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Making the web fun again (neocities.org)
706 points by kyledrake on June 28, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 232 comments

I LOVE this idea, and it's totally fine if it becomes "a vast wasteland of garbage" as mentioned elsewhere in this thread. Technically, so is YouTube, but you probably don't look at all the garbage. You look at the good stuff that surfaces to the top. Occasionally, you stumble on a gem.

It may have some struggles getting off the ground. After all, if you just want to put something on the internet, there are now many many ways to do that.

But for many people, the first step beyond their Tumblr page is still a total mystery. I learned HTML and Javascript because when I was 14, I wanted a website for my comedy troupe (no longer active). I spent hours researching free web hosting and stumbled upon Geocities. That kicked off a life of programming and a love for the web that has never died.

There are still people out there who would love to learn HTML and have some more control over what they put online. Bravo to Kyle for making it possible. Make a donation - even if you don't think you'll personally use it. It's worth it if it inspires even one kid to start building something.

I want to emphasize how big the gap is between $3/mo hosting and free. I started programming when I was 12 and I learned I could submit a "website" instead of a very large history project. This was a very long time ago and I'm pretty sure my history teacher did it as a joke because most people didn't even know what a website was.

To get to the point, as a 12 year old coming from a home with absolutely no disposable income, free was the only option I had to try my hand and building a website. I had just built a computer the year before and thought it would be a nifty idea to try my hand in programming. I completed the project and used that skill to earn money during junior high, high school, college and in my career.

I'm not quite sure where I would be today if that teacher didn't put that option on the paper or, and more to the point, GeoCities didn't offer a 100% free way of my hosting my report about the Manhattan Project.

Fully sporting a GIF of a nuclear explosion.

Also, part of the gap is finding a payment method for $3/mo. Kids don't have credit cards of paypal accounts. Lots of parents don't want to sign-up for this mysterious thing called web hosting for their child. I haven't searched for free hosting in 10 years, so I don't know what's currently available, but there's definitely a market out there.

> I don't know what's currently available, but there's definitely a market out there.

Words that have launched a million (now bust) businesses.

When I said I haven't looked for a free host in a decade, and don't know what kind of competition has appeared since then, that wasn't advice to pursue a business. The debate was whether or not a service like neocities has a purpose in current times. I suggested there was still a market, but whether or not a solution exists, I haven't checked.

Is this site still available somewhere (e.g. reocities)?

I heartily agree with this sentiment. Angelfire and GeoCities were gateway sites for that opened the door to a career in web development far beyond animated gifs and marquees.

While I have happily moved on to github and managin my own servers, any platform that promotes writing one's own markup over quick tumblr-esque posting is potentially a good thing.

>I LOVE this idea, and it's totally fine if it becomes "a vast wasteland of garbage" as mentioned elsewhere in this thread. Technically, so is YouTube, but you probably don't look at all the garbage. You look at the good stuff that surfaces to the top. Occasionally, you stumble on a gem.

This reminds me of writing blogs and learning to ignore all the inconstructive flames and focus on the people you're affecting positively. Anything worthwhile is bound to create a long tail of haters and garbage. Keeping it up despite these obstacles can be tough but definitely worthwhile.

I don't think we have to worry about "vast wasteland of garbage". Actually, I think that's the wrong moral orientation to take towards this sort of thing entirely.

Apparently one of the early neocities sites is exactly the kind of garbage that used to get made on Geocities: an adolescent fan site for a cartoon. But here's the thing: I made a freaking Pokemon site when I was in second grade or something. It was godawful, but it went up on Tripod and fed my interest in computers. And I sure as hell spent a lot of time at that age reading similar sites to find game cheat-codes.

And nowadays we have commenting and threading engines to let us make sites interactive.

The real internet was always a living embodiment of both Sturgeon's Law and the Long Tail phenomenon. Not every site has to appeal to everyone, but practically everyone can find a site they like.

So this is going to result in a huge amount of brilliant, fun utter crap.

In the interest of encouraging development of modern websites just as good as any non-neocities site, I made a little thing called the 10 MB Manifesto [0]. I also submitted it to HN [1] as I'm looking for discussion.

[0]: http://10mbmanifesto.neocities.org [1]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5963671

> "a vast wasteland of garbage"

Accurate description of hacker news right there :>

Accurate description of literature, and art, and movies, and...

BTW, I often find the quality of new sumbmissions higher than the homepage.

This is to be expected. New doesn't cater to what holds the interest of the current user base so you get the things most existing users didn't bother upvoting. Basically New is unfiltered through the status quo of "HN appropriateness" even though that's been changing since the time the forum came online.

So why are you here again?

I'm here because it's like an abusive relationship. You think that this time will be different and sometimes you get a sense that you might be right but then you get disappointed every time and realize that things will never be as good as they used to be. Please don't reply with a Wikipedia link to "Whoever's Law" because that would make the abuse worse. The only thing even worse than that would be a link to yourlogicalfallacyis.com.

I was googling "Whoever's Law" hoping there would finally be a law named "Whoever's Law", because holy shit are there a lot of "Laws" now.

No, I don't need, I only need one word:


For the gems, of course! :)

For that 1 in 30 stories.

I wanna share a thought I had about this a couple years ago.

I'm 33, so I was 14 in 1994, the first time I got onto the web. It was as bare bones as it got. I think I beat the IMG tag by a few months, maybe. Anyways, don't hold me to facts here, I am just imparting a general time frame.

The idea of the Internet, and the world wide web, was terribly abstract, new, confusing, delightful. It made wizards of us that could navigate it. As a burgeoning geek in desperate need of a personal identity, this digital playground was an infinite resource to push against. Each chance encounter with an online stranger a blank slate. It was exotic and alluring and exciting.

During this era, a huge swath of us all were experiencing this at the same time. It was an overlap of our youth, the loss of innocence, and the explosion of this new universe. It was a hell of a drug.

And we got addicted to the newness of it all. There's a word for this.


And this concept, I feel, best describes the ennui I have felt for years now, the booming homogeny the web has turned into. The web has long since succeeded, but we were children of the laboratory. We lost our home and we've been trying, in vain, to find a new one ever since. I can't believe I am alone in this sensation.

Im 41, I might have been mucking around with the internet before you, and while a hell of a lot is fantastic about the internet now, yeah, Im kinda lost and homeless too. Know what you mean.

Not to say the internet , or web is or has gone wrong, just kinda forgotten something very important, very vital.

What Neocities is doing is good, and I hope it works, but I'm not sure how this addresses that our, er, alienation (not sure if that is the right word) though. I read that they want to, and that is good, but I don't see anything they offer that really does that.

What if we had some sort of SubWeb (have I just invented that word? I really like the sound of it!!!) which you have to use the command line to access? :)

I wanted to reply to you because you struck a chord with me - yes, emphatically I must agree that command line interfaces have forever been a sieve that collects a certain mentality. I don't want to label this subset of people because I will not do it correctly, but I believe it is assured that a predilection for CLI invokes precisely some sort of human artifact that is aligned with being a geek.

Yup, I agree. Same sort of thing where people put down the use of things like Dreamweaver, claiming note pad is better. Same mentality, I think. And even though I would argue logically for Dreamweaver, I would still sort of feel the notepad advocates had a point. Yeah, typing feels more "real", even more exciting.

I then think is it a generational thing? But only yesterday was I sat there on that genetic car racing site watching live as people tried to hack the chat box. Command line again. I assume these were kids. Yet there they were in 2013 excitedly hacking away using the keyboard.

To tangent even more.... That was great to watch. Kids (I assume) excitedly trying to hack the chat box, by typing stuff, while the admins updated and updated them away. A wonderful race and frankly a joy to watch. YES hacking and defacing is bad, it even pissed me off to start with, but then I realised that there was something so energetic, or alive, about it. It was like sort of watching life or something. It reminded me of one of those movies where we see the "geek hero" furiously typing away at a terminal trying to stop a nuke launch or some such. Dunno how to describe it really. Anyway, the admins won easily and quickly, and that's as it should be.

Edit: All that waffle and I forgot the point...

Basically, those kids reminded me of back in the day. I guess the spirit me and the OP were talking about. So, IMHO, it is still alive. Heh, unless such kids end up in US jails....

This is why I loved (the idea of) MUDs/MOOs so much in the mid/late '90s. They were mysterious worlds to explore, and it was exciting to know that the admins ("wizards") were adding more areas purely through the magic of their keyboards. People would do crazy things sometimes to try to mess around with the world or other players. As a newish player, you didn't know what you might encounter.

