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Ask HN: What website, from your early days on the net, do you miss?
196 points by pensv0 39 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 453 comments
Repeating the fun question originally posted here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16284918



The old slashdot.org

The old digg.com

Web Rings were amazing, and I think the idea still has merit. Why did everyone stop using them?

My ealiest memories were pre-net, on Prodigy and AOL, long before they were 'net connected and could email each other. I learned what connectivity was at 2400 baud. I didn't discover BBS's until much later, around 1993-4,and was at 14.4k at that point. I never really understood fidonet, but played some of the BBS games and downloaded some warez from a "31337" BBS with a backdoor whose login was "elite". At least the sysop didn't call himself "Crash Override".


The old Slashdot was orders of magnitude better than HN -I am not going to even mention Reddit-. For all its lame jokes it was filled with people who actually loved technology and science and the moderation system was very solid.


+5 Insightful

...is something I still say out loud to myself occasionally. For example if I hear a good point made on the radio.


The UI was awful though... and still is, just not as awful as it used to be. Like, come on, what is with the comment UI? Why can't they just, you know, display these comments like every single other site out there and instead they have this weird control panel with partial comments, two(!) sliders, etc. At least now there is a button to load all comments (but you still have to adjust the sliders)... but you have to do it for every single comment, it doesn't remember the setting. And at the past it was even worse, with a floating(!) control panel and many comments were hidden, but you could still see replies to them.

Like WTF? What were they thinking?


Anyone curious should go read Slashdot posts from that time.



> I am not going to even mention Reddit

You mean you don’t enjoy the current -

> With Joe Biden’s campaign in freefall amid concerns about his declining mental health and new sexual assault allegations, remember this: it’s a good time to note that Bernie’s on the ballot.

- front page news Reddit?


old Slashdot had an anti MS and pro Linux bias, but nothing more. It was more free spirited. It was not dominated with startups and VCs and did not go overboard trying to moderate certain kind of discussions.

I do love HN, but it is still part of YC and allows some commercial activity and I feel at times goes overboard on flagging certain kind of discussions and comments (I'm not referring to obvious trolling and unsavory language).


I miss the free software activism bent of old slashdot. There was so much optimism at Linux and others being the way of the future, and beating Microsoft at the desktop. I feel like the Unix enthusiast's shift to the Mac kind of killed some of that. If people think a desktop ui is a "solved problem" (by Apple), there end up fewer people interested in those kind of projects. Now it's pretty common for a free software desktop to be a punchline in a joke, mocked as some infeasible fantasy and inevitable failure.


It's nuts to me how much peole despised MS at the time. I remember getting a hacked/modded version of Halo 2 (2004) and it came with a picture of Gates with a bullet hole in his head. Which is sick and not appropriate, but people despised him.

They've done a really good job of rehabilitating their image. Having grown up at the time, it's hard for me to see Gates and them as different than that. It does make me somewhat sad that we've embraced a future where the bad guys won, that the schoolyard bully that tried to stifle progress is now succeeding by adopting that which they tried to strangle int he cradle.


Sadly some of the re-evaluation of Gates is due to the bar getting lower and lower, when it comes to corporate governance in the tech space. MCI/Worldcom, Bezos’s ruthless Amazon, Zuckerberg and googlers despising their own users, Jobs squeezing money out of everyone, Larry Ellison being Larry Ellison, and Ballmer being even more of a bully than Gates was...

Yes, the hate for Gates does look a bit naive now. To be fair, at the time there was a huge amount of admiration for him in the mainstream (I still meet people convinced he “invented” this or that software alone in a garage), so the hate was really niche. Hi


There are famous stories of Bill Gates being a collosal jerk, circulating both inside and outside of Microsoft. (Disclaimer: My comment could be perceived as anti MS, but even I sold out and worked for MS for a few years.) I believe those stories are true.

I have also seen commentary over the years that his non-profit is arrogant and sometimes harms when it is trying to help. I am less able to assess those stories to know if I agree or disagree. But I do know it is not always universally praised.

I do know that MS company culture was pretty aggressive in the time I was there. Some of that has got to be rooted in his famous personal aggressiveness, setting a poor example for others. Some form of that aggressiveness stayed with the company long after he left it.

But I do think Gates himself has had a personal transformation or re-consideration of his old self. And it is a credit to him that he's done that. His commentary on the coronavirus shows it, for example. Probably his retirement from software, having more money than any one person could know what to do with, his famous friendship with philanthropy-minded Warren Buffet, has given him some perspective about what he can do with the next phase of his life, without the need for profit motive or egotistical drive for competition.


Companies aren’t people though, and the people embracing it now might have very little overlap with the old stranglers.


It would make me feel a lot better if Gates didn't buddy with Epstein even after his first conviction for trafficking teenagers. I think MS, if it wants to have some respect, should basically disown him unless he has a legit and contrite apology.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/12/business/jeffrey-epstein-...

It engrages and disgusts me it isn't a bigger deal.


It's certainly very disappointing.

On the other hand, Bill Gates is not law enforcement, is not the criminal justice system. Speaking abstractly, if someone is convicted of a crime, goes to prison, and is let out... At what point does a prominent individual need to say they'll never talk to that person under any circumstances? In some cases that would be too extreme and in the abstract, repentant ex-convicts may deserve forgiveness.

In hindsight it's easy to say Epstein wasn't that. But we don't know how he may have misrepresented himself to Gates and others. We know from the press that there was some sketchy business involved in his relatively short prison stay, which I presume Gates did not know. My guess is it's not always an easy call to make, whether or not to show forgiveness to an ex-con, whether or not you can trust them as reformed, etc. The article you cite says he regrets making the wrong call.


In a way OSS did become the future.. Linux powering Android.. Bsd powering macos and ios.

Ubuntu 20.04 also looks to be an extremely usable desktop that just works.


Ubuntu works great, i just installed it in a VM and it told me i can use "Ubuntu Software" to install new applications - i opened that and it was completely empty for a few seconds until images started to appear.

Then i went to games which was empty and nothing would appear. I closed it and started it again and now games would show up, so i decided to install "WolfeDoom" which sounded interesting. While it was downloading, i went back and decided to also install ZZT (i think) so i pressed Install for that too. That installed fast so i tried to run it and... nothing happened. I tried again, but nothing - the game's name appeared for a bit at the top but then disappeared without any indication about what was wrong. So i uninstalled it and closed the Software app.

At this point i thought to try WolfenDoom but... i couldn't find it anywhere. I opened the Software app to see where it was, went to the installed tab, scrolled down and found it, but instead of "Launch" (or whatever) it had an "Install" button next to it (which is weird since i was in the installed category). I clicked it and an error popped up about some state or whatever. So i restarted the Software app, went directly to the game's page and pressed Install from there - error again. So i googled to figure out what is wrong and i found vague messages about it.

Eventually it fixed itself. Somehow. My guess it was installing at the background but this wasn't shown anywhere and trying to install it again was failing because of that.

Very usable.

Very just works.


I agree, I just upgraded fro Ubuntu 18 to 19 to 20. I noticed it took some time to get going too, and suspect there are background tasks that complete after the base OS install.

