Tuesday, September 29, 2009

GeoCities Free Web Sites will soon be no more

I got the following notice in my email:
Important notice: GeoCities is closing.

Dear Yahoo! GeoCities customer,

We're writing to let you know that Yahoo! GeoCities, our free web site building service and community, is closing on October 26, 2009.

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. [...]
The email goes on to say that the free websites can be moved to a yahoo paid website, for a monthly fee:

Sign up for Yahoo! Web Hosting for only $4.99 a month

I have one of the free websites. In 2000, I made a trip back east, and made a visit to my old hometown where I grew up. I took a lot of photos, then displayed them on my free GeoCities website:

Simsbury Photo Gallery

The site did well for a couple of years, I got some interesting comments in my guestbook. Then traffic started to fall off sharply, as other websites with photos of the town began to be listed first in search results. Now a search with the towns name and the word photo won't even come up with my site on the first 15 pages of a Google search (I didn't look any further than that. Neither would most people, I expect.)

Now I'm not surprised they are dumping the free sites. They cost money to maintain, and take up space on their servers. And certainly my site hasn't been getting traffic in recent years. I meant to do more with the site, but then we moved to Oregon and I didn't get back to working on it. Even if I had, getting traffic via web searches would have been problematic. Now my "new" photos are nine years old; the site itself is dated. I was going to work on it more, but there's no point now. It's not worth it for me to maintain it as a paid site, so it will disappear soon.

Building the site was a fun learning experience. But free websites are becoming a thing of the past. Websites like mine. I never would have built it as a paid site; it was a fun indulgence. Now it and a whole slew of websites like it are about to face the delete button. Websites that never would have existed if the hosting had not been offered for free. The free sites were a creative outlet for people who might otherwise have never built a website.

GeoCities was one of the largest free website communities online. I will miss it. Goodbye GeoCities. The ever changing face of The Web will never be quite the same again without you.

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