Yahoo Winds Down GeoCities. (Waitaminnit, GeoCities Still Exists?)

By  |  Thursday, April 23, 2009 at 1:48 pm

GeoCities LogoBack in the mid-to-late 1990s, build-your-own-Website services like GeoCities were the easiest way for folks without much technical expertise to get content onto the Web. So it wasn’t an utter act of insanity when Yahoo spent $3.57 billion to acquire GeoCities in 1999. Well, okay, the $3.57 billion part was irrational, but the world needed GeoCities.

By the turn of the millennium, though, GeoCities and its rivals started to be overshadowed by blogging–and today, it’s blogging services such as WordPress, Blogger, TypePad, and others that serve the purpose that GeoCities once did. I hadn’t given GeoCities much thought in years–until today, when I read on TechCrunch that Yahoo has stopped signing up new GeoCities members and will close the service altogether at some unspecified date later this year. Let’s hope that Yahoo does a better job of helping GeoCities users migrate to other options than AOL did when it shuttered its similar, similarly venerable AOL Hometown service last year–it gave users only a month’s warning, then purged their data and redirected their URLs to a terse blog post saying that Hometown was no more.

Yahoo’s GeoCities FAQ on the closure says that the service is going away “as we focus on helping our customers explore and build new relationships online in other ways.” Which is a vague way of saying “GeoCities is no longer a priority for us.” Presumably it’s part of Yahoo’s ongoing housecleaning, elimination of redundant services (it also offers Yahoo Web Hosting), and focus on core offerings with a high potential for profit.

There’s probably some alternate universe where GeoCities changed with the times and stayed popular, but it felt a tad dinosaurish even back when Yahoo bought it, thanks to a weird “homesteading” system that forced users to choose a neighborhood and street for their site, and annoyances such as a GeoCities logo that stayed on the screen even when you scrolled down on the page. On the other hand, a bunch of its 1990s competitors have managed to stick around–Homestead (now owned by Intuit and focused on small businesses), Tripod, and FortuneCity. Wonder if any of them will make a concerted effort to welcome the GeoCities residents who Yahoo is evicting?

 
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14 Comments For This Post

  1. Ed Oswald Says:

    I’m kind of sad. My first real homepage was on geocities. Anyone remember those godawful long URLS? :P

  2. Dave Mackey Says:

    And all the geeky “neighborhood” names!

  3. Jared Newman Says:

    Mine too, Ed. I can’t even remember my city and street name now. *sniff*

  4. Cindy Osborne Says:

    Well crap! I’ve got images stored under several yahoo screen names and linked to a number of blogs and websites…
    This is going to be a fun needle in a haystack search..

  5. Matthias Says:

    My first sites were all on geocities. I actually still have one up – it comforts me to know that it’s still out there. Time travel with me back to 2001: http://www.geocities.com/calm7boardwear

  6. Marc Says:

    I guess it demonstrates how the internet has changed so much within the last decade. Back in 1998, the majority of those using the web had an interest in technology – they were early adopters. Seeing a web page from Microsoft, or CNN, and being able to have your own page up there on an even footing was a revelation. It was considered part and parcel that you would learn something about how the web worked, a bit of HTML here, the odd FTP upload and guestbook CGI script there.

    Then in around 2002/2003, everyone else seemed to get online. After the hype of the dot com boom, the web was no longer a place just for early adapters. Blogs, (basically automated web sites) popped up. The content began to be shaped by the limitations of the web site’s automated script. “It puts a date by everything I enter… oh it must be an online diary, I’d better write what I’ve been doing today”
    And it’s these recent adopters who now have the obsession with Twitter and FaceBook. They haven’t yet seen it all before, they don’t know what IRC, Usenet or BBS are. For all its bad points (textured backgrounds, tags and embedded MIDIs), at least Geocities educated their users about the web along the way. While the likes of MySpace and WordPress have made putting content online more accessible, they’ve also “dumbed-down” the process, which was inevitable I guess.

    So while I won’t miss Geocities, I will miss some of the web sites it hosts. There are numerous long-abandoned fan sites for The X-Files I’ll read once in a while to see someone’s opinion on an episode after watching an episode on DVD. It would be a shame for them to just disappear.
    I built my first web site with Geocities! I now work as a web programmer. How many FaceBook profiles do you think will sow the seeds of a career?

  7. Matt Says:

    And there was much rejoicing!

  8. Fazli S Says:

    ohh.. sad to here this…
    my first site host here :(

  9. Sam Says:

    I thought they were dead wayyyy before that

  10. Direct Says:

    Geo-who?

  11. That Free TV Site Says:

    Geo sites lol…That was a while ago….doesnt seem like it but yup

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