What Are the Best Episodes of SpongeBob?

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We found out something sort of amazing yesterday. Since March 2006, a contest has been waged in the TV.com forums to decide the best episodes of each season of SpongeBob SquarePants.

It started with a list of every episode from the first season. Forum members posted their least favorite episode from the list. Elimination voting continued until there was only one episode left on the list, and in the end, "Neptune's Spatula" was declared the best episode of Season 1.

That was in April in 2006. Then the thread did the same thing with Season 2. And Season 3. And so on. The thread has remained active for three and a half years. It's is now 208 pages long and consists of 4,149 posts. And counting. The contest for Seasons 6 and 7 is taking place right now.

This is extraordinarily impressive by itself, and even more so because the thread has remained remarkably polite, on-topic, and egalitarian. There is usually one user who keeps track of the list of episodes and the votes. If he or she doesn't post for a while, someone else takes over. Everyone seems to get along, and there is little heated debate when people disagree. For the most part, participants calmly vote on their least favorite installment, the votes are tallied, and fans move on. It's one the most civilized, reasoned, and egalitarian communities we have ever found on the Internet.

If you're a participant in this thread, let us know your thoughts! Are you surprised that the discussion has continued this long? What's going to happen when and if you reach the end? And when you're done, will you pick the very best SpongeBob episode ever? Let us know in the comments.

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