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yahoo geocityFor all the jokes made at the expense of Geocities – and there are quite a few, including the hilarious Geocitiesizer – the fact is that for quite a long time it was the place for amateur web enthusiasts to build their own website. Most of the content may have been crap, but the fact is that some very useful information was hosted there.

This is why, for all the people who said “Good Riddance” when Yahoo shut down Geocities, the Internet was really worse off for the closure. A tremendous amount of information on a variety of topics was ripped from the web overnight.


Or it would have been, if not for mirror project Reocities. This site backed up as much as they could possibly manage, and are accepting further contributions from anyone who might have small pieces backed up.

What It Is

reocities

Of course, an undertaking this massive is going to be with a few faults. Not every site ever hosted on the page is here, but a good chunk are. How does one use it?

This is perhaps the real brilliance of the page. Reocities is only one letter off from Geocities, and the URLs from Geocities are maintained. What this means is that any site unopenable in Geocities can usually be opened by simply replacing the “G” in the URL with an “R”. If the mirror has the site, you’ll have access to it.

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If doing this seems too much a pain in the neck, don’t worry: it can happen automatically. There’s a Greasemonkey script capable of doing it automatically; find it here.

It’s also worth noting that most of the spam pages Geocities was famous for are nowhere to be found. This is because Reocities, as a project, aimed to only grab sites that are worth keeping. Naturally some crack made it through the cracks, but it’s pretty astounding how well the filter seems to have worked.

reocities

Finally, if you’re not sure what you’re looking for, I recommend checking out the the neighborhood page as a decent starting point. This is the top-level domain of Reocities, and it’s possible to stumble upon some interesting stuff in here.

A Brief History

Reocities is essentially a feat pulled off by one nerd with a bunch of really nice equipment and a total lack of sleep. You can read the entire tale here, and I highly suggest you do: it’s quite entertaining and very interesting.

reocities

Dutchman jmattheij wrote the scripts that scoured the site that made the bulk of the backup, and also maintained the server cluster that did the job. This has since been supplemented with contributions from The Internet Archive and individual users who backed up a few of the pages that disapeared. The result is a fairly complete backup of Geocities that is still growing.

If you find a former page for yours is missing, and you have the files that make it up backed up on your computer, you should contact jmattheij and send this data to him; he’ll make it part of Reocities as quickly as possible.

Conclusion

Many early movies are forever lost to history, because the film was recycled to recover valuable silver. Yahoo shutting down Geocities is similar to me: destroying a piece of history in order to save some money. Unlike these early films, however, vintage Internet is being preserved. That this is even possible is a testament to the power of the web.

What do you think? Is Reocities a worthwhile project, or should Geocities be forever forgotten as a wasteland of useless content? Are you happy the content is somewhere? Can you see yourself using this service? Share in the comments below. Also feel free to share the best Reocities links you can find; I’d love to read some of your favorites!

  1. Marius
    August 10, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    You need neither our approval nor mass popularity to make this project a *really* good idea! Love it or leave it, Geocities was a huge part of 'Net culture, especially from before the 'Net became one huge commercial. It's a reminder that, once upon a time, the amateurs (literally, "lovers of" whatever they were into) ruled the Web. It should be preserved for the same reason we preserve the scribblings-in-the-margins of the folks at the Constitutional Convention. (And the Geocities sites make more entertaining reading!)

    • jhpot
      August 10, 2010 at 5:17 pm

      Extremely well put.

  2. Suze
    August 5, 2010 at 8:32 am

    Back in the day I had to host a couple of _professional_ academic sites on Geocities, when the institutions concerned wouldn't allow links to other institutions (!), or wouldn't allow editing by anyone other than the public relations department.

  3. Mark O'Neill
    August 4, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    I had something like ten websites using Geocities (and they were all crap!). But if I could remember the names again, I would be really curious to see if they have been restored. Not that it would be a great loss to humanity if they weren't.

    • jhpot
      August 4, 2010 at 10:57 pm

      On the contrary, I can think of few things more important than Mark O'Neill history.

  4. Andreas Beer
    August 4, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    they should work together with web.archives.org, these historical documentations will be quite important for examining our culture and especially the arise of the www in the future.

  5. Andreas Beer
    August 4, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    they should work together with web.archives.org, these historical documentations will be quite important for examining our culture and especially the arise of the www in the future.

    • jhpot
      August 4, 2010 at 10:56 pm

      That site doesn't seem to exist, but they are working with Archive.org to restore as much as possible.

  6. Tina
    August 4, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    There were quite some useful sites on Geocities, even if they looked crappy. But that's the charm, isn't it? That sexy 90s look with neon colors and blinking text and icons all over! ;)

    I'm glad someone preserves it, even if soon it may just be for the sake of memory. The useful information will be rebuilt somewhere else anyways. At least you would hope!

  7. Tina
    August 4, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    There were quite some useful sites on Geocities, even if they looked crappy. But that's the charm, isn't it? That sexy 90s look with neon colors and blinking text and icons all over! ;)

    I'm glad someone preserves it, even if soon it may just be for the sake of memory. The useful information will be rebuilt somewhere else anyways. At least you would hope!

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