R.I.P. GeoCities: A Community is Killed

Yahoo Shuts Down Property with 10m Unique Monthly Visitors

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Yahoo has officially shut down Geocities.The company has said that it did not count the property among its priorities, so it is simply getting rid of it. Yahoo has shut down about 20 services in less than a year.

We learned that Yahoo would be closing the door on GeoCities back in April, so users have had plenty of time to migrate to other services. Earlier this year, for example, MSN partnered with WetPaint  to allow people to create "fansites". After Yahoo’s announcement, Wetpaint took the opportunity to announce a "bailout plan for foreclosed GeoCities properties," which it called the "GeoCities Asset Recovery Plan (GARP)."As it shuts down GeoCities, Yahoo itself is now plugging its own $4.99-a-month Web hosting service.

Yahoo GeoCities Ok, so there are other options for GeoCities users, but is just shutting down a community that still attracts so much traffic the right thing to do?  Yahoo’s way of going about it has been widely questioned. According to Compete data, GeoCities has still been seeing over 10 million unique monthly visitors as recently as last month. Why would Yahoo want to just shut that down?

"Then there’s the fact that Google, not Yahoo, appears to be responsible for the lion’s share of GeoCities referrals, sending about 31.45 percent of the site’s traffic its way," noted Doug Caverly upon Yahoo’s original announcement. "Yahoo’s only behind of 16.89 percent of all GeoCities visits. So by closing GeoCities, for which it paid $3.6 billion in 1999, Yahoo seems to be turning its back on a large amount of traffic.  Moreover, it’s turning down free traffic from its biggest competitor." 

"Carol Bartz may be trying to get Yahoo’s costs under control, but it looks like sticking a ‘for sale’ sign on GeoCities would be at least one preferable option compared to a closure," he added.

But alas, it looks like the sign reads "closed" rather than "for sale." So say goodbye, and in the words of Richard Marxx, "hold on to the memory."

It seems unwise from a business perspective, but what about the users? Does Yahoo have an obligation to its users who may have spent years using their GeoCities site only to have it pulled from the web? Should Yahoo provide a forwarding web address for GeoCities users? After all, it was the GeoCities users that built their sites, promoted them and put up with sometimes annoying ads. A simple forwarding of their GeoCities url to their new home would be appreciated! Do you agree?

MySpace isn’t exactly at the peak of its popularity, but there are still tons of people who use it. What if they just pulled everything? What if Google bought Facebook and decided to kill it? What if your Tweets vanished? Sure these things seem unlikely now because these services are still fresh. Well, GeoCities was once the "it" thing too. Granted, most GeoCities sites I have seen are not much to look at now, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t getting use out of them. They’re obviously getting page views.

Here’s what Yahoo is telling GeoCities users to do if they want to keep their sites:

On October 26, 2009, your GeoCities site will no longer appear on the Web, and you will no longer be able to access your GeoCities account and files. If you’d like to keep your web site, you’ll need to move your site files to another web hosting provider.

We recommend moving to our award-winning Web Hosting service, which works a lot like GeoCities but includes a personalized domain name (such as widgetdesigns.com) and matching email, terrific new site building tools, unlimited disk space and bandwidth, premium customer support, and more.

Perhaps it’s not worth it to users to go throgh the hassle of migration, but it has been nice to have their GeoCities site at least remain in tact. Well, tough luck. I hope you’ve gotten what you wanted away from it before Yahoo obliterates it. There are some sites out there that have not yet been shut down, but it appears that is only a matter of time.

What do you think of Yahoo’s decision to simply shut down GeoCities? 
Discuss here.

GeoCities tweet

Remembering GeoCities

GeoCities held a lot of web memories for a lot of people. There was a time where you could barely surf the web without running into one GeoCities site or another. Wikipedia provides a little history:

GeoCities began in mid-1995 as BHI, which stood for Beverly Hills Internet, a small Web hosting and development company in Southern California.