It reminds me of Early Mac OS X in someways, around the leopard, lion, mountain lion times. Just seems to work.


> Linux powering Android..

With a lot of closed components on every device.

> Bsd powering macos and ios.

There is BSD code in XNU just like there was BSD code in NeXTstep in the 80s but the link and resemblance is pretty tenuous. And it would be a huge stretch to call Darwin an open source project. There were efforts to build free distros out of it, long abandoned. And that is ignoring the vast amounts of closed components.


There definitely are closed components. They're built on a foundation of a linux/bsd, no?

I'm speaking to the lineage of what linux has been able to impact.

It's not likely that closed components could have existed without a foundation of linux/bsd.


I don't think you get that I'm citing specifically the culture of free software activism. A device that is hardwired to only load Linux kernels crytopgraphically signed by corporate entities doesn't fit the bill, nor is it great to have a bunch of proprietary stuff on top.

> It's not likely that closed components could have existed without a foundation of linux/bsd.

This is false and I think pretty naive.

On the Apple side, I'll cite that NeXT's equivalent of Cocoa used to run on Windows NT in the 1990s. They didn't need Mach/BSD or any form of Unix to run AppKit. I will also note that today many Apple features depend heavily on the Mach kernel interfaces and less upon the BSD layer.

On the Android side, note that many people are saying Fuschia will replace Linux in that environment.


I completely understand you're referring to FSF culture. I'm not referring to that. I've followed Richard Stallman for over 20 years.

Linux/BSD source code were part of a lineage that many of today's operating systems, whether you want to package that up as Mach, UMX, whatever.

1. Mac OS X includes oss code in it's foundation.

"Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs once tried to hire Linus Torvalds, the irrepressible Finnish coder who created Linux and gave the thing its name.

But Torvalds said "No," and not long after that, Apple hired Jordan Hubbard, the creator of FreeBSD, a lesser known, but still thriving, open source operating system based on UNIX. It was a better fit: Mac OS X shares conceptual roots with Linux, but it shares honest-to-goodness code with FreeBSD." [1]

"The code at the heart of Mac OS X was born in the mid-1980s at NeXt Computer, the company Steve Jobs founded after his first stint at Apple. NeXt built a operating system based on two existing UNIX projects: Mach, from Carnegie Melon University, and BSD, created at the University of California at Berkeley. But on this base, they added their own, private code – such as the Cocoa programming framework and a graphical user interface – hoping to provide the sort of slick software environment pioneered by the Apple Macintosh." [1]

"Darwin, the core of Mac OS X, was open source and included quite a bit of code from FreeBSD." [1]

2. Android

"The Linux kernel is an extremely important part of the software on nearly every Android device. This section describes Linux kernel development and release models (below), stable and long-term supported (LTS) kernels (including why all Android devices should use stable releases instead of cherry picking patches), kernel configuration and hardening, requirements for interfaces and the modular kernels (introduced in Android O), kernel debugging and network testing, and SquashFS." [2]

"Android's history dates to 2003, when a team of California entrepreneurs launched Android, Inc. Their initial goal was to develop software for digital cameras. In 2005 Google acquired the company and put the team of Android, Inc. developers to work building an operating system for phones that was based on the Linux kernel and adaptations of some other open source utilities." [3]

I appreciate you feel the need to feel better about yourself at the expense of others by calling others names, but there's really no need, nor does it add to advancing any kind of understanding about the topic, except perhaps shining a light on jumping to myopic reactions and judgements of others.

I will not be replying to further messages from you on this thread for the above reason.

[1] https://www.wired.com/2013/08/jordan-hubbard/

[2] https://source.android.com/devices/architecture/kernel

[3] https://www.channelfutures.com/open-source/open-source-and-a...


> I appreciate you feel the need to feel better about yourself at the expense of others by calling others names,

You have misread me. I do not feel better than anybody else nor do I feel I need to. I also do not feel that I am calling you or anybody names. I have not met you, I am confident you are a wonderful human being. It is, independent of the thinker, naive to think Mac, iOS, or Android needs Linux or BSD and couldn't be ported to or based upon something else in the start.

I mean, apart from the fact that NeXT's key pieces were also ported to NT as they struggled to find a market for NeXTstep, in Apple's search for a kernel, they also considered BeOS, and they had a short lived project MkLinux which had Linux in the same co-position with Mach as BSD has with XNU ... This reflects the attitude that any modern kernel will do, that they can swap them in and out with little consequence. A similar attitude that people advocate when saying they ought to port Android to Fuschia.

But many people also exaggerate the role of BSD in XNU. In many places there is little resemblance. They continue to diverge over time.

You have also evidently misread me on some other matters in the thread and this brings me to read your reply as a bit of a non sequitur, but it's not worth debating them and you say you're cutting me off. So I do hope you have a good day, fine sir or madam. Best regards, friend.


"Embrace, extend, extinguish".


What killed the "is this the year of desktop Linux" question was the smartphone. The Desktop/Laptop segment peaked in 2011.


> The Desktop/Laptop segment peaked in 2011.

Where is the data on that? I just googled around, I don't know if this site is reputable but it would indicate mobile didn't overtake PCs until 2016 and even now the gap is not huge:

https://gs.statcounter.com/platform-market-share/desktop-mob...

I know I've read that PC sales went down pretty severely around the 2011 date you cite, however, it could be that sales of new PCs are down much more than actual usage because PCs need to be replaced less frequently.


By 2011 the Linux desktop was already the butt of jokes. That dream died about 5 years earlier, when Ubuntu spread like wildfire in the geek community and then... failed to make any serious inroad anywhere else.


HN users can be incredibly incredibly petty at times, which I think you are referring to. I think the software itself is just too easy to abuse and the moderation is too inscrutable, even if I appreciate dang.

I really dislike how political/personal everything gets around here, even the tech discussions, and the tech discussions themselves are full of breathless hype and hot takes that don't really make sense, too many people that learned something last week and then rave about how x and y changed their life. I don't know what early Slashdot was like, though, how it compared.


HN should have matured with its original audience, and created a space for new community members to become productive citizens.

Instead, Clay Shirkys essay on a group being it's own worst enemy appears to be acting out in yet another online forum.

http://reddragdiva.co.uk/lj/group_enemy.html


What happened to Slashot in the end? I went there a few months back and the topics are still being added but the comments section on all articles was off topic conspiracy theory rant type stuff, with nobody replying to each other.


If you let losers in, eventually you'll only have losers. That's because losers drive out non-losers.


They actually banned "anonymous coward" posts last year, which was about 10 years too late IMHO. The last time I checked it out, it actually reminded me of the old slashdot just a little bit.


> It was not dominated with startups and VCs...

That is a reason I like HN. I am not a startup guy, so that crowd and the resulting discussions on HN are basically an R&D shop for the rest of us. They can go do the bleeding-edge, so we can sit back, see what works, and take that on as leading-edge.


The old SomethingAwful for me.

> Web Rings were amazing, and I think the idea still has merit. Why did everyone stop using them?

They stopped having web pages and started having Xangas/Friendsters/Myspaces that had the networking feature built-in.


