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Author Topic: Is neocities getting less creative?  (Read 2120 times)
e-
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« on: January 31, 2024 @218.06 »

Does anyone else feel this way, or am I jaded?

I used to never get tired of browsing random sites because they were, well, random.
There were a lot less templates, more weird niches.
There was a whole community of angsty vent sites who were pretty much all harassed into deleting their pages. The political climate went from 'freedom of expression above all else' to something closer tumblr pc standards.
I'm pretty out of the loop so idk where these changes came from or if it's just me like I said.
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« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2024 @226.38 »

clarification: not doxing anyone for using a template that's totally cool!
More so wondering about the cultural shift in the past few years.
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« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2024 @319.73 »

Hm! I might be a little out of the loop with Neocities too, but I had the same problem when I first discovered the web revival movement. I'd spend days browsing through all the internet manifestos I could find. The first 10 or so articles I read were great! I was so interested in the things they had to say! There was a lot of talking points that put into words what I was feeling about the current web climate! And then after that it started to get harder to find any more interesting articles for a while. I started realising that a lot of those same talking points I liked were being mentioned again and again and again. It kinda almost got infuriating for a bit. Made me wonder if folks kinda started to aimlessly ramble later down the line of the movement's existence.

But over time I realized that it didn't necessarily mean nobody else had anything to say, just that I had already found what interested me and thus I became familiar to certain concepts. Meaning I became likely to spot those same concepts in other's words, as I went on. But the thing is, every person who wrote a manifesto were writing something that was new to them. Just like how everyone who makes a site is utilising design aspects that are pretty new to them. The same goes for my first impressions. I'd simply already found what interested me. If I had first stumbled upon any manifestos other than the ones I'd first found, I probably would have instead found their writings more interesting.

Hopefully this makes sense in context, I get pretty wordy sometimes, what I'm trying to get at with this is that it's possible that you might've already seen all the Neocities sites that were new and interesting to you, so it's kinda normal to start seeing repeats in others' works. It doesn't quite mean that folks are getting less creative, just that you've already found the sites you like so your brain's locked onto them in particular. Your cup may have just gotten full for now, so to say. Nothing wrong with that. It also doesn't mean you won't find more interesting sites later. In fact, a good while after I'd stopped actively browsing manifestos, I ended up stumbling on a couple more that really caught my interest with what they brought up.

Now as for the changing social climate of Neocities? All I'm aware of is that over time more folks started coming in from various social media sites, meaning more folks started bringing in those stunted design sensibilities and socialising mentalities that're prevalent in those sites (even those on Neocities who have weirdly coded sites before all that had a sensibility of design that leaned more into self-enjoyment rather than looking good to anyone). It doesn't surprise me that plenty are treating Neocites as just another social media site, rather than the website host it was made to be with just some small socialising tidbits stapled on for convenience. Unfortunately, that does come with a site getting big or popular. Folks who're just following the crowd are always likey to stumble in and take space at some point, but not really bring much to the table themselves. But I'd still say that creativity doesn't die off. It just moves elsewhere sometimes, or sometimes it takes a while to sprout as folks start to unlearn their bad social media-ing habits.
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« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2024 @522.44 »

Personally, I still find creative and great webpages and people around the web revival - just now I'd quite some fun browsing through your page, cool movie recommendations!

One thing that bugs me:
Quote
There was a whole community of angsty vent sites who were pretty much all harassed into deleting their pages. The political climate went from 'freedom of expression above all else' to something closer tumblr pc standards.

I assume "pc" stands for political correctness? This is a highly problematic term, often used to advocate slander and attacks against minorities. I recommend against using it if you want a good discussion about anything, and don't believe that this is what you had in mind.

I think that the great benefit of the web revival movement is the lack of central control instances who can - as in the case of tumblr - install community guidelines. If Neocities for one day should decide to install certain rules you dislike, you might just move away to another host, or get your own webspace somewhere else - there is no inherent dependency to them as service provider in the structure of the web revival. Protection against harassment is - sadly - less easy to archive.
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« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2024 @556.74 »

Hi e, glad to see you back around the forum!  :happy:

I really wanna reply to this since I was actually talking about it with someone yesterday, but I also really wanted to see the sunrise today so Im very tired and might not make any sense  :grin:

Ok so; the answer is of course, yes, and no and it's complicated - but I definitely relate to what you're saying and understand where you are coming from. (Though I should note I don't know the specific cases or era of neocities you're referring to!)