I still see a bit of that in the pirate Minecraft servers that my little brother sometimes plays on. Micro-communities with their own rules, custom mods and settings, and kids horsing around and building their own flights of fancy. That's the kind of organic exploration and worldbuilding I'd really like to be involved in eventually.

I think I'd like to build a connectable MOO-like world in which people could set up their own areas/rooms and connect them to a limited number of neighbors. Give them item creation and scripting capabilities as well. Simple, hackable, and almost completely user-created. Woops, that'd just be text-based Second Life. Maybe with some unusual features like a resource/power grid that varies according to the average amount of players in each room (to incentivize building interesting, entertaining scenes and scenarios). Or maybe the initial set of rooms could be all these NeoCities pages converted to ASCII graphics and randomly connected. Who knows.

Let me know if anyone's building a fun interconnected playground along these lines and is looking for contributions. I'm probably not good or energetic enough to do it alone.

> I think I'd like to build a connectable MOO-like world in which people could set up their own areas/rooms and connect them to a limited number of neighbors. Give them item creation and scripting capabilities as well. Simple, hackable, and almost completely user-created. Woops, that'd just be text-based Second Life.

This sounds a lot like LambdaMoo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LambdaMOO).

An interesting write-up of one's experience in the game: http://www.juliandibbell.com/texts/mytinylife.html.

I actually read and enjoyed a book in '97 that introduced MUDs, including LambdaMOO, so having you bring LambdaMOO up is no surprise. I read bits of that book you linked, and these parts near the end resonate:


..."It's not your fault," he said. "But after you came looking for pelts, and traded trinkets with us, the covered wagons of conventional reality followed along the trails we'd blazed. The trails were cut by animals, the animals have been driven out by suburban sprawl. . . . How could it be otherwise?"

Not surprisingly perhaps, Horton's fellow anarch and rabble-rouser Finn is also unimpressed with Lambda's current state of affairs, though his complaints, typically, are a little more down-to-earth. "There's nothing you can sink your teeth into these days," he says, pointing to a general absence of the sort of MOO-engulfing controversies he once thrived on. "Politics I guess is dead. People have settled into the arbitration disputes; they get a kick out of that for a while, but they're mostly frivolous disputes and people just wanting to get attention." Real life, meanwhile, has taken on more interest for Finn. He finally moved out of his parents' basement a couple years ago, setting out for Rochester, New York, to found an Internet software business with some other MUDders he knew, and once he got there, he also ended up in a serious RL relationship with a woman he had previously known only as Aurea on LambdaMOO. Two years down the road, both ventures appear to be going swimmingly. His company isn't the next Netscape or anything, but it's landed some respectable gigs, including a contract to run the official _Sally Jessy Raphael_ chat room; Finn and Aurea remain happily involved. His days as an online Casanova and all-around firebrand are pretty well over, but if he misses them much he doesn't show it. He still MOOs daily, but he mostly just sits idling in Lambda House's smoking room while he goes about his business at work. "I've still got friends on Lambda, and it's still fun," he says. "But it's not as much of a stage where you can play out your political ambitions and real arguments. It's no longer really a metaphor for real life. It's just not as passionate, I suppose."


He'd left his lousy secretarial job as well, his RL in general was gradually getting happier, and the happier it got the less he felt like spending time in virtual reality. "In retrospect," he says, "it's evident to me just how much the misery of my real life (and not my intellectual curiosity, or my gender-role issues, or whatever) was the thing that made VR seem so dazzling back inna the day.

"Then there was also the fact that VR had started to seem tacky," he adds. "By '96 it seemed like every yutz in the world was on the Internet, 'living the fantasy.' Whatever elitist pioneer spirit had seemed to me to permeate Lambda back in '91 or '92 was completely gone. I missed that, and Interzone was marginal compensation at best."

And so he just stopped going, basically. He let his spares die out, reaped one by one as he let them lie, and he now logs on to Lambda once a month, at most, to check his MOO-mail. It's enough for him. "I'm teaching prep-school English and living in Austin with a woman I really like," he tells me. "My life is pretty simple now. I feel like I've grown up a lot."


Weary though she may be, however, she doesn't regret her involvement in the political debates that ultimately exhausted her. "I'm way beyond sick of theorizing about cyberspace," she says, "and have become completely anti-utopian about VR, but all in all the experience has been good for me. It's made me a much better writer . . . encouraged me to go out and get myself published. It's also given me a social presence IRL in a way I never used to think I had. After all the practice I got taking stands, making points, influencing audiences who were sometimes incredibly hostile, grad student seminars, for instance, came to seem comparatively amazingly easy places to formulate and express arguments."


Here we see the end of involvement (or infatuation) with a virtual world playing out: with finding real life more interesting and enriching. Maybe that's the lesson of virtual worlds - whether MUDs or EVE Online - you eventually tire of them and leave, but they change you and set you on new paths (to another career, or a business).

I guess I need to take the nostalgia goggles off and realize things won't be the same the second time round.

A colleague of mine and I are given a presentation at the end of the summer entitled "Mousehate: Increasing accessibility of Web Applications one QWERTY at a time." The focus will be on keyboard enabling web apps both with keyboard and CLI like commands.

I can't agree enough. I can remember being mystified when I first saw a CLI "expert". It was like he attached a Game Genie to my computer.

http://theody.net/elements.html is a beautiful essay on the topic: "in a world increasingly dominated by image culture (TV, movies, .jpg files), UNIX remains rooted in the culture of the word."

> What if we had some sort of SubWeb (have I just invented that word? I really like the sound of it!!!) which you have to use the command line to access? :)

Eventually there will be someone posting on HN about how they built a GUI to make to the SubWeb accessible for everyone. :)

What are you envisioning for the SubWeb? A geek-only web? Just curious.

No idea, it just came to me as I was typing.

But I suppose something like sort of modernising the old method of firing up a terminal and issuing manual GET commands. So, have something called a command line browser, and sites that only work with it. Not to keep any one out, just simply to do it another way. No practice purpose really, just fun for old guys!!! Very silly and point less, of course!!

Sounds like you ought to try surfing the web using netcat. It isn't so bad, except for typing out all these damn cookies.

I'm 41 too. If you want a feel of the old days of command line access you can always browse gopher via a proxy (now that most browsers have dropped gopher protocol support):


If you want to set up a 'gopher hole,' an SDF shell account (free and/or $1 donation to 'validate') includes 50 MB of space for a gopher page. It also has the 'bboard' community bulletin board, which I believe has code heritage going back to the dial-up BBS days. http://sdf.org/

Floodgap, which you link to via the meulie proxy, also offers a gopher proxy. http://gopher.floodgap.com/gopher/ (that's the intro page, with links into the gopherspace).

The original UMN 'gopher' client (and gopherd server) are available under the GPL now. http://gopher.floodgap.com/gopher/gw?gopher://gopher.quux.or...

The client at least is available Debian and Ubuntu. Regarding the client, it's amazing how productive one can be without one's fingers ever leaving the arrow keys. The gopher killed the mouse! There are also other servers available such as bucktooth (perl) and pygopherd. Port 70, baby!

Yeah, having read the replied and ideas, Gopher is sort of what I was thinking. Its coming back to me now...

Im going to do some revision reading.

It is a great idea that just needs the right medium. BBSs were a great medium because it took effort to find a board, connect and learn the etiquette. The early web was a great medium because it was a whole new environment to learn and explore. Wide-area adhoc wifi networks were a great medium because they had the real hacker appeal of having to find an unwanted microwave antenna to turn to a new use and search out like-minded individuals to connect to.

If you could find a medium that has the same sort of DIY/frontiersman feeling people will flock to it. Having a new world to explore and having constraints to overcome are the things that made the internet great.

Oh hang on. Minecraft? Is that what we are talking about? Or perhaps are the kids using that like we sort of used the internet in the old days? Ish?

I like the idea of a command line only web. Like Zork, but for the whole internet.

I don't know if a command line interface is what we need. I just want more like sites like these (just a couple of examples of the top of my head but generally you just "know" these when you see them):





> What if we had some sort of SubWeb (have I just invented that word? I really like the sound of it!!!) which you have to use the command line to access? :)

There are still a load of great communities below the 'surface' of the web.