The company created its own Web directory, organized thematically in six "neighborhoods". The neighborhood included "Colosseum," "Hollywood," "RodeoDrive," "SunsetStrip," "WallStreet," and "WestHollywood". In mid-1995, the company decided to offer users (thereafter known as "Homesteaders") the ability to develop free home pages within those neighborhoods. Chat, bulletin boards, and other elements of "community" were added soon after, helping foster rapid growth. On July 5, 1995 Geocities added additional cities, including "CapitolHill," "Paris," "SiliconValley," and "Tokyo." By December 1995, the company, which now had a total of 14 neighborhoods, was signing up thousands of Homesteaders a day and getting over six million monthly page views. The company decided to focus on building membership and community, and on December 15, 1995, BHI became known as GeoCities after having also been called Geopages.

"It was perhaps the first mainstream example of an open, participatory and personal Internet," writes Mark Milian with the LA Times.

In early 1999, Yahoo purchased Geocities for about $3.57 billion in stock. Now a decade later, Geocities is no more.

Do you have fond memories of the Geocities days? Should Yahoo be obligated to forward GeoCities pages to your new site? What if Facebook, MySpace or Twitter suddenly shut down? Should there be a web or social homesteading bill of rights?

>>> Share your thoughts below


Related Articles:

>GeoCities Users Get a Bailout From Wetpaint

>Yahoo Failing To Consider GeoCities Alternatives?

>Yahoo Turning Lights Out At GeoCities

>Ballmer Talks About Yahoo and GeoCities

>Should You Stop Blogging?

R.I.P. GeoCities: A Community is Killed
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  • http://www.pioutsource.com PI Outsource

    Kill Me Now!

  • http://www.freefunsurveys.info Free Fun Surveys

    Thats a very informative article.

  • Guest

    If Yahoo’s $4.99 a month for hosting is anything like their domain names watch out… I went from 9.99 for 3 years on 8 domain names, than all of a sudden was charged $34.99 per domain/ year without any disclosure.

    When asked about it I was told it was because of their continued “Outstanding Service”!!!!!

    For a stinking domain name registry, outstanding service… get real.

    • http://PCBVacation.com VacationNation

      Thanks for the heads up! I think Yahoo is struggling to find its real purpose on the net.
      Sounds like they should have to disclose this prior to…

      I like Yahoo and hope they rebound and not try to rip off people along the way!

      -Nathan Tice

  • Johnny

    Eyeballs = Money

    Yahoo is So stupid. How many times have they shut something down without the least thought of the FREE branding opportunities they could get from traffic they already have.

    Complete lack of common sense if you ask me.

  • Guest

    www.XKCD.com has (at least right now) a funny homage to the gaudy sparkles and bad HTML coding found in the typical geocities page. FUNNY stuff :)

  • Ironbob

    Yahoo is without a doubt the most stupidly run company to ever blossom out of the internet age. How this company remains in business is a mystery to me.

  • http://www.goodsenseinfo.com Dave

    With the battle for decent traffic, does anyone out there think that 10,000,000 unique a month would be worth something. Jeez, I know that kind on search-in, click-in traffic is worth a fortune. It’s hard to figure what the Yahoot’s are thinking???

  • Guest

    Think about it. It’s not really Yahoo getting the 10 million visits per month. Sure, Yahoo gets branding , but the traffic is going to the community pages. And everybody knows, none of the big boys give you free traffic anymore without prying it from their cold hearts/hands

    This is why despite all the advancements – Social media, web 2.0, blah blah. The internet is a far colder non informative shell of what it used to be. You can’t find an informative site now without some registration or financial string attached.

    This is just another nail in the coffin of access to free and open information.

  • http://www.wiredflow.com seo consultants

    i remember getting v excited when using geo for the first time- RIP

  • http://ShopTRD.com jtr02a

    Best I can figure is they threw in the towel after seeing sites that were easier to use (and IMHO better) such as Weebly.com. Oh well.

  • Travis

    This will be unfortunate for all those folk (like me) who sometimes need a particular midi file. I will sometimes take a cheesy-sounding midi song and import it into Ableton Live. There, I can replace the cheesy NES voices with some really sweet instruments and get a quality end product–all without having to manually tab out the song. And it has been my experience that most of the midi’s exist on these old static pages in the Geocities ghost town.

  • http://thetechnologycafe.com Samir

    I loved geocities but i learn a lot about the web from it

  • http://www.marketsitepro.com Nick

    At first, it is hard to believe, they did not sell the service, but then they dont really want to loose the paying customers that transfer to their hosting service. The just want to clean house of the dead beats that no longer use the service. They are probably laughing, just thinking about the other free service providers that will pick them up and not get much of anything out of it. It may seem like a low cost, but maintain uptime is a consent effort. Also, for management, they can say that it was past management that cause all their current problems.

  • TonyB

    I have been after Yahoo for years to remove one of my GeoCities sites when they first took over. The deal then was that if you wanted to keep your GeoCities site live you needed to migrate to a Yahoo User ID otherwise it would be removed. I did that for one site but the other I did not want to keep so I did not migrate that user id. To my dismay, they failed to remove the site and because I did not get a Yahoo ID for it, I could not remove it either.

  • http://www.jubejube.net m

    I am very glad I did not take my ISPs advice and open a geocities accout/page!!!
    Good place to see 90’s web programming but the ads are horrible!!!!! They ruin a creative web page design with their “smack you around the mouth ads”

    Glad I went with jubejube.net for my page! I love the mobile content friendly stuff too! I love my PDA!

    Yahoo needs to focus on their domains and their email and news + flickr… that is their strengths!

  • http://www.Bonsai-mart.com Guest

    If you go back in time before Google existed, Yahoo was the number one search engine. They had attitude………That being………..They didn’t care what you thought! They seem to still have some sense of the that attitude, still. There was a song made about the Great Yahoo, Yahoo that spoke of their arrogance. Now it seems they are stupid along with the arrogant attitude to not sell the property to someone else for big $,$$$,$$$,$$$. I do not wan to see them leave and be left with the dominance of one major search engine over all the others.

  • http://www.sciencelives.com ScienceLives

    I’m sad to see Geocities go. I started my first web site there in 1995, and thought it was the greatest thing ever – imagine, being able to publish my poetry on the internet. That may seem commonplace now, but at the time it was an amazing opportunity. Years later I switched to paid hosting with Yahoo, but kept my old site up because of all the old links out there that were still pointing to my old Geocities url. I just checked and http://www.geocities.com/paris/2928 is still up and running, but I’m not sure how long it will last. I guess there are probably still other free hosting companies out there, but this was the first major one, and it’s a shame to lose a part of history like this. Goodbye Geocities.

  • http://countryjoescollectiblestuff.com Country Joe

    Yeah they should have kept Yahoo auctions also.

  • Tim Scammell

    I was under the impression that the sites would be erased forever and no longer visible. That’s okay with me since I can’t change anything on my site ( http://ca.geocities.com/friendsoftherailway2004/Fredericton.html ) and the information is outdated.
    Either kill it forever or let me get in and change it guys!

  • http://www.LoveAtFirstServe.com Kamaraj Retnasami

    Yahoo keeps showing the world how weak it is getting. First, Yahoo Photos was gone. Then, Yahoo Briefcase followed. And now, Yahoo GeoCities is gone! Great marketing moves, Yahoo!!!

  • http://home.comcast.net/~nekohibiki/index.htm Neko Hibiki

    Yahoo destroys everything it touches, makes worse.

  • Sheri Johnson

    had I not read your article in my email, I would not have known about this for how long? I have a few sites I built that were hosted on geocities and I was using them. This bothers me immensely. Now I have to start all over again. One of these sites was solely marketed on geocities, sure it was free, but I never expected it to disappear with no warning.

  • Guest

    I never like geocities anyways, That damn popup on the right never went away and was annoying. Good ridens.

  • http://www.ellefagan.com Elle Smith Fagan

    Hugs to all impacted by the Geocities shutdown:
    I did not do with GEOCITIES, but went thru similar trauma when
    Angelfire changed over several years ago.

    Fortunately, my place in things was that I was ready- I learned it all at Angelfire and was getting my own domain, anyway, so I was ready to move on.