Fark/Totalfark was fun for a while but descended into an echo chamber of cliques and in-jokes. It was a good preview of what reddit would eventually become.


They also had a redesign fiasco.


2000-2003 Something Awful was my favorite internet community/site ever. It's too bad about what happened with Ozma and Fistgrrl. Oh well.


Photoshop Friday was kinda hit or miss, for for the funny ones they were really funny


My earliest memories are CompuServe, Prodigy, and AOL. I remember AOL had a file share like service where you could search for and download images. I’d spend hours downloading a single Batman logo or Star Wars still. What stands out to me was when I went to work with my dad once and they had internet in a browser without having to connect to something first. My mind was blown. I was in elementary school at the time.


The old avclub

Dense layout with links to all the new reviews with grades, by section (music, film, etc), no infinite scroll. Quite a few other websites were like that, you could get the gist of all the new things at a glance, now they all feel dumbed down


I was around for original Digg. 1.0 was better than 2.0. 1.0 had beautiful minimalism, 2.0 turned gaudy and it just got worse and worse.

Digg was cool for its time but it was way overly simplistic. The frontpage was dominated by a really narrow set of power users because of how the system worked and the comments were single threaded. It was kind of a hot mess.

It is both crazy that K Rose missed out on selling it for $250 million and that's all it was worth. Had he played his cards right, it could have been Twitter and valued at tens of billions of dollars.

If you want to get into great sites that I miss, I really miss Reddit from 2005-2010, maybe a little later. Do I get a prize for using Reddit when it had no comments? The programming related discussions were good. HN's too ideological and big for them now, and r/progamming is a clusterfuck of people being assholes to each other and talking about shit we were arguing about 15 years ago.

Those early sites had a feel that I can only imagine the pre-Eternal September net had for older people.


Before Eternal September, usenet was great. I only got in at the tail end of things.

It's funny what you say about Digg because Reddit is that now, the same few powermods control almost everything. It feels more like reading a bunch of press releases than anything authentic nowadays, though there can be good content in smaller subs that have nothing to do with the front page.


> Web Rings were amazing, and I think the idea still has merit. Why did everyone stop using them?

Web Rings! That bought back some memories of adding webring code snippets to my website. I agree they are a fantastic idea and I'm sad they seem to have gone away. Wikipedia claims that they were (effectively) killed by Yahoo https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Webring

Beyond webring sites, most of my early browsing time was spent on web forums (devoted to poetry and conlanging, my key interests). It's sad-interesting to see that of the various software packages used to run those sites, only phpBB seems to be under active development for its original purpose.

We don't talk about Usenet ...


Slashdot also has a better moderation system than HN with comments designated as funny , insightful or informative.


https://slashdot.org/faq/mod-metamod.shtml

And meta moderation. Some of the smartest discussion was at the +5 Troll level. Very liberal and self governing. When getting meta-mod rights, it felt like a civic duty to do my part.

Plus friend, friend-of-friend, foe, etc traffic lights. It was way ahead of it's time. Then got sold, many moved out including myself - never liked Digg, old or new - and now with potentially an order of magnitude of technology people (hardware, software, other stuff) compared to 2000, a shadow of it's former self.

Also, kuro5hin, which Reddit has captured in theme in niche subs.


Webrings still exist, somewhat. https://indieweb.org/webring


Old school runescape. I played it as a kid and have never otherwise had such a wonderful and memorable experience playing a video game. Im quite young (23) so when I was playing it back in 2006-2008, I learned a LOT about life. Trading and bartering, getting scammed, talking to people to get help moving forward in the game, etc. Most of my friends who used to play agree.

You can still play, they brought it back a few years ago, but the community and popularity - as well as the feeling of discovery I used to get while playing - won’t ever come back


So true. My first thought was this as well. I'm about the same age as you and played RS at much the same time. Personally the experience was greatest due to the huge black market community. Hell, I even first learned to code in order to bot RS. Learned a lot of the exact same lessons (Trading and bartering, getting scammed, talking to people to get help moving forward) but in real life and with real money.

I still haven't gotten over suddenly getting banned from PayPal for selling virtual goods when I was 14. The ~$1000 USD I had made, pretty much all the money to my name, was held hostage for 6 months!


My first language was a Pascal-like DSL, learned for the sole purpose of mining ores while I was at school.

I think I should credit my salary to Jagex.


Thats too funny. And honestly, the fact that the game translates to the real world directly like that just blows my mind. I met a guy at a hackthon during uni who ran Sals realm of runescape. He told me that the selling the website basically payed his (canadian) tuition in full


My Runescape money making adventures paid for most of my life, even to this day.


Kaitnieks SCAR right? I was pretty involved in the cheating scene for RuneScape since around 2001, which I credit with getting me in to tech.


Ditto. AutoRune and later SCAR, Sleepwalker, et al were huge inspirations to teenage me. I spent a lot of time bugging Dylock and Kaitnieks for Delphi help over IRC.

When I had some downtime a year or so ago, it was really interesting to revisit the reverse-engineered clients (a la RuneBot, PowerBot, etc) and taking a look at how that was done then and now. Actually made me somewhat working with Java again.

Very cool to see other folks who found themselves on a similar path thanks to that community!


That's the one! Wow. I credit that early exposure for the same.


I'd try it again, the popularity has gone way up - last I checked, it is at >100k concurrent players on line.

It's definitely lost some of the nostalgia, but it makes up for it with a load of new content.


I have empathy for your nostalgia. I played Wolfenstein Enemy Territory and was part of a pretty cool community.


Man, those were the times! I'm still crossing for fingers that we'll eventually see a W:ET remake with better graphics but the same game dynamics (and, most importantly, physics). Or that ET Legacy [1] or the inofficial ET2 [2] will pick up steam.

[1] https://www.etlegacy.com/ [2] https://www.crossfire.nu/journals/156955/et2-remake-new-upda...


The remake looks promising! I like ET Legacy and even contributed a tiny bit, but I think it would need a remake for my friends to play, for example...


Honestly, I'm not holding my breath when it comes to ET2. Chances are they won't get the game physics right in ET2. But ET without trickjumping is simply not ET.


Yeah the physics aren't even close judging by the videos. But the maker seems like he's aware.


This game had such a profound impact on my life. When we were in elementary school, everybody in my town seemed to play and a lot of friendships I still have today were formed there. Private servers (moparscape.org) were the reason I got into programming, and I've been working as a software engineer for 4 years now. I didn't study it in school either, was strictly taught on runescape forums. I still check in from time to time, and can still navigate that world blindfolded.


Your comment is vely insightful. I first played runescape in 2001 I think (and then I came back later), and I had never thought about it the way you describe it. I too learned a lot of life skills: scamming, bartering, arbitrage, and quite a few social interaction skills despite being online. My best friend had some weird pubescent (text-based) sexual things with weirdos claiming to also be 13, or whatever we were at the time. It was a precursor to AIM for my small group of friends. Scripting/botting that game taught me a lot of basic skills in computers.

I wonder what today's version is. Maybe Fortnite?


