Happy Holidays - from AlterIcon Community Center - - -

December 17th, 1999

Yahoo drops CL program for good.
"There will not be an official endorsement by Yahoo! of the existing program."

Click here for more

UPDATED 6-18-1999 with info on
The real truth behind the watermark and why it's gone
The final death of the community leader program!

What the heck happened? I sure don't know.

Once upon a time we had a fantastic online community, full of excitement about this new thing called the web. Now it's an embarrassment even to have a site on Geocities.

A year ago we launched a war on what was called the "watermark." Since then it's changed and mutated and even disappeared, but it was never really the mark itself we fought against. It was what the mark stood for. It meant Geocities could place anything they wanted on our pages.

There were those that said "But it's free." But it's not. We paid with our content. And quite honestly, a lot of us weren't there because it was free. We were there because we enjoyed being there.

Now Geocities, as you know, is making us all re-register. If you don't, your page will be unaccessable to edit. And since someone intentionally grabbed my name before I could, I won't be able to re-register as altericon. And nor do I want to.

Everything we were fighting for is gone. There is no sense of community left? So why fight? Why stick around? Why even serve as a source of news.

Look, if you want news, and if there is any, you can always find it at wittybanter.com. That's the thing. Other than the whole whoop-de-do 25 hits this site gets a day, it's not really worth anything. You can always find me doing something elsewhere.

So since soon I won't be able to edit this site anymore, I thought I'd leave it with a few parting words. As you know, this site has been shut down and started up more times than I'd like to remember. But that's just part of it's history.

And there's lots of history. Lots of it. It seems so long ago, but only a year ago AI was still primarily a page about Geocities Geolinks. Then the watermark came, and we all know what happened next. Reading AlterIcon became daily routine for Geocities homesteaders, CLs, Liaisons, and even employees. Especially employees. They loved it.

And they loved the mistakes we made to. Or rather I should say I made. I'll admit, when AI became the focus of much of the attention directed at the watermark, I felt like I had something to live up to. I felt like I owed it to you all. And that's just me, that's just a personality trait. I would have done that whether we were trying to get rid of the watermark, or trying to eliminate bovine gas emissions.

So sometimes I'd take myself a little too seriously, and sometimes I'd do things that were just plain wrong. I'm only human. So when I essentially started a civil war with Joseph, I should have known better. But I thought I was doing the right thing. The guy was admittedly crazy, but he didn't deserve what I gave him. Some might say it eventually led to the end of the anti-watermark movement. But the fact is, it was dead long before then. It was dead because we didn't trust each other. It was dead because people were jealous. It got ridiculous. One person believed I was strategically placing my hit counter to show off. Another thought I was somehow hacking into message boards and deleting messages, so that my own message board would be used by watermark debaters. Whatever. One person told me to "run a board like Liv, or just admit it's an ego trip, and your (sic) after hits." Get a life.

But it wasn't their fault. They were simply as frustrated as I was. Very quickly after the watermark was released, Geo started deleting sites. They deleted the small ones, the ones no one really noticed. I certainly wasn't able to keep up. There were so many popping up, when they deleted one I simply didn't have the time to do anything about it. But they knew well enough. They would delete all the small sites, and the support for the big ones... AI, Orange Ribbon, Monty Python Heaven... the support would disappear. They wouldn't have to delete us, because we'd have no audience. And sadly, they were absolutely right.

UPDATED 6-18-1999
I should mention something that someone pointed out to me, something I hadn't even thought of. A lot of us suspected the real reason behind the watermark wasn't to drive traffic or help out homesteaders, but to create brand awareness for a company preparing an Initial Public Offering. And if that were the case, it certainly worked, as Geocities stock shot up to incredible heights. CLs who had at one time a few hundred dollars worth of stock now have over a thousand. If I had wisely invested in Geo, a stock that I predicted would drop like lead, I would be writing to you from the beaches of the Caribbean, not from the coffee capitol of the world.

But of course Geo told us, and more specifically it's "Community Leaders" that this was a "cool" tool for homesteaders, and gosh, homesteaders all loved it. If you were to believe Geo, homesteaders thought the watermark was the greatest thing ever seen on the World Wide Web, despite the fact that at the time most homesteaders weren't even using DHTML capable browsers.

In fact, the people that were using DHTML capable browsers were the ones Geo cared about. They were the investors Geo wanted to attract with it's funky little watermark. And the more press we gave them, the better off they were! Even though industry analysts were telling people that GCTY was a piece of junk that held no real value, people were buying it up like crazy.

Now, Yahoo merges with (read: takes over) Geocities and what immediately happens? The watermark disappears. Completely. Sure, we have an image that say "Yahoo! Geocities" but it doesn't really function like the watermark. There's no dynamic properties. It doesn't take you anywhere but the Geo main page. What happened to the targeted traffic the watermark was supposed to present?

It was all a sham. It was all a lie. There was no real added value to homesteaders. When GCTY died, when the stock disappeared from NASDAQ as it was acquired by Yahoo!, the watermark died too. Now that Geocities doesn't have to worry about the investor, it can suddenly concentrate on the customer. And sure enough, people are getting actual responses from Geo. Pages sent to Alert are disappearing. It's everything we've been crying for over the last year. Maybe we just needed to buy stock.

Speaking of dying, I should mention that Geo has finally done what I've been saying will happen for a long time. It's killed the Community Leader program. Sort of.