Private torrent trackers are a good example. The good ones are invite-only, limit the number of members, or at the very least require a degree of technical knowledge to gain access.

Access is treated as a privilege, and members act accordingly.

There are quite a lot of old-school BBSes configured for telnet access.[1] There's even a telnet/SSH client called SyncTerm [2] that emulates old terminal modes with authentic fonts.

There's also a site called Telehack that's an attempt to simulate what the internet would have been like for the typical user about 25 years ago - pre-web.[3]

There's a lot of stuff like this out there that satisfies itches for nostalgia, creativity, and an open frontier all at once.

[1] http://www.telnetbbsguide.com/

[2] http://syncterm.bbsdev.net/

[3] http://www.telehack.com/ (or, for a more authentic experience, telnet in with SyncTerm)

Agreed. Why isn't there a dot txt tld?

Take a look at http://sdf.org.

I've been dwelling on the idea of how cool it'd be to resurrect gopher as sort of an "underground web" for a few years now. Might be perfect for your "SubWeb" ^_^

Just make a page with pure content - no layout, no styles. It looks good in text browser or piped through htmlfmt yet unreadable for most users.

Why would this be unreadable for anyone?

Too many shiny things around.

We live in the world where newness is absolute truth criteria. Those who don't want to know history filter content by freshness. Now, there are so many of them that applications have to constantly redesigns themself. Changing back and forth, catching trends.

I know cause I've also believed in novelty, all old looking content was in my blind spot. Things changed once started to read academic papers. It appeared those who are confident don't use distraction to share thoughts.

Now I see what you mean: unreadable because of psychology, not technology. I think I'm the opposite, maybe because I've been reading academic papers for so long: the websites with no or very little styling catch my eye, and part of my brain suspects that the content might be interesting. If it's too shiny, it's in my blind spot.

By "SubWeb" do you mean "gopher"?

I don't know, I just made it up. So, maybe.

You could probably fire up a Gopher server :)

> I can't believe I am alone in this sensation.

You're not alone. I'm feeling the same. That's why I'm "exploring" TOR, I2P and the CJDNS mesh net nowadays. Because it feels like something new and unknown. And it certainly is more exciting than visiting Facebook & co.

Though it's nowhere the same like back then when I hooked up the modem in the night (when my parents were sleeping), put it under a pillow to muffle the dial up sounds (going online was so expensive that I wasn't allowed to do so without supervision) to explore the internet.

I'm not as old as you guys (I was born in 1993!), but I still remember some of these old feelings going on the internet as a young person. And I agree that surfing Tor is the closest I've come in a long time to re-creating that unknown excitement that "the web" once held for us. (I had about 30 minutes of computer time a day until I was in my mid-teens, so the internet remained novel for me for a long time).

Part of it is HOW you explore the onion network: via links, often subtle, from other sites. There's no Google or Reddit to aggregate all the content; you need to know where to look. That's exciting and fun (although stumbling on illegal content isn't ):...). Feels almost like a game, with the whole idea of discovering hidden content in dark corners.

I think what happened to the internet in the past decade or so could be described as gentrification. The "discovery" period began to fade, and we started cleaning up, resulting in the "suburban internet," as posted above. I feel like oftentimes this can be compared to the process of gentrifying a sleazy area in a city: early adopters move in and make interesting things, causing more people to come and try to participate. As more people move in, the early adopters are crowded/priced out, and the things that made the place interesting begin to fade out in favor of more bland/easily accessible things... Just some food for thought.

I would say the web has become suburban, but the internet remains dangerous and thrilling (tor, augmented, tpb, etc).

I am with you. I first got online in 1991, when I was 10. You and I both are firmly rooted digital natives. Members of the last generation who had a choice in that. At the time it felt awesome to be on the inside as the Internet "happened." Over twenty years later and I'm not excited as I once was.

At this point the web is so interwoven into our daily lives (hacker or otherwise) it has become mundane. In many cases the Internet is not the new way or an alternative way, but the only way to do some thing. I am occasionally delighted by a burgeoning site or idea, but these moments are further and further apart.

The homogeny of today's Internet feels stifling. Not convinced I am a full on Neophiliac, but I do long for the sense of discovery and anticipation that accompanied waiting for your modem to finish its handshake.

The internet remains equally vitalic. It is you that has changed. Sure, the web is homogenous, but it is just one expression of the net. The hacker ethos is about making something do something it wasn't built for, not pining for when things were better.

Not so much pining as feeling nostalgic. Didn't say anything about better, though in retreading my comment I can see how it would be interpreted that way.

I love the Internet. I have a career in a field that did not exist when I was born and because of this have had the unique opportunity of helping to define what it is. Not something afforded to many "classical" professions.

I would guess young geeks feel much the same way about some things today (which I cannot comprehend) and will feel the same ennui when they are older. A lot of it is simply growing up. My first online experience was with bulletin board and Deversi-dial chat rooms with 8 300 baud modems. I had a blast there, and in the larger systems that came a little later and then the internet and IRC. I loved talking to other strangers, most of whom were also geeks. Whereas today, I have not ever tweeted and only ever looked at a few people's feeds. I don't login to IRC anymore either, even though in a lot of ways it hasn't changed. I'm the one who has changed.

Robert X. Cringely has a term for this sort of experience: being an "airport kid."


When aviation was new, in the 1900s and 1910s and 1920s, the technology of flight was growing at an incredible pace. Flying was new and sexy and constantly changing. And you didn't need to be a "professional pilot" to get in on it; all you needed to do was to find someone with a plane and convince him to let you take the stick.

So kids who fell in love with the romance of the skies would hang around their local airfield, running errands and doing odd jobs, basically whatever it took to ingratiate themselves with the people who used it. Because any of those people could be their gateway to their own flying career.

Eventually flying stopped being sexy, though. The seemingly infinite possibilities of the early days of flight got reined in by cost and regulations and simple physics. Educational and career paths for pilots settled into a few profitable grooves. Flying became safe, cheap, routine. And the airport kids disappeared.

They disappeared because kids want to be where the action is. And the action isn't in mature industries. It's in the new, because the old is already hemmed in with grown-ups' restrictions, which slow down the pace of change. Those restrictions are usually put in place for good reasons -- lots of inexperienced pilots back in ye olden days got themselves killed by pushing their machines or their bodies too hard -- but the kids don't see that. All they see is that it's safe, which means it's boring.

You and I (I'm a couple years older than you, but not much) were the airport kids of the Web. We gravitated to it because it was, as you say, a blank slate. You didn't need a degree or a certification or to even necessarily know what the hell you were doing. All you needed to do was find a computer lab somewhere that was hooked up to the Internet, and be willing to learn.

That low barrier to entry meant that we made a lot of dumb, pointless, sometimes even dangerous things. (I came within an inch of getting drummed out of my university in the mid-90s for helping build a site where students could rate their professors; the professors came after me with torches and pitchforks because the results were accessible outside the campus network.) But it's also what made it exciting. Exciting places are dangerous by definition. But to a kid, the part about it being exciting is a lot more interesting than the part about it being dangerous.

Eventually the Web matured, of course. Now it's Critical Infrastructure, which means it's important enough to be hemmed in with those grown-up rules and regulations. It became indispensible, and therefore boring.

So now there are lots of online-technology majors, but not so many airport kids. The airport kids are somewhere else, waiting for the next Wild West. This one's gotten all civilized.

48 here, and Geocities was my first foray into writing HTML. It was free and, if I recall right, you could FTP your files up. When I got DSL I chose ATT because they offered 20 MB storage, only to find that you could not actually have a simple, static website. They hashed the filenames upon upload AND each time you edited online, so it was really storage only.

These days even a static website can be jazzed up nicely with some JQuery and/or HTML5. I'd like to see this develop.

This brought a warmness to my heart. I remember those days well. As much as I know google and search in general is the defining technological advance of our time, there is a part of me that wishes that Yahoo and other human-curated directories ended up being the start point for the Internet. It felt like a smaller, friendly place back then.

I honestly believe that what you're describing here is exactly why I recently built a complete C64 system. I relate to your post very strongly.

I think that's why I was so intrigued by what NeoCities is trying to grasp.

It's also why I looked desperately for old C64 BBS's a couple of months ago, but alas none seem to exist anymore. Who uses a phone/modem (in the city)? Remember, when the internet was new, everyone was on dial-up. I guess I don't entirely miss that part, but when you were hitting a BBS it didn't take long at all. This harkens to the terminal/command-line thread below, I suppose.