Maybe. Although I think it really takes a multiplayer open world (possibly an RPG?) to even get close. I wonder if people who use to play WOW back in the hayday of its popularity feel this sort of nostalgia too

Also, hahahaha, nothing better than walking about and seeing the text “selling GF 10k” wave around in raindbow text


Old school RuneScape was also written by a single guy: Andrew Gower. Him and his brothers moderated it. He's since sold it and done very well. Does anyone remember BlueRose?


Oh my goodness, yes. I had no idea he was the original creator.


FunOrb was another great site by Jagex; Arcanists in particular was a lot of fun. Sadly, they shut FunOrb down recently. Those games are probably lost to history.


Fravia's (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fravia) old site on geocities in the second half of the 90's.

Some of the content lives on in the wayback machine under the 'www.searchlores.org' domain, but the period before he launched that site was magical to me. For several years there, he kept his identity deliberately secret (there was a bit of a mystery around it). The sort of reverse engineering techniques he described were fascinating, and frequently applied to real life.

It was fun to load his site, download a bunch of pages, and then hang up the metered dial-up internet connection and spend the next few hours reading...


Ah, I remember reading his Soft Ice tutorials and just found out that he passed away in 2009. Sad news.


I had TOTALLY forgotten him/his sites but holy crap. Looking that up on the Wayback Machine is a rabbit hole I don't have time to fall down today but I really want to. If I remember right, I found him in a link roulette-type thing from someone else's Geocities page.

Let me be real: I loved Geocities and Angelfire. I liked seeing what people could build (and there were some pretty crazy-good personal sites). But I think even more, I liked that everyone was there because they were either really into the web, or really into some particular topic.

I miss the concept of deep dives. Being able to take them myself, and being able to tag along on other people's, and knowing that there were a vast number of topics where I could be pretty confident that I understood about 85-90% of what could be understood about them at the time.

My golden era was the brief period where I could do ALL of the following well:

- Hardware-build a computer - Fully program said computer to do anything I wanted it to - Network my various devices however I wanted - Access the internet - Build webpages - Play arcade, desktop and console games that, in theory, I understood well enough that I could have coded them - And, let me be really honest, engage in some minor phone phreaking because I was a teenager and that seemed REALLY COOL

And I felt like I understood the totality of most of those things. Which, again, maybe was just due to being a teenager and not knowing what I didn't know, but the size of the domain spaces seemed more manageable.

Now, I spend all day building websites. It's a good job. I can't complain. But I can only build websites. A couple of years ago, for fun, I tried to take a Coursera networking course and I about lost my mind because of how complex I realized it had gotten. My wife is about to start the second year of her Master of Software Engineering degree and I have realized watching her learn Java that there's a whole domain there that I will never be able to understand. Forget understanding how my phone works, and forget the idea of taking apart a Nintendo Switch and putting it back together with mods like I did that classic NES. I probably wouldn't even recognize most of the components.

I sound like I'm sitting in my rocking chair getting ready to yell at the whippersnappers to get off my lawn, don't I?

I'm 37.

Please tell me I'm not the only person to feel this way at this age?

(Edited to add: I am, at least, reassured that I'm not completely alone in this by the quote attributed to physicist Eugene Wigner: "It is nice to know that the computer understands the problem. But I would like to understand it too." Poor Eugene died in 1995 and I feel like he'd have hated the 2000s.)


Damn, now there’s a name I haven’t heard in years! +1


It's not a website but I loved Napster. When you were downloading a song and then could browse the filesystem of that user to see what they had. It was like opening a cave with treasure inside and finding all these songs that might not have been available online at all at that point.


You can still do that in Soulseek, i love browsing people’s cataogs for inspiration


I'm glad that Soulseek is around and the users are still using the platform.


Soulseek is still around?! TI(honestly)L


I never used Napster, but this sounds really interesting. Could you explain how browsing the filesystem of the user works in more detail??


If I recall right, you used to pick a music directory, and whatever you had there would be indexed and made available to all for downloading. Everything you downloaded would go into that directory as well. Once you find a file you wanted to download, you didn’t download from a pool of people like with bittorrent, but from that one specific user.

If you click on a username, either while searching or while downloading, you could browse everything Napster had indexed. If people didn’t configure Napster right, you could browse their whole C:\ drive. Good times.


Wow, that sounds awesome. Now I'm sad I missed out on this!

Admittedly, what I like about Spotify is how easy it is to share music with other people and discover music from my friends just by looking at their profiles or what they're currently listening to.

There are even certain livestreamers I follow specifically for their taste in the music that they play in the background.


As mentioned upthread, install Soulseek and you'll get the experience now!


Yes, all the things that people posted here. And, in addition, you could chat with the user. It was so interesting to connect with someone purely through shared genre love. And then to ask them questions about what they liked that you didn't know about. There was nothing else like that serendipity.


Reminder that at that time, random synchronous chats with strangers was a thing. Maybe it still is an I just disengaged, idk


I miss random synchronous chats with strangers, but I think I liked them because the stranger pool was a lot less creepy. I'm not sure I would enjoy them now.

FWIW, someone I met doing random AOL profile searches in the mid-'90s and I are still online friends. We both liked the Dave Matthews Band and played varsity tennis, and this met my minimum chat requirements. Now we are both former journalists working online, dealing with bipolar disorder and the recent death of a parent. The internet might be weird sometimes, but that (and a random story of getting a web development job because someone had the wrong email address for the person they were actually trying to hire) will always go down in my "Internet wins" column.


I miss it in a nostalgic way too. Obviously we’re all >20 years older now and I don’t think I’d even have the time for it (I barely have time to read HN most days.) But yeah, the fact that most normal people online were doing it then meant you could really connect around shared interests. Nowadays, I assume if you’re talking to strangers you’re a weirdo or looking for something creepy because “A/S/L?” was creepy. Part of the reason I feel the internet is safer for kids these days, they’re only talking with real life friends for the most part or engaged in a voyeuristic behavior (celebs, influencers, etc)

FWIW, I have a couple friends like that. We bonded over some musical interests of our teens and occasionally check in on each other although most never met in real life. Maybe that’s still happening in game chat? But I can’t imagine something like yahoo chatrooms still exists.


Users shared folders in the Napster client and you could navigate those folders exactly as you imagine.

It was a great way to discover new music.


what.cd

It was truly the Library of Alexandria of music. Cataloging standards were high and you could find even obscure releases in perfect quality in multiple formats (CD rips, multiple vinyl rips). Now I use Spotify and it frustrates me that songs will disappear without notice because their license expired and that I can't find most foreign music I previously listened to. The audio quality isn't comparable, either.


This was such a huge missed opportunity by the music industry. A massive network of volunteers dedicated to curating and meticulously tagging music. I might have payed a lot of money for access to such a network. The largest collection of music in human history... Wiped out because there wasn't a business model in time


"What" replace "Oink", and "Redacted" replaced What. It's all still out there.


It is, but there's a lot of gatekeeping going on. As a music collector and former what.cd member I'd love to join and contribute to Redacted, but I won't go through that interview process.


I truly miss what.cd. I spent so many hours listening to music, finding old, new and eclectic music, chatting in the forums and debating on the individual torrent comments. I think I actually shed a tear when I saw it was closed. Thankfully there has been a real attempt to replace what we lost.


