This is why, for all the people who said “Good Riddance” when Yahoo shut down Geocities, the Internet was really worse off for the closure. A tremendous amount of information on a variety of topics was ripped from the web overnight.
Or it would have been, if not for mirror project Reocities. This site backed up as much as they could possibly manage, and are accepting further contributions from anyone who might have small pieces backed up.
What It Is
Of course, an undertaking this massive is going to be with a few faults. Not every site ever hosted on the page is here, but a good chunk are. How does one use it?
This is perhaps the real brilliance of the page. Reocities is only one letter off from Geocities, and the URLs from Geocities are maintained. What this means is that any site unopenable in Geocities can usually be opened by simply replacing the “G” in the URL with an “R”. If the mirror has the site, you’ll have access to it.
If doing this seems too much a pain in the neck, don’t worry: it can happen automatically. There’s a Greasemonkey script capable of doing it automatically; find it here.
It’s also worth noting that most of the spam pages Geocities was famous for are nowhere to be found. This is because Reocities, as a project, aimed to only grab sites that are worth keeping. Naturally some crack made it through the cracks, but it’s pretty astounding how well the filter seems to have worked.
Finally, if you’re not sure what you’re looking for, I recommend checking out the the neighborhood page as a decent starting point. This is the top-level domain of Reocities, and it’s possible to stumble upon some interesting stuff in here.
A Brief History
Reocities is essentially a feat pulled off by one nerd with a bunch of really nice equipment and a total lack of sleep. You can read the entire tale here, and I highly suggest you do: it’s quite entertaining and very interesting.
Dutchman jmattheij wrote the scripts that scoured the site that made the bulk of the backup, and also maintained the server cluster that did the job. This has since been supplemented with contributions from The Internet Archive and individual users who backed up a few of the pages that disapeared. The result is a fairly complete backup of Geocities that is still growing.
If you find a former page for yours is missing, and you have the files that make it up backed up on your computer, you should contact jmattheij and send this data to him; he’ll make it part of Reocities as quickly as possible.
Many early movies are forever lost to history, because the film was recycled to recover valuable silver. Yahoo shutting down Geocities is similar to me: destroying a piece of history in order to save some money. Unlike these early films, however, vintage Internet is being preserved. That this is even possible is a testament to the power of the web.
What do you think? Is Reocities a worthwhile project, or should Geocities be forever forgotten as a wasteland of useless content? Are you happy the content is somewhere? Can you see yourself using this service? Share in the comments below. Also feel free to share the best Reocities links you can find; I’d love to read some of your favorites!