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Author Topic: Can a website be "useless"?  (Read 456 times)
DJoftheCoven
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« on: June 16, 2022, 11:39:38 pm »


Lately, I've been doing a lot of browsing around neocities for inspiration for my personal site, as I'm planning a graphic overhaul soon. During my search, I encountered an essay featured on Dokodemo's personal site about passionless websites. The essay felt incredibly mean-spirited to me--it was about how people are "clogging up" neocities with pages that aren't about anything and have "nothing to offer". Towards the end of the essay, it said something like (loosely paraphrased):

"If your website has no purpose, then here's the relevant page."

I clicked on it and almost had a heart attack when neocities gave me a popup asking if I really wanted to delete my site!

I don't know if it's only them, or if that's a feeling all of the older/more experienced coders on neocities have, but it very much made me upset! I'm still new to coding and personal websites, so I don't have much content to display yet. But I'm working hard every day to code the new look for djs-internet-cafe! I spend hours on it! It makes me so sad to see that my seemingly "purposeless" page could be an active detriment to the web revival community, which otherwise makes me feel at home...

If anyone would like to read the essay, please go to this website https://dokodemo.neocities.org/weblog.html?z=/blogs/stealing.html and click on the first link. I can't link directly because Firefox stopped allowing me to go on http sites for some reason and I can't figure out how to override it.

Anyway, I'd like to know everyone's thoughts. Can a site be useless, and if it is, does it deserve to exist?

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Melooon
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« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2022, 01:02:27 am »

Is that the article that calls me a "nostalgia miner" :P ? Doko mentioned it to me; I like Doko a lot, but I think his taste in articles and his view on stealing is dead wrong.

The person who wrote the passion article misses the fundamental point of the web revival and of being a creative human. Nostalgia is a way of reaching peoples hearts, it's about speaking to their soul in a way that words alone cant.

What is pointfullness? What is the point of anything? We are born, we live and we fade away eventually. Everything is just emotions and dreams tied together with a few fragments of purpose we call logic. The logic is not important without the human experience of emotion.

We make sites to express our humanity (or post-humanity for some people), the point is to reach out and to exist, to say "hey im here", to speak to the hearts and souls of others and hope that for one fragment of a moment we can exist together.

There is no right or wrong way to do that; you don't need to write articles or provide code snippets; the first site on neocities that spoke to me was a flashing pizza.

How dare that person call any site useless and how dare they upset you! There is no such thing as a useless site.
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Eldridge_Jameson
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« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2022, 04:29:22 am »

Nah, the article you're thinking of is the one before that. That article was all about "nostalgia mining"; this one is about putting your passion into the site and not just presenting yourself as boring.

mariteaux seems to be the type of personality I just can't stand. Highly accusatory, blatantly insulting, putting their own beliefs and preferences in other people's mouths. You know, the average 4chan user, YouTube commenter, Twitter user, so forth.

Thing is, they made interesting and even valid points. I think many people are too caught up in the legacy of Geocities, such that they don't use retro aesthetics to empower their sites. I also think it's important for people to realize that they are interesting, which is the core message of that article. The things that people are passionate about can get others interested in them if they just know how to phrase it. For those who don't lead interesting lives, they say you should try to make your life more interesting and talk about that; then your page is more enjoyable for everyone. That's a fine message, right?

Their fundamental problem is the blatant rudeness. It's a bit redundant to go into, since the articles are over 3 years old now and mariteaux has left Neocities in the dust, but I might as well- haven't posted on the forum in a while. Below are some quotes from a couple articles I saw.


Quote
"It's the mindset that counts. If you're here to have a "cool, retro Geocities site", you're a degenerate."

"Yes, the dreadful sin of excluding people. I'm sorry about that. I'm out of cookies."

"If you're not boring, show me. If you are, the relevant page is {here}."
{here} is the link to the delete page

No one- no one- wants to listen to an asshole. Ever.