The library + the community were unparalleled. I spent more time on those forums than anywhere else.


1996 or so: altavista.digital.com! I loved (and got pretty good at due to daily training, heh) using boolean operations to find whatever I wanted. No Google back then.

Nowadays Google finds so much noise that I wish I could use boolean operations once again to weed out the spam.

Also liked slashdot.org in its early days.


Me too.


Rob, thank you for Slashdot, it was my first tech forum.


Happy to oblige.


Man I love this site. You're here too, Commander Taco!? The best of my youth and old age fused together!


Yes, this, a multi-fold of thanks.


Slashdot is one for the ages. I quit cold when I realized I was a karma addict. It was the first website which I kept open in a tab and hit refresh on.

I also came to love penny arcade and the filthy movie reviews linked off slashdot homepage. Thanks for your effort.


I know you are an active user here, but this comment reminded me those users on Slashdot who would only comment when there is a user id competition (ie. who has the lowest id).


This is why I loved slashdot and now hacker news. You're discussing some technology/framework/... and the local god of the ecosystem drops in and says hi.


What happened to Trove? I signed up for that based on your involvement. Hope you're doing OK.


Your handle looks suspiciously familiar. How's Kathleen doing?


You wrote "altavista", and I heard "astalatista" which was a site I followed, for the cracks and reverse-engineering content.

Astalavista and +Fravia's reverse engineering sites were a lot of fun to follow back in the day, when reverse engineering anti-piracy dongles that plugged into your PC's parallel-port.


Do you feel the simplification (or perhaps, dumbing down) of search queries is a bad thing?


I miss the old Google, back before it got gamed and curated to hell, and it felt like you could find what you wanted to find as long as it was on the net.


I used altavista long after google had become the hip new thing. I liked it, because for certain searches I knew what results I would get back. Which is to say I knew how to look for things I wanted to find.

Google was smarter but seemed less intuitive to me to get at what I wanted.


I do... being able to craft a query that returned _just_ what you wanted and not having to wade thru 10 pages of results because 'page rank' put all the really good stuff on page 5+....


Seconded. With increasing frequency Google returns pages and pages of totally irrelevant results.

It's as if they don't care about search result quality as much anymore.


I think its half 'dumbing down' search, and half greed to push as many ads as possible...


I wish they would enable an advanced mode or something.


Another not-a-website submission, but Usenet with actual discussions. Web forums still annoy me compared to the elegance of Usenet, with hierarchical categories and sophisticated client software that can do things like score and filter.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eternal_September the whole Internet feels like the Eternal September to me. It all got dumbed down.


A few diehards are still discussing things on Usenet.

comp.misc was brought back to life as part of the slashdot beta exit. Other groups have some traffic as well. Nothing like the heyday's however.

And there is a free, text only, news server named Eternal September:

https://www.eternal-september.org/


I agree; NNTP is much better. I just started using Usenet last year, actually (with client software I wrote myself, because I wanted a command-line interface and support for SQLite, and other programs don't do those two things).


GameSpy and the planet network, especially thier hosting / match making systems. Maybe it was just being able to know a couple servers and run into the same people over and over, but I remember liking that a lot.

The Happy Puppy games site.

Not really the web, but the original RealPlayer surfaced some amazing content for the time. I was able to watch Russian news, which while I didn't understand a single word was pretty amazing for a cold war obsessed kid


And not really web at all, but I miss buying a gaming magazine at the grocery store and getting a cd full of demos included with it. That was fun


Why is this just so much more fun than trying things online?

I bought so many games because I became addicted to the demos, particularly a few Sierra games.


I suspect the constraints made it better. You’d already dropped a small amount of money on the magazine, built up the anticipation of getting it home, and now you were definitely going to give the demo a good whirl.

Also, demos /shareware were an important marketing mechanism back then, companies took them seriously.


I was quite fond of Kuro5hin.org, a discussion community that just kind of petered out.


Yes, there was a golden period. After slashdot. Before ... well, nothing. Maybe reddit?


It was fun but was a pretty small community.


I miss Google from when it first started getting popular and overtaking Alta Vista and the other search engines. It feels weird to say now, but it truly felt like magic how it provided such better search results than its competitors. I wasn't tied to any one search engine then, and many of my searches were done on multiple search engines, with lots of wading through results to _attempt_ to find relevance. But with Google, almost every time, its results were almost exactly what I was looking for.

Though I guess it's not so much the site itself I miss, but the feeling of witnessing magic, for a little while, until I just got used to and expected such good search results.


I'm the opposite - I miss alta vista... I miss a search engine with a real _search_ language that gave me the results I actually _asked_ for rather then just randomly picking stuff that matches half the query and stuffing the page with paid results.


Do you want to work on one? I've got a secret searcher project I've been doing for about 12 years I'm finally ready to do something with. It works on about a 1.7TB corpus right now, returns results in a few seconds on a single 3rd generation i5. I'm thinking of putting real work and money behind it now

Contact me if interested.


Yes, at the time the magic was also clean and uncorrupted by SEO — Google’s algorithm sidestepped the SEO targeted at simpler search engines. And then the arms race began to get to the top of google’s search results, which probably encumbers the algorithm today.


Some of the great old Flash stuff, homestarrunner.com was like an endless fount of content and I remember there being some really fun one-off games at the original Macromedia site.


Not a specific website, but the concept of web rings that tied Geocities and Tripod sites together were another a lot of fun.


Many have already mentioned Slashdot.

Ultima Online isn't a website but, for me, is synonymous with the earlier days of the net. I guess it's still around, but I played during the beta and when it first came out. There was something so exciting about it. It was all such a new experience.

I also miss the original Rainbow Six (and Rogue Spear). Loved the gameplay (stealth, planning a mission, etc.) and it brings back memories of LAN parties. I'm not sure if there's a modern game that has a similar style of gameplay? I hardly play any games so am out of the loop.


The first game I ever played online was R6. Kids these days don't know the joy of finding a cable host so you could do 2v2 with tolerable lag, nor what it was like to fill someone up with a mag and for them to fall over dead 10 seconds later. I think part of the joy of that was the imagination of how cool it would be if it all worked right vs the actual experience, but yeah, I'll never forget it. I dunno why but I'll never forget one time playing with this guy isoplus. I don't know we even communicated, nor if we played more than a single game together, but isoplus, wherever you are, be well.

You ever play Tribes?

UO. Wow. It's really another experience that can't be recreated. So incredibly magical. EverQuest and Asheron's Call were similarly formative experiences. I never could have thought at the time that massively multiplayer games would seem boring and even lame (what, I've gotta play with people?) now.

My parents would make sure I wasn't sneaking on EQ late at night by picking up the phone next to their bed to make sure I wasn't on the phone line.


I think a lot of it was how "magical" it all was. All of it was so new. Same with all these websites being mentioned. I don't want to go back to the technologies we had then, but it was all paradigm changing then.

My mom would threaten to hide my keyboard. I was lucky that we got a DSL line really early (we lived in Silicon Valley and my dad was a software engineer) so taking my keyboard was the only way she knew I would be up still.