I could try to use a VOIP phone to hook it up somehow, but there's no one to call...

I digress. Perhaps this is part of getting old. Some grow weary of our current tech (or other work/interest/etc.) and look backward, when things were new and exciting to us.

You're not. Happy seeking !

Sadly, this won't make the web fun again.

So two things that are important to note here, the first is that the 'fun' part of the web was learning new things and static HTML, even dressed up with HTML5 goodies, will be fun if you don't know these technologies but no more or less fun than doing the same thing on a Raspberry Pi or something similar. Its the 'learning' that is fun, and the web was more 'fun' when you were learning it because it was all new, and once you learned enough about it to see it for what it was, the parts that are less seemly start to dominate your vision and it feels less fun. Which brings us to the second part.

The second part, and I don't have a good solution for this, is that folks will use this, and they will put good content on them and they will get page views and searches and what not. Then the 'link authority' of neocities will start to rise because, well it has a bunch of good content.

Once it crosses a threshold (which is sadly pretty low) then a crap ton of SEO types will start creating pages on it to boost the organic rating of various web sites. And then Google will penalize neocities, and the good stuff will become unfindable (on Google at least) because Google won't index it, or they will pump down host rank to the point where it shows up on the results on page 3.

Just prior to that people will build sites on it that do drive by malware injection using javascript. The preferred cloaking vector for that these days seems to be a script reference that points out to something that looks like jquery but really isn't.

Then the owner is going to get a lot of threatening letters from lawyers who were told by people who got hijacked to "get the bastards who did this!" and the bad guys will be well cloaked but the neocities ownership will be just standing there, an easy target (for hassling at least, register your DMCA agent right now if you haven't already to avoid the copyright trolls).

And at the end of the day the real reason the web isn't fun anymore will become apparent. There is too much money to be made by manipulating it, and so its full of bad actors who are chortling away while stealing billions of dollars from hapless 'lusers.'

You're thinking like a programmer. Learning HTML is not fun at all, for the vast majority of people.

It's 2013, Google is a lot smarter and there are more ways to explain the varying quality of community sites. Note how Neocities is all subdomains.

You're also assuming that everybody wants to get search traffic. Everything on Facebook has a PageRank of NaN, and yet people still post. What if the whole point is to make pages about your pet cat, just because?

Maybe an interesting strategy would be to make the whole site NOINDEX by default. Turning off NOINDEX could be a premium feature. (Of course this could fail utterly as the customers that Neocities wants probably don't distinguish between URLs and search queries.)

I concede the point that I am thinking like a technologist, I cannot help it. But it doesn't work to argue that this site which alleges that the 'fun' of the web was in a large part created by "the ability for people (both old and new to the web) to easily create web sites" applies to your 'vast majority.'

  > It's 2013, Google is a lot smarter and there are
  > more ways to explain the varying quality of community
  > sites. Note how Neocities is all subdomains.
Yes, Google is more sophisticated about how they derank web sites (I like to think that our small search engine, blekko.com, helped them see how poor their results had become on highly contested searches), but the spammers and the crooks have also upped their game such that many innocent sites get caught in the crossfire. (Google "panda killed my web site" for example). Not to mention the new trend of 'negative SEO' where someone might script a neocities site creator that triggered one of Google's anti-rank defenses and to destroy the organic rank of an otherwise pleasant web site.

  > You're also assuming that everybody wants to get
  > search traffic. Everything on Facebook has a 
  > PageRank of NaN, and yet people still post. What 
  > if the whole point is to make pages about your 
  > pet cat, just because?
Actually I'm not making that assumption at all. Facebook pages have a NaN pagerank because facebook has a robots.txt that says "don't crawl us" and legit search engines respect that. Facebook rightly presumes that you will see your friends content because of mechanisms they have in place to put it in front of your eyes. And I also think that people making a page about their pet cat, or their belief in UFOs or whatever is fine and neocities is great for that. I'm just saying that the bad actors won't leave it alone for those people to play in it.

  > Maybe an interesting strategy would be to make 
  > the whole site NOINDEX by default. Turning off
  > NOINDEX could be a premium feature. (Of course
  > this could fail utterly as the customers that 
  > Neocities wants probably don't distinguish 
  > between URLs and search queries.)
Actually the same people who put their pet pictures up will probably not put meta tags in their HTML. The Neocities folks could put a robots.txt file that excluded search engines (like Facebook does) as well. But think through what you are saying.

The person you want to make this "fun" for is a non-technologist putting up a page about their cat, and for people who are looking for random pages about cats. Or perhaps relatives of that person who say "Hey, Mindy put up a web site for her cat!", "Oh really? What's the address?", "I don't know, just Google 'Mindys Many Cats'", "Thats weird it doesn't find it", "Are you sure you spelled Mindy right?"

You see that non-technical crowd has been trained that Google finds everything, and if it doesn't find neocities websites then the neocities guys have to explain to Mindy why that is, which is going to be a complicated discussion because we've assumed for this discussion that Mindy is non-technical. Of course they could offer that as a pay service but that wouldn't work to well either since Mindy isn't going to put up a website for her cats and pay $1/month to do it.

So the neocities folks could curate the sites, and try to delete sites that are bad (they already do some of that) but that takes people and time. People + time == money, and for a free service money is hard to find. And then they say "Hmm, I wonder if Yahoo shut down Geocities not because they were clueless but instead because they actually started to see what they had gotten into and now they were scared they couldn't keep it going."

There is a whole bunch of "web" below the fun part. That the fun part is lacking is not because Geocities was shuttered.

You could enforce nofollow tags for unpaid sites, as wikipedia does for all its links. This would mean the free sites couldn't contribute any link popularity to seo recipient sites.

> Learning HTML is not fun at all

I think you're the one thinking like a programmer here. It's not learning HTML that's fun, but rather learning how to build your own website and then seeing it online.

> Everything on Facebook has a PageRank of NaN

The universal truth is that people that post stuff online want an audience, which is why it doesn't matter if posts on Facebook do not have a page-rank, since it functions like a mailing-list - you post stuff and your connections then see it.

On the other hand Google's search engine is getting better and better at giving people what they want, slowly killing the long-tail in the process.

Which is why I sort of agree with you. For creative/obscure/personal websites, Google's search engine is useless and people that want to discover surprises are better off joining communities that happen with services like Reddit, or Twitter.

+1 for NaN reference lol

>Sadly, this won't make the web fun again. So two things that are important to note here, the first is that the 'fun' part of the web was learning new things and static HTML, even dressed up with HTML5 goodies, will be fun if you don't know these technologies but no more or less fun than doing the same thing on a Raspberry Pi or something similar.

Nobody cares about that BS.

The fun part was in the CONTENT, not the technology.

Upvote for a great idea whose time has come around again. The people who used to try their hand at making their own website on geocities moved on to sites with less control like MySpace and then FaceBook, but something was lost along the way - the amateur spark that made the early web fun. Basic HTML and CSS is really quite simple and it'd be better if more people learned to use it. I know social sites add a different dimension to online sharing, but they also come with the illusion of privacy, intrusive adverts, online games, lame jokes, encouragement to comment on the meme of the day etc.

Static html is a great choice because it dramatically cuts the requirements, and because the vast majority of homemade websites don't need to be dynamic, very rarely change, and even a beginner can open a basic html file and start editing.

One little thing I think they could add are some visual controls for editing the look of your site on the fly - for example they could have a simple control panel to change basic attributes of the page like background colour, fonts, text sizes etc. and show you the CSS code that does it. That could write to the CSS as their current online-CMS type files do so that it could be edited later. Integrate that with webfonts and you could delivery some really beautiful styling tweaks without people even having to learn CSS and start to teach people to write simple web markup with online tutorials.

Even static HTML is no longer static, with people's knowledge of JavaScript increasing and great libraries like jQuery/YUI etc bringing more power to the masses.

I mean, think about how dynamic you can make a site with the use of AJAX and feeding content from various content stores around the web. Very exciting as you say.

Idea: If neocities users let you put Google Adsense ads on their pages they'll get upgraded to 30mb for free. At least this way you can have some income.