Anger can be valuable. It drives us to do things we wouldn't otherwise. And if we want to hold someone accountable to an issue that both sides know, then it may help to sink in the importance of said accountability. However, you never use it when trying to inform or persuade because it makes it feel like an attack. When that happens, the person you're getting upset at gets defensive, and what you're actually saying gets lost to the ether. That's completely undoes any other work and thought you put into it. Even if you're rallying the troops or whatever, you're expressing anger at some other target, not your audience. Never insult the audience. Public speaking 101.

It wouldn't be such an issue if the article were clearly aimed toward only people that agree. However, given the follow-up to the article addressing concerns with the opponents, it seems like mariteaux was specifically hoping to change minds here. In that case... what were they thinking?! Who would listen to someone yelling at them? Would I? Would mariteaux? Would anyone on this forum? Anyone at all? They completely botched the execution! I'm extremely upset at the failure here to communicate effectively, far more than the actual message itself! A lot of people go to Neocities to get away from the inflammatory nature of Twitter, Tumblr, 4chan, Youtube, etc. Yet here this writer is, stoking the flames with a call-out post to people just trying to enjoy themselves. It's no wonder they got the responses they did!

The real kicker is that the very end of that article we're talking about, titled "Neocities and a Lack of Passion", was begging people to put passion into their sites. To make them interesting, to make them fun, and to really put forth their hobbies and interests so they can truly express themselves creatively. The core message is good, but the approach is miserable. People shouldn't have to leave Neocities just because someone else dislikes their site, period. Even if it's boring. If you have to tell someone to fuck off in your argument, you're doing it wrong. And frankly, I'd rather have a million boring sites than none, if even a few people would manage to go from middling to marvelous along the way.

If mariteaux needed to take the piss on others to be interesting, well... they got it, alright.
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MrsMoe
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« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2022, 01:33:07 pm »

This is albeit a simpler take, but isn't the lack of fun and creativity for its own sake part of the problem with web 2.0? It seems like everything these days is something to be monetized or attract attention. Nobody uses the internet just to enjoy themselves or experiement very much anymore, so what's wrong with people making "pointless" websites if there's no harm involved?
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« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2022, 12:15:02 am »


Isn't the internet already full of "pointless" stuff, though? Pointless blogs, Facebook accounts, YouTube channels, etc.
"Pointless" is something that can be subjective, anyways. What may seem pointless to you may have plenty on meaning to someone somewhere, whether it's self-expression, entertainment, whatever. One way or another the maker had some purpose to doing it. I'll even admit that to the many things in life that I believe are pointless.

Freedom is what makes things like Neocities fun, anyway. Let people make their websites how they want (given they're not hurting anyone of course). No one's forcing you to view them.
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Pepyogurt
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« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2022, 01:03:05 pm »


Anyway, I'd like to know everyone's thoughts. Can a site be useless, and if it is, does it deserve to exist?


A lot of sites I see are pretty useless or are otherwise of no use to me, but that doesn't qualify whether it deserves to continue existing. I've read mariteaux's articles on nostalgiamining and passionless websites before, and I believe I can see the subjective issue he talks about: being able to build your own website from scratch offers a lot of possibilities that newer users (who may be used to using Carrd) just do not utilize the full potential of, resulting in sites that blend in with many others. That being said, there isn't any objective issue I see presented with this kind of issue. Like, all the things mariteaux mentions are subjective reasons to dislike otherwise useless sites, but is there an objective way these things harm me, thus making me really concerned about them? Reading through the articles again, no.

That opinion assumes that the person making the 'useless' website is a person, though. I could care less if a real person's webpage is some generic 'I love HTML' webcore crap, but I will get mad over virtually blank canvases that somehow have the most views on Neocities, robbing the spot from somesite more deserving of the spot. With the sites I've linked, there isn't even any thing to interact with, let alone read! These sites are truly useless in my book, but if you're a real human person, odds are you will never stoop to this low.

