In the mid-2000’s, I found a humor site called The Best Page in the Universe, written by a man with the pen-name Maddox. The site was filled with pages of caustic satire, written in the tone of an irate college student.
What I found was so hilarious that I decided to read through the archives, and checked back frequently for updates, which at the time were weekly.
The Best Page in the Universe had spawned many imitators, and it’s plain to see why: the site’s popularity had shown that it was possible for an ordinary guy to share his opinion on the internet, and gain a bigger following than Pepsi.
Maddox grew his own popularity by making fun of mimes, vegans, and feminists, ridiculing hate mail that he received, and criticizing children’s artwork. He satisfied a desire for web satire in a way few other sites could. What’s more, Maddox made a point of not running ads on his site. Because of this, he was mainly dependent on donations and his online store to gain income from the site.
Over time, updates on the site began to slow. There were a couple reasons for this. For one thing, Maddox began to emphasize quality over quantity for his site. Updates became more infrequent, but were usually longer reads. While this may have been the kind of content Maddox wanted to produce, it was a step away from the kind of content that initially facilitated his popularity. What’s more, the infrequency of his updates resulted in a gradual dropoff in visits.
As most online content creators can tell you, the key to maintaining a following is to adopt a consistent update schedule.
Another reason for the slowing of content on his page was because Maddox was writing his first book, The Alphabet of Manliness. This book, released in June of 2006, allowed Maddox to more directly profit off his writings.
While many webpage authors would have simply printed their web writings, Maddox’s book was packed with new content. It was received so well, that it reached number 2 on the New York Times Best Seller list.
But as for the website, things were slowing down. After a while, we found out that it was due to another project: The Best Show in the Universe. Maddox is getting his own TV show? Not quite, it’s a series of shorts on YouTube. The tone was similar to his website, but in the form of spoken rants with accompanying visuals. It was as funny as you might expect, but overall, a simple affair considering the patience that was required of Maddox’s fans.
But it seemed like Maddox was getting into a consistent schedule, with the Best Show in the Universe having periodic updates… for a while. After just a few installments, updates became scarce to the point that one would legitimately wonder whether Maddox was abandoning the project, or wasn’t really serious about it at all.
Maddox eventually wrote two more books, one continuing his popular joke of criticizing children’s artwork, and the other filled with short essays reminiscent of his older pages.
In addition to this, Maddox got accounts on Facebook and Twitter, and he also uploads podcasts to YouTube. While social media is excellent for promoting your content, it seems like social media has become the main place to keep up with Maddox, as he seldom posts to his old website. The original rebel of the internet has become increasingly dependent on mainstream platforms, and people are hardly noticing him anymore.
Nowadays, if you don’t like the update that Maddox posted to his website this year, maybe he’ll make another next year.
A retrospective of Maddox hardly seems complete without bringing up the “LOLsuit”, a bit of drama where Maddox sued Dick Masterson after they ended a podcast called, The Biggest Problem in the Universe. The suit seemed to have been brought about because of hurt feelings, but Maddox eventually dropped the suit. Interestingly, Masterson benefitted greatly from the publicity. But as for Maddox, not so much.
Since his site became popular, Maddox moved from Utah to California. While the move likely provided Maddox with a more vibrant environment compared to his old Utah life, it seems as though California culture has had an influence on him, as evidenced by his more recent political ramblings.
At this point, the finest service we can render to Maddox is to remember him for the badass he once was, rather than what he had eventually become.
As he is now, Maddox is an interesting case study in how a person can become outrageously popular, but have little apparent idea what made him popular, then proceed to squander his publicity. Having said that, there’s no denying his presence in the early days of the internet, and his influence which led to many imitators.
The idea that one guy can become as influential as Maddox was just by posting random ramblings is inspiring in its own way.