I love the idea and passion you have for this, your story and purpose, but as soon as I read "I'm paying for the servers out of pocket, which is tough for me because I currently don't have a large income," and "My goal is to pay for the site through donations" I just sighed. I've seen this so many times before. Founders who have a deep seeded fear or hatred of money or rich people. So much so that they've convinced themselves to go on a neurotic journey to "change the world" or "do something good for humanity" while refusing to be profitable or make money like the "evil greedy rich" that they despise. I hope you steer clear of that. I hope you find a way to make neocities profitable, sustainable, and I hope it brings in so much income that you can grow neocities and keep it free for decades while not having to worry about your mortgage or kid's college fund.

BTW, my favorite is http://clock.neocities.org

Deep seated

Instead of having adventures into the great unknowns of the web, we instead now spend most of our time on social networks: boring, suburban gated communities, where everybody's "profile" looks exactly the same, and presents exactly the same content, in the same arrangement.

It's funny, because I've always felt Facebook was a huge improvement over MySpace for exactly this reason. Now, reading this article, I thought "Wait a second, have I gotten it backwards? Crazy adventures do sound more fun than clinical suburbs." On the other hand, what people did with the old MySpace was actually pretty terrible, and maybe this is just tapping into GeoCities nostalgia. I don't know, the jury's still out.

But, here's one issue: the freedom and low barrier to entry of GeoCities led to a lot of basic and poorly thought out designs. Many were not really "designed" at all, and that certainly led to some wacky surfing safaris. One reason that things have homogenized is that we've developed a much stronger expectation for how websites should look and act. But, these are complex to design and develop - well out of reach of the average individual - so we glom onto template services that provide a nice design and out-of-the-box functionality: comments, social, CMS, etc. And yeah, most sites on the respective platforms look relatively the same. In order to break that, there's going to be a necessary degradation in sophistication. Which is fine with me, I'm down for the punky DIY vibe. But, this quote worries me a little:

And we have great CSS frameworks like Bootstrap and a new, even simpler one that Scott O'Hara is working on called Ground Floor, that makes web sites look pretty good even if the designer doesn't use or understand CSS at all.

What's everyone's #1 criticism of Bootstrap websites? They all look the same. What happens if this turns into BootstrapCities?

To all of your points, I say: who cares? Who care if everyone uses Bootstrap? Who cares if no one does, and it all looks terrible? You know why Geocities was both popular and ugly? It wasn't all because it was 1995, it was partly because we were 15 years old and we were having fun experimenting with everything we could get our hands on.

Your comment takes this site way too seriously. I'd like to read your critical analysis of the challenges faced by a civil engineer trying to make a feasible plumbing system in a Chuck E Cheese ball pit.

I guess I need to learn how to talk about things in-depth without looking like I really really care about them. Because I don't. I just thought about it a bit.

But, ostensibly, the creator cares, because that was a big part of his post. He decried Facebook and similar platforms for fostering a "uniformity and blandness rival[ing] something out of a Soviet bloc residential apartments corridor," then went on to promote Bootstrap, which is subject to the same pitfalls. I just wanted to explore that trade-off between sophistication and originality in today's websites. I still think it's a great idea, and judging from what I saw on the browse page, people are carrying the experimentation/sandbox torch pretty well.

Remember, on the web content is king. The problem with most social media is that its a lot of crap content, that no one would preserve. Would you even want a historical dump of your facebook wall history?

Facebook is designed so you will create current-related content to drive relevant ads for what you want now. It removes the effort to thinking and proofing even something like a Xanga or Live Journal.

Even with the rise of "easy" CMS systems like drupal or joomla, there is still a large hurdle to entry.

Neocities fills that gap for those who don't want to worry about what is going on under the web page, and is going one step past the pendulum swing of jekyll, pelican, etc.

This seems like a path in the right direction to allow people to put stuff out in public which may be niche and may not be just word-content like on a free blog system like blogger.

Personally, I think BoostrapCities is a great name and idea. Everything has a starting point, or for which bootstrap is enough, and can be the launch point to extend elsewhere. :)

So does the author want this to be a place for quirky fun by people who aren't web experts, or for srs designers? That My Little Pony page they linked to might scale better than a LAMP stack, but I'll guarantee it took more expertise to create. People who don't know CSS but have interesting things to say are much better served by a service like, well, tumblr - which allows plenty of customization, but also allows you to simply write, and have it look reasonable, with the attention on your actual content. There's certainly value in a site that only serves static files and thus has low expenses, but to attract the geocities demographic I'd want some kind of friendly editing frontend - even github pages is a huge step forward from editing HTML by hand.

From reading it, it sounds like it's for both. GeoCities wasn't just about quirky fun, there was some actually decent websites.

GeoCities wasn't about things being super friendly, it had a learning curve there. You had to sit down and read up on HTML and write it up and iterate on your failures, and maybe people don't want that anymore but at least someone is offering another way.

Back in the day it felt like most GeoCities sites were made with FrontPage or Dreamweaver. Do they even exist any more? Would those kind of static sites be acceptable on today's web?

I actually kind of miss static sites. These days everything seems to be about pumping out new content, like a newspaper, whereas static sites were more like books. They had chapters, an order to read, table of contents... you explored them, rather than just read through them backwards.

I think both do in various forms. I'm sure they'd be acceptable to the 90% of people who aren't involved in the tech scene, or are overly fussed on design.

I know its like admitting that you wear your mums underwear, but I still like dreamweaver....

Ha, what a strange place to find my weekend project[1] appearing on. I didn't put it up on that site, though I don't really mind it being there. If you look on the bottom of the page, you'll find the source on GitHub, and yes, it does take a bit more expertise than reading "HTML for Dummies" to create.

Surprising you should mention GitHub pages, because that's where the original is hosted on.

[1]: http://zhangyijiang.github.io/mlp-guide/

…and have it look reasonable…

And boring. I guess that's the point he's trying to make, a place for experimentation.

Was geocities ever that? It was great for finding these in-depth pages about ridiculously obscure topics (trains on a particular branch line that only ran 1962-1963 or whatever), but IIRC almost all the visual design was decidedly pedestrian.

>It was great for finding these in-depth pages about ridiculously obscure topics

Where did the people who made those sites go anyway? (Who were they?) Millionsort implies that they got buried under a couple tons of SEO and search engine manipulation.

I'm excited about the potential here. Moore's law etc allows geocities-style websites to be maintained for significantly less cost than it did a decade ago. I hope the next generation has as much fun learning HTML as I did.

Something else has changed besides the technology costs, though. I'm old enough to have used geocities, but not old enough to know or remember if it was truly "anonymous" and "uncensored." Was it? Regardless I wonder if Neocities will have a harder time maintaining those qualities in today's world.

One of the most important parts of geocities functionality was allowing users to integrate their static HTML sites with the backend functionality provided by Yahoo.

Stuff like guestbooks,hit counters and even chatrooms. From what I remember you dumped some magic tag in there which was parsed by the server which added a chunk of HTML that was dynamically generated.

Does Neocities have something like this?

You could do all sorts of fun things with this, like javascript games which allow site owners to create lobbies for their website.

So something like:

<Game gametype="bomberman" lobby="mylobbyname">

Geocities was great before this happened. I was on Geocities before it was acquired by Yahoo and it was literally just static HTML sites. Guestbooks, hit counters, etc. were all just added into your HTML without special tags.

I may have gotten things switched but I seem to recall that Geocities had SSIs before Yahoo took over. But it's stretching my memory to recall it.

How did you have stuff which relies on a server backend (like guestbooks) without having the server inject HTML somehow?

CGI-based images or pages. I don't believe GeoCities let users upload their own CGI scripts, but I believe they had a set of pre-defined CGI tools you could call. You could also set up things like guestbooks using an external service. It wasn't unusual to see "Guestbook provided by $FOO" at the bottom of guestbook pages. Kind of like Disqus, but before JavaScript.

Tripod let people write their own (limited) perl scripts for their site... when I found that out the first thing i did was try to get something from Matt's Script Archive to work, but it didn't. Then I wrote my own guestbook and what had to be the lamest forum ever.

Yes, I remember these external services but in those cases you had to link to a page completely off the site.

Geocities had some feature where you could actually embed guestbook entries into your page.

Truthfully I don't remember for sure, but I used external services just as @Lexarius mentioned. I didn't write it myself at the time.

This: "You could do all sorts of fun things with this, like javascript games which allow site owners to create lobbies for their website.", this is a jackpot!

I used to love geocities growing up. Making fake billing error sites and spamming them out was a hobby of teenage me, and most importantly geocities taught me that you can view the source! to any website. I remember when I first learned about viewing the source to a website, I was so pumped to go through some actual working code and then recreate it in geocities. When I was twelve I figured out how to email forms to myself, which would have been much harder to execute without geocities.

