February 26, 2000

by Steve Baldwin

February means it's Ennui Central around here. But our pathological cabin fever is lifted by the steady stream of Dead Site tips that loyal readers of this despised column keep stuffing into our e-mail boxes with the latest reports of Web Rot.

Thank you all for keeping us focussed on the true horror of winter: Dead Web Sites frozen beneath the ice!

You'll find a more or less typical crop of gangrenous bit rot in this month's list of Ghost Sites. Nothing special here - just a rusted Zip Drive full of non-updated nothingness and abandoned binary ectoplasm.

Alien Resurrection

This big-budget sci-fi movie came out more than two years ago, leaving a huge, hideously bloated site chockablock with well-financed, Hollywood-style bitrot.

Connisseurs of high-bandwidth Web decay will enjoy this site's antique Shockwave area, an "Alien Resurrection Digizine" that still claims it's "updated weekly", an Event Calendar that's cocooned itself back in November, 1997, and a link to a merchandising site that grimly announces that "Alien Resurrection is Closed".

Alien Resurrection is a classic Ghost Site that demonstrates Hollywood's matchless ability to construct promotional Web Stinkers that persist uselessly for years, without any conceivable hope of resurrection.

Thanks to Scott for pointing this mammoth-sized monstrosity out to us.

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Site is Dead, but Well-Preserved

Kook of the Month

It's sad but true: KOTM, an ambitious attempt to find "the true nutburgers of the net and share their wisdom and knowledge with the rest of the alt.usenet.kooks population", has been lying in a condition we can only describe as an alarmingly advanced state of dormancy for the last 32 months.

There's very little left of this site: just about every link is broken. Still, KOTM's lifeless counter spins on in the melancholy loneliness reserved for quirkily inspired projects that, for reasons unknown, have relapsed into a terminal state of cyber-dereliction.

Thanks to Time1159 for sending us news of KOTM's demise.

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Site is Dead, Shows Advanced Decay

Best of the Web

This bitrotten site is a throwback to the embryonically silly days of Web Hysteria, wherein "Best Of" award sites briefly ruled the day (remember Point Communications? Cool Site of the Day?)

BOTW is as dead a site as you're likely to find, and it hasn't mustered a contest since 1998. But if you're curious about what used to pass for excellence on the Web, you can peruse its award-winners for the years 1994, 1996, 1997 and 1998, and stratch your head in befuddlement.

Were Web sites so butt-ugly back in 1996 that "The Spot" could win BOTW's "Best Designed" award? Was the state of Web-delivered fun so mind-numbingly boring back in 1994 that MIT's Sports Information Center could walk away with BOTW's "Best Entertainment" Site award?

And did surfers really prefer The Bartender's Joke of the Day to The Onion in BOTW's Humor Category back in 1998?

It boggles the mind.

Thanks (again) to Time1159 for sending this dangerously corroded relic on to us.

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Site is Stuffed, Embalmed, and Ready for Internet Museum

T & G Solutions

T & G Solutions appears to be a VAR (Value-Added Reseller) whose e-commerce activities bogged down in the Cyberspace equivalent of the La Brea Tar Pits.

Still, there's a lot to love when browsing this Jurassic-era Web site. Where else can you buy (for $2,195)a brand, spanking new 100MHz Pentium Desktop System with 16MB RAM, 1.2GB hard drive, and 28Kbps modem? Or a $2,899 laptop system powered by a smoking 133MHz CPU augmented with an 810MB hard drive?

Want more? Check out the amazingly geriatric links on this site's home page, which include a link to Yahoo at its original location (http://akebono.stanford.edu/yahoo).

Now, that's a Ghost Site!

Thanks to cglow for this Ghost Site Tip.

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Site is Stuffed, Embalmed, and Ready for Internet Museum

The Original CHiPs Page

"I just started it", this site's creator pleads: "Be patient. Give me some time."

Okay - we've given this site nearly five years to get its act together - do we have to give it another five before its author finally uploads some additional material on CHiPs, a long-dead, long-forgotten TV show about California motorcycle cops?

