), and who else is given as a contact but a man named Andrew at Comspec?

The footer on the first 00fun site design, linking it to Comspec

Further, peeking inside Comspec’s PDF product brochure from 2003 or so sees them quoting 00fun’s “technical director”, Nathan Shaffer. I can’t find much of anything on this guy, nothing tying him to 00fun or Comspec on the internet these days, so if he is still around and hasn’t disappeared completely, he’s not letting us know his past with eCards. (I was able to find a “Michael Shaffer” in Hamilton, Ontario, same area code as Comspec–brothers? Assumed name? I feel like it has to be connected somehow…)

Overall though, I think it was a testing ground for Comspec’s CMS offerings. As you can see by that early Wayback capture, 00fun was also being used to sell printer ink, coffee, and scam cruises–so I guess you have some idea of who it was being marketed at.

I suppose I should also say that 00fun is by no means a particularly reputable looking site. The aforementioned andrew@comspec address is mentioned in relation to 00fun collecting content from “various contributors”–as in, likely stealing forwards from around the internet. It’s just that sometimes, the content thieves of yesteryear become today’s preservationists–see those shareware packs of Duke Nukem 3D and Sims mods and people like Raymond Rohauer for proof of that.

Part of Comspec's brochure for MediaClay
Comspec’s media brochure PDF, with 00fun listed as a quote

Comspec, at some point before 2010, appears to have folded. Dun & Bradstreet’s profile on them sees them still at that same Wingold Avenue address, though operating under absolutesurplus.com rather than comspec.com or 00fun.com. Problem being, absolutesurplus.com (or rather, scientificsurplus.com, which it redirects to) hasn’t been updated since 1999, according to the footer, and the ordering email (aw@c.com), is also no longer extant. I’m calling them defunct.

So, I guess the big question now is–what reminded me of this beast, and why was a seven-year-old boy spending so much time on the Boomer Humor Spam Network? The answer to the former is Wiby; saw some GIFs that had that exact same Agent look to them on this site right here (perhaps coming to Seamounts, perhaps not) and I went digging again. I’m genuinely amazed at how much of it’s gotten preserved. Even the Flash animations, I’ve been able to show you without much of an issue.

As for the latter question–that one’s gonna have to go unsolved for now. I got my first email address at a supremely young age (it was shared between my three siblings, and no, I will not be giving it out, nor is it extant anymore–will say it was an @verizon address), and maybe the thought of email was just so novel I tried bugging every single address in my field of view? I certainly did get forwarded something from 00fun from an actual old person in my family at some point, that was certainly my actual introduction to it. But why it stuck with me? Why I remembered so much about it? Who can say.

Consider it an exorcism, helping a friendly elderly ghost finally cross into the unknown. I went on early YouTube and Cartoon Network and Miniclip as much as every other kid did–but then stuff like this was put in front of me and…that’s all she wrote, really. Making me wanna check Bubsy HQ and the Video Game Critic site while I’m at it.

Personally, I’m going back to writing stories. The only place to hide from an internet menace is in a world where there is no internet.

00fun's "Life Before Computers" page
I leave you with this snippet of the “Life Before Computers” page, since it just seems to fit in all the right ways.

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