101. Metafilter (1999)
October 20, 2018 9:15 AM   Subscribe

100 Websites That Shaped the Internet as We Know It

Including:
92. The Toast (2013)
73. TV Tropes (2004)
42. GeoCities (1994)
11. Snopes (1994)
posted by holmesian (97 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
 
We were robbed.

Seriously though: We were robbed.
posted by gwint at 9:19 AM on October 20, 2018 [75 favorites]


CTRL-F "Zombo.com"
Phrase not found

?????????????????
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:25 AM on October 20, 2018 [51 favorites]


Spoiler: #1 is not zombo (dot) com.
posted by glonous keming at 9:27 AM on October 20, 2018 [6 favorites]


Great minds, Strange Interlude.
posted by glonous keming at 9:28 AM on October 20, 2018 [6 favorites]


No Slashdot?
posted by octothorpe at 9:34 AM on October 20, 2018 [27 favorites]


I feel like we could easily name 100 more websites that should have been on this list but were not.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 9:34 AM on October 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


No Fark either. this list is useless.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 9:36 AM on October 20, 2018 [27 favorites]


No "Mr. T Ate My Balls" either?

Geez.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:38 AM on October 20, 2018 [9 favorites]


No YTMND either.
posted by tclark at 9:39 AM on October 20, 2018 [16 favorites]


Ugh! I can't believe I dedicated my professional life to this project. Burn it all to the ground.
posted by spudsilo at 9:40 AM on October 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


Suck.com
Robot wisdom
Feedmag.com

Kinda a fail, no?
posted by Keith Talent at 9:41 AM on October 20, 2018 [22 favorites]


No Justin Hall? This is a ridiculous article.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:43 AM on October 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


Nando.com (Raleigh News and Observer) should be here in place of the NYTimes. As far as I know, it was the first full featured newspaper site that was open to everyone, including non-subscribers. It beat the NY Times by at least 2 years. Think it had a presence online even before the web, but memory is fuzzy.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 9:47 AM on October 20, 2018 [24 favorites]


Firefly?
That was like the ur-community for me, wayyyyyyyyyyyyy back when.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:49 AM on October 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Not to be especially pedantic, but the only comprehensive list of the top sites on the internet is... the internet.
posted by klanawa at 9:50 AM on October 20, 2018 [12 favorites]


I feel like both Zombo.com and cruel.com are missing there.
posted by ChrisR at 9:52 AM on October 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


No dooce? Wtf?
posted by klanawa at 9:52 AM on October 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


Not sure how they can include Twitter but then dismiss Instagram out of hand because it's an "app".
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 9:53 AM on October 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


I demand a recount if GOATSE only made it to 97.
posted by dr_dank at 9:55 AM on October 20, 2018 [8 favorites]


Also Team Artail is missing, the first website I found when I used a search engine for the first time in 1996.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 9:56 AM on October 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


But what about how all those cats mysteriously got onto the scanners? And why?
posted by East14thTaco at 9:56 AM on October 20, 2018 [6 favorites]


It's an OK list. I agree, unironically, that Metafilter deserves a spot. There's a lot of journalists and web designers who have been part of our community and are very influential elsewhere too.

I'd love to see a list like this but for Russia. Or China. Or Indonesia. Or hell, even Germany.
posted by Nelson at 9:58 AM on October 20, 2018 [6 favorites]


Slashdot does feel like a big omission. I'd add also Deja News as significant in the Usenet-to-WWW transition.

It understates Yahoo!'s role. Before AltaVista and Google, the Yahoo directory was the way to find stuff; and if you started a website, submitting it to Yahoo was the thing to do.

Also: Cool Site of the Day. ISTR also that there was another early sites list -- maybe as part of the WWW project out of CERN? -- which was initially a big deal but which tailed off as Yahoo! etc got going.

HotMail is correctly on there, but I think I'd also consider GMail as hugely significant separately to Google -- its effectively-unlimited space was revolutionary. Remember when it was invite-only and getting an invite was a big deal?

Needs a weblog pioneer or two.

And it's kinda US-centric. As someone who lived through the rise of the Internet in the UK, I'd consider also The Register; b3ta; Friends Reunited; maybe lastminute.com as an e-commerce pioneer. And find a way to squeeze Demon in on a technicality; not much as a website, but they were the trailblazing and iconic ISP in the UK.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:01 AM on October 20, 2018 [34 favorites]


Sure, there is a lot, a real lot, missing, but PornHub is only 13? That is a top 5 site for sure. I also like how they slipped in Gawker at 21.
posted by AugustWest at 10:04 AM on October 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


Dreamless?
The Web Standards Project?

