Ghost Sites of the Web

Web 1.0 history, forgotten web celebrities, old web sites, commentary, and news by Steve Baldwin. Published erratically since 1996.

June 23, 2004

The Bitrotten March of Time

I recently ran across this archaic, badly bitrotten page on Time Inc's servers:

How did I find it? Well, I came in through Google, which has no problems indexing the still intact text on these pages. But the pages themselves are wrecks: only one lonely GIF - a link to Time Inc's Media Kit - and the ghostly HTML border statements suggests the once-bustling commercial traffic of banners and promotional items across these pages five years ago.

But this page was only the beginning@ Following its internal links quicky led me to a vast, abandoned gallery of content prepared by Time in the late 1990's and seemingly forgotten about in ensuing years. The option statements in the HTML yield the following "ghost" areas:

/time/special/moy/1994.html">John Paul II

Holy Mackerel - this is Time's Man of the Year area - one might have thought they'd be pumping this area up, not letting it slide into a state of genteel decline, especially because its text is freely accessible through the search engines, which typically comprise about 80 percent of site traffic. Lots of people are probably using these pages, but having a nasty broken graphic sort of discredits the messenger, doesn't it?

Why hasn't this situation been corrected? Well, Time eventually copied this content into new areas, delinked the old ones, and left the old directories alone. They probably have no inkling that lots of people coming in through Google and other search engines are directed to the old pages, not the new ones.

In the meantime, these pages provide a good sample of first-generation, hand- coded, image-mapped, Javascript-based popular in the late 1990's. May they long remain in service, broken or not - these babies are relics of the Web's Golden Age!

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