I remember the first website I "hacked" (read inspected the html code), I was sure I was onto something...

I don't get it.

Geocities was right at the time, we have Wordpress (and yes MySpace and Tumblr and Google Sites and Apples site builder and Yahoo pages and Wix et cetera) and a million different blogging platforms now that fill most of what Geocities was (I had an account there).

For the rest of it there are better implementations of things like photo sharing (and now video sharing) or sharing guitar tabs or artwork or music or ...

>"It's worth it if it inspires even one kid to start building something." //

You can get a free domain name and run your own server with only a few clicks of the mouse now.

So, like I said, I don't get where "neocities" fits in to the web of today.

Tumblr (assuming it survives as it exists now) fills the niche that geocities once did, except it slaps a nice UI on making updates and presents some minor restrictions on what you can do (you need to find somewhere to put some of your assets that can't really be hosted by tumblr themselves). Their theme editor even has (if my memory does not trick me, I'm at work and don't particularly want to log into my tumblr dashboard) a reasonable HTML editor. If all the eye melting gif backgrounds, autoplay music and late-90s knock off novelty cursors are anything to go by, a lot of tumblr is probably a more worthy descendant of geocities.

There is certainly a shitton of content created on tumblr, even if you discount the value from aggregation. In addition, Neocities 10mb limitation hugely limits what you can do. Setting aside 1MB for CSS, JS and images and assuming you have a 85/15 content/markup split in your files, you get ~150k words. If you even dare adding images, the possibilities for archiving any content you produce are shot.

I agree, WiX is today's version of GeoCities... with Flash or HTML5 - desktop publishing for the web.

It's full of interesting content - a lot of photos, unsurprisingly!

As a designer (an imposer of order), this was surprisingly inspiring! In 2004, the trend was towards order and now feel (Ok, hoping?) the pendulum might be swinging a bit more towards chaotic freedom.

Not a designer here, but this comment reminded me of the movie "Helvetica", which describes the same pendulum effect happening in font design over the years. Couldn't agree more that a swing the other way would be a great development.

I love little tools that let people explore their creativity. Geocities was certainly one of the earlier ones. But perhaps the OP is viewing it with rose-tinted glasses?

Sure it exposed you to becoming a creator on the web but I think that was mostly a historical accident. We can only appreciate it in hindsight. It's not like Geocities was the best way to create and host web pages.

Today I think webmaker.org is a step in the right direction.

But for most people I think initiatives and projects like this will remain rather niche. If you're not technically inclined to learn new skills and technologies to get content on the web you don't have to. There are plenty of great, free tools for putting your content online and hosting it for free.

You know what is the mega-feature that is missing? Git integration. Yeah, it's geek, I know, but it would be a phenomenal way to publish a website (edit, commit, push).

I think GitHub pages serves that niche well. NeoCities seems like it's more built for the beginner, which is something I can't say of git.

Something like GitHub Pages?


Even better than git for publishing, I like the "fork" concept as applied to the more general web. Forget copyright issues for a moment... if you could fork sites here it would allow for really fast site creation where you can build off others' creations.

Ward Cunningham's Smallest Federated Wiki[1] is basically what you describe. To edit a wiki page you have to fork it into your own wiki, which I think automatically creates links and things. It's interesting but I haven't explored it nearly as much as I'm sure it deserves.

[1]: http://wardcunningham.github.io

Bitbucket can do this too. Name the repo: USERNAME.bitbucket.org

Try Heroku, it's basically the same but with git instead.

Yes, this would be wonderful.

Thinking back, it's very possible that Geocities is a key reason I am a developer today.

Definitely for me! I plugged away in Microsoft Notepad and did all this fun, interesting stuff locally in the browser but I never had a place to share it. It was getting kind of lame not being able to share it easily. Enter: Geocities.

Has anyone heard of Google Sites? http://sites.google.com/

Informed people won't build on it for fear google will arbitrarily shut it down some day.

That may be true for some definition of informed but I'm inclined to think that there are many informed people using gmail (and other Google services) and this fact leads away from your assumption.

But it's perfectly reasonable to think that Google might drop a service like "Sites" if they aren't able to monetize it, or if they think that it competes with another of their services. It isn't currently reasonable to think that of gmail.

Nor to think that of [voluntary contribution supported] neocities?

But my neocities website was arbitrarily shut down just a couple of hours ago. And I must wonder if it was the only one.


Hah! (where have I seen that demo before?)

The author does a great job of calling potential users to action. One of the cool things about the old myspace.com was the ability to customize a profile, it gave users a way to express themselves. I'm sure people made money off of "theme makers" and other web tools that otherwise would not have gained popularity. NeoCities could be the catalyst for a new wave of sites that aim to make it easier for users to personalize their website on NeoCities. Sometimes all it takes to revitalize an idea is to present in a slightly different way.

Ironically, the "customization" of Myspace's wacky profiles with animated backgrounds and autoplaying music is what led people to the more streamlined Facebook, and we know what happened after that.

My theory is that design is cyclical. We had GeoCities/MySpace, then Facebook/Twitter, and now we're back to Instagram/Snapchat for expressing creativity.

If improvements are made on each cycle then we should end up with something better than we had before. Iterative development on a grand scale. hehe.

I must say that today you can do quite complex apps using just JS. So this might take off in unexpected way easily.

I strongly recommend reading the Ruby source code for NeoCities on Github https://github.com/kyledrake/neocities-web

NeoCities uses Sinatra, Slim templates and Sequel for database queries and migrations. The code is a pure joy to read. Ruby is not the fastest language, but for an initial release of a minimum viable product it's perfect.

If you decide take on investors you can pay someone else to rewrite the thing in java later.

What does this really mean: "as long as it's not illegal to host it"? This site is globally accessible, but legal rules are local. If you host something which is illegal say in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (not that hard to do), and make it available over neocities also to Saudi Arabia, then is it illegal or not? Well, in practice for sure KSA will just block whole domain, and probably you don't care. I think whole youtube is still blocked in Turkey because of single bad video. Where are physically your servers?

Also I'm afraid according to many countries you would be legally responsible to the content what you help to publish. So any single page with questionable content may end up badly for you.

Geocities worked because these nasty legal problems did not come up yet, Internet was a marginal non-serious thing, and even if bad content was published then no-one noticed or reacted to it. Now a web is the mainstream media, and you may find out that technical hosting of some bytes is really smallest problem in the global publishing business. In order to follow all laws of all the countries where you operate (i.e. from where your site is accessible) you need to monitor the content, react to notifications etc.

Please tell us what you're doing to prevent all the data from being lost if Neocities goes down. I don't want this to turn into another.. well, Geocities.

If it were me, nothing. Users should back up. If the admins back up too, well, that is a bonus.

Absolutely disagree. The entire tragedy of GeoCities was that it is now inaccessible. On a personal level, of course you should have local backups. But for the sake of the project/culture at large, there needs to be a long-term plan.

I like the idea and think it will be both an adventure and worth while, but it'll never be what it used to be.

Here's why:

My friends never really made there own websites or anything even close, but when myspace came along everyone suddenly became interested in the ability to customize their profile page. This alone created would be programmers out of my friends, figuring out how to manipulate each page to add interesting layouts via HTML, picking music to add to the page and figuring out how to embed pictures, videos, music, links, etc. The point is, that myspace was in many ways better than Facebook, and a transition from webpages to social networking. With myspace essentially gone, my friends have on multiple occasions told me they missed the ability to make themselves unique, but when I suggest them making their own webpage they call claim it too hard, costly, no way to network, etc.

Perhaps neocities can make it, but to hit a larger market it'll need more social networking that allows the qualities of facebook chat (why ALL of my friends switched from myspace). If you could add in the social networking aspect, it would trump the need for facebook and open the door for a whole new realm of people.

I would claim that Neocities should specifically not add social networking aspects. If someone wants social features on their site then they can copy/paste snippets of HTML/CSS/Javascript into the static site.

I think the difficulty with doing that is that social network integration is almost exclusively focused on consumption. At the lowest end of the spectrum are the widgets containing information from within the network. That's a reasonable way to direct users from a Web site into a network (eg. a user visiting a newspaper's site may go and visit the newspaper's Facebook page) but it's useless at getting people from the network to go to a site. Nobody goes to Bob's Web site to check his Facebook status; they do it from within Facebook.

