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.

January 21, 2008

The Dead Roam Here (Dead URL Report, January 15-21 2008)

The Dead Roam Here (Dead Web Site Report, January 1-15 2008)The following sites can no longer be found, which means that the sites have been abandoned by their owners. There's no necessary evidence of foul play here, just the usual phenomenon of the Web, snakelike, sloughing off its dead skin. Caution: the dead roam here!

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January 18, 2008

The Dead Roam Here (Dead URL Report, January 1-15 2008)

The Dead Roam Here (Dead Web Site Report, January 1-15 2008)Quite a few sites have mysteriously disappeared in the past few weeks. Has the Web, having reached its outward boundaries, beginning to collapse inward? Without further ado, here are the latest sites to enter the "realm of the disappeared" where only the dead roam:

Absolute Movies
Description (from Yahoo directory): "Includes movie news and reviews."
Current URL occupant: CPC Advertising Squatter (caution: pop-up alert)

As a Man Thinketh
Description (from Yahoo directory): "Inspirational thoughts."
Current URL occupant: Generic ISP hosting page

Clean Pigeon Society
Description: (from Yahoo directory): "Founder, Byron Priebe, wants to marshall creative expression in order to arrive at an altered interpretation of the world."
Current URL occupant: Parked Page

Didn't I Already Pay for This Movie?
Description (from Yahoo directory): "Calling on all moviegoers to boycott the companies that advertise at the movies."
Current URL occupant: Nothing

Evolution of the Universe
Description (from Yahoo directory): "An axiomatic set for a mathematical model of the evolution in the universe."
Current URL occupant: CPC Advertising Squatter

God Dimension
Description (from Yahoo directory): "Letter written by Ryan Roe to explain God, the mind, and the universe."
Current URL occupant: CPC Advertising Squatter

Description (from Yahoo directory): "Forum for remaining human in a world of machines."
Current URL occupant: Server Not Found Page

Interface Monthly
Description (from Yahoo directory): "Business technology magazine. Online subscription."
Current URL occupant: "For Sale" notice

The Company Project
Description (from Yahoo directory): "A social and human project mandating that the human life is a unique and unrepeatable treasure and should belong to each one of us."
Current URL occupant: ISP login page
Description (from Yahoo directory): "Source for news, information and analysis on the convergence of the Internet, telephone, and television networking industries, as well as the equipment and service industries."
Current URL occupant: redirect page which points to a "File Not Found" page

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November 07, 2007

Venerable SEO Blog Sinking Beneath The Waves, an SEO news and advice site which launched in August of 2003, saw its last update in September of 2007. At its inception, the content at rarely contained any long-form content; instead, it simply linked in parasitical fashion to other URLs with a few lines of text. As the site developed an audience, the content became better, more analytical, and more opinionated.

Like many SEO Blogs,'s content often was often overly self-referential and sometimes verged on Google ass-kissing (e.g. "I saw Matt Cutts' latest Blog entry and he referred to my site -- I'm walking on air!"), but this is behavior is characteristic of the SEO world, which is tiny (although its exponents' collective swagger is intended to suggest it's huge). Those seeking page optimization advice may miss, but can avail themselves of many similar properties that do much the same thing.

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.

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September 26, 2007

In Memory Of The Original

As you probably know, I'm not a big fan of, at least the form of MySpace which functions today as a free-for-all for pedophiles, bottom-feeding marketers and confused teenagers. I only have a MySpace account because part of my job is knowing a little about how corporations with big bucks are trying to exploit users of social networking sites.

But wasn't always like this. In fact, up until 2000, the original provided a highly useful file-sharing service. Unfortunately, it wasn't economically feasible to do this, and the site closed and was replaced by the monster we all know and hate today. The screen shot above is from the Museum of I-Failure; I wonder how many current MySpace users know its origins as a failed file repository?

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July 31, 2007

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?

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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.


