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Friday, April 24, 2009

GeoCities Homesteaders Left Homeless

Quietly, on April 23, 2009, Yahoo announced that it was closing new registration for GeoCities and encouraged its members to move their pages, preferably to the Yahoo paid hosting service. Yahoo plans to close the site permanently by mid-year. Back in the ‘90’s during the Wild West period of the Internet before MYspace and Facebook allowed anyone who could fill out a profile to create a “website” GeoCities’ site was a very popular choice for those looking to build their first website.

GeoCities was a rapidly growing company when it started in 1995. Sections were grouped around a central theme and named for various cities: for instance, Hollywood for entertainment sites or Silicon Valley for computer related sites. The company provided its homesteaders with various tools to build their sites including message boards, chat rooms, etc. The company went public in 1998 and was subsequently purchased by Yahoo for over 4.5 billion dollars.

Unfortunately, Yahoo’s takeover spelt the beginning of the end for GeoCities. Many users revolted against Yahoo’s terms of service, which stated that Yahoo owned the rights to all content on GeoCity pages. (Are you listening, Facebook?) Furthermore, Yahoo introduced a new feature called a ‘popup’ ad as well as a JavaScript powered watermark, which broke websites and interfered with layouts. Lastly, Yahoo abandoned the policy of organizing sites around the various cities, annoying users. Ultimately, as hosting plans became cheaper and social media alternatives began to emerge, GeoCities relevance quickly dwindled to the point that when Yahoo announced that the site would close, most people did not realize it was still around.

I imagine somewhere out there, a lone web user, whose page has a purple background and a half dozen instances of the blink command is quietly packing up his animated gifs and preparing to move to a new home. Geocities legacy of being many people’s first website will live on, long after the cats those sites were dedicated to, have passed on.


  1. Great post, Mathieas. I love the observation that most people didn't realize GeoCities was still around!

  2. Very sad. I knew they were still around but I had not heard that they are going away. A sad ending to a great part of internet history.

    Yahoo is also ending briefcase.

    AOL has also ended a lot of their features such us journals so it looks like we are going thru a 2nd dot com shake out.

  3. I wonder what 436 will do with GeoCities.

  4. great article mathieas. its pretty rare to run across a geocities page nowadays in normal web surfing; it used to be very common. and LOL at the "blink" and animated gif reference.


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