My High School Geocities Site Was Accused of Hosting Porn—But I Saved It
Some things are worth fighting for.
One day roughly 11 years ago, in between getting kicked offline by constant telephone calls and agonizing over AIM conversations with girls I liked, I had the bright idea to create a website about myself—a 13-year-old, smart if desperately nerdy high school freshman. The world needed to know what made me tick.
Every so often, I dredge up the site to make fun of myself and/or others on Facebook or to impress someone with the former depths of my self-involvement and sense of humor. So, imagine my surprise when I tried to load up the website up a couple months ago and found it had been deleted.
I had always kind of feared this, even at the beginning. That's why I hosted it on BOTH GeoCities and Tripod—model organizations for their reliability and feature set. I had already shunned AngelFire because of its lack of FrontPage compatibility. When GeoCities announced it was going kaput in 2009, I probably felt like Lord Voldemort after Harry had destroyed the last of his horcruxes—like, yeah I am slightly less secure now but I'm still totally chill, dude. Or, more likely, I didn't know GeoCities was going offline. Who knows?
Objectively, it's a good thing that my website was deleted off the face of the planet, but then I thought about how much time I had spent on it and its many, beautiful facets: Hours learning Front Page and, later, a port to Dreamweaver. The headline banner I had crafted in a pirated version of Paintshop Pro. The guestbook. The quiz about myself. The photos and the discussion forum and the newsletter and the PowerPoint presentation cartoons I wrote (?). The Hot or Not game I "invented." The alluring promise of an update with skimboarding tip tricks.
The Flash intro.
Yes, the site had everything you could possibly want out of an early 2000s media powerhouse. A catchy name ("Jason's Site"), a frameset layout, broken links, a scrolling marquee. A guestbook. Tony Hawk Pro Skater 4 gap checklists. Bad Internet jokes, poor grammar, and worse font choices. A delusional idea that people would want to donate money to me in order to buy a .com address to expand Jason's Site's reach and visibility.
If I were a politician, it'd be an oppo-researcher's holy grail. I had to have it back.
In all seriousness though, I had a "friends" page that predates Facebook and probably MySpace. Pay up, somebody.
I emailed Tripod, now owned by the Internet search powerhouse Lycos—another relic of the time that's shockingly still a thing—to find out what the hell was up with this delete-my-website shit. I emailed and got nothing back. I emailed again, and finally, a dude named Steve O. hit me up.
"Thank you for your patience," he wrote. "Your site was listed as having Russian Porn and nudity on it from our servers which violates our terms and conditions. Please let us know if this is accurate and we will review your site again."
Well, now I HAD to have my site back. I had either been hacked by some Russopornographers—who for some reason are categorically distinct from nudity/porn—or there had been some sort of mistake. I told Steve O. this was all a HUGE misunderstanding and that it was extremely important to get the site back. He said nothing.
In the meantime, I tried a different tactic. When GeoCities went down, a whole host of people backed up EVERY site that had ever been created. There was Geocities.ws, a site that tried to mirror every Geocities site. I typed in my address and came up with nothing. I hit up the forums and submitted a recovery request. I also checked reocities.com, oocities.org, geociti.es, and archive.org. Archive.org had preserved the flash intro of my Geocities page, but nothing else worked. It was like the Tripod site had never existed. Someone from Geocities.ws told me they searched through their archive and turned up nothing. This would not do.
I had one final idea. I would download the massive torrent of every Geocities site, a 641-gig file with a whopping five seeders on The Pirate Bay. Things were slow going. After a week, I had barely downloaded any of it.
Earlier this week, I emailed Steve O. at Tripod again. "Listen, man, there's no Russian porn on my website," I told him. Yesterday, Steve O. really came through for me. He said my account had been undeleted and that I should take extra care to make sure I didn't have any porn or "bad code," which I am sure I have LOADS of.
The site was back, and now I can embarrass myself in peace, persistent popup ads and all. Check it out if you want some Tony Hawk tip tricks or if you want to donate the money for me to buy a .com address. Don't forget to sign up for my mailing list.