The situations where this can work well are: 1) Consumer APIs with machine-readable results. The simplest mashup, data visualisation, interactive game, etc. can be made really interesting when it has real-world data to play with. As an example, one of my first programs was a balls-on-springs physics simulation, but I drove it with artist similarity data from last.fm (audioscrobbler at the time). 2) Producer APIs allow data to persist once the static page is closed. This could be as simple as posting a highscore from a game, all the way up to posting the result of a Web-based creative application. What programmer didn't throw together a "paint program" as soon as they found out how to get the mouse position and make a line on a canvas?

Thank you, I really missed websites like this: http://maxprafferty.neocities.org/


Needs more <marquee>marquee</marquee>.

Not only is it NSFW, it's also NSFA (anywhere)

is that a responsive webpage? :D

I don't think anything proves this point more than the "This is a webpage" post that hit 1 on HN a few days ago.

This is kind of ridiculous sorry. The Web is so interesting today because it moved forward from a read-only kind of system, which you seem to so happily advertise with this NeoCities website.

And I totally disagree about Facebook. It has given me the ability to communicate very creatively with my friends. Much more than any read-only HTML site will ever dream of. Who cares about its boring interface, the power lies in the content and ability it has given me to easily share this content with my friends.

How will NeoCities adress the challenges we already faced 10 years ago, that is that users will want to input data, and interact with these static sites, rather than just read them?

Sure it's fun and creative to share static content... it's also fun and creative to share static images (flickr). But the medium of the Web has much more potential than simply being a repository of static resources.

We can use Java applets for interactivity.

Complete tangent, but I love how the NeoCities ico image is a brutally rendered globe, probably in 256 colors. When you view it directly, it even rotates. Let the GIF march begin! Again!


An important part of bringing people back to an interactive web is to do away with the 'browser' concept and bring back symmetrical web clients.

I still actively use the SeaMonkey web browser, and a big part of the reason I do is it still has an integrated WYSIWYG HTML composer component. I have an 'edit' action item for any web page I visit, and cut-and-past capability between browser and composer windows.

Hosting a website permanently is just a matter of getting an account on freeshell.org and setting up your ~/html directory to face the web. If you want a decent amount of space and the ability to use the PHP and MySQL backend, you can make a one time donation of ~30 dollars (can't remember the exact amount) for a lifetime upgrade.

There are lots of things to be done, even with static content (from the server PoV). Right next to this entry stands "A dark room", which is entirely static server-side.

Regarding the "airport kid" saddies, someone pointed out how he longed for the C64 days and put one up again. I see this as an opportunity. What can you achieve with 10M and HTML+JS? While the web seems to look like "old stuff" there's lots to be done with WebGL, canvas, websockets... All of this now available to everyone for free. No domain name to own, no DNS to set up, no VPS or RPi+FTTH to own, no hacking around to squat Heroku or GAE with static content.

Think outside the box and show off your skills, folks. Push the envelope. That's the hacking spirit.

It's interesting that in the 80s when home computers were new, you essentially started your computer at the command line and could code in something like Basic right away. A lot of non-technical people learned at least some programming, because of this. When GUIs came this faded out.

A similar parallel in the 90s with the internet is that people learned HTML, because in many ways tools were limited and it was relatively easy to create a page that was respectable enough. Now that so many web pages are "covered" in CSS and/or created with higher level tools, it will be interesting to see if many non-technical people will be attracted to creating their own web pages. I hope so.

Request URL: http://neocities.org/create

Request Method: POST

Status Code: HTTP/1.1 302 Found

Received Cookie: neocities: [REMOVED SESSION DATA]

My create-account form and session cookie over HTTP? Not a fan. Grab a cert from startssl or similar!

Think about adding a social aspect. "Following" cities for example and having a feed with updates (a la Github) of the stuff you follow. This way you will add user-to-user interaction and will help you with surfacing good content.

I sincerely wish we had had the foresight to explore this further. Early "homesteaders" of GeoCities would select their URL based on a loose ontology of (neighbor)"hoods" and (sub)"burbs" (a fashion oriented page might be hosted at /FashionAvenue/Catwalk/1493). While this certainly made scaling the backend easy, it also created a sense of community (keeping an eye on your "neighbors", the mad rush to get a site with a hot address (/1000) when a new burb would open).

The need to provide a simple path for all of Yahoo!'s users led to the now familiar "/username", but I'm not entirely certain it was for the better.

( I recall one conversation where we considered providing the ability to tag derelict homesteads with virtual spray paint )

There are many such sites on the web where you can easily and for free create a web site with plain HTML, and many of them have been around for 10+ years and give you more than 10MB. What's the big deal here, appart from the name?

The idea is great. Really like it.

But what I REALLY like is the browse-function with the little thumbnails of the hundreds of websites which look exactly the same crappy and shitty way as in the good old days. http://neocities.org/browse

It just shows me that people still don't know nothing about design, they have no idea what it takes, how much time & knowledge and they are like spoiled kids from the idiot-save steps that facebook&co took to maintain a "good" (at least stable) design after putting some text in a textbox and press enter.

I'm not sure what this is trying to be. If it's supposed to get people who know nothing about web to create pages, it should really have some handrails and tutorials (or at least links to tutorials). As far as I can tell the new user creating their first page basically just gets a huge wall of xml in their face. If it's really just trying to be hosting for people who know what they're doing and that's it, well, I'm a cheap bastard and I host my static page on Dropbox for thousands of times the free storage. I guess here the ugly url would be slightly shorter?

I think it's a shame that GeoCities is gone, and I totally respect this new effort, but isn't NeoCities one missed credit card payment away from the same fate? There's a lot of eggs in that basket.

There's nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come. GeoCities infinite customizeability + HTML5 client-side web app capability may be just that. Excellent, good luck!

Might want to put in a little thought towards a (N)SFW mode...

I think that the problem with GeoCities was not the content of the websites hosted in that platform but all those ads and popups annoying us all the time. If I'd redesign a similar I would take this as a bad example and try to keep it cool and easier to navigate. I think that the platform could not interfere in the hosted page.

Congrats for the idea. That's a great action for sure!

Kyle, I love neocities. Not trying to toot my own horn but instead share the similar feeling we have. It's great to read exactly what I've been feeling: http://www.johnrockefeller.net/you-know-what-i-miss-the-unli...

Thanks so much!

Neocities is just so handy. Like last night, I read the 2012 doomsday forum was going read only, and the search feature was being disabled. So I made a quick google custom search feature: http://2012forum.neocities.org/ and asked the maintainer to link it on the site.

Geocities was great, and I'm really glad Kyle is doing this.

The very very first site I built (in junior high) is still live and kicking on freeservers: http://sina.8m.com/

Certainly it falls in the "vast wasteland of garbage" category, but I'm glad it's still online.

Interesting idea. I wonder how you'll deal with the problems with anonymity though. You've no record of who signed up for anything, and creating a page is easy. What will you do when someone puts child porn up? What about any other 'illegal' content? Copyrighted content? Libellous content?

> When Yahoo shut down GeoCities, they did much more than delete a bunch of ... Limp Bizkit MIDI files.

Ugh, guilty as charged.

Anyone have a repo of the old gifs that were most common? I'm thinking of things like the under construction stickman or the rotating wordart welcome sign.

I am a little sad that security of web browsers has gotten better. I remember offering people free cup holders by opening up their disk trays :-)

"They deleted the ability for people (both old and new to the web) to easily create web sites, and be in complete control of the content and presentation they provide to their audience."

That makes no sense whatsoever. Does no one remember the extra JS/CSS to hide advertisements?

I would appreciate if they could relax a bit a list of filetypes you can upload there. if you want to use some webfonts for your CSS you will be surprised that it's impossible to upload your own TTF file (freeware of course) :(

Please add the ability to sort the websites by recency and by (weighted) hits when browsing through http://neocities.org/browse.

It looks like neocities uses subdomains to host user sites.[1] They probably don't want to pollute the subdomain "space" with their own content. They probably have some kind of automatic rewrite thing going on as well.

Now I'm wondering how you do the auto-subdomain thing. Maybe have *.neocities.org A record to the same IP and then have the HTTP server parse the URL?

[1] from the blog: http://mlpfim.neocities.org/

http://blog.neocities.org/ points to it (incorrectly, but it tries), at least. I wonder if that's user created or not.

