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What Was GeoCities?

GeoCities was a webhosting service that allowed its users to create webpages with little to no knowledge of coding needed. With 15 MB of allocated space, pages were based on personal interest, such as fanpages or personal homepages.

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History of GeoCities

GeoCities was created by David Bohnett and John Rezner in 1994. The webhosting service initiated as a beta program called Beverly Hills Internet. The concept was to creat cyber "cities" in which users would select a virtual “city” where they wanted their web site to categorized under. When the site went public on June 7, 1995, it consisted of only 5 "cities": Beverly Hills,Silicon Valley, Capitol Hill, Tokyo, and Paris. Around this time, they rebranded the company as GeoPages, and then later changed its name to GeoCities. After being publicly available for only a short time, GeoCities's popularity spiked immensely and by December 1995, the service hosted 25,000 pages and had over 6 million page views per month.

Growth of GeoCities & Deal with Yahoo

In 1996 GeoCities introduced ads on every page in order to make a higher profit. While this move was greatly protested by users, the action was not reverted, but GeoCities's popularity did not suffer. By June 1997, GeoCities was the fifth most popular web site on the Web.

In 1999 GeoCities was bought by Yahoo, for $3.57 million. At this time, the current user base count stood at 1.8 million users with over 200,000 being between the ages of 3 and 15. The Yahoo transfer process was not entirely smooth, and many users left due to a change in the terms of service which stated that Yahoo owned all of the hosted content, including pictures and any other media uploaded. Yahoo! eventually did reverse the decision and the original ToS were reinstated. By the end of 1999, GeoCities was the third most visited site behind AOL and Yahoo.

Decline of GeoCities

Though 2001 began with new branches for GeoCities, such as the Geostore, Yahoo released a new premium hosting service, which gave more hosting space and unlimited bandwidth. This new service caught on and GeoCities' free service became less and less appealing to users over the years.

GeoCities stopped being the top-of-the-line webhosting company and became a simplistic, outdated website that offered what is now thought of as a very insignificant amount of space. And although that did not stop the service from being used and visited, it surely decreased since its golden age. IE/ from 2006 to 2008 GeoCities goes from 18,900,000 unique visitors to 11,500,000.

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On April 23 of 2009, Yahoo announced the closure of GeoCities. Registrations closed, and all data began to get erased. In June,Yahoo announced the official deathdate of GeoCities as October 26, 2009. One year late, on Oct. 26, 2010, a team of archivists re-released the service, in its entirety, as a single, giant torrent file.

Social History of GeoCities & Broader Impact

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, was only 10 years old when Geocities created in 1994.

Geocities essentially demonstrates how necessary continual innovation are for a web media business. In 1998, there were approximately 2 million sites arranged in the various "neighborhoods." The hosting service was originally organized like this to allow advertisers to target their audiences more effectively -- there were "neighborhoods" for every interest area. Part of Geocities's problem was that so many of the individual sites were so lightly visited or just totally inactive (users got bored and left half-made sites, or just made it once and forgot about it, or just no one was reading their ramblings) that Geocities basically plateaued.

Geocities became popular before broadband internet was around, and once that arrived, other sharing, community-oriented sites popped up too. Photos could be uploaded to other sites in minutes, whereas it sometimes took 6 hours to upload one JPEG file to a Geocities site. The Geocities model of "cyber communities" was taken to the next level with sites totally dedicated to social networking - like Friendster and Myspace. The Geocities neighborhoods like Enchanted Forest (for kids) or Area 51 (for science and technology sites) were supposed to promote cyber-comraderie, but the "friending" feature on these new social networking sites promoted connections even further than Geocities did.

At its height in 1997, Geocities got 10 new registrations a second. At the time of its death, there were an estimated 40 million Geocities accounts.

Geocities's appeal stemmed from people's natural yearning for connection and their innate want to express themselves. The freedom that Geocities allowed was its main draw, whereas Facebook first attracted users with simplicity, clean design, and an overall ease of use. Geocities founder David Bonnet said, "We had templates, so people could [create the sites] in a matter of minutes."

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Geocities sites could be very simple or extremely intricate, and extensive knowledge of HTML was not necessary -- there was a built-in file manager and hosting service, but also a place to edit your own code if you so desired. Geocities was popular because you didn't have to worry about hosting files or setting up domain names or any of the more complex web development issues, and it was all free, supported by with banner ads on the individual pages.

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The social network craze combined with blogging were the two big internet threats that brought down Geocities. The demise of Geocities started with personal diary sites and rudimentary online communities like LiveJournal, Xanga, and Friendster, but then bigger players emerged with Myspace and Blogger. Ultimately Wordpress and Facebook took over everything Geocities did best. People who really wanted to just publish their own thoughts on the web started setting up blogs that were easier to create and required minimal effort. People also didn't have to worry about the ads that came hand-in-hand with the free pages from Geocities.

Sources Lunau, Kate. "Lessons from GeoCities' death." Maclean's 122.34 (2009): 29. OmniFile Full Text Mega. Web.