The Neocities Problem

UPDATE 2: I'm no longer using neocities. However, my points listed here still stand.

Update: I'd like to make some clarifications regarding this article. First, I understand that Neocities is very small and new company. It may be difficult to hire developers. I'd also like to make it clear that I love Neocities, what it does, and what it stands for. I will continue to be a paying customer for the forseeable future, as I love the site. However, my point still stands that development has stalled and that more transparency and more info on what's coming next is needed. Sorry if this came off a bit too negative. I don't hate Neocities, I just want it to be the best it can be.

Neocities is without a doubt, my favorite web host. Sure, it's limited to static websites, but that's what's fun about it. Neocities makes working on websites fun. When I first started using Neocities in 2016, I quickly fell in love with it, and quickly became a paid supporter, and migrated my site to Neocities. I believe in its goal of creating a fast, reliable, and feature-packed spiritual successor to Geocities for the new age. However, I feel as if Neocities has been on a downward slope for a while now. This can be fixed, but if it keeps going, it will get worse. In this post, I'll list some of my complaints with the current state of Neocities. I hope that these complaints are taken into consideration, as it is my belief that if Neocities wants to succeed, it needs to do better.

1. Developer Inactivity

It's becoming increasingly obvious that the developers of Neocities have been very inactive, with hardly any changes coming to Neocities in the last year. For reference, the last post on The Neocities Blog was made in August 2017, or almost 8 months ago. It's not any better with the GitHub. It appears that on average, commits are made either every two weeks or sometimes, commits can be almost a month apart. There are also pull requests that have been sitting there for months with no response (my very simple pull request has been sitting there with no response for almost 6 months, and it's the most recent one)

This appears to be due to the fact that as it stands, Neocities has really only one developer, Kyle Drake. (Victoria Wang is also listed on the Neocities Github as a member, but her last commit to the GitHub was in 2016) I can understand that it may be too much for one person, but some activity beyond every month or so would be nice. If it's too overwhelming, then people need to be hired. If you're busy with something else, then transparency would be nice.

2. Lack of Transparency

In addition to having no idea why the sole developer is inactive, we also have no idea what the future of Neocities is. We have no roadmap, no list of planned or upcoming features, no idea when existing features that are currently down will be coming back, nothing. We, the users of Neocities, are being totally left into the dark in terms of the future of Neocities.

We need an explanation for what's been going on. We need to know what's coming next. We need transparency.

3. Site Decay

Neocities is currently losing features more than it's gaining them. These features include IPFS archiving, the stats page, and browse mode. The stats page and browse mode are currently disabled for "bugs". Meanwhile, IPFS archiving has been down for a while with no updates as to why or when it will be returning. Combine that with the fact that site stability has been getting worse, with me regularly getting error pages with simply accessing the front page of the site, and you have a problem. This really needs to be addressed, and we should at least get a basic time frame as to when these will be back up. It's not a good look when major features are down for so long.

4. Spam

It's becoming increasingly obvious that Neocities has a spam problem. Spam sites are being created en masse on Neocities, with little being done about it. Many of these sites impersonate popular online services, companies, or banks, and attempt to steal user info. When sites like these are allowed on Neocities, you have a problem. Neocities really needs to update the Acceptable Use Policy to disallow spam (while clearly defining what qualifies as spam to prevent it from being overly broad) and implement a system of reporting sites that violate the TOS. Having lots of spam sites appear on the browse page is not a good look for Neocities, and will turn people away.

5. TL;DR

  • The Neocities devs need to be more active, and if it's not possible for the sole developer to be more active than new staff need to be hired
  • We need more transparency on what's been going on and what the future of Neocities is
  • There's an issue when major features keep going down due to "bugs" or just go down. This needs to be addressed.
  • Neocities has a spam problem. The AUP needs to be updated to disallow spam and a reporting system needs to be put in place to report sites like these.

6. Conclusions

While I love Neocities and will most likely continue to be a paid supporter, it cannot be denied that Neocities has lots of issues. These need to be addressed, as I feel that if they are not, than Neocities may be going down the same path as the original Geocities.