Last year, I wrote a semi-sappy, emotionalish retrospective of my time spent on Neocities and how it lead to me meeting Caby. I think I sounded more guilty than I actually felt. There’s a lot more that went into “orange fox bad” than you can just sum up as “angry me” or “dumb kids”. Frankly, it was kind of the perfect storm of insanity. We still giggle about it.
This year’s mariversary (two entire years since I made my site there!), I thought I’d do something more fun. Every so often, I’ll see someone hold up Neocities as an example of the spirit of the old internet kept alive. I’ve talked at length about how bullshit that is, no, we’re not getting into it again. What never gets brought up though is how utterly broken Neocities actually is. Neocities is best described as a second-week Ruby on Rails prototype, yet Kyle Drake was ballsy enough to get people to pay for it anyway. Including me.
And prime example of why it’s so fucked: despite me getting banned, all my Supporter’s sites are still active. All of them. I thought it’d be fun to go back through all the ones I can remember and explain why I made them. Time for memories~
So yes, I paid for a Supporter’s account for part of the time I was on the site. The basic premise of Supporter’s is that, for $5/mo, you get more space, more bandwidth, no file upload whitelist, so you can have whatever you want on your site, external domain support, and formerly infinite sites.
I’ve already gone over how cost-inefficient the deal is compared to Dreamhost’s plans, so I won’t return to it, but the other issue is that each subsite you make with Supporter’s has full account functionality on its own. That’s right, it’s not like Tumblr where you have your main account and then sideblogs under the main. When you make another site with Supporter’s, it’s like an entirely new account, and you can comment and follow and block on this new account with impunity.
Neocities has a function called a “jerk filter” where getting blocked a whopping three times shadowbans you permanently and prevents you from commenting on sites that don’t follow you. Supporter’s can eternally skirt this by making a new site and commenting with that. Alternatively, hate someone? Make three sites and block them on each. Shadowbanned. (By the way, the unblock function never worked. Their account is ruined.)
In case you’re wondering how Kyle Drake treats his baby, by the way, when someone found out you can follow yourself infinitely using Supporter’s sites, his solution was simply to cap the amount of new sites you could make at 30, not to actually nerf Supporter’s. The site is beyond fucked.
It turns out all of my Supporter’s sites still exist, despite me getting banned around this time last year for dumping logs on two formerly active pseudointellectuals with…curious tastes (one liked it young and one liked it Hannibal Lecter style is all I’m saying). As a result, mariteaux.neocities.org is forever gone aside from my little mirror of it. The Supporter’s sites all survive though, and for the hell of it, I’ll throw in any others I built too.
Alright, let’s get the shitpost material out of the way first. It’s no secret Owlman (who I guess is now “on break”) likes kids. (Not even the worst he’s into–wouldn’t advise looking at his FA favorites while you’re eating.) To piss him off, I made this and mirrored his front page on it, and then commented on his profile with it. Shitty, easy joke. Still got a reaction.
I’m not sure where the “mariteaux is always right” thing came from, but we said it a lot back then. I was humble. Besides, no one could provide an example to the contrary.
In any event, this one was just a list of in-jokes and bullying and then a drawing Caby did of mari looking clutch. If you understand any of these, you’re fucking old.
Regardless of how hard I shitposted, come October 2018 or so, I was not having fun on the onlines. I think that was pretty immediately apparent to anyone who was in Districts. I was a weird, spergy combination of really, truly wanting to help people, wanting to be remembered fondly (ego, perhaps), and having absolutely no patience for helping people.
So after one too many people misunderstood my nostalgiamining rant, I set out to build the oldest-looking site I possibly could and stuff it with stuff I liked, partially to see how people took it but more just to have fun again. Seriously, if there was one thing I can define my time on Neocities with, it’s the lack of fun. Gotta not be angry to have fun.
I really did enjoy building minerteaux though. Every little period-appropriate detail I could think of, from old HTML 3.2 to a table layout to unoptimized GIFs to fucking RealAudio, I threw in there. From people who were actually around back in 1998, they say I captured it a little too well, that it looked too good–and everyone else either didn’t care or stole from it.
I had the idea of keeping it around as an alternate universe mari site, but that went out the window as soon as I finished it. Honestly, if this one got removed, I’d reupload it here. Some of it makes me cringe, but I still love how it looks.
I still have the original post I wrote about it, in case you wanna read more about how I built it.
I’ve been a huge advocate of AutoSite since dcb started building it. I was one of the first users of the Python script, I’ve suggested a ton of features, tested it extensively, and to this day, I still use it for just about every site I build. I can’t recommend it enough, please give it a try.
