History of the Celebrity Stiffs League

The Stiffs League as it exists today has evolved over the years from a small informal competition between work colleagues, into the web site you see before you.

Version 1.0

This started in August 1997 as a small competition between various colleagues in the laboratory where I worked. I can't remember who first came up with the idea of 'The League' but several of us were familiar with the idea, and somehow I ended up with the job of running it.

The initial name for the competition was the 'Celebrity Prediction Challenge' but it wasn't long before we settled on the name 'Celebrity Stiffs League'. The rules were decided upon during lunchtime discussions in the company canteen, and remained pretty well unchanged for the next 5 years.

At that time, entries were handed in on scraps of paper and I kept track of them all by typing them into a spreadsheet. I had to sort through all the names by hand to draw up the celebrity list tables and to calculate the scores. It was very time consuming and error prone.

Version 2.0

One of the problems with the initial version of the league was that all the information was on my computer at home, and whenever a famous person died people would ask me if they had them on their list. One solution was to put all the information and results on a website and this happened for the game which began in August 2000 (at this time, the games still ran from August to July). It was also about this time that the competition was opened up to non-employees as well as the colleagues and ex-colleagues who had taken part so far. As the 2000/2001 season drew to a close (in July 2001), I decided to allow it to run to the end of the year.

Version 2.5

This was based on the website I set up in 2000. Instead of taking the data from a spreadsheet, the results were produced by a set of scripts written in the 'Perl' language. I wrote a small script which would allow me to type in all the entries (which were still received by hand or email) and it would match them against known names before saving everything out to a file. I had another script for when celebrities died - I would type in the names and it would find who had chosen them and also calculate the scores.

This system was used for the 2002 competition. Halfway through the year the website was found a formal home at stiffs.org.uk. At the same time I spruced up the appearance of the pages and added better links between them, so that selecting any name would display a page giving information about them - either celebrity info or a competitors team.

Version 3.0

Although this looks very similar to 2.5, there have been a lot of changes to the code which runs behind the scenes. At last, people can log in to the website and type in their own team. This should save me a bit of time and stop people saying 'I'm sure I had xxxx on my team'.
Version 3 was up and running in late 2002. As it was still under development, the number of entries was limited so that I could continue testing and monitoring the system.

Version 3.1-3.4

Between December 2002 and January 2006, the site stayed pretty much the same, with a few bug fixes and tweaks. Most of the changes were to the site administration side, making it easier for me to maintain the site and check teams or perform any edits which might be required from time to time. It's now possible to log in using either user name or email address, rather than just the email address.

Version 3.5

I worked on and off from January to April 2006 making various changes to the site:
Started using Style Sheets for the colour scheme. This should make it easier to tweak the appearance of the site if required. Introduced the new Blue&Black colour scheme. I also reorganised and tidied up some of the code.

Version 3.6

The competition was delayed in 2007 due to a bug which corrupted some data files. Version 3.6 was uploaded in January 2007 and included various bug fixes. It also abandoned the original frame based layout to use style sheets to draw the menu bar on the left.

So there you have it - the story of the Celebrity Stiffs League. Nobody forced you to read it.

August 2002-January 2007