My tale of The Best Website that is no more
(written in 2010 and published on Associated Content/Yahoo Voices)
A sad tale of lost data, lost work, lost friendships, lost in the wild-blue-yonder of an Internet ‘no-mans-land’.
Having been a loyal subscriber to ‘AOL’ since the onset of my Internet experience (OK, I was on Prodigy for a time, too) I became very excited when AOL began offering ‘online web space’ to it’s members back in 1995 or 1996.
I soon took advantage of this free limited web space, and started my own website on “Genealogy and Tennessee” – (that is where my email name comes from, it is not my name, but a shorted version of ‘genealogy’). Over the years, I continued to build onto my website, and AOL eventually gave it’s members much more space to use, and began calling this web space: ‘AOL Hometown’.
As the years went by with my website, I added many webpages, including both my own genealogy and family history, plus that of many of my friends or even for anyone else who emailed their information to me on their ancestors in Tennessee.
I eventually had 321 web pages on my “Genealogy and Tennessee’ website on ‘AOL Hometown’. And I would have continued on, very happily, until suddenly I got this notice from AOL in 2008.
From: AOLMemberInfo email@example.com
Sent: Tue, Sep 30, 2008 7:16 pm
Subject: AOL Hometown/FTP is closing October 31, 2008
Dear AOL Hometown/FTP user
We ‘re sorry to inform you that on Oct. 31, 2008, AOL Hometown and FTP will be shut down permanently. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Though you will be able to modify your Hometown site and access FTP until this date, we urge you to save your AOL Hometown/FTP content immediately, and consider other options for hosting your site.
Read more about how to download and save your Hometown/FTP files here. (Nancy’s note: link is disabled now).
In the meantime, please bookmark the People Connection Blog where you can find out more about AOL Hometown/FTP.
You can also subscribe to the People Connection Blog RSS feed to stay informed about any changes. We’ll be updating the People Connection Blog often, so please check it regularly.
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we make this transition. Again, we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
The AOL Hometown Team
That was it! The beginning of the ending of a very happy relationship (at least on my part) with AOL Hometown web pages.
AOL did not even offer to keep our webpages available online anywhere!.
Boom! They were gone ‘into the wild blue yonder, never to return’ on the date given, regardless of whether the AOL Hometown member got the notice, read the notice, acted upon the notice or not.
But wait! All is not lost! I did manage to download the majority of my ‘Genealogy and Tennessee’ web pages onto my old computer, and I had already signed up for free web pages at Rootsweb.com (which is now part of Ancestry.com, but still free for my genealogy webpages.)
On Rootsweb.com, I had transferred some of my webpages, again calling the website ‘Genealogy and Tennessee’ and linking back to the AOL Hometown pages, as a secondary reference. So I actually had some duplicate pages, through both websites. If one website went down, then readers could access the other one. That worked out great, because, as we all know, things do happen to even the best of websites at times.
But after I received the notice that AOL Hometown was closing down, I tried to get all my web pages moved over to the Rootsweb.com server. However, I am still working on getting them done and updated to take out the reference to AOL Hometown webpages.
That was the ending of my beautiful ‘Genealogy and Tennessee’ web pages on AOL Hometown. I had well over 100,000 plus visitors to the main index page, and many visitors to the rest of the website.
But the website just went “Poof” on October 31, 2008, to be no more.
I still get messages from people who have seen outside linkbacks to my AOL Hometown ‘Genealogy and Tennessee’ web page; now when they click on the link they find a page on AOL saying something like “Sorry, the AOL Hometown has been shut down”. My readers and visitors want to know ‘What Happened?”
So do I want to know “What Happened with AOL Hometown?”
This was the best website I knew that is no more.
You can still access some of my genealogy and family history data on Ancestry.com (through Rootsweb.com’s free user webpages). You can search for it by name “Genealogy and Tennessee”, or by my name, Nancy P. Goodman. Here is a link you can also follow: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~tngenny1/index.html