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COMP: Web Site Hosts

Message text written by Linda Mann:

On another thread, Sharon M recommended another ISP over Geocities.  If
you have time, Sharon, or others, why?<

Both have a lot of handy tools and useful FAQ pages, but the difference is
primarily what I mentioned in my original message:  the availability of
human help.   I've had my Geocities/Yahoo account much longer, but can't
think of a single case in which I was able to get a question answered by a
real, live person.  

FreePages's support system is MUCH better.  Each new user is automatically
subscribed to a "Help" mailing list.  Of course, you're free to unsub just
as soon as you feel you don't need the help anymore -- just like Iris-Talk
-- but I've learned a lot by continuing to lurk.  I even find myself using
things I learn there on my Geocities/Yahoo site.  

In contrast, Geocities/Yahoo has a "neighborhood" system that was supposed
to promote a sense of community and neighborly help but in my experience
served primarily to group pages of like interest.  Even that classification
is relatively unimportant now that you can register pages in different
categories, like gardening, regardless of which neighborhood you moved

I've also noticed an underlying philosophical difference, although no one
spells it out:

FreePages does come up with new features, but so far all have been either
automatic or optional and they have not made ANY changes to their system
that force users to rework their pages or lose what they already have. 
[Their server demands lower-case file names, so if you are moving there
from one that allows mixed-case you are definitely facing remodeling.] 
Their ads are a good example:  a relatively discreet banner at the top of
the page and possibly another at the bottom.  No pop-ups that block
content.  Not even as space-consuming as the ads that appear at the top of
most commercial sites.  Completely automatic, added by the server so you
don't have to do anything with HTML to accommodate them. These ads, of
course, are the price you pay for the "free" space -- but the space is
unlimited as long as you conform to their usage rules.  [Not a problem IMO,
as the only one I can remember tonight is that all pages must be publicly
accessible, not just used as online backup.]  

Geocities, OTOH, has been given to frequent changes that DO require action
on the part of the user. Just tonight, I discovered that my page had once
again been dropped from their directory [which seems to happen every time
they change the system, but they don't tell us about it].  So I had to
register it again.   Their system of ads is ever-evolving and not to the
benefit of the user.  The "free" pages, which are of limited size, have
been supported by pop-ups as long as I've been a member.   I find those so
annoying that as soon as I was satisfied my site was worth keeping I opted
for their "Plus" membership -- just $5 a month for an ad-free site. 
Sure.....  until they changed the rules.  Next, "Plus" members could have
ad-free pages if they included a "GeoGuide" of GeoCities links on all
gateway pages.  So I reprogramed my site.  Then the "GeoGuide" was replaced
by a "Banner Exchange Program" -- I'm still trying to cope with that. 
Sheer size does seem to be a problem.  Sometimes I can't get onto one of
their sites, sometimes I can't upload new files to my own.  More than once,
my latest version of a page has been mysteriously replaced by an older one,
as if they's experienced problems and had to reload from backup files.

Sooooo.....    Five bucks a month and considerable effort on my part to
have a banner ad on only gateway pages vs. no cost, no extra effort to have
banner ads on all pages.  Find it online if you can vs. a helpful mailing
list.   I have to recommend FreePages.  

But these are the only two "free" sites for which I can report personal
experience.  Perhaps others will be able to advise you about alternatives
in the ever-changing online world.

NOW -- just to tie all this rhetoric back to iris --  my Geocities/Yahoo
site has lots of photos and descriptions of arils & arilbreds, plus
historical information, breeding records and hybridizing tips.  The URL is:


Sharon McAllister


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