April 6, 2000

by Steve Baldwin

Welcome back to Ghost Sites of the Web: your own maddeningly Quixote-like guide to all things dead and mouldering in Cyberspace.

Sorry about failing to publish in March, folks - I feel very badly about missing an issue because it makes me feel very hypocritical - like "the pot calling the kettle black". So I apologize (and thanks for continuing to send those Ghost-O-Meter tips in - they make this month's issue possible!)

Enough apologizing - on to the bitrot! This month, we've got a truly scary crop of computer-generated HTML flotsam that comes to you directly from the very dregs of Hell's Hard Drive!


In the late 1990's and leading up to the Doomsday Date of 01/01/00, Gary North was one of the Net's most visible Y2K zealots. So it's more than a little disturbing to see his widely-known site, GaryNorth.com, fall into disuse a few months after civilization didn't collapse.

Take a look at the site's once-busy Links and Forums Area - the newest messages date from early February, 2000, and so do North's "Latest Links" to Y2K documents.

It's difficult to prophesize what will happen to North's site now that its essential purpose has been served, We can only hope that it won't be unceremoniously deleted or destroyed -- no other Web site provides such a complete dose of the white-knuckled fear that gripped the world last year, when we all braced for the Y2K Apocalypse.

Thanks to NABind for this Dead Site Report.

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Site is Dying in I.C.U.


Two readers recently sent in news that an alarmingly conspicuous layer of rust seems to have accumulated on the formerly pristine cyber-fuselage of Aeroflot.

Although Aeroflot's home page appears to be current and Web-ready, the mysterious corrosion manifests itself in the site's Scheduling Area. Here, a prominent notice warns that:

Flight Schedule (is) valid through October 24th, 1998.

Naturally, the mere fact that an airline's Web site maintenance practices might fall below par doesn't necessarily imply that anything's wrong with the airline's maintenance practices elsewhere.

However an oversight like this doesn't exactly make Aeroflot look particularly forward-thinking either.

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Site is Dead, But Well-Preserved

Coming Soon Magazine

According to Coming Soon's Information Page, this game-oriented e-zine began its long Web's Journey into Night back in 1993.

Beginning as a monthly zip file containing electronic game previews, tips and reviews, Coming Soon later morphed into a CompuServe Forum and finally, a Web site, Along the way it garnered a nice handful of Web awards, and the future must have looked very bright indeed.

But then something went awry, and the result is a Ghost Site whose content was last updated in January of 1999.

Coming Soon's slow degeneration into phantom-dom seems to have driven several of its hard-core game audience to the depths of despair, and a few of their posts on the site's Guest Book Area drip with more anguish than a Greek Chorus:

June 29, 1999
Topic: hey its June 99
So it's june 1999 now and I just want to know what is coming soon. How often do you update this thing? Oh look I can read about the E3 show of 1997. OH how wonderful. I can read about all the games I didn't want to play 2 years ago. This just sucks. You didn't even rate all the 3DO games.

Another significantly more strident post appeared four months later:

October 25, 1999
Topic: Update your stuff!!!
You need to update dude! Nightmare creatures has been out for a few years and you have the review on it as new? Come on, you don't even have review on Resident Evil 1. Get it together!!

Thanks to DavidLong for informing us of Coming Soon's spectral fate.

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Site is Dead, Shows Advanced Decay


If your musical tastes range to Manhattan Transfer, Bobby McFerrin, or the Andrews Sisters, you might enjoy Doo-Wa-Zoo, a five-member vocal group that performs in the acapella style.

Doo-Wa-Zoo's Web site, however, hits a shatteringly sour note, because it's more than seventeen months out of date. The fact that this site is badly under-maintained is especially evident on the band's "Upcoming Appearances" page, where the only performances listed are two from mid-1998. The site's Guestbook Area, on the other hand, is a bit livelier, and contains a few messages date from January, 2000.

Any band, even one without instruments, deserves a better Web site than this one.

Thanks to masony for sending us this tip.

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Site is Dead, Shows Advanced Decay


We suffer from the infirmity of not being able to read Dutch, so it's impossible to say anything very profound about the peculiar rise and fall of SelectBuy.com, an e-commerce site based in the Netherlands.

From the pieces we can put together, the site seems to have been built to support a credit card of the same name. Because the site bears a 1996 date stamp throughout, we feel safe in declaring it completely defunct.

Farewell, SelectBuy.com. We'd like to think that your commercial purpose, however obscure, has been served, and that your sleep will be untroubled until the day when all Cyber Phantoms are called home.

Thanks to wfd, in the Netherlands, for this Ghost Site Tip.

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Site is Dead, But Well-Preserved


GamExperience, a somewhat under-designed site that billed itself as "The Source for the World's Video Gaming Needs", has been lying undisturbed since April 23, 1997 - an eternity of time in the fast-changing world of video games. Much of the site's material, including its 3DO and PC Games Sections, is much older, and dates from early 1996.

We don't know what caused GamExperience to degenerate from a lively site into a Haunted Arcade. Could it be that keeping up with all that wacky Gaming News is too much for an ordinary mortal to bear?

Thank you, gtkev, for this Ghost Site Tip, submitted through the Ghost-O-Meter.

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Site is Dead, But Well-Preserved

The Blip

Ghost Sites Correspondent Flatlander asserts that The Blip - a site billing itself as an "Internet Playground" -- now numbers itself among the dead, and our investigations support his claim. The copyright notice on its home page is from 1997, and other notices from 1997 litter the site's other areas. The site's Shockwave-powered Space Weather Application also appears to link to a defunct page on a government site.

The Blip's collection of Shockwave games, however, generally continues to function as well as the day it was uploaded three or four years ago, and the site's ad banners appear to be active (which is very eerie).

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Site is Dead, But Well-Preserved

WebVoodoo's Web Design Clinic

WebVoodoo's Design Clinic hasn't updated its "New Links" page since August of 1999, which in our judgement significantly reduces its value relative to other, fresher guides to Web site design resources.

Even though there's a thick coat of rust on the Design Clinic, it's still got some good links that work - check out its guide to Free Web Art if you're thinking of freshening up your supply of JPEGs and GIFs on the cheap.

Thanks to FrostFlower for this Ghost Sites tip.

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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?

(javascript required)

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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