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myry
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« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2022, 01:55:46 pm »

I read the original article and its follow-up. I think their point was encouraging in the end, to make a website about your niche interests and show your passions. But I agree that it was written in a mean-spirited and unnecessarily provocative way.

I agree with Pepyogurt that the opinion about "useless websites" is a very subjective idea of what a Neocities website should be about. I personally don't think people have to "offer" anything with their websites, as the article begs them to. I think a website can just be the person exploring the concept and having fun with it, no matter what it looks like, even if it's the basic "I love coding" type of website.

Hmm, I do think there are some useless websites though, that I hate seeing in my search results. I'm talking about the ones where I'd look up something like a question about a game, and the first few sites are some weird fake blogs that feel AI-generated; it's like an article, with a list of questions related to your search, but the answers are rarely correct and feel like copy-pasted from somewhere else. And many times when I'm searching something in different language, these kind of sites come up, with a terrible google-translate-esque text. I have no idea where these sites come from, and who's generating them, but I wish I could block them somehow. They literally offer nothing, since usually the answers they hold aren't actually helping with what I was asking in the first place.

I'm not sure if this thread's question was more about Neocities sites though, haha. Because I at least haven't come across any that I would think are cluttering the space too much or anything. Like if you wanna make a site that just has a spinning tomato in it and nothing else, I think that's cool, you know, it's your personal little footprint on the web. I think we see enough of that attitude of having to prove yourself, creating something entertaining and as the article also said "making (a site) is content creation", in social media. The whole word "content" feels sour to say at this point. I don't wish to see that kind of mentality in Neocities, where I hope people get to explore the art of web creation in whatever way they like (as long as it's not harming anyone or stealing people's stuff).
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DJoftheCoven
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« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2022, 11:32:07 pm »


After reading all these opinions and meditating on why I was upset, I'd like to officially state my own answer to the question I posed: It's true that mariteaux made some valid claims--I would like for people to put their passions on their websites. However, I still stand by my first reaction to the article. I don't think that any site that someone puts a little piece of themselves into can be useless.

There are such things as websites I'd prefer not to exist. I dislike websites with hateful, bigoted content, and I've always hated slogging through AI-generated articles on the front page of Google. Websites with heavy advertising content make me angry. But I don't think many people interpreted those kinds of sites as what I meant when I was asking about utility and the right to exist.
Basically, I don't believe that any page a person puts time and thought into can be useless, no matter how little of a "purpose" it seemingly has. HTML and CSS are difficult to figure out! Even though the flashing pizza page that Melooon included (which I think is brilliant, tbh) has no obvious reason to exist, and doesn't necessarily do anything, I'd argue that it's utility is in being funny. I think that's a perfectly valid reason for a website to exist! Just to be funny!

In the age of technology that's had all the fun drained out of it, I think I'd rather have more pages like the flashing pizza than less. Even if someone wants to come onto neocities to make themselves a carrd, the effort that they put into creating such a site is still commendable. It can take days, weeks, or even months for people to learn enough code to do that if they start from ground zero. That's still dedication to the craft of coding that deserves to be recognized.

I can definitely say I hadn't considered the idea of troll websites before, but I also believe that the problem with it isn't that there's nothing--after all, nobody needs to click on that, and they could always be in the middle of coding things that they haven't actually installed yet--only that these people with "blank canvas" websites have nothing for me to judge in the first place. It's hard to determine how much effort someone would be willing to put into a website if there was no website. Still, I can understand why people would be salty that they're drawing views away from other websites. Just, it's basically a nonissue in my opinion, because it takes so little time to view and leave that website that nobody in their right mind would stay for longer than a minute. They'd move on pretty quickly.

