We've been working to bring back free, ad-free web hosting. Now we need your help to create a fun and accessible HTML/CSS course!
A lot of us got started in tech by making our first website on Geocities. Sadly, Geocities was shut down six years ago and it left a big void. The remaining web hosts tend to be tailored for business use. What about people who want to learn, be creative, and have their own personal space on the web?
That’s why we built Neocities. We’ve been hard at work for two years to provide free web space for everyone, with no ads, a modern HTML editing platform, and a welcoming design, plus social features that make Neocities a community and not just a web host. We’re already hosting over 47,000 sites. In our commitment to transparency in our work, our entire website is open source, and anyone is welcome to inspect our public workflow, fix bugs, or send feature enhancements.
Now we want to take it to the next level. We’ve been hearing from educators all over the world who are using Neocities to teach students HTML, and we're really excited about what they're doing because tech literacy is an increasingly important and empowering skill. We want to expand on that idea by building a free educational platform for HTML and CSS, giving everyone in the world the opportunity to learn to code for the first time.
That's our main goal. But if this campaign goes well, we have some other ambitious projects that we want to take on too. We want to make our sites load faster, and have more free space. And we want to create a video documentary on the history of Geocities and the free website movement. With your support, we can make this all happen.
We want to build an interactive, illustrated HTML and CSS course that will interact seamlessly with Neocities, our free web hosting service and community.
Our course will have a comic book narrative, interactive lessons, and a preview of one's work that will be automatically accessible as a website on Neocities. Social features and badges will help keep new learners motivated. Unlike the professional-level courses currently available, our focus will be on fun, creativity, and personalization — you won't just be building some example site, you'll be crafting your own personal spot on the web!
Like the rest of Neocities, our educational platform will be free and open source, with no ads.
In addition to making Neocities an excellent learning platform, we're looking to improve the Neocities serving infrastructure. What we have now has proven to be reliable and cost-sustainable. But we want to make it better by integrating the latest tech to provide a world-class geographic CDN (Content Delivery Network) for all sites so that they can load faster, provide advanced security features like SSL support, and provide even more hosting space than we do today.
There have been some major recent advances in data storage tech (IPFS and SeaweedFS), and we want to use this tech to build Neocities into a state-of-the-art web host. But in order to do so, we need your help to put down an initial investment in server hardware so that we can run them. Doing so will not only make sites load faster, but will increase the amount of space we can provide.
Since we launched, we've met a lot of people who worked on Geocities before it shut down. They're an amazing, incredibly talented bunch with really interesting backgrounds. We've been wanting to make a documentary that tells their stories, but we've lacked the budget necessary to give it the attention and polish it would deserve.
In order to do this, we'll need funds to travel to where the key people in website creation live and interview them. We already have most of the equipment needed (including the camera we used to film the Kickstarter video)—the main missing piece is a professional-level microphone.
Who's behind Neocities?
There are only two people working on Neocities right now: Victoria Wang and Kyle Drake. By structuring Neocities carefully, we've made it so that we can run it on a tight budget, which has allowed us to operate without having to worry about investment. This is a good thing, because it has given us the power to say no to things like mandatory advertising on sites, and ensure our users' privacy. But at the same time, it means that it's harder for us to get funding to work on Neocities. Neocities receives a small amount of money from supporters, but it's not enough for us to work on the site full-time.
We're hoping that not only will this campaign give us enough income this year to build the new education platform and increase our backend capabilities, but that it will also allow us to work on the site full-time, so we can give it the attention it deserves.
$10,000 - More chapters of course: CSS
Our beginner course will be for learning HTML with some basic CSS, but if we hit this stretch goal, we'll be able to extend the course to cover much more CSS and all the creative things that can be done with it. CSS allows users to change every aspect of a page's layout and design and allows them to create a website that is truly their own.
$30,000 - Neocities Infrastructure Upgrade
We want to make a faster and much more reliable version of Neocities that will stay online even if some of our servers go down. The biggest expense is the extra servers needed to add redundancy. If we hit this goal, we'll be able to purchase these servers and work to improve Neocities' infrastructure, improving the uptime and loading speed of both the main Neocities site (including the HTML course) and all member sites.
$40,000 - Documentary on the History of Geocities and Free Web Sites
We want to make a documentary on the history of the creative web — one that covers all the key people that helped to make it happen, and tells their stories. If we hit this goal, it will give us a budget necessary to film this documentary.
$50,000 - Neocities Goes Gigabyte
One gigabyte is a big milestone for a lot of technologies. We remember when Google Mail launched offering this, and it was a major improvement to most of the mail hosting available at the time.
Now, we want to do the same for Neocities, and set that same milestone.
If we hit this goal, we have the investment needed to upgrade our backend infrastructure to support a lot more free web space. If we hit this milestone, we will be able to give 1 gigabyte of free hosting, a 10x increase from what we can provide now!
Risks and challenges
All software projects come with unforeseen setbacks, but we're committed to overcoming them. We've already been working on Neocities for two years, bootstrapping the project and completing many difficult tasks. Also, we've each been doing web development or design on various projects for over a decade.
Building an effective educational site will be a challenge. However, we've been in contact with educators who are using Neocities to teach website building to students, and we'll be working with them closely as we develop the course. We'll be testing the course with people of all ages to ensure we're on the right track.
As for Neocities itself, we've built the site to be robust and cost-effective to run, but it's a major undertaking and problems do arise from time to time. We might have to temporarily halt progress on building the course if a problem arises that we need to prioritize in order to keep the site running smoothly.
The biggest risk to Neocities is lack of funding. We've been working on a tiny budget, and it restricts the amount of time we can spend full-time on Neocities. We want to work on Neocities full-time and keep it running for many years — your support will allow us to make this happen!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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