July 30, 2007

SoupServer.Com Runs Dry

SoupServer.Com Goes, located at the domain, was an online extension of the "Chicken Soup for the Soul Franchise" book franchise. Launched in 1998, the site faithfully served up an inspirational story each day.

I'm not a big fan of the "Religion Lite" genre. Frankly, I think the only times you really meet God are in moments of complete terror. But if my job was to sell millions of books, I'd come up with a more soothing message, e.g. when the rain pitter-patters on your roof or your kitten winks at you, that's God talking and all you really have to do is learn how to listen.

I'd write this stuff even though I don't believe a word of it. If the Bible is to believed, the Almighty usually chooses the language of a river full of molten lava or a 50-food tidal wave to get His point across, not a spoonful of warm chicken soup. And anyone who really wants to be "saved" had better get off their knees and run as fast as possible to higher ground. But now I digress.

SoupServer, whose tag line was "Changing the World One Story at a Time," appears to have been decommissioned in late 2006 and its daily servings of inspirational stories and parables has been superseded by a daily e-mail service available at the main "Chicken Soup of the Soul" site, located at the domain

Today, is now just a repository of automatically served ads, the bulk of which are secular in nature. Consequently the site's new motto is "What You Need, When You Need It." Not only does this solicitation sound like one which Mephistopheles might use to attract unwary recruits to his Dark Empire, but the new SoupServer site spews out annoying pop-under ads like so much Devil Spawn.

Don't go there!


July 26, 2007 Kicks The Bucket Kicks The Bucket
"Project Flaunt," located at the domain, was launched in 2000 or 2001; it provided an open-source gallery where users could submit many different kinds of digital objects, browse submissions made by others, and have these objects displayed at random.

We don't hear much about "random viewing" these days. Nobody does studies on the amount of total time spent randomly viewing things, hitting F5/reload, and being delighted or repelled at what comes up. We view random activities as a form of pointless frittering; the cyberspace equivalent of yo-yo'ing, or pulling a slot machine's lever repeatedly not to receive a payoff, but just to see whether all the cherries line up. But for a time randomness was celebrated on the World Wide Web, and Project Flaunt was among its foremost exponents.

Today, however, it's just a ghost site; it's author calls it, a bit bitterly, "a half-hearted little-effort.. an unpolished attempt at what others have done so brilliantly," before posting a link to


Detritus.Net is a Ghost Site

Detritus.Net is a Ghost SiteDetritus.Net, located at the domain, is a site "about making new creative works out of old ones, whether it be fine art or pop culture." In a way, this mission statement isn't too different from Ghost Sites'; our belief is that the seeds of a new digital spirit are often embedded in old and decaying digital objects. In effect, only by looking backward is it possible to see the way ahead.

Unfortunately, Detritus.Net appears to have been abandoned more than a year ago. The newest content on its home page is from May of 2006, the time its Blog was last updated. The site includes an automated image-rotator which loads a new image each time the site is loaded, so it's hardly devolved to static-ware. Still, it's not clear to me that anybody's home, and maybe that's not so bad, given that the term "detritus," after all, means "disintegrated or eroded matter."


July 24, 2007

Spectral Ghosts of Business 2.0

I wrote recently about the demise of tech biz magazine Business 2.0, which will likely cease publication as a print magazine this September. Business 2.0 has long lived at the domain, and that's where you'll find it today.

By chance this morning, I stumbled across some ancient digital fragments of an earlier incarnation of Business 2.0 in an old Time Inc. directory; the domain is: These artifacts appear to date from 2005; forensic analysis establishes that they were built several years earlier. There's a lot of bit-rotten content here, including an ancient Features area, a dysfunctional Web Guide and even a link to an incredibly old Pathfinder Terms of Service Page - now that's old - this legalize dates from the 20th Century!

It appears that Business 2.0 must have lived for a long time on Time Inc's servers. I guess that Time Inc. simply forgot it was there (this kind of thing happened a lot when I worked at Pathfinder). What would be truly ironic is if these old pages survived the newer ones at, which may not be around after September of 2007.

