December 8, 1998

by Steve Baldwin

As this year of digital carnage and broken IPO dreams draws to a close, Ghost Sites would like to warmly thank all of you for continuing to support this column. Your Dead Site Tips have been invaluable, and your readership has provided immense solace to our lonely team of Webleologists, keeping them from utter despair (and perhaps cannibalism) as they keep count of the failed, the fallen, and the fossils.

We expect that 1999 will be another great year of Internet Site Ossification (ISO), and pledge to keep you fully informed of the latest sites to succumb to it.

After all, Bit Rot never sleeps.

Note: David Blair, who runs Waxweb, has notified us that the WaxWeb site mentioned in Ghost Sites Issue 19 has been updated since our review ran in August. Waxweb's new content (as well as the old site, which is archived), can be reached at

Your Personal Net (Redux)

Micheal Wolff's disastrous Your Personal Net mega-site fiasco just won't die. Ghost Sites reviewed this stillborn monster shortly after it died 11 months ago, but its restless spirit has arisen at a new location, an event warranting its reclassification as a Site Zombie "zombie" (an extremely dangerous, often subspecies of Ghost Site).

At, acres of glossy, personalized wreckage from January 1998 are available for perusal. Our favorite area of this grim apparition is YPN's NetClock, surely the world's most out-of-date Net event calendar, followed by its "Do You Want to Shoot Your Boss?" feature story (we know several former YPN employees who wanted to do exactly that after Wolff forced them through one of the Net's most traumatic site closures).

Wolff is, of course, a wealthy man now, thanks to his royalties from Burn Rate - a self-serving account of his attempts to take YPN public. But as Scrooge learned, any gains made in this life are answerable to a higher power - and the mysterious reappearance of YPN suggests this restless Zombie may be dragging chains in the Wolff household this Yuletide.

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Site is Stuffed, Embalmed, and Ready for Internet Museum


Christopher Anderson points out that BlasphemyVision, a project claiming to be a hard-hitting, anti-Puritan site full of "twisted humor", hasn't been updated in many months. According to Anderson, "the whole thing is horribly old and quite moldy. As far as I know, the only thing still living on the whole server is the BlasphemyVision message board area, and the absent webmaster, King George III, rarely if ever posts to it."

Say what you want about those humorless, ramrod-straight Puritans and Christian Zealots - at least they keep their sites up-to-date (perhaps in fear that the Messiah will suddenly arrive). In the meantime, if you're in the mood to blaspheme something, avoid BlasphemyVision, and resort to more traditional methods, such as USENET, the telephone, or wall graffiti.

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Site is Dead, But Well-Preserved

The Prosperity Tip of the Day

We're sad to see this one go, because these tips were so oddly inspiring.

The brainchild of Art Carvajal, an independent distributor of something called "Young Living Essential Oils", the Prosperity Tips always provided great breakfast reading, because Carvajal often advised people to do outrageous things to save or make money, such as buying goats to mow their lawns, becoming part-time edible landscape consultants, or spontaneously painting house numbers on street curbs in the hope that homeowners would pay them for this unsolicited service).

Most of the time, however, Carvajal's tips provided sensible, no-nonsense penny-saving advice that in any rational world should have earned him a small fortune. (Of course, in a rational world, none of us would be struggling to raise Christmas money by reselling old neckties, milking goats, or distributing Essential Oils).

Thanks to JBerger for this tip.

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Site is Dead, But Well-Preserved

Vangelis Information World

Remember Vangelis? The composer of all that inspirational, synth-heavy music that clogged up millions of ears back in the 1980's? He's still around, or at least his Web site is, and it's a preposterously outdated piece of self-important puffery promising to "bring to you all, first hand, the real information and news concerning the World of Vangelis". The site also solemnly pledges that "for each and every subject covered, Vangelis intends to invest his Web site an authenticity that will make it unique as an information window".

At least Vangelis' Ghost site has the virtue of being brief - just two moldy pages of atavistic fluff - which is more than one can say for his interminable Techno-Shmaltz anthems.

Thanks to an anonymous user of the Ghost-O-Meter for this one.

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Site is Stuffed, Embalmed, and Ready for Internet Museum

Cafe Los Negroes

This New York-based site, devoted to African American culture, closed its doors in mid-November after an unsuccessful membership drive failed to provide the $10,000 that site founder McLean Mashingaidze Greaves needed to keep it going.

In a poignant visual touch, Greaves illustrates his site's demise by fading from the famous ensemble photo of Jazz greats featured in the film "A Great Day in Harlem" to a photo of himself standing alone in the streetscape. (Sure, this kind of inflated self-comparison is egotistical, but isn't that what the Web is for?)

With the $6,331 in pledges that Greaves was able to raise, Cafe Los Negroes will be going "underground", meaning its content may live on in the shadowy world of e-mail newsletters.

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Site is Dead, But Well-Preserved

Dumbass of the Day

Also from JBerger is Dumbass of the Day, a petrified vat of vitriole, which hit the rocks back in July shortly after its author forcefully upbraided his loyal audience for its own "dumbassedness":

"The mail I receive from you guys about this page seems to indicate that most everyone who sees this page sucks. I find it difficult to believe that many of you actually take this thing seriously. Believe it or not, sometimes I actually put some thought into my choices for the Dumbass of the Day; sometimes I wonder if anybody ever gets my jokes."

Like the stillborn Mirsky.Com, a far more grandiose effort to cultivate the depths of negativity in a topical, highly personal manner, Dumbass of the Day is another victim of the Internet's awesome inability to laugh at itself.

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Site is Dead, Shows Advanced Decay


You won't find a more depressing site on the Web than PushCentral. In its heyday, it attempted to be a comprehensive directory of Push technologies, Push resources, and Push clients, but now it's just another sad encyclopedia of broken mega-dreams from 1996 and '97.

Take a gander at its index of technologies, last updated in July of this year - most of them were "Discontinued" or "Out of Business" on their headstones. Similar bitrot accompanies its list of Push Publishers, which still lists Pathfinder's doomed Personal Edition among "current" personalized news services.

If Ghost Sites is still in business a year from now, I expect we'll find as many failed portal sites as there are failed Push services, because AOL/Netscape will have swallowed up every last user on the planet. But that's a disaster that thankfully won't start to envelop us for another few months.

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Site is Stuffed, Embalmed, and Ready for Internet Museum


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

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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