If I get across nothing else in this mini-essay, I'd just want to say that it's impossible to determine how much a website coded by a real person, who was not being paid money to make it, deserves to exist. It's free content that's being made as a passion project by DEFAULT! None of us are getting paid for signing up and making web content! No matter how many 13-year-olds with no coding experience hop onto the neocities train to make simple websites with nothing but their likes and dislikes listed, I'd never just tell them to leave. The back button on my web browser exists for a reason. My philosophy on content I dislike (as long as it isn't hateful or bigoted, as stated above) is "don't like, don't read", and I'd never want to drive a creative person away from coding just because I found their website to not be up to my tastes.

Also, there's nothing wrong with making nostalgic content. It's not even worth addressing that further.

Thank you, everyone, for answering my question so thoughtfully!  :4u:
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Eldridge_Jameson
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« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2022, 01:41:11 am »

You know, "don't like, don't read" and its siblings for movies/shows and games tends to be used as a weak defense against criticism; this is probably the first time I've seen it used in a sensible manner.

I agree with your statement, DJ. This As time goes on, I've started to view art less about "good and bad" and more about "versatile or niche." Because even something that's considered bad design can be used to empower an experience in the right situation, or for the right people. People generally judge what's good or bad by how many people like a thing, rather than what value that thing may offer to people. Since Neocities, as a platform and a community, doesn't emphasize popularity nearly as much as others, and because no one has the risks that one might when creating a site for a company, we have the freedom to provide those experiences.

Of course, there may be other reasons for these sites to not exist. Bigoted content can seek to empower terrible mindsets, which is not ideal and probably shouldn't be tolerated regardless of usefulness. AI-generated pages and blank white pages give me serious security concerns whenever I pull one up. But then, uselessness doesn't really apply, does it? And if they were considered such, I don't figure they'd care to take up mariteaux' offer any time soon, Neocities or no.
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« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2022, 03:52:29 pm »

I've spoken about how some people use Neocities as a replacement to Carrd and using that to bring in internet discourse and how that's frustrating (no one wants to be browsing neocities and get hit with a dni that includes something they are), but I wouldn't say they need to delete their site and not make one but rather that they need to expand on it and be more creative. I don't think it's that they're boring but just that the internet has grown to really enforce this Carrd-like structure as a bio and the idea is that you want to be able to look at a person's business card and get as much information as you can about them.

This is kind of also why I'm all for trying to reduce the strain of trying to make a website perfect. The internet is this super over-competitive space for any kind of hobby or interest. When I introduce people to Neocities I say that they don't need to make it perfect and that a website can start as anything and be expanded on later.

Although most of these issues I recognize come from the modern internet and the mentalities that it generates. I don't feel people are uncreative and just that for most people, especially those who started using the internet after maybe 2008, don't have as much of a basis for what being creative with a website can be because everything has taken the slope to becoming more corporate and same and personal sites aren't the only things effected by this.

Those are just my thoughts though. I'm not sure how coherent they are since I'm a bit tired but hey it's the internet, a part of it is speaking your mind
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DJoftheCoven
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« Reply #10 on: June 21, 2022, 07:36:24 pm »


I think the fundamental issue here is that it's difficult to be compassionate towards people who are bringing chunks of the corporate web to our doorsteps when most of us came here specifically to avoid the traps of social media & being forced into displaying sensitive personal information. Carrd is a pretty universally disliked phenomenon in neocities communities because of the way that it advertises your personal life, and not only do we consider it dangerous, but also very... sinister-feeling? If that makes sense? Despite being "about you", I find many carrd profiles to be a virtual sheet of paper for kids to doxx themselves with.

However, as someone who is a legal adult born after the 90s, I'd like to remind everyone that the majority of underage users on the internet DO NOT remember what it used to be like in the early 2000s. I got extremely lucky because I had access to the internet when I was very little, and so remember a lot of nostalgic y2k web content, but many people even at my age can't remember at all. Sometimes those carrd copycat sites are just a product of my people in my generation and younger not even being able to imagine an internet that was private, creative, fun, and useful.

Thank you for the good point, Irkenon!

(any editing made to this post is for grammar purposes lol)

« Last Edit: June 21, 2022, 07:39:02 pm by DJoftheCoven » Logged
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