Neither of them were flashy or had huge member rolls, but I guarantee you the Internet at large would look quite a bit different without them.
posted by Fish Sauce at 10:08 AM on October 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


You can argue that AOL changed the internet but it wasn't a website, and aol.com was/is just another dumb portal that shouldn't rate that high.
posted by peeedro at 10:09 AM on October 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


ff.net but not archiveofourown.org? Rubbish.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 10:17 AM on October 20, 2018 [9 favorites]


plastic.com?
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 10:19 AM on October 20, 2018 [9 favorites]


No Endless Jingling?
posted by delfin at 10:24 AM on October 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


We had a deal, Kyle: it's kinda US-centric.

Not 'kinda'. It really is. That's OK(-ish), but it would be nice if they'd acknowledge that.
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:29 AM on October 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


Well, I guess that is the internet as "we" know it.
posted by yhbc at 10:32 AM on October 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


The internet as a whole is fortunately not quite as US-centric as that. I guess all of 'us' are not included in this specific 'we'...
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:36 AM on October 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


Great minds, Strange Interlude.
can't lose
posted by fleacircus at 10:38 AM on October 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


But what about Is Abe Vigoda Dead?

For years, it was THE go-to site for this critical information!
posted by darkstar at 10:52 AM on October 20, 2018 [7 favorites]


You guys say metafilter isn't on there, but seriously guys, The Toast is RIGHT THERE. I remember a time, pre-political-hellscape, when metafilter was like 80% links to The Toast.
posted by selfmedicating at 10:57 AM on October 20, 2018 [8 favorites]


Also missing the critical Time Cube. As John Dvorak noted, experts that track crackpot sites agree that Time Cube is the #1 crackpot site of all crackpot sites.
posted by darkstar at 11:01 AM on October 20, 2018 [11 favorites]


You guys say metafilter isn't on there, but seriously guys, The Toast is RIGHT THERE. I remember a time, pre-political-hellscape, when metafilter was like 80% links to The Toast.


And way back in the day, when most of the rest were to BoingBoing. (Sadly, also not on that list.)
posted by darkstar at 11:02 AM on October 20, 2018 [7 favorites]


It's definitely US-centric, but I think there are other questions about who the "we" is. The disclaimers in the entry on Pinterest made it pretty clear that I'm not the "we": "we" are people who have to be reminded not to laugh at things associated with people like me. And I also think that the emphasis on websites, not apps, sort of misses the entire way that young people interact with the internet. I am not sure that "we" includes anyone under 20.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 11:02 AM on October 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


The Toast is that high BUT Daily Candy AND Cool Site of the Day didn't make it?

Shenanigans. Bah.
posted by kimberussell at 11:03 AM on October 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


Ctrl-F cornify

fail.
posted by flabdablet at 11:20 AM on October 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


That they included the Space Jam promotional site as 'shaping the internet as we know it' really pulls the rug out from under this list.
posted by JakeEXTREME at 11:20 AM on October 20, 2018 [12 favorites]


Also odd that Infowars doesn't get a spot.
posted by flabdablet at 11:21 AM on October 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


Hmmm. Feels like a eulogy.

A eulogy that is wrong, except for having the Onion in the top 5.

(Seriously, Edith Zimmerman should be on it. So much of the toast came directly from The Hairpin, using the same formats, the same perspective, even the same core base of readers, and Zimmerman basically pulled that entire sensibility from her brain fully formed. She was robbed.)
posted by schadenfrau at 11:26 AM on October 20, 2018 [16 favorites]


I was sort of expecting to see Pets.com.

I like that they gave top billing to Wikipedia, though.
posted by eirias at 11:27 AM on October 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


Liszt.com (bizarre revenant site apparently automagically spawned from old disk images hosted at IU, links on page are 404)
posted by mwhybark at 11:28 AM on October 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


No Television Without Pity (or pick your own 90s TV recapping site)? Invented a whole kind of journalism, bolstered the rise of reality TV, led to the internet's favorite shows being seen as the must-see watercooler shows.
posted by Squeak Attack at 11:36 AM on October 20, 2018 [23 favorites]


BlueBeetle's quote about how "if your not paying for it, you aren't the customer, you're the product" should have gotten Metafilter on the list by itself.
posted by 4ster at 11:40 AM on October 20, 2018 [16 favorites]


Give me a good reason how they missed TED.com - a major influence on all our thinking.

