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Online San Diego

From the September 5, 1997 ComputorEdge (Issue 1536)

By Jim Trageser


Normally I use this space to visit local, San Diego-based Web sites and BBSs. But I found a really neat company that offers free Web sites -- something I think a lot of San Diegans could use.

Now, the folks at Geocities aren't saintly or anything. They're a for-profit venture, trying to make a living as best they can. But their site generates its income off of advertising, and to do that successfully you need lots of visitors. Geocities' draw for visitors is the tens of thousands – maybe more by now – of individual Web sites, grouped by interest.

And so you have Heartland, which is composed of Web sites dedicated to families. And Bourbon Street, for jazz and all things New Orleans. There are dozens of others similