Tag Archives: Geocities

GeoCities, RIP: Fandom’s Lost Pages

Today, as quietly announced six months ago, Yahoo is shutting down Geocities.

Geocities was one of the icons of the Internet in the 1990s. It was emo before LiveJournal, boasted legendarily awful layouts before MySpace (be sure to check XKCD today), and spurred user revolts over terms-of-service changes before Facebook. As one of the major free web providers, it attracted everything from teenage poetry to fan sites to do-it-yourself social networking.

Over the last decade, people have mostly moved on. A lot of old sites have been shut down or abandoned. Spammers and phishers set up shop, using the free service to hawk pills or bootleg software, or host malware, in the hours it took for Yahoo to catch them and shut them down. No doubt it’s become more trouble to maintain than it’s worth.

To be honest, I won’t miss most of it. But there are fan websites that have never moved. Book annotations, timelines, analysis, fanfic — a huge chunk of fandom history will simply vanish today. (As of noon Pacific time, all my links still work.) Some of it will survive in public archives by the OTW and Internet Archive, or in personal archives. I contacted a few site owners, or tried to, but most of my emails bounced.

One advantage for fanzines: ink on paper doesn’t require anyone to keep a central service going.

It’s funny: the things we expect to disappear from the web often don’t, but the things we expect to be permanent often do drop out of existence. GeoCities appeared 14 years ago. Will today’s blogs, Facebook pages, forums, and wikis still be around 14 years from now?

Update: GeoCities lingered for a day, but has shuffled off this mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible.

Farewell, Geocities

After years of rumors, Yahoo has finally decided to close Geocities sometime this year.

I can’t say I’ll miss GeoCities itself — but there are still a lot of sites connected to comics fandom hosted there. Some are kept current, some are old but still contain useful information, and some are snapshots of an earlier era of online fandom

It was a time before MySpace and Twitter and Facebook. Before Google and Wikipedia. Before “weblog” was shortened to “blog,” back when discussions took place not on forums but on IRC, newsgroups and mailing lists, and even having an email address meant you were kind of weird. Everyone with a website belonged to 2 or 3 webrings, fan sites handed out awards to each other regularly, and Jonah Weiland’s name always appeared in front of “Comic Book Resources.” It was still worth asking your local store for a copy of Comic Shop News, because it wasn’t just a digest of last month’s Newsarama articles.

At the time I started Flash: Those Who Ride the Lightning (on a server provided by my college) in the mid-1990s, a lot of comics fan sites were on Geocities, including several that I helped out with. The first profiles I made of Flash villains were written for the long-gone Scarlet Speedster website, and I remember contributing bios to an Impulse site at one point as well.

Of course fan sites appear and disappear all the time. I watched a lot of fan sites die out during the late 1990s as people graduated from schools, started jobs, went into the military or just stopped posting. As various Flash sites fell by the wayside, I expanded the scope on my own site to fill the gaps they left. (Evidently I had too much time on my hands.) After a while it was kind of a last-site-standing situation, until Dixon relaunched Crimson Lightning (originally a review site) as a blog a few years ago. It’s nice to see a resurgence of Flash fan sites lately.

As for the sites still on Geocities today: some, especially the ones that are still active, will no doubt move over the next few months. Others will simply vanish, taking with them a piece of fandom history.