Overall this is too USA focused and too strongly English language dominated. (hint for Americans, there is the rest of world).

Prior to about 5 years ago BBC.co.uk/news was excellent.

How about Zefrank.com ;) The show, earth sandwich, Dancing, and ;)

How is there no mention of Google.com/reader (RIP - sob) or any other the rest of RSS that was so effective in driving the blogosphere. It's so sad that Facebook and google all but killed it off for not being useful enough at harvesting our data for profit.

The blue could do this list better. :)
posted by Dr Ew at 11:48 AM on October 20, 2018 [7 favorites]


Wordpress? Wayback Machine?
posted by misondre at 11:51 AM on October 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


Teegeeack AV Club Secretary, Nando was indeed around pre-WWW. I seem to recall BBS access. Wikipedia confirms. I also recall people pronouncing it “Nando Net” even though, per Wikipedia, the branding clearly said “Nando.Net”. I think we just weren’t yet used to pronouncing “dot”.

Still haven’t forgiven McClatchy for what they did to that newspaper.
posted by snowmentality at 11:54 AM on October 20, 2018 [6 favorites]


We'll be up to 100 in no time.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 12:00 PM on October 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


Talking Points Memo seems like it should get a mention. Using the Internet to fuel independent journalism and set the model for how countless other sites would do it. Plus one of the initial major blogs. Also Daily Kos for being both a blogging platform and pioneering ways to organize people politically online.

For that matter, if we're honoring pioneers, drag Howard Dean's 2003-2004 site out of mothballs. I don't know if he was the first to solicit political donations online, but he was the first to do it in a big way. And he used his online presence to push himself to the front. Set the model for how candidates handle their online presence, as well as showing Democrats they can make bank rivalling the Republicans with just small dollar donations given over the Internet. His site wasn't particularly exciting, but it made a much bigger difference for the political and cultural landscape than fucking Space Jam.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 12:02 PM on October 20, 2018 [8 favorites]


snowmentality: It was .net wasn't it? Shows how much I remember the 90's, despite being an adult for all of it. I do remember hitting it via telnet access. Maybe it was gopher? Or maybe a link via the text menus of one of the Freenets. Was exciting at the time because all the other news services--AP comes to mind--had just headlines or locked everything behind a login.

Always thought it was a shame they didn't become a dominant news presence online. They had such a huge head start over everyone else.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 12:06 PM on October 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


Kinda cool tgat I’ve worked at Excite who owned Alta Vista and Expedia.

I been doing this “building on the Internet” shit for a long time.

Also Friendster came out in 2000-2001. Or at least the early beta version did.
posted by nikaspark at 12:10 PM on October 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Personally, Fametracker.com would’ve been in my top 10, along with Metafilter, Suck, and Plastic.
posted by droplet at 12:14 PM on October 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


It understates Yahoo!'s role. Before AltaVista and Google, the Yahoo directory was the way to find stuff; and if you started a website, submitting it to Yahoo was the thing to do.

Yahoo.com was literally the first thing that I typed into my lynx browser the first time I logged on and it was my home page and email for many years.
posted by octothorpe at 12:14 PM on October 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


excite did not own Expedia lol. I work at Expedia now and worked at excite back in the day.

My queendom for less clumsy grammar :-)
posted by nikaspark at 12:26 PM on October 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


misondre: Wayback Machine?

Right here:
5. Internet Archive (1996)

The website of websites. The Internet Archive not only saves politicians’ most embarrassing moments for our future reference through its Wayback Machine, it also curates thousands of forgotten gems for us to rediscover.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:31 PM on October 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


No Napster? There would be no Pirate Bay without Napster, which is mentioned, but I'm surprised it didn't get a standalone entry.

Also I don't see Brunching Shuttlecocks, which was obviously an oversight on the part of the author and I expect a correction and update will follow.
posted by ananci at 12:38 PM on October 20, 2018 [11 favorites]


Bianca’s Smut Shack was extremely novel in like 1995.
posted by Rumple at 12:59 PM on October 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


I was surprised by the number of sites with late 2000s dates included on the list. In my mind, "stuff that shaped the internet" is pre-2000? Maybe pre-2005, if we're stretching it? Holy wow I feel old. I guess those things did shape the internet too, I'd just say they "shaped the internet from what it used to be into what it is."