In case you're interested, I've recently ported Ultima Online to mobile via Unity+ClassicUO: https://github.com/voxelboy/mobileuo. I'll be publishing a blog post about it soon.


Thanks for sharing! I've not heard of ClassicUO. Is it the original UO and people are running their own shards?


It's an open-source private client written for UO but it's meant for playing on private servers instead of the original servers.


Oh the original Rainbow Six on PC was really really hard


It was! I wonder if I'd like something like it now or if it's just nostalgia.


I also miss old-school slashdot, lobste.rs and HN are the closest communities I've found to it. I also played Rogue Spear - on a crappy rural dialup connection no less. I wasn't well liked by other players because my lag was significantly worse than everyone else. My favourite level was the airport.


Anyone remember Joystiq? For a long time, I kept up with video game news through them, but I basically stopped caring about when they went down. Never found a site to scratch that same itch. Still instinctively went there as soon as I opened the browser for about a week.

From my early days, probably flash portals, like addicting games. Kongregate wasn't the same after GameStop bought them. I know Newgrounds is still alive and I still go there, but it's sad to see the traffic dwindle like it has (especially since Tom Full is one of my internet heros).


I believe Cartoon Network still has a bunch of games up. I can remember playing Ed Edd n Eddy snow fort. just played it maybe 2 years ago


Nice! I remember a Halloween game I really liked. I think it was Kids Next Door? You had to pay to play more levels at a certain point though...

On that note, I think Nickelodeon actually owns (or bought) Addicting Games, but I don't think it's the same these days...


usenet, especially rec.music.phish

It's still there but not the same.

Also I want to give a bit more info about why rec.music.phish was special. Phish, like the Grateful Dead, allow people to record and distribute concert recordings as long as they didn't profit from it. So people would offer free "blanks and postage" deals to other people on rec.music.phish who would mail cassette tapes with return envelopes and get recordings of live concerts back in the mail a month later. That whole process is completely irrelevant now but it was a unifying fan experience that had real meaning to everyone involved. Going on a bittorrent site (bt.etree.org) doesn't compare in the development of meaningful relationships with total strangers even though it is far more efficient.


I miss the feeling of 'exploring' I got everytime I found a new .edu gopher server... Tracking down all the nooks and crannies looking for documents related to tech. How awesome it felt went you found some lecture notes/thesis that was just _gold_ and you could curl up and read it ...

Stonybrook algorithm repository was a similiar feeling...just going thru and exploring all the different techniques people have come up with.


Fun fact: gopher is still alive! It's not the same as back in the early 90s, but the protocol and some servers are alive and kicking.


Yeah? I haven't looked in years... Though I think I've probably lost some of the feeling of wonder exploring those servers 20 years ago engendered. For a young coder, from a small town with basically zero tech resources - they seemed like the library of Alexandria :-)


It's still there! I'd recommend gopher://gopher.floodgap.com/ as a starting page these days, it has links to SDF, Veronica 2, and a lot of other Gopher resources. It's pretty easy to spin up your own Gopher hole with pygopherd these days as well - I re-hosted mine a few weeks ago and could't have been happier with the ease of setting it up.

There are are lot of defunct Gopher holes, but a couple times a year I still get lost browsing through a mix of old and new ones. Install OverbiteWX in Firefox and take it for a spin sometime!


oh? I'll have to take another look - there was SOOO much good technical content!


I also just discovered that there's an HN gopher hole!

hngopher.com/1/

I loaded up the open source app Pocket Gopher (available on F-Droid), and while the formatting of ASCII graphics doesn't translate well to portrait mode, everything works.


Ohh..Something like that could be nice on my tablet. Thanks!


I have a feeling Gopher nowadays has more 'holes' available than it ever had :-P


It's not really one website per se, but finding someone's old website that they'd built up over the years in the '90s with all sorts of interesting, detailed, yet approachable content. Sometimes academics, sometimes just people with interesting hobbies. There's a certain je ne sais quoi about them that most blogs these days just don't have, and I could get lost in some of those sites. Every so often I still find one, and every so often I find a site of more recent provenance but with the same quality, but overall they're a rare breed.

One of the most recent such sites I've found is actually someone's Angelfire site, rather than their own domain: http://www.angelfire.com/extreme4/kiddofspeed/cherlinks.html . I went down the rabbit hole of her Chernobyl content way too late at night one day in February. All sorts of interesting content based first-hand experience.

The other thing I miss is desktop-focused instant messaging that focuses on the text experience. I had so many great text conversations on AIM, and GChat when it was new, sometimes over the course of hours. Just this week I had my first AIM conversation in at least a couple years, and it still had the same magic. Probably the closest thing to it we have today is Slack, but the ubiquity of all your friends having AIM (or at least Yahoo! Messenger or MSN) just isn't there.


What about messenger/WhatsApp/insta?


Weather Underground.... classic

Up until 2015 Weather Underground was the top weather website, had huge amounts of information density, easy to navigate... fast

I'm not sure what the current incarnation of Weather Underground is, but it is nothing like it's former self. Wunderground was sold off to... IBM? and then later... The Weather Channel? At some point the "classic" website was finally turned off for good. It was a sad day.

Ever since ~2015 there hasn't been a good, "go to" weather website. Dark Sky came out not long after wunderground classic, and it looks like recently Apple bought them. Dark Sky is no Wunderground Classic, but it's a good attempt.


For most things I prefer dark sky over classic wunderground. The one thing I do miss with wunderground is the nice graphics showing history high/low compared to the past days.


I used to like uswx.com but eventually it became run down and unmaintained. Today there is a tombstone page.


So many sites that technically still exist but have changed

slashdot

shoutcast

pricewatch

anandtech - now it has such a sterile, corporate feel - back in the day in addition to reviews they'd do write-ups on their own infrastructure - not in the nebulous sense, but actually step by step, detailing what they were running (ColdFusion at the time as I recall)

allaire.com (no longer exists) - before Github or any of the modern package managers were a thing, and before anything conceived of frontend components, ColdFusion's custom tags seem to encompass a lot of great ideas that today seem obvious, but not so much in the late 90s. I'd spend hours browsing through their custom tag directory

Not a website, but I miss the heyday of IRC.


wunderground. It used to be fast and simple even on a 14.4K modem. Now it's slow even on broadband.


That was our go to radar site. With dark sky off Android, what's good now?


Windy?


I still use IRC. At least Freenode seems to be still in use, although many other IRC services they don't have much these days it seems.


Pricewatch! So many memories as a kid in the late 90's/early 2000's scoping parts for my desktop on that site.


Deoxy.org - The Deoxyribonucleic Hyperdimension

It was a personal wiki of sorts about psychedelics, new age mysticism, anarchy, subversive philosophy, environmentalism, and obscure information.

It was still up until a few years ago. I haven’t found a complete archive. The archive here is fairly outdated: https://jacobsm.com/deoxy/deoxy.org/index.html (click the small links for “hi-res” or “low-res” framesets.)