    But I truly missed, very much, my old Angelfire pages and saved copies of their icons, and printouts of my first Angelfire images and pages and other “firsts”…..

    Angelfire was my first webpage friend and Angel. I learned to make pages with their cool, free tech.

    All those late nights and soreback hours, getting the hang of it, online.
    the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, learning html and so much more about life online –
    “me ‘n’ Anglefire” bonded in that special partner passion.
    So I understand how folks are feeling today.

    it is a LOT of WORK, changing one’s pages to another server…a LOT.
    So, again, I sympathize.

    I believe it is GOOD for internet giants to streamline their services, and shut down
    sub-services that clog and complicate a clean and elegant flow, but gee… :-)

    Like the author of the article, Yahoo’s motive is unclear to me, in this matter.

    Best wishes to all involved.


  • http://www.sk8.com.br Uriel Punk

    My first WEB site at Geocities was in the decade of 80. Unfortunate that Yahoo has done this with all users :(

  • http://shofar221.com art finkle

    Built website in 2002

    I bought space as http://shofar221.com for my old websites which were ranked very highly on Google, Bing, Yahoo and others.

    When I asked if the ranking would follow, the answer was “no.”

    • Stupidscript

      How is search engine ranking any responsibility of Geocities? Practically speaking, YOU should have taken responsibility for it yourself, if you hadn’t waited until the last minute.

      You should have migrated your stuff out of Geocities starting last April, when the first word about Geocities EOL came out, and then you should have used your Geocities space to implement forwarding code with 301 permanent redirects to your new host’s content. These instructions are in a zillion places on the web. The search engines would have hit your Geocities pages, been redirected and properly informed of the new pages’ status on the new host, and your ranking would have been preserved, with all of your site URLs getting updated in the search engines’ indexes in the process.

      Now it’s too late. You can’t implement the redirects, and your content will be seen as “new” content by the engines. Geocities is not being unethical … it’s standard operating procedure that the site owner maintains responsibility for the visibility of their content.

      Either you know how the game works or you get taken to the cleaners. Say ‘hi’ to the cleaner for us.

      • Guest

        I did not allow 301 redirects, dude.

    • Guest

      Why is Geocities unethical? It offered a good service for FREE for years …

  • Teresa

    How many of you idiots are actually paying for POP Access and email forwarding with Yahoo?

  • http://www.faceformers.com Brenda

    Even though Geocities users can migrate their content, many users don’t know what that means or how to do it. Thus, loosing all of their data and for some their lively hood. This totally sucks and the reason one should alway own their own content.

    I can’t believe yahoo would just flush millions of dollars down the toilet.

  • http://topsavings.net Phone Service

    Yahoo threw me out of their answers forum from the simple accusations from an enemy of mine and refused me re-entrance after my investing of time answering questions and helping create revenue generating pages for them. In the beginning in the 90’s it felt like we had a friend on the web, now it feels like we have a backstabber who would kill their own mother to save themselves. No dignity, and no respect … watch them now sell off their brand. In my book, they have no heart.

  • http://www.NickBrianWalters.com Nick Brian Walters

    This is the first I’ve heard of this, and I have an old account that I lost the password to, but was still able to go and visit my old geocities….I wish I woulda heard sooner so I coulda made atleast a partial copy of the site…Yahoo sucks!

  • http://www.geocities.ws Geocities backup

    hi in www.geocities.ws we have over a millon of sites backuped , a part of the history of the internet. www.Geocities.ws offers the possibility that your site can survive! :-)

  • Parag Hardas

    No exaggeration … I really had tears in my eyes!
    Today I am a hard core web developer. Majority of my earnings comes from web development. But guess what … who thought me HTML … or the funda’s of web hosting … uploading … ftp … and what not! … That was Geocities … I dont even remember when? … may be in 1997 or 98 … that was the first stepping stones … My first web pages … I never touched those pages again …. but it was like that photo album which brought back memories … lol … I was still getting those hits. And when I heard about the close down … Its really like a great loss!
    RIP Geocities! :(

  • http://www.gamescapes.com/ Video Games PS3 XBOX360 Wii

    It’s simply AMAZING that Yahoo just flushed this down the drain when most webmasters work so hard & spend tons of time & $ to attract new visitors each day.
    Hey Yahoo! Just send a fraction of that traffic our way. We won’t complain!