They use subdomains for the sites that are created so blog.neocities.org would be one possible domain used up.

This is so cool. Good idea, I am sure people will like it!

<rant>I wished NeoCitites mentions to ignore W3Schools, mention W3Fools and the WebPlatform.org project as the starting point.</rant>

My webpage and account were apparently deleted. No explanation or warning was given. Needless to say, I won't be using neocities again, nor can I recommend it to anyone I know.

Go get a debian vm for $15/yr at buyvm.net (happy customer, no other relations) and build your fancy site there.

Sure sure, but now I'm here, and I'm letting people know a very important thing: don't trust this guy with your website. You might end up spending hours working on it, building it up only to have it deleted because... actually you won't even know why, he won't let you know. Utter lack of respect for the users.

I agree. that's lame. Also, I wonder how one goes about having one's own neocities site deleted.

Somewhere, I have the code laying around to build a webring ...

Would you like to sign my guestbook?


I wish there was an easier way to browse than just "recently updated" sites. Some sort of search and criteria filter would make it a lot better.

How about a web ring?

Love it! It's Angelfire/GeoCities for devs. :D

Glad at least one person mentioned Angelfire, I still have an account there, didn't really go anywhere with it in the last 10 years though. LOL

Most of the site is dead, but I found this gem. That's me Jumping off a cliff.


infographic- you are dead. No idea why, your 5 comments seem pretty tame. Over-aggressive link filtering? Email the admins.

Maybe you should ban this asshole: http://i.imgur.com/ODfNHVr.png

I would be interested to see how far people manage to stretch what can be done in 10megs. I bet it would surprise many.

What would make the web sexy again is to find a solution to allow "privacy"! Privacy IS cool.

What is going to prevent this platform from becoming a massive spam fest or a link farm to other sites?

It will probably get blacklisted by Google like with the .co.cc domains.

Easily solved with webrings and pages of links.

I welcome a return to mass market creativity instead of paint-by-number UGC linked to real names.

Your vision is great, but which is the difference to open a blog on wordpress.com?

If there was an API for uploading files I would use this for a static blog :-)

The website is AWFUL. Lato Regular font, green color. Web 2.0 is awful.

wow!! This is crazy. Been sleeping on this idea for the past 3 months or so. But for my day job, I would have definitely taken a stab at it. kudos for starting this.

this has been a lot of fun to work on. I think it could be really important for letting new (and old) developers have a place to really test out coding and design.

That brought me sweet memories. Great idea <3

I miss neighborhoods, the sense of belonging...

The 3D spinning globe favicon is a nice touch.

I can't wait for the visual editor!

Yes, for the love of god do this.

A poetic manifesto. Well done.

The opposite path of Medium

Instead of having adventures into the great unknowns of the web, we instead now spend most of our time on social networks: boring, suburban gated communities, where everybody's "profile" looks exactly the same, and presents exactly the same content, in the same arrangement. Rarely do we create things on these networks; Instead, we consume, and report on our consumption.

This is a brilliant observation. Facebook started as a scrappy but fun college thing, and now it's a platform for people to brag about travel and the food they eat.

To get anything decent out of humans, you have to create a context for excellence. Otherwise, it's Sturgeon's Law that sets in. That is a natural way of things, even when the technology is well-designed. This is similar to complaints about job sites or dating sites because "the sites are broken". No, the sites are fine. They do their jobs extremely well. It's people that are broken.

The problem is that there's no money in creating a context for excellence, and the economic pressures on an organism like Facebook to mediocritize (remember that this often happens by default; no one explicitly decides to make their platform shitty) are just too powerful.

This article made my day.

The standardization/normalization of the web -- specifically, PageRank, Wikipedia, Facebook, and what's now totally recombinant "web design" -- has ruined the frontier aspect necessary for actual innovation.

Great idea. I've never been so bummed out as when I found out Geocities was dying.

See also (kind of): YTMND.com

yes... limp bizkit MIDIs. I used to have Break Stuff on my neopets store.

Want a throwback, services that are pre-1993 still exists: http://sdf.org/ , but a geocities retro revival is just a fad.

Yeah, no, Geocities might have had 0.01% worthwhile content but it was a vast wasteland of garbage.

The reason being that's what a platform like Geocities enables; garbage. It empowers people who are willing to put in basically no effort to make a static page with no scripting. That's not a recipe for amazing content, that's a recipe for bottom barrel content.

Really, any platform that enables everybody to contribute anything they want is going to sink to the lowest common denominator. The platform needs a built in way to highlight the best of it to have any worth whatsoever. Most Twitter feeds are unreadable garbage, the reason the platform is a success though is that it has built in ways to find, discover and follow the very best it has to offer.

It's also got a very narrow use case that happens to coincide very well with the skills of comedians and comedy writers. Geocities' narrow use case only coincides with the skills and talents of artists, and they already have Deviantart and their own gallery websites. There's no compelling reason for them to use Geocities/Neocities as their platform.

Best of luck but I'm skeptical this is going to ultimately be worthwhile.

You can use a lot of that same logic to justify any elitism.

If anybody can come to this restaurant, it won't be a great restaurant, so we have to exclude those people.

How many future web designers cut their teeth making terrible Geocities websites? Just because something is terrible doesn't mean you didn't learn something.

The forest would be pretty quiet if only the best birds sang.

Your analogy is terrible. The people coming to the restaurant don't make the food at the restaurant. If they did, that WOULD be a terrible restaurant.

Your second argument in favor of Geocities is that future brilliant web designers may use it? Ok they might, but if Geocities didn't exist they'd use something else. And I'd argue they'd learn faster and better habits by learning with some other tool.

The patrons of a restaurant contribute their appearance. A fancy restaurant is going to want to exclude people that aren't fancy, because that would be contributing "garbage" to the atmosphere.

If you were a librarian, would you only make the top 100 novels available? Why circulate books that aren't the best?

If anybody can come to this restaurant, it won't be a great restaurant, so we have to exclude those people.

What do you think high prices do?

That's exactly my point. Neocities/Geocities is/was free, allowing anyone with an internet connection to create something. Setting up your own domain and webspace costs money.

But it was a vast wasteland of garbage.

Since Worse is Better, Garbage is Awesome?

Is that inherently a bad thing?

The web itself is a vast wasteland of garbage, you just manage not to visit most of it.

Don't visit the neocities domain, and your problem is still solved.

What happened to making a website for yourself, or to show to friends? What's so wrong with making a bad website rather than none?

The argument here isn't between people being able to make websites or not. The point is "Is Geocities as a platform worth anything?"

People can make websites themselves elsewhere.

Not nearly so easily and cheaply as they once could on Geocities.

It seems true to me that it is actually more difficult and expensive to put up a simple amateur static arbitrary page of HTML in 2013 than it was in 1999. Even ignoring idealism and nostalgia aside, there is clearly an unfilled niche here.

And they can easily make great websites at geocities.

I don't understand your objection to this service.

If it wasn't for geocities, i would have never realized my first website, which was the first step to learn HTML, which was the first step in dreaming of developing a web application, which is what I do today.

Of course geocities did not force you to obey to strict rules in your design, but many of us are programmers, and we have this particular tendency to try stick to guidelines even when not needed :), so I'd say, it was not Geocities responsability, but it's user's and a power user will never try to code in a messy way, but instead will try to inform himself day after day on best practices, standars, and reflect this in his code.

But here came the power of Geocities! It helped you at that stage where you were not yet a pro, perhaps you dreamt of becoming one, but at that moment you just needed the enthusiasm boost of being able to create SOMETHING YOURS, UNIQUE, A REAL SIGN OF YOURSELF and being able for the first time ever in human history to share it instantly WITH THE WHOLE(connected)WORLD! I remember this giving chills to me! :) And yet you could learn more from it! Compare this with being forced to obey to strict standards and guidelines right from the beginning.. of your learning experience ["hey avoid table, it's devil" when you are happy you finally managed to share your vinil collection (and mp3z? :) ) of your fav bands with the entire world for the first time in your (teen) life!]

We all now how much important is REWARD while learning new technologies at those early stages! Geocities, and also similar sites, were the fuel to start your engine and get to your first MULTIUSER "APP"(kind of) REWARD! what is the value of that? :)

> make a static page with no scripting.

Well, in my book, that's a recipe for great content.

The guy is doing it for fun. None of your arguments or concerns are applicable.

If you're threatened by people being able to make free websites, you need to re-evaluate your life.

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