Before it shut down the amount of content was huge, and everything was personally curated by the creator Dimitry Novus. Supposedly when Google Video shut down and lots of the YouTube links broke he got upset and stopped updating. After a while it disappeared.


check www.erowid.org and my friend's site, www.highexistence.com

Maybe not as good as days of old, but you may enjoy it :)


Not a website, but I miss a weekly email newsletter called NTK (Need to Know). I'm not sure how many HN readers were NTK readers, but I bet all NTK readers are now HN readers.


I still have one of their t-shirts.


Yes! The archive still lives at ntk.net if you're craving nostalgia.


Yes! Whatever happened to Dave Green?


https://everything2.com/ which, amazingly is still up and running.


I remember it!

Completely unrelated but somethingaweful.com was really hilarious back then. back when meme wasn't a thing.


Back when memes were just called "image macros". Something Awful is still going but there is nothing remotely funny or new there.


SA goons are also still hard at work. Fark, too.


Unrelated to your comment here but a while back you mentioned you liked some Space Cadet keycaps I had, but they are usually only available via a group buy. There's another one going on right now for a set that looks the same but comes in a different key profile: https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=105375.0


But do you remember everything1?


No sir, was there such a thing?



Yahoo in the mid to late 90s. I've wondered if there might not be a renewed niche for a curated site directory, preferably as a non profit and with no comments.

I miss the web then in general. It was full of basically honest information rich stuff.


Dmoz[1] was supposed to be that. Sadly it withered on the vine as well.

The thing a directory does well that search doesn't is being able to eliminate the things you don't want to find. Let's say I want to find information about operating a whatchamacallit. While I can ask Google it may tell me that, but I'm also going to see a lot of information by people trying to sell me a whatchamacallit. In a directory I can find the category that covers the information domain I'm interested in then search only within that subtree for what I want to find.

[1] currently archived at https://www.dmoz-odp.org/


>I miss the web then in general. It was full of basically honest information rich stuff.

Completely Agree. People use to share honest information, no conflict of interest, and doing so purely because of passion.

Now that got me thinking. Did the introduction of Web Ads in large, generating vast amount of profits leading to SEO, page spam, content farm and generally lower quality of information?

So in good intention, we hope the web to have a sustainable ad business model, has actually lead to the fall on quality of the web?

Or would the web still have been like today even if we had no ads.

I am not sure if this is true, but this could be another example of good intention leads to bad outcome.


I miss JibJab. They're sort of still around, but they seem to have long since stopped making satirical flash animations they used to be famous for. Their Year in Review videos were hilarious and awesome back in the Bush & Obama eras. (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmEP93NVTaw)


I miss that quality of political satire. This is the one I remember most: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adc3MSS5Ydc


I miss the fact that you could build a fun site that could get popular just by word of mouth without SEO, social media campaigns, influencer endorsements and the other hoops we need to jump through now.


Blogs. Lots of them. And RSS readers. It was a special point in time from 2002-2007 when blogging was dominated by individuals and personality. There was no access to restrict sine anyone willing to post could have a voice. And the internet wasn't so huge, so individual voices could easily amplify with compelling writing.

Then Twitter happened and it all changed.


I was going to say I missed http://zombo.com/ (because at some point I had checked, and it no longer worked).

But I just tried it, and it's working again.

Hurray! -- "you can do anything at zombo com!" :-D


html5zombo.com if your device doesn’t support Flash


Is this supposed to be a joke? The spinners spinning to no avail and zombocom funny message keeps on repeating. That is it, right?


Yeah. It's supposed to be a joke.

It's poking fun at how many early "dotcom"-ish type companies promised the world on their landing pages, but in the end they failed to deliver anything of value.


Slashdot. The technical discussions, the flamewars, dumping on Jon Katz, William Gibson vs. Neal Stephenson, using the web as a primary source of news on 09-11-2001. Posting as user #41803.

https://m.slashdot.org/story/31348


Slashdot was fun... But then somehow it stopped to be. Not sure even what happened.

Posting as user 1XXX :)


I have a few theories... :)


What do you think were the two biggest reasons? How do you think it could have turned out differently to still have a site today with the same spirit?


The man the myth the legend!


When CmdrTaco left the site changed.


bow


Good times. I frequent box.sk for hacker type info too.


The old astalavista.box.sk. Surprising it is still running.


Fark, Plastic, Metafilter

Metafilter still exists, but the culture changed to the point where most discussions became a meta-discussion about how the discussion should be allowed to be discussed. And it just wore me out.


Yes. And some time ago. It was like watching a completely preventable car crash happen in slow motion, even as people are denying it is happening. As the bumper crumples, then come the people saying how perfectly acceptable it is that this is happening.


memepool.com! bud.com!


zombo.com.

it kind of sort of still exists, but I haven't had flash installed on any of my devices since about 2015.

I was also around on Slashdot when Rob proposed. I was I think a sophomore or junior in high school, sprinting into the library between periods to refresh the page and see if she'd said yes or not.



ahh life is complete again. the only limit is myself.


Try opening 10 tabs at random intervals. It enhances the unknown.


:)


i shall treasure this moment forever, with hot grits.


Gross.


more seriously, thanks for the excellent and formative good times. You made something great.


Not a site per say but a big piece of infrastructure. Before there was Steam there was Sierra's website which hosted half life updates, and World Opponent Network, a matchmaking service from Sierra who eventually got acquired by Valve. You would access WON through the half life game. Using it for online play was downright hilarious, especially because everyone was playing on dedicated servers with manual patching. A new version of the HL server / client would drop on Sierra and you would have to get in line and wait for hours at File Planet or Major Geeks or another mirror in order to download it. For like two weeks you would be getting version conflict errors because 50% of servers / clients would patch quickly and the other 50% wouldn't. Searching for a server was pretty much like using grep, there was no friends list or chat, it was amazing hahaha.


It seems clear we all miss websites. There aren’t any websites anymore, just companies and YouTube channels and Instagrammers and Twitter and all that other new crap I am too old for.


First wave: Geocities & its “webrings”

Web 2.0: del.icio.us, digg, stumbleupon


The old Google.

You could see a cached version of links.

A search for a technical issue generally brought up the answer on the first page.

Spam and click bait websites were effectively filtered out.


You can still view cached versions of links.

Click the small down-arrow at the right of a link -> Cached.


Geocities! And the olle Slashdot. Stuff that matters, news for nerds, or some such.


I miss the Internet 1.0 culture which inspired a lot of classic sites. Before the corporates moved in it was nerdy, eccentric, intelligent, creative, hilarious, and sometimes literally insane.

Then e-commerce and adtech happened and it became a lot more homogenised and a lot less fun.

Usenet was a distillation of the culture and a crucible of madness. Yahoo Groups were (sometimes) a more grown up version.


Space Jam

Oh wait, it's still there. And still the same as 1996.

https://spacejam.com/


It’s cool how Warner Brothers added a “we updated our terms of service” thing to it but otherwise left it alone. Even a soulless corporation respects a legendary website.

That answers the “did someone forget to turn off the server?” question.


1. orkut.com

This was the first social network I ever signed up for. Was in it for 3 years. Google later shut it down in 2014.

