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Why Neocities?

It might be strange to find someone using a web hosting service that takes it name from Geocities, famous (or infamous) for bad '90s and '00s web design. Because after all, Geocities users coded everything themselves, and could do quite literally anything they pleased if they knew how to use HTML and CSS. The Geocities 'old web' aesthetic comes from people being able to decorate a space however they want, and well. For a lot of people, layouts like this were (and still are) pretty fuckin' radical.

Screenshot of a website with a dark background & neon red and blue text. The title of the page is in a medieval-type font, and the rest is in serif. There are multiple low-quality gifs present on the page.

Personally, neon text on a dark repeating image background with bright sparkly gifs isn't my cup of web-design-tea, but it is for some folks! On the other hand, something that definitely isn't my cup of web-design-tea is Twitter. Or Facebook. Or Instagram. Or— I could go on and on. Basically, modern social media. When making a profile on any mainstream social media platform, you can customize your profile icon, your bio, a header/cover image maybe, and... that's it. Overall, save for your posts, your page still looks the same as everyone else's.

A popular social media platform that doesn't do this is Tumblr. You can customize the HTML and CSS of your blog on the desktop site. There are tons of posts on Tumblr showcasing themes you can copy and use if you're not privy to coding, or you can just do it yourself. This is, honestly, where I started to learn CSS. Add that to the fact you can create static pages, and you have the most-used platform that allows this level of customization.

But, alas, it's still "social media." It's still a place you have followers, likes, a constant stream of content. And a lot of it is advertising. Or people trying to gain a following. (I'm one of those people, I'm not judging.) I used to be embarassingly active on Tumblr, but it tired me out. So I took a break. What I found during that break was the service that this page is being hosted on: Neocities.

Neocities is, in its own words, "bringing back the fun, creativity and independence that made the web great." This isn't a standard social media profile, or a drag-and-drop website creator. You write everything in HTML, CSS, Javascript, etc., and you write it all yourself. Maybe not all on your own— there's plenty of resources online to use.

My point is: you customize everything. And you can do it all for free. A lot of website creators have more "advanced" customization features locked behind a subscription. Neocities has a subscription, but instead it offers more space, a custom domain name, and hotlinking support. Even without it, you can create more unique pages than any free website creator allows.

There's a community here that I wasn't expecting. There are still followers, and comments, but in my experience it's not at all like the big wide world of other platforms. You bond with others instantly over a love for coding. Because you can create so many things with Neocities, you get to know people even quicker. You can read their digital journal, look at their pixel art, view their page dedicated to their favorite fictional character, and you know them so much better than if you swiped down their Instagram.

This kind of website creation isn't for everyone. A lot of people might not be willing to learn how to code, or to put the time in and write a whole site from scratch. And that's okay! I'm not writing this to say "If you use Wordpress you're a coward!" But I think there are people who can really enjoy doing it this way if they give it a try.

If you've ever had any interest in programming or web design, maybe you'd like it here. It doesn't hurt to try— after all, it's free. And you might find a home in Neocities, like I did.