Neocities when I joined was a place mostly populated by oddballs; as oddballs, there was a high tolerance for outsider thinking, ideas and designs that really didn't belong anywhere else on the web. (As to Thunder's comment; I don't recall it ever being aggressive like that; people said what they felt, but it was generally a spirit of honesty rather than attack) There are still plenty of oddballs, but as it's grown in popularity it has changed and I'll list what I see as some of the key changes that have taken place:

1. The quality of sites is so much higher than it was. When I joined, one of the most followed sites was a flashing picture of a pizza and most of the front page sites looked like they could be made in a weekend - I don't think that could happen today! (I know there's the rat, but that used to be a directory site) - high-quality sites inspire and push people to create better things, but are a double-edged sword because it's really hard to feel confident about making your first hand-coded site if you feel it's being compared to the quality of front page sites today. That's why people feel pushed to use templates and create something they feel meets a minimum quality standard.
I would also say that in 2016, most of the nostalgia was for a particular era of late-90s design that was much less polished - whereas most of the sites I see people designing now are more like 2009-era sites. Sites in 2009 had reached a point where they were far more complex and high quality, so the bar is naturally higher if that's your reference point.

2. The population of neocities and the issues it needs to address has changed. When I joined, we were rebelling against Facebook and Google in particular, which meant flat design and content format limitations. To most teens now though, Facebook and Google are irrelevant, and the thing we were fighting, kinda doesn't matter anymore. Now it's algorithms, wider social insecurities, and overly stimulating video/chat feeds that people want to escape, so the thing they are looking for is a sense of peace and security. That's a very different priority from the freeform creative goal that was sparked out of the Facebook-escaping generation.

3. The overall population is much higher and as you say the social pressure is way more intense because of that. There is a feeling now that no matter who you are, you will get views on your site, where as in the past, you kinda felt like no one would visit your site, so no one was paticularly self-aware about what they were making. I'd say that these days I feel a much greater need to be reserved in what I say and be much more critical about who I link to and what I post - that's not a bad thing, but it does add a feeling of creative friction (People email me complaints when I change things about my site or post links they don't like!). It also makes it physically harder to find unusual sites since you have to do so much more browsing.

I suppose in a way you can describe all of that as creative gentrification; it's not that there is less creativity, but the creativity that is present is more tame and well-behaved.

That's not all bad; but it is change, and I'm curious to see how it will continue to change in the future. Ultimately I don't think it's fair to blame people coming from Tumblr or any other social site; Neocities is like New York, it's made by its immigrants and defined by them and it will be redefined again and again based on their needs and hopes.

As for you I'd suggest finding your own peace. You won't get anywhere stressing about what other people are doing; the only thing you can do is whatever you feel is correct. You don't need to be tame if that's not who you are (though do be polite!), but you have to trust others are doing what they need to do as well  :4u:
« Last Edit: January 31, 2024 @651.34 by Melooon » Logged


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« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2024 @608.89 »

I agree with what Melon said about Neocities being a place of security, because finding that security and my own "place" where I'm not being pulled along by algorithms was the final push I needed to move away from social media anyway. Tinkering with my website feels more like playing with toys than anything, it's a very nice feeling. I don't think there's any fault in having a more casual attitude about website making, especially for beginners. That's why templates exist, they kind of give you "instant gratification" of having a layout and all the tools you need, which can be important for the confidence of someone just starting out to already have "something there" (even if most of it is from the template.) Whether they flex their creative muscles more depends on how long they stick with the hobby.

The point about the nostalgia-point changing is really fascinating to me because it makes me wonder if in the future people will cycle towards being nostalgic for the mainstream web of today (the horror!) :tongue: nostalgia is pretty cyclical after all

Overall though I don't think neocities users are necessarily getting "less creative" because making a personal website itself is a creative exercise.
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« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2024 @619.69 »

The point about the nostalgia-point changing is really fascinating to me because it makes me wonder if in the future people will cycle towards being nostalgic for the mainstream web of today (the horror!) :tongue: nostalgia is pretty cyclical after all

While I do understand your concern, I really can't see anyone being nostalgic for the current web design trends. 2009 was still a great time online, and websites were still cool and quirky, so I completely get that people may be now taking inspiration from those sites, just as they did with late 90s / early 2000s sites.

In my opinion, there is nothing fun, quirky, or even interesting about today's design standards. Everything has that corporate, bootstrap look to it. Massive hero image taking up 100vh of the screen, button in the middle, scroll down to an entire new section, everything on one page. It's not fun, it's not interesting. It's dull, lifeless, boring design because the internet is now just a place where companies can suck the life out of you, bombard you with ads, and track you across the internet.