2. Yahoo Messenger

Not really a website but yeah this was the de facto messenger app on every PC in India. All browsing centers had Yahoo Messenger installed.


Back in the late '90 I was into game development I used to visit flipcode.com [1] daily for image of the day, tutorials and the forum.

[1] https://flipcode.com/


Was hoping someone here mentioned flipcode. I was in the irc channel daily.


Flipcode! The good old days of me trying to render a BSP map. There's a tutorial about it there which I tried to follow. Obviously it didn't work out.

Shortly after it was closed down.


I miss kuro5hin, which had a very interesting way of submitting content for peer review. Unfortunately it was overrun by trolls and eventually closed.

I miss Jyte, which was a weird side project by the company janrain, where you just make random statements and people vote whether or not they agree with the statement, and can post comments.


I miss the original Audiogalaxy and Soulseek. I was broke lower income kid who liked music and discovered songs that forever changed my life. I have never experienced the same open exchange of music since then.


Soulseek is still pretty active these days


Audiogalaxy was great to discover new music.


Any search engine that can return exact matches ranked my match relevance.


Surprised no one mentioned StumbleUpon! I discovered many new, interesting things even though it was basically an web advertisement company.


I met my wife through Stumbleupon!


i met so incredible people all over the world because of stumbleupon. it was like a randomize effect artifact of late 2000's for me. :(


Kuro5hin.org. It was the best of internet culture and discussion before apps and 24/7 connectivity.


Oh yeah! Koro5hin rocked!



Oh shit, I totally forgot about bash.org. hunter2, DISREGARD THAT, "I put on my robe and wizard hat"... a lotta old memes came from IRC.


I’m not sure which BBS system had this, I think it was Wildcat or WWIV, but if you typed something like %pw in a post other users would see their own password leading to a situation like hunter2.


I miss the meticulously tagged and categorized databases of mod content for old games. Polycount for Quake models. Modsquad for Unreal Tournament mutators. That stuff.

A million phpbb boards.


I miss a site called ebay.com that was full of people selling second-hand goods. It was replaced by a site selling Chinese knockoffs of the thing you want to buy.

Then there was this other site that sold books and CDs called Amazon, they did a similar thing. I really enjoyed browsing suggestions back then.

Finally froogle, superficially similar to google shopping that replaced it, but it actually helped you find things at a good price.

That is the internet I miss, the one where the products provided a better experience than the high street.


Those sellers never left eBay. It just got harder to find them among the noise. I still frequently have that great "old eBay" experience today when buying from sub-100-feedback sellers.


I've found that if you restrict purchases to goods in "preowned" condition for a lot of things you basically get the same Ebay as before.

The tricky part is that there's a lot of people selling preowned goods as "new", usually they're items they purchased or received as a gift they never used. I think they're trying to emphasize the unused nature of the items, but nowadays they just get lost in the noise of direct-from-the-factory items.


Ahh I miss froogle. But I also really liked yahoo shopping. It had a similar global search, if I recall, but you could still buy directly from tons of stores.

Same with using pricewatch to get cheap computer parts.

It feels like a lot of the competition is gone now.


Geocities, and all of my friends at school having their own website they’d update at lunchtime in the school library!


- 2008 - 2010 /g/ when Bitcoin was pennies on the dollar

- GBATemp.net during the height of Wii Homebrew

- [Wii/DS/Nintendo]-Play.com - first online community for Nintendo Friendcodes

*edit one more

- The community surrounding Half-Life 2 and specifically Team Fortress 2 circa 2007-2009


The web comic Leisure Town (1996~2003), particularly the comic "Q.A. Confidential", was one of my first major exposures to Bay Area software industry humor when I was still a young bedroom programmer. It's certainly from an earlier time with regard to its language and many unfortunate -isms to the point that I almost hesitate to post it on HN at all, but it's still a gem that some times feels like it hasn't aged a day in two decades: http://leisuretown.com/library/qac/index.html

"Well, they grow up. And they spend that time implementing every possible hideous idea in some form or another for someone:" "What's up this time? Another tired 3-D maze game? Maybe a new way to help people share and care and collaborate? A JAVA MCDOODLE? GREAT! HOW MUCH $$$."

"i'll spell it MICRO$LOTH WINBLOWS in a DELICIOUS TWIST"


lowbrow.org, started by one of the editors of suck.com, collected anonymous stories about the lowest points in people's lives.

it helped me get through some low points of my own in high school.

i helped fund it by mailing in cash when i was 16. i received a few branded match boxes in return.

within a year, it went down for good. there are still some archives online, but nothing quite compares. i tried to revive it by building storylog.com.

that 2 year endeavor managed to jumpstart my passion for web development, got me to learn HTML, CSS, and eventually Python, and landed me my first job at a startup.


Maybe around 2006-2010, http://ajaxian.com/ was an inspiring aggregate of web related articles that I would visit daily.


hardocp.com - Kyle Bennet, amongst others, did a good job with computer hardware reviews & news. He and the site have moved on and only the forum remains.


They were the number one team for Folding@Home for a long time: [H]ard OCP is how they styled their name.


Yet another not a website one: MUDs and talkers. MUDs are still around, but the talkers like Foothills are long gone. The Burbs was still around a few years ago, but there were only about 5 people on. Nothing like the heyday when there would be hundreds on.

Edit: Well, a bit of searching and I find Burbs and a few others still alive. Gonna have to check them out


Not a website, and for me mostly in the era before websites became as prolific, but MUDs are what I miss about the old internet. I'm not much of a gamer anymore, but I used to be able to spend countless hours in the old terminal based games. Some of them were far more exhilarating than any video game I've ever played.


I rediscovered MUDs thanks to the lockdown. My buddies and I play the same MUD we played 1995-1998. 25 years ago! So much fun.


And obviously maddox.xmission.com


It's still there and being updated


I'm not still 14, sadly, so he isn't really that funny to me now. I'd rather not spoil my good memories :)


Fair enough :)


Oink's Pink Palace. Yes it was a torrent tracker so arguably illegal, but the breadth and depth of music it cataloged (not to speak of the community) is still unmatched.


Here's a bit of history that might get lost: OiNK's rules specified minimum bitrate of 192k for MP3 uploads. OiNK was a British tracker, and Radiohead's "pay what you want" MP3 release of _In Rainbows_ (2007) was purposefully 160k to be under that limit. I don't remember if the upload was allowed or not :p

https://www.nme.com/news/music/radiohead-579-1352475


As others have pointed out, many websites have evolved away from their old ways from the old days. Or maybe their audience changed as the web became mainstream.

Apart from these websites that still exist, I miss the sense of discovery from the old web, which felt more democratized then today’s web, where it feels most of the online experience is monopolized by a few big platforms. I liked chancing upon some roughly designed personal website and finding the gems therein, which was more special than the manicured template of platforms like Medium.

I don’t have an explanation for what the gap or difference is. I just know it exists. Another example is how AIM away messages felt special and personal, in a way that Facebook statuses have never matched. What changed? Maybe it’s just that we have.


Consumerist.com before some as*le hacked the commenting system. After that, they closed the comments which was usually more valuable than the articles.


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