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.

July 31, 2007, Last Updated in April 2007, Earns "Ghostie" (Level One) Award Calls in is a site maintained by Greg Boser, a well-known SEO consultant, at the domain (Disclosure note: Boser and my boss, Dave Pasternack, have major differences about whether SEO is or is not "rocket science)."'s last update was in April of 2007: that's only three months ago but an eon of time for anyone who realizes, as Boser certainly does, that keeping up to date is crucial for SEO purposes.

What's going on at Does Boser care that his rankings are likely to drop the longer he refrains from updating I don't pretend to know. Frankly, I think that Boser will probably reactivate the site at some time in the future, so I will simply say now award it a 1 Ghostie Award ("Site is Calling in Sick") and look at it again at the end of the month to see whether it's "dying in ICU."


Return of the Ghostie Awards!

Return of the Ghostie AwardsBack in the early days of Ghost Sites, we had a scoring system based on the level of bit rot in any given site. It made sense because the degree that a site is considered to be "bitrotten" is a function of its periodicity. For example, a corporate media kit that's six months out of date really isn't out of date, whereas an online daily that's gone two weeks without an update is probably in serious trouble. The five levels of "ghostliness" were as follows:

Ghostie Award: Site is Calling in SickOne Ghostie (Site is Calling in Sick) This generally indicates that a site, while a bit out of date, has a fighting chance of pulling itself out of its comatose state. Many sites that have received the "Calling in Sick" award have come back. Frankly, Ghost Sites has "called in sick" more than a few times.

Ghostie Award: Site is Dying in ICUTwo Ghosties (Site is Dying in ICU) Two Ghosties mean that the prognosis for the site isn't so good. Experts have examined it and shaken at its prospects. Revival is possible, but unlikely. I don't issue many "Dying in ICU" awards, because few sites spend much time there on their way out.

Ghostie Award: Site is Dead But Well PreservedThree Ghosties (Site is Dead, But Well-Preserved) I used to issue a lot of these rewards. Basically, the site's lights are still on, but nobody is home. Sometimes these sites come back, but I'd say more than half either vanished within a short time or began to suffer from serious bit rot, which can get very unpleasant.

Ghostie Award: Site is Dead, Shows Advanced DecayFour Ghosties (Site is Dead, shows Advanced Decay) Very few sites lying in a state of advanced decay ever come back. "Advanced Decay" usually indicates a lot of broken links, possibly some broken applications, and a "Last Updated" sign from many months ago.

Ghostie Award: Site is Stuffed, Embalmed, and Ready for Internet MuseumFive Ghosties (Site is Stuffed, Embalmed, and Ready for Internet Museum) Getting one of these awards indicates that the site in question was updated so long ago that it's almost supernatural that it's still here. Any site that was last updated in the 20th Century instantly qualifies it for this prestigiously mordant award.

I'm bringing this scoring system back, because it's a pretty accurate way of judging cyber-decrepitude. So please welcome the return of the Ghostie Awards!

(Note: you are of course free to display a "Ghostie Award" on your own Web site if you believe that it is a repository of bit rot, but you should understand that doing so will probably nullify your award, because any updating will reduce your BQ (Bitrot Quotient), which the Ghostie Algorithm takes very seriously.)

Labels: , ,

Fate of Reveals Limits of Internet Archiving

Fate of Reveals Limits of Internet Archiving
Legendary NBC broadcaster Tom Snyder died last Sunday, saddening those of us who had grown up with Tomorrow, his late night TV show. Snyder used the phrase "fire up a colortini, sit back, relax, and watch the pictures, now, as they fly through the air" when intro-ing his show, and for a while, he ran a site called

Snyder abandoned a few years ago, and the domain is now occupied by a squatter. OK - that's normal. But here's the tragic thing: While the Internet Archive did archive in its prime, it's impossible to see what's there. The problem seems to be that the Flash application run by Colortini doesn't point to the archive's pages, but its embedded code blindly calls the current site, so all we get to see is the squatter site, not the real Tom Snyder site lying behind the splash screen.

I call the phenomena AFOHO (Archived Flash Obfuscation of a Historical Object) and it's a rampant problem at the Internet Archive. Archived sites with Flash intros prevent the content beyond the splash screen from being seen. This is a big loss for Web historians, and I don't know if there's any cost-effective way to solve it.

What's the good of archiving Web pages if nobody can see them?

Labels: ,

CityStories.Com Tells Its Last Story

CityStories.Com Tells Its Last Story
, at the domain, was an exercise in what its creator called "city-based storytelling;" its tagline was "there are a million stories in the naked city, and a million cities." Its main page consisted of a Bloglike list of links to stories on an informal network of participating sites.

Unfortunately, this site now suffers from one of the worst cases of bitrot I've seen in a long time. The most recently updated story is from April of 2005, many story links on its home page are broken, and the links to other "city story" sites in its left nav bar yield broken links, squatter sites, and even a few porn sites.

It's too bad because a site like this, if rebuilt and revamped with Adsense could might have a future. Paying people for the content they write is a generally good way to encourage continued participation, even if it's only a few dollars a day. Fifty bucks a week can make the difference between starvation and survival for some urban story-tellers.


Click Here to Return to the Ghost Sites Home Page