That said, The Toast can stay.
posted by Alterscape at 1:02 PM on October 20, 2018 [13 favorites]


Surely Jennicam as one of the first to live their life on the internet.
posted by drnick at 1:06 PM on October 20, 2018 [17 favorites]


No Napster?

Napster as a service was a genuine paradigm change, but maybe it doesn't count as a "site" by the definition they are using. I guess the thing about Pirate Bay is that even though it made torrent services much more effective, it did it by being a website rather than a service with a standalone client.
posted by howfar at 1:24 PM on October 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


Weird how they didn’t mention the direct link between Something Awfuk forums and ...Welcome To Nightvale and the bulk of werid twitter and for gestating the kind of all of reality is now just a forum war world we live in now.
posted by The Whelk at 1:54 PM on October 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


"The Gizmodo staff is based in North America, and our choices on this list reflect our own little bubble"
posted by inpHilltr8r at 1:57 PM on October 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


Good point! I missed that... I guess I'd given up by then.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:59 PM on October 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Happy that Cruncyroll made the list. Strangely enough, I think it was Kuro5hin that eventually led me to MetaFilter because an office-mate peeked over my shoulder and said "if you like that, you'd probably like MetaFilter".

Now off to deal with Hampster Dance going through my head all day.
posted by zengargoyle at 2:00 PM on October 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


NTK.net - they stole our revolution, now we’re stealing it back. Also Weebl and Bob - try pie, try.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 2:23 PM on October 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


No Napster? There would be no Pirate Bay without Napster

I mean, Napster hardly invented pirating. I was downloading warez and MP3s off of BBSes long before I got my first AOL free trial floppy, and I'm sure others people here have similar stories about Usenet. The Pirate Bay or something like it would have come along whether Napster existed or not.
posted by good in a vacuum at 2:58 PM on October 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


This is genuinely bullshit without Robot Wisdom on the list. (I mean, yes, the antisemitism is bad, but the years the site was influential were mostly the years that he was not digging that hole.)
posted by ardgedee at 3:02 PM on October 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


This is the first top X article I've ever read where X is over 30 and I had already heard of all the things listed.
posted by rollick at 3:15 PM on October 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Mad respect for DeviantArt, still shambling along after 18 years like the undead anime clockwork unicorn it's always been.
posted by oulipian at 3:41 PM on October 20, 2018 [6 favorites]


Some of the sites people are mentioning as obvious oversights are things I've never heard of. I'd object to Brunching Shuttlecocks being on that list, even though I have heard of it, because outside of the Geek Hierarchy (which itself has been broken down now in this brave new world of Nazis recruiting from geek circles) its influence was ephemeral. No-one copied Lore.

Zefrank, though, basically invented the vlog house style: cuts after every sentence, shifting slightly in the frame, doing it anywhere you are, weird audience participation stuff. The Vlogbrothers ran with that specific style, and they run VidCon now so a huge portion of YouTube owes Zefrank their thanks.
posted by Merus at 4:27 PM on October 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


Yes :-(
posted by drlith at 4:33 PM on October 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


Nobody with the capacity for self-awareness says they just “duckduckgo’d” something as shorthand for searching online.

As a long-time DuckDuckGo user, this continually bothers me.

I dig up some useful/interesting/odd info, and a colleague exclaims, "How did you find that?", and in my head I say, "I DuckDuckGo'd it," but out loud I say, "I... just searched for it." Always seems kind of lame.

So jealous of all these googlers with their useful and easily-understandable verb.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 5:30 PM on October 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


No Brunching Shuttlecocks, no sale.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:41 PM on October 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


Hmmmm!? No metafilter, memepool or suck. Adds to list of lists which are not definitive.
posted by phigmov at 6:28 PM on October 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


I guess all of 'us' are not included in this specific 'we'...

At this point, I'm just going to assume that "we" refers only to the writers at gizmodo (and that this obviously internal newsletter escaped to the greater Internet).
posted by MikeKD at 6:45 PM on October 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


I honestly thought I'd see StumbleUpon in there.
posted by XtinaS at 6:49 PM on October 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


No Monster.com?
posted by fluttering hellfire at 6:51 PM on October 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


It's weird that they picked XKCD over, say, Penny Arcade or Megatokyo which I think had a bigger influence on the web overall.
posted by gryftir at 7:09 PM on October 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


The “new sites of the week” hotlist from Netscape is missing, from back in the days when you could, in fact, keep up with the week’s new sites. (And not all of them were web servers, either: there were WAIS and Archie and FTP and telnet and gopher stuff in there.)
posted by wenestvedt at 8:18 PM on October 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


And the “World Wide Web Fights” site was built with 100% user-submitted content twenty damn years ago!
posted by wenestvedt at 8:21 PM on October 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


HOTorNOT.com is probably list worthy since it was the inspiration for Facebook, Youtube, and tinder.
posted by peeedro at 8:32 PM on October 20, 2018 [7 favorites]


It's weird that they picked XKCD over, say, Penny Arcade or Megatokyo which I think had a bigger influence on the web overall.