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July 22, 2007

A Very Sad Ghost Site is DeadFilmmaker and game developer Theresa Duncan committed suicide in New York on July 10th; apparently her companion, artist Jeremy Blake, is also now missing, and may have drowned himself in the Rockaways.

Duncan had considerable success in the late 1990's as a pioneering CD-ROM game designer; her titles included "Mimi SmartyPants," "Chop Suey" and "Zero Zero." These games featured quirky, non-violent scenarios that proved popular with young girls, and were both well-reviewed and well-received by the market. Mr. Blake collaborated on the illustrations for these games, and became a well recognized graphic artist in his own right who showed at New York's Whitney Museum.

Theresa Duncan leaves behind her Blog, located at, which for two years chronicled her thoughts; its formal title is "The Wit of the Staricase."

It's always tempting to view the online writings left behind by a suicidal soul as both a last testament to life and a trail of clues that might explain such a tragedy, and I'm sure we'll be reading many such interpretations in the coming weeks, especially because Duncan made some eerie statements on her Blog in her last days, including:

  • "Goodnight, Children, We're In The Arms Of The Great Lover"

  • "Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." -- 2 Corinthians (3:17)"

  • "What I hope you will do in the coming week, Scorpio, is rescue from obscurity any important thing that is on the verge of becoming unspeakable. Be a retriever of that-which-is-about-to-disappear. Be a rememberer of that-which-is-close-to-being forgotten."
Are these fragments clues? If so, where can they lead us? The Web gives us such enormous power to peer into the inner thoughts of others that it is easy to forget that the heart is dark and mysterious, and there are thoughts and feelings that can never be reduced to a mere form of words. One's online writings are, in the end, just a part of what one chooses to put out to the world. What one withholds, however, can never be known, and may in fact be more responsible for the actions one takes.

It's an awful thing when people take their own lives; and it is especially terrible when they are young, talented, and might have gone on to illuminate more of this dark world for the rest of us. May the friends and family of Duncan and Blake find peace in the future.

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July 17, 2007 is Dead is DeadAdvertising is a funny business and sought to provide a place for ad people to laugh at their profession. Unfortunately, the laugh track seems to have come to a halt back in 2000, and has been in a state of suspended animation ever since. Currently, the site contains a notice advising visitors that the site is no longer being updated, and directs them to an active online discussion group. I tried to subscribe into this group but was greeted with the following message:

"Your form submission has been rejected as it appears to be an abuse of our server."

I hate it when sites accuse me of server abuse. I love servers and treat them very gently. But this is proof positive that the whole project now sleeps with the fishes.

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July 13, 2007

Wild Women of the Web is a Ghost Site

Wild Women of the Web is a Ghost SiteTen years ago, Myspace, LiveJournal, and Friendster didn't exist, so Web newbies chose Tripod, Geocities, and to host their pages. In fact, I firmly believe that Myspace and its brethren are nothing more than gussied-up versions of Geocities et al upon which the Web 2.0 label has been attached, and that these properties are incredibly overvalued, given their potential to serve as advertising platforms. But now I digress... the point of this article is to talk about Wild Women of the Web, a site launched in 1999 on whose home page invites netizens of the female persuasion to "Come, explore with me and find your own inner self! "

There's not a whole lot of content on "Wild Women of the Web," just some links to fellow "Wild Women" (the majority of which are broken), a few articles on self-esteem which seem to have been written a long time ago, an archaic awards page, and a link to a marketing site long ceded to a doman squatter. The whole place has the feeling of an abandoned parlor whose occupant vanished into the mists sometime in the late 20th Century.

Still, there's a palpable Web 1.0 charm to this antique. Check out the cloud backgrounds and crude buttonized navigation buttons. They'll surely bring you back to the days when the Web was new, standard templates didn't exist, and everything was built out of hand-crafted HTML.

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