If you haven’t heard, Geocities is closing on October 26, 2009. This is almost two weeks away. For many, this is an end of an era. Geocities has played host to a lot of unique content that you cannot find elsewhere on small niche websites created by individuals and small organizations. Many of these sites were created in the late 1990s and early 2000s when web hosting was much more cost prohibitive. Geocities offered an alternative to that problem. As people’s interests changed, as time went on, they stopped updating their pages for a variety of reasons.
Geocities continues to be a treasure trove of the arcane information. Fan communities, genealogy communities, history communities, sports fans, school groups are going to lose a lot information.
Fan communities are going to lose their history: What did those Passions sites look like back in the 1990s? They were sprayed with purple back grounds. Sailor Moon sites were image heavy and had a lot of fancy html for their time.
Genealogy groups are going to lose hand written lists of people buried at small town cemeteries, people’s family trees and other types of records that people compiled using offline sources. For people looking for information
The history community is going to lose a lot of original research in many areas including fan communities, sports, military, women’s studies and more.
Geocities was home to a thriving sports community. People created websites for their clubs, wrote the history of their teams, etc. Some of this information never migrated to new official sites for those organizations or to other resources for the sporting community. Australian Rules Football, underwater hockey and handball are three sports communities that are going to be hugely hurt by this.
There have been four really visible efforts to try to preserve this history that I am aware of. They are:
- Archive Team: Creating a back up of all sites on Geocities.
- Fan History Wiki: Screencapping fansites. Creating articles about as many fansites hosted on Geocities as possible. Creating articles about stories archived on Geocities as possible. Creating stub articles about fan fiction archives hosted on Geocities. Finding historical definitions of fannish terminology to track definitional changes.
- Organization for Transformative Works: Preserving information on fansites and archives by screencapping, adding articles about those sites to Fanlore and offering hosting to fansites on Geocities hurt by this closure.
- The Genealogy community: Several people in the Genealogy community are trying various preservation efforts including the Lousiana Genealogy Blog.
There does not appear to have been any push for trying to preserve information of local interest in many communities. It would be fantastic if people in Oregon would go through the 43,200 plus pages that mention Oregon on Geocities and try to identify pages that have information that cannot be found elsewhere, screencap this information or otherwise save it to another location. As time permits after Geocities close, it would then be fantastic to integrate the saved information in to articles on about Oregon on Wikipedia and other wiki projects. Some topics that might be of interest for people in Oregon that are covered on Geocities but not as well as they could be on Wikipedia include GLBT activism in the state, information on historical buildings, information on state fauna, and information about clubs located in the state. If it isn’t saved in some form before October 26, 2009, this information may be lost forever.