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

    December 23, 2009
    Chris Crum

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


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