I opened a news website today, and I swear the experience was horrendous. Cookie pop up, newsletter pop up, another cookie preference pop up, another random pop up, a "click here to continue reading" button, elements moving on the screen when you go to click something. The current corporate web is an absolute joke and I can't see anyone being nostalgic over it. Again, just my opinion.

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« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2024 @641.20 »

I was mostly joking, but you're definitely right.
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« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2024 @735.22 »

Here are my 5 cents, as someone who came to the Neocities in the recent years and also uses templates on their website here and there: Melon and others bring up a lot of good points on feeling pressure to look good "like the others" and stuff, but as a person who generally evades that pressure pretty well both in her day-to-day and creative lives, I'd just like to add... Sometimes people just want their pages to look good, or in a certain way. And for some people the end result is more important than necessarily getting there solely by their own skill.

From what I hear, I agree that there was likely a generational shift. The "two sidebars, one main body" look that many use Sadness's template for - and the one that I personally coded for both of my index pages - seems like the early 00s influence indeed. I bring it up because likely I'm also a part of that shift. My formative usage of the net was around 2008-2010, and in that I'm likely missing a certain... concept of freedom in site building? Like, my very first site that I tried to make back in the day (excluding ones just slapped together for fun with a now non-existent site builder) was already of the "big main body with updates, narrow sidebar with navigation links" variety. That's what my free creative net I'm now nostalgic for felt like. I'm sure that accounts at least in part for how "good looking" people make their sites to be - and templates help, because those layouts require more code work, and that can be intimidating.

Also, in a way, I think using templates is... sort of the same thing as not using them at all and just chaotically putting everything on the page? As in: sometimes there's A Thing that you want to share through your website. Maybe a drawing, or a text, or an article you wrote about your interest. And your main drive here is to put it out there, not to create a specific frame for it. One approach is to just create the most basic html page and just. Do it. Just put it out there. As long as it's readable and you kinda like how that looks, that's what's important, you've shared information, put a piece of yourself out there. The other approach is... virtually the same in terms of energy spent, but you kinda want it to look more organized, so you take someone's pre-made template.

I personally use all kinds of approaches on my site. My homepage is fully coded by me, and I like it to bits. The page where I store my adopted lil guys and pixels is full on just them put on a nice background 'cause I wanted them to be THERE but had no ideas on what to make out of that page. Pages showing off my original characters and the little guys I offer for adoption are slightly more coded, but they are very simple, 'cause it's what I wanted them to be. And then a page with my videogame characters is a template, 'cause I wanted it to look a specific way and already knew there's a template for that - and I was more interested in, again, sharing them.

I guess what I'm trying to say is... creativity isn't always in the way the site is built, it can sometimes be in the content. And sometimes using a template someone else graciously provided is not unlike doing minimal coding on a page 'cause you just wanted to put text on it anyway. Also, as already rightfully noted, sometimes templates are a jumping point to feel like you already have something presentable, and they often change or go away if the person sticks with working on their website.

But also, on the topic of creativity and comparing yourself to others, it's kind of funny. When I'm looking as some websites on Neocities, particularly the sort that uses complicated div positioning to make it all look like screens and tubes and what not, and everything is hand drawn and purposefully uneven - I sometimes start to feel like what I made is too streamlined and boring.

But then I stumble upon my website being linked on an imageboard as an example of "those nostalgic websites that are nightmare to navigate and look bad", or show it to my brother and hear "Welp, that looks like some secret hacker website they usually access in movies" and I think... nah, I am okay  :grin:
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« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2024 @781.16 »

My two bucks : I've joined NeoCities because it is not forcing me to see every user or every website. I do know that there's sites I won't like at all and that's okay. It's the main reason of why I'm building my own website with the links to other blogs that I like because if I wanted it the other way then I'd just made an account on Twitter/X zand let me be directed by the algorithm. Keep in mind that some websites will make you feel bad or angry. Most importantly you shouldn't care about them, Internet can be closed as easy as closing a tab and you can walk outside for fresh air.

I perfectly understand while you feel a bit jaded but don't let it take you down. NeoCities is growing and with everything big there's problems, For me it's like drama, unless it is directly threatening, I don't care. Besides this I agree with MelonKing, very interesting point of view on the topic, thanks.