I'd say User Friendly planted the flag, at least in the area of programmer humor. (True story: I blanked on User Friendly's name, and I googled "webcomic about linux." It was the first result.)
posted by MrBadExample at 9:17 PM on October 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


As always with lists like this its more like "100 websites that shaped the English-speaking parts of the Internet that the authors of the list tend to frequent"

A pretty fun trip down memory lane nevertheless.
posted by Soi-hah at 9:20 PM on October 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


+1 for why no Brunching Shuttlecocks??
posted by mon-ma-tron at 10:22 PM on October 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


darkstar: "But what about Is Abe Vigoda Dead?

For years, it was THE go-to site for this critical information!
"

WAS? It still is!
posted by Chrysostom at 10:46 PM on October 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


Wow, I had not thought about User Friendly in probably 15 years.
posted by tavella at 11:50 PM on October 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


Two things:

1. I think we should just agree that the canonical article should be the top “200” most influential sites, and add the hundred or so from our suggestions to the original list, and

2. Reading through that /Brunching Shuttlecocks megathread that JHarris posted back in 2015 — thank you kirkaracha — I was recalling how much I loved Lore’s work, and finding that the site is defunct has made my heart break along with all of those beautiful links.
posted by darkstar at 4:51 AM on October 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


I never felt so OG than in my fury reading that list. I was like "That journalist has never met THE INTERNET."
posted by rufb at 4:56 AM on October 21, 2018 [3 favorites]


Internet lists are bullshit.
posted by aspersioncast at 5:17 PM on October 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


1. I think we should just agree

the whole point of these lists is disagreeing. see aspersioncast's preceding comment. That by no means asserts that stuff like this isn't fun.

Probably missing from the list is the originator site of the troling listicle. Imma say, uh, Nick Denton, and leave it at that.
posted by mwhybark at 5:27 PM on October 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


Granted he's been inactive for a while now, but I'm surprised that Jim Romenesko and/or Obscure Store didn't make at least the bottom half of the list.

And if this list was less US-oriented, chances are Discogs would have made in there somewhere.
posted by gtrwolf at 6:23 PM on October 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


Also, there was a site or list called Samizdata that I remember that I liked to read In The Before Times.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:43 PM on October 21, 2018


The fact that Blogger is listed so low on a list full of sites that run on, essentially, blogging software shows how imperfectly this list was conceived.
posted by me3dia at 7:43 PM on October 21, 2018 [5 favorites]


I feel like not enough opprobrium is being heaped on the heads of the charlatans who made this list for leaving off suck.com.
Seriously, it invalidates the entire list. I could take time with my thumbs on this stupidly small keyboard to cut and paste excerpts from this detailed, sometimes hilarious article that captures exactly how suck.com *dominated* the early web, or I could just trust you to read it, or I could try (once again) to stop giving a shit about how history has forgotten one of the simplest, greatest web sites ever.

A couple of folks, working semi-secretly at night in the Wired offices, pointing to every new freaky site; snarking mercilessly at every new, ridiculous e-business idea; exposing every corporate misstep, large or small; using snarky links embedded in jokes that you'd only get after you clicked (a practice Wired *actually banned* at the time as "tertiary links"); being one of the few early sites to prominently feature kickass women, particularly the awesome Heather Havrilesky and Ana Marie Cox...for fuck's sake, the list goes on and on and on....

How do you leave off suck.com? It set the tone for underground sites and was *hugely* influential on the early web. I visit Gizmodo every day or three, but I haven't seen a single thing on that site all year that's made me less likely to visit than this one omission.

Oh, and Jim Romenesko, too. I get not wanting to enable media navel-gazing any more than it's already over-enabled, but for almost a decade the primary online source for news about the media business was a guy in his bathrobe reading newspapers at his kitchen table at 5am, and that fucking *mattered.* Almost every major U.S. journalist read him almost every day.
posted by mediareport at 4:51 AM on October 22, 2018 [11 favorites]


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