We don't know why The Original CHiPs Page is such a badly neglected mess, but we'll be big about it, and satisfy our insensate hunger for LA-based Law Enforcment fiction by gorging ourselves on the many fresher sites devoted to Adam-12 and Dragnet.

Thanks to Ghostsite (a peculiar moniker) for sending word of this dead site on to us.

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Site is Dead, But Well-Preserved

Child America Ministries

Here's a sad case of a failed Web charity effort sent on to us by Ghost Site Correspondent (First Class) Randee Dawn.

It pertains to something called the "Child America Ministries", a homegrown attempt by Texas evangelist Wayne C. Vann to gather money for his cause through online fundraising activities.

These activities did not, however, reap much of a bounty: a year on the Web harvested just $120.75 ($120 from a grownup contributor; $0.75 from a child), so the online component of the Child Ministries was shut down on January 1, 1998.

Can you blame him for being bitter?

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Site is Dead, But Well-Preserved

Millennium Philadelphia

Another Dead Site tip from Randee Dawn yields this rapidly aging site devoted to Philadelphia's Millennial Celebrations.

The site's home page yields a zeroed-out, completely dysfunctional Millennium Clock; inside the site, things aren't any fresher: just a rusting clump of stuff to do on the night of 12/31/99.

There are a lot of Ghost Sites devoted to 01/01/2000 that we'll probably devote a special issue sometime in the near future. In the meantime, enjoy this one, and cache a copy onto your hard drive. In a thousand years, it might be worth something.

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Site is Dead, But Well-Preserved


You're on the web a lot. You've seen many a dead site. You've forgotten our email address... and you don't feel like coming back here to get it.

What do you do?

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The Ghost-o-Meter opens a small, movable window... if you've found a Ghost Site, fill in the blanks, fire it off, and go back to foolin' around. Its that easy.

You can also use this form:

What the ??!

Well, this is all very interesting, but what the heck is Ghost Sites anyway? Why devote a live site to Dead Sites?

If you're interested in this Ghost Sites thing, it is a project that I began in the summer of 1996 while I was working for Time-Warner's Pathfinder. Late in the evening of July 4th, while piloting a small craft across Long Island Sound, I had what only can be described as an epiphany.

From out of the depths came a cruel vision of the World Wide Web. It wasn't a friendly place - an innocent place of community, commerce and chat. It was a great and utterly pitiless electronic ocean that swallowed up sites, careers, and venture capital like a ravenous killer whale. Great sites - sites like Mecklerweb and iGuide - were going down with all hands. Great fortunes were collapsing and proud content sites lay wrecked on the bottom. No one seemed to care. The future was a vast abyss - who would record these days of New Media folly, disaster and despair?

Back on shore, but still haunted by this vision, I launched Ghost Sites as a modest attempt to document the great disappearing fleet of web sites sinking beneath the waves. This project briefly made me spectacularly famous, and then I was quickly, and completely forgotten.

By March of 1997, Ghost Sites had succumbed to the same deadly entropy that had settled over the Internet, and became a crewless wreck itself. For six cruel months, it drifted like a despised garbage barge, broke its keel in a summer squall, and finally washed up on Geocities.

On an icy November morning, Morbus boarded the wreck, inspected the damage, and offered the captain a safe harbor. The bilge pump was started, and the squealing, rusty hull lifted off the sands again. It soon arrived here - in the dark, unquiet waters of Disobey.Com.

If you want to see the article that made me briefly famous, check out Ghosts in the Machine. I became so famous because of this article that there were women lining up to see me - I felt like Elvis! But then... the fall from grace...

If you have a favorite rotting site that you'd like to mention, email me at Steve_Baldwin@hotmail.com.

Ghost Sites has appeared in a number of places including Time Magazine, ZDNet, The Netly News and more. For a list of all those we know of, as well as links to online counterparts, click here. You can also take a look at the limited edition t-shirt we once offered.

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