Stay strong.
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« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2024 @900.71 »

I think that you might be experiencing this strange phenomenon called "getting bored of it", which happens when something has been done enough to the point where it isnt as fulfilling
My non-sarcastic answer: no i dont really think so, i havent really seen this happen but i feel like we should stop sounding the escape alarm everytime something like this happens to something. Im really tired of people always pointing out the flaws in everything nowadays, in my opinion this is one of the things that kinda screwed up Youtube
also i havent seen it be tumblr pc type stuff anywhere or everywhere, whatever "tumblr pc" means
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« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2024 @42.12 »

generally i think there's always going to be ""bland"" sites, whether it be from a template you've seen a million times or just one with no css at all.

honestly i think the core content of the site is usually what makes it interesting, not only the aesthetics (though i'd be lying if i said i didn't feature some people's buttons on my site bc their website looked cool to me!)

at least with templates like the saddness one, they come with mobile compatibility that you only really have to tweak a little bit depending on your site content. you don't have to worry about "oh does this look good on mobile" if you're a fledgling webmaster with that, you can get started with your website goals right away.
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« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2024 @448.15 »

I think we should be able to look at past and present trends in a descriptive manner, without any judgement on what is good and bad.

For a lot of people (myself included) Neocities is their first endeavour in website building, and their websites will probably look very basic in the eyes of someone who has been in this space for years. The point about different types of nostalgia is also very valid. For instance, I was too young to know the 90s Geocities style; my childhood sites were like Serebii.net. People like me need time to go through the indie web and see all the potential design options, get inspired, and then learn how to do those things. This can take years.

On the flipside, I don't think people need to emulate the style that once was just because they are on Neocities or elsewhere on the indie web. If someone wants to emulate 2010s Facebook... Yeah it's ugly, but at least that person is making it themselves and outside of the algorithm-riddled mainstream web. If you are losing interest in what others are creating, just don't engage with it and stick to the things that are fun and inspire you. Come back in a few.
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« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2024 @974.24 »

I think the "tumblr culture" has to do with the type of people that neocities attracts. I first found out about neocities because I saw it linked in a lot of people's discord profiles instead of carrd. My site is pretty basic and it was built with a template. I used a template because I had no idea what I was doing. Since then, I've learned more about coding. I imagine this is the experience for a lot of people who used a template. Neocities is still creative but a lot of websites are similar to each other. People create personal websites because it's cool even if they don't have anything to say, I don't think there is anything wrong with that.
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« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2024 @134.47 »

While I do understand your concern, I really can't see anyone being nostalgic for the current web design trends. 2009 was still a great time online, and websites were still cool and quirky, so I completely get that people may be now taking inspiration from those sites, just as they did with late 90s / early 2000s sites.

In my opinion, there is nothing fun, quirky, or even interesting about today's design standards. Everything has that corporate, bootstrap look to it. Massive hero image taking up 100vh of the screen, button in the middle, scroll down to an entire new section, everything on one page. It's not fun, it's not interesting. It's dull, lifeless, boring design because the internet is now just a place where companies can suck the life out of you, bombard you with ads, and track you across the internet.


I can't imagine people will be very nostalgic about the things people keep growing more discontented with even over in the core Web, especially since people are rebelling against all that like never before by coming over here to Neocities and the like; all this like I doubt people would be nostalgic for an oppressive government causing people to leave its country in droves, even if they weren't leaving it.

For a lot of people (myself included) Neocities is their first endeavour in website building, and their websites will probably look very basic in the eyes of someone who has been in this space for years. The point about different types of nostalgia is also very valid. For instance, I was too young to know the 90s Geocities style; my childhood sites were like Serebii.net. People like me need time to go through the indie web and see all the potential design options, get inspired, and then learn how to do those things. This can take years.

I wonder if the kinds of sites people are nostalgic about in the Web revival do have to do with what they consumed growing up—I mean, that would make sense. Personally, even though I'm past the age group that have grown up mostly outside the core Web, I do feel nostalgic for more 90s-style design, as shown in my site, perhaps because I grew up with my main example of a personal site being the Toasty Tech site, so I've always admired its style of design, which my mother called "very 90s" once when she saw me on the site, and throughout my time making sites I've tried to evoke that era of Web design.

There is a feeling now that no matter who you are, you will get views on your site, where as in the past, you kinda felt like no one would visit your site, so no one was paticularly self-aware about what they were making. I'd say that these days I feel a much greater need to be reserved in what I say and be much more critical about who I link to and what I post - that's not a bad thing, but it does add a feeling of creative friction (People email me complaints when I change things about my site or post links they don't like!).
I think this is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, like you said, being encouraged not to go linking willy-nilly and saying whatever encourages a level of discretion that I think is generally useful in life, but at the same time, I've sometimes held back from mentioning small opinions (in my opinion, quite innocuous ones indeed) because of fear that they could be controversial (perhaps a holdover from toxic social media culture)—I feel like I need to realize sometimes that my site is my space and if someone disagrees, they're free to do so and even click off my site.
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