The Community Leader program is now the Volunteer Network. Technically it's only been renamed ,but there's a reason behind everything. And the fact is that CL's no longer are part of a community, and in fact they don't really lead. Geo gives them information a whole 24-48 hours before they give it to everyone else (making AlterIcon obsolete unless I'm up 24/7). They have no real functionality anymore. They can send pages to Alert, but so can you. It's pointless for them to do blockwatchs, since most of them legally can't view the porn they are looking for, and the ones that are can't take the constant pop-ups crashing their computers. CL's, er, Volunteers, who are easily duped by Geo anyway, will defend the name change as part of the integration into Yahoo! But there's no reason for a name change unless there is something to hide. Most of the smart ones have left anyway. I'd like to create a network for former CL's. If anyone is interested, please contact me. I know Teresa would like it a lot. She misses the sense of community, but not the stress of having to deal with morons. (Mainly Geneseo, who to her credit had the stress of having to deal with Teresa!)

But life goes on. And looking back on the last year, it was quite a fun ride. Obviously, I've moved on to bigger and better things, like the new Genealogy Pages site, which generates more traffic than AlterIcon ever could have hoped to. And a lot of others moved on to. In fact, a lot of the protestors have quality sites hosted at their own domain. I guess it says a lot about the "minority" that was against the intrusion in the first place. Most of the supporters of the watermark are still at Geo. One major supporter got so sick of Geo's antics they dropped their support and started leaking info to me. But none that I know have anything more than "Hi, my name is Bob" sites run on a pitiful excuse for a online community.

So when all has been said and done, all I can do is thank you. Literally, thank everyone. Even those that turned on me. Even those I turned on. Oh, there's a long list. And I probably left someone out. For the most part, this in chronological order, so don't get upset if you're at the bottom of the list. It probably means I met you last. And since I have a terrible memory, don't get upset if you're not there. Obviously, a lot of these names have been severely shortened (like one or two letters) to keep leakers anonymous.

Thanks to : Zorbo (for introducing me), Wilcox, StevE, OhYesUAre (who kept us laughing), Jan, Melody, nvo2, Peter B, george, Gerben, OZZman, Cy, Becky, J.P., Nickell, Silver, JHF, Quietsiren, MJ, Skewer, Ursula, Northern Prince, Chaz n Anne, Dr. McSwiney, Bob E., SonicBlue, MV, Syrynx, Kimberly, Webspinner, Andreas, Nicholas, Marina, Libragrrl, D.L., F'Lessa, Denise, Fauvegrrl, Liv, laleh, William H. (who I forgot about!) FOTP, Kei, Frank, Jane, BB, Joseph (I'm sorry), Cameron, James, Vu, YSL, Crash, zposter, Carrie, Jody, Dan, RickB, Maverick (the only one better than me), IQ (I can't possibly thank you enough), Alex, Holger, The Sunbeam Award, Jes, Lee, d.M., Old Geezers, Kit, Jim, BMJ, Carolyn A., Eric, Dan, Karen, Miko, The one and only, absolutely fabulous Celeste (and you still bug me everyday!), Dianne See from the Industry Standard (thanks for making me famous), Christopher, Gav, Saul Hansell from the New York Times, JimH, Todd, BillG (not billg@microsoft.com), M, Webgoddess, JosephR, Stacey, acrow, Mr. Bucket, Prita ('Im sorry I never got that graphic done for you), Brett, BC, K, Box, skifyre, Super Genius, Ines, Gabriel, Alexandra, Boner, S (who first leaked Watermark 2 to me), Sapphire, Stefano, Ryan (who I have an e-mail for), Nita, Harv, Rick, the mysterious T.J. Marchetti, (whose communications were kept confidential until an employee of Geocities blew it by announcing I was communicating with him on my very own forum), Tyler, Liz, McDeath (learn math), Murphy, Pat, Oohay, MB, The always formidable "F"(who didn't agree with me, but respected me anyway), Terri, Imp, Vroom, lisa, 73, Robyn, Talmey, AZ, Adlady (the only person I have EVER met in person after meeting them over the internet), Nightstar, "T", PK, CA, KB, L, Suburband, C.L., ML, Pliny, Linda, Vanessa, Numskull, Scott B, Terry, Ruben, Daphne, Pooh Bear (hey, that's my name!) , Raye, BP, RKH, Carolyn2, Crystal Sword (who actually had a pro-watermark article on AI, so I'm not even going to bother disguising it), Pam, SH, Martijn, Geneseo (who long before the watermark debate I said some VERY nasty things about), Sarah, AH, Jade, Ireland, PJ, JimBa, Kyle, Ng, Enigma, Rissa, Norma, SA, BF (who leaked more than anyone else), Link, LoneStar, steve, Serrah, T2, BillC, cathy, SEG, Priscilla, Rochelle, S, CJ, BrianH, MichaelM, LisaBD, Laura, Twilight, CP, Jenn, The very successful JJ!, Maddie, Bob, Charlee, DavidT, Fern, Shade, JR, KMG, Nita, Rogier, Kempo, xsmj, JML, inwords, Jag, RSW, Kevin, The entire Phoenix Community, Alan (who wrote me to tell me how he personally was having Geo delete my page, and then for some reason proceeded to tell me information which was for CLs only. Must be like Dr. Evil... tell all your plans before you kill the good guy off), C1, LBJ, CK (thanks for trying), Sevanne, Wanda, Aimee, Kento, Colin, JH, D, llizard, Greg (a CL who thought i was hacking into Geocities and that I SHOULDN'T BE posting information that wasn't mine), alexis, Tim, GK, AL, SLucas, O, A, DaRReN, KK, Mullen, Unidentified Anti Geocities Member (this is actually the name they gave me). And of course, Norny, who never gave me any information, but was willing to place a AI Featured Page logo under the watermark on his site, despite his Liaison status. Way to go Norny. That's brave.

And that was pretty much it. There were others, but those were the guys that really made AI what it was during the summer of 98. That's it guys. It was fun! And maybe we'll all get together and do it again sometime.

-Your webmaster
Michael Stevens
aka AlterIcon


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