  • http://www.jolicosolarpower.com Maxine Cook

    Don’t tell me y’all didn’t know this was going to happen!?……. Are you serious? Geo announced this MONTHS ago and you had plenty of time to take your marbles and find another home for them.

    Let’s face the facts: Business are created and businesses are closed every day. Yahoo has the right to do what it wants, and I’m sure it has good reasons for closing Geocities. It was probably QUITE expensive to run that kind of bandwidth. I would rather say “THANK YOU” to Yahoo for providing us with free hosting for lo these many years than to whine about being abandoned at this late date.

    If there is to be a resurrection of Geocities, or some similar site, we would all love to take advantage of its’ owner’s largess. However, let’s get a grip on reality here. You all could have just moved over to a PAID site with Yahoo and your original Geocities site would still be up and running, albeit it would be costing you $$$. That’s the part you really can’t stand.

    So, for all of you who agree with me, I would like to thank Yahoo Geocities for providing us with over a decade of FREE webhosting. We enjoyed using your facilities and we will certainly miss you. However, you don’t owe us anything. Rather, we are in your debt.

  • http://www.jalapeno.net.au Jalapeno

    I just can’t understand the business case for Yahoo to walk away from 10 million monthly visitors – I’d love to be able to siphon just a fraction of that traffic to my client’s sites.

    Granted, Google was referring the lions share of traffic to Geocities, but there seems to be no rationalle behind closing the doors on all this traffic, and the potential business that comes with it.

    Maybe we are not being told the whole story here, that despite the amazing traffic stats there is no revenue from this traffic in terms of advertising etc and that it’s costing Yahoo a packet to maintain; if that’s the reason then it’s a fair decision… but has Yahoo attempted to evolve Geocities into something thats more competitive?

    … another illogical business decision made by execs who are out of touch methinks…

  • http://cottagesfortwo.com Vik

    I use geocities since in it early days… but I always question myself ‘ how do they making money’ out of it… few ads here and there can’t be enough to make billions

  • http://www.danlew.com Dan Lew

    This day was bound to come, all the data and free storage they give away, where does it end, how many servers they would of needed to keep up with the demand!

  • former mcd’r

    I worked with John Rezner for several years at McD… I remember many years ago when he was leaving McD, I asked him where he was going to and he said Beverly Hills Internet… This was way before the internet became what it is now.

  • http://www.ahugelist.com A Huge List

    I am glad!
    Once a month I do a stolen content check and at least 50% of the time it shows up on some free GeoCities site meaning I have to attempt to get it removed – a process that yahoo seems to drag out (and you have to sign up to yahoo to report anything!)
    – that along with really bad adult content pages (against yahoo tos) are all they seem to be used for or at least the only sites I come across . The few real and interesting sites don’t get my visits because of all the ads.

    Hosting and domains are so cheap these days anyone serious about their site should be hosting their own! (you own everything and have full control)

    If you are going that option though – stay away from yahoo domain registration and hosting!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I made the mistake of choosing them as my first host on a fiction site I started – ONE of the stories included a mild erotic scene – against yahoo tos (Yes I agree my fault, but I didn’t consider it “adult”) and they shut the site down – I had to fight with MelbourneIT (who yahoo resell domains for) to get my name back (took six months!) and I lost all my content (first site – did not know about backups ) and my yahoo ID and email!
    Their prices are also way above what you should pay after their cheap intro offer – a complete rip off!

    Yahoo are bad news for just about everything and whilst I feel sorry for those who have been caught out I am glad to see GeoCities gone.