Back in November, shortly before Somnolescent left Neocities, I surprised him with a full manual for Python AutoSite, which he pretty quickly made official unofficial documentation. This one (of course built with AutoSite), was styled after Windows XP’s gradients, drop shadows, and rounded corners, partially because it’s a hot aesthetic and partially because the icon, to this day, uses a Windows XP globe in place of the mixing bowl.
History will likely repeat itself in the coming months and I’ll help write the manual for the official GUI version of AutoSite. Still, the old manual hangs around, and maybe it will forever.
And speaking of Windows XP…
“But mari! You didn’t make that!”
Ah, I kinda did. This one predates Neocities. For funsies back in…2016 or so, I cleaned up the old Windows XP HTML tour, made it valid HTML5, and reorganized all the images. (I also added a page that was only available in the Flash version of the tour.) Then, when Neocities came around, I uploaded it. I never acknowledged its existence, but it’s been up all that time.
I was working on the Windows 2000 HTML tour too, but all the videos proved obnoxiously difficult to crop and capture (since they’re not videos, but ActiveX scripts) and I abandoned work on it. Maybe someday. (Still very fond of old Windows, for the record. I still use Windows Media Player 9 every day.)
This is the last one of these that’s still online, and the first of these that isn’t technically a Supporter’s site. Still, I built it, so here goes.
The only reason I got involved with yoshi‘s IceQuake was because I needed a place to mirror the Valve Developer Union stuff I wrote in case Jax ever killed the site. It was kind of a disaster. I rebuilt the site, had half of it to myself, and the other half was all downloads for old game patches and benchmarks courtesy of yoshi.
Of course, this was Neocities, so him and I ended up disagreeing, the site almost got deleted outright, and the downloads stopped working because of some legalese yoshi didn’t read causing Conglom-O to disappear. After VDU went back to its original site at valvedev.info, we mutually agreed to shutter IceQuake, and I like to think we’re on better terms these days, as happened with Jax.
This is likely where the “Somnolescent started on Neocities” confusion started. Realizing people were gonna take somnolescent.neocities.org any day now and squat on it, we took the domain for ourselves and put up a spooky little cult site in its place. We still had Somnolians off-site, we just happened to have five on-site, so Somnolescent got a page.
Still quite fond of what I wrote for it, and Caby’s site graphics always come out excellent. The original account’s gone, but there’s a mirror on the top-level Somnolescent site in case you’re curious. This one’s especially timely, given the redesign somnol.net’s currently getting, but I didn’t say that.
Ah, what the fuck, I’ll throw this in here too. Districts was originally a domain dcb had in his back pocket since mid-2017 or so. Come September 2018, I had the idea to turn Districts into a DMOZ-style directory for Neocities, and a team of him, me, Caby, and Lempamo got together to make it a reality. Lempamo then got really assmad, left, and I rewrote what little he’d put together. Welcome to Districts.
Frankly, work on the site itself was smooth sailing. dcb put together a custom AutoSite plugin to generate listings from JSON, Caby did all the site art, and I lead things and built the site. Given how disastrous the Discord was, the actual process of working on the listings themselves was lovely.
We put Districts on freeze in December when we all left the site. I remember trying to log in the following March and found all my passwords had stopped working. Turns out, neo, the little peanut shit she is, took the password off an old log I sent her and stole the account. Her and Cheren then (very slowly) rebuilt Districts without any of our infrastructure, replacing the personality-filled Sebastian with a random blue cat, rushed a ton of site graphics, and called it a relaunch, conveniently without their names on it. It hasn’t been updated in about seven months, natch.
Sebastian deserved better. Thankfully, we reused him and Penny for Pennyverse, and nothing else of value was lost. (You can still view all the old Sebastian site art on Caby’s toyhou.se, which you should, because it’s still great.)
I think that about covers it all. Can you believe that all happened in about seven months? Felt way longer, not gonna lie.
It’s fun to look back on, really. My passion for web design comes and goes, but it’s always there, at least a little. I’m still launching sites all the time, the last one having been the overhauled Tesserae not two weeks ago (which was also originally on Neocities!) I might hate the internet, but there’s something supremely comfy about static sites, building them exactly how you want them to look, filling them up with stuff you like, and getting people to look at it all. Maybe when I don’t have to live on it, I’ll be fuzzy about it.
In that sense, Neocities was fun. Too bad that was in spite of the site instead of because of it.