  • http://www.am1enterprises.com Alan Maillet – AM1 Enterprises

    Five years ago, I didn’t have the slightest idea how do even make a website, so I started on Geocities with my part time maintenance business and tax business! And I still had them there when they shut down and need to decide what I am going to do with then now too! I now have three hosted by GoDaddy with domains, although ad supported and about a dozen set up through angelfire, also ad supported for other things I promote, etc. I guess one of then will be getting them now! When I have the time or money to do it now too. Not to mention changing my business cards, etc. Yahoo doesn’t even offer ad supported sites with the purchase of a domain. Only monthly hosting subscriptions. 5 years from now someone is gonna be happy to have my sites! But it won’t be Yahoo! I’m just now starting to make a little money and it’s only gonna get better! They really did screw up on this one!

    I also own a adult group on Yahoo and it was voted the Top Choice Yahoo Adult Group for 2008 at Wingman’s Adult Group List’s

  • http://www.ebookeducation.net Passive income streams

    Yahoo seems to be content as number 2. I can think of 5 things they could do right now to make themselves more attractive compared to Google. If anyone from Yahoo is reading this, please contact me, I will gladly accept the position of General for the War against Google and will settle with $200k.yr. I promise you guys won’t regret it!

  • Rockman

    It is the arrogance of the consumer that astounds me and not Yahoo. The prevailing view is that all net services should be free – no one wants to pay for anything. Now, for the stoners out there, umm…how do you propose businesses survive without revenue, dude?

    The real gem is the suggestion for a “social homesteading bill of rights” – huh? So the government will tell me I can’t shut down my free service that I’m losing millions on because a bunch of housewives and stoners posted their recipes and mosh pit photos? Insane.

    Short answer, Yahoo was well within their rights to shut down a huge white elephant.

    To paraphrase Margaret Thacher – “The problem with social networking sites is they always run out of other people’s money”

    • Guest

      I think yahoo should close it’s own doors. I’ve had a Yahoo account for over 15 years, I’ve watched as it’s slowly gotten slower & slower, as I’ve gotten faster and faster connections, but it’s still way to slow.


  • http://www.snm.co.za McCLaw

    I personally dont mind that geo closed.

    Most of the sites on there where absolute junk.

    And once the junk gets killed in google’s index we should see more relevant pages popping up all the time.

  • Dick

    It’s a scandal that Yahoo has not provided a simple forwarding address service, especially for Geocities sites that are popular. This shows “how much” the company cares about its customers. A good and cheap alternative for Geocities is get-website-hosting.com

  • http://geocities.com/deucalionus samurai x fan

    How come?! Why did Yahoo did it with a sudden? Does yahoo doesn’t get any benefits from Geocities. What happen to my files and pages there?

    Does Yahoo do anything? :(

  • Paul

    All someone needs to do now is have Yahoo put down as it’s the only humane thing to do to a dying animal.

  • http://www.boxerurkabustaiz.es/aboutus.html boxer

    I had a site on Geocities for over 10 years and it served me well. Thanks Geocities.

  • http://www.geocities.ws/retratosmarin/ retratos perros

    I have uploaded a Geocities site to Geocities.ws, I hope this one does not close soon …

  • http://www.webstar.my Yurich

    In the +8.00 hrs region, closure of GeoCities has little impact and consequent. GeoCities services seem so slow for the past 10 years. We hardly log in to the site. However it could be a different case in America.

    It is a nice and the right thing to do by shutting down GeoCities as changes must take place. To have a fresh start to catch up with other fresh services availabe esp the social networks, it’s better to shut down GeoCities. After all building and making a website is at the tips of people’s fingers.

    So, shut down GeoCities is the right thing to do to get rid of the legacy system.

  • http://kimberlykimbrough.com Kansas City SEO

    Geocities was the first “MySpace” and where I first learned the basics of HTML back in 1997 or 1998. The websites are not the best looking, ads everywhere, but a smart way to begin. Once I advanced, there was no need to go back and use the site.

    Because of my start, I went back to school in 2000 and received a degree in Computer Information Management and now I am the only female on my technical floor. I am amazed at how much I know and have grown.

    It was free and the only investment was time.
    I didn’t realize geocities was still up and running and could not imagine that people still use the site now that people can make MySpace pages and other social media tools.
    If you are serious about your website, then invest in a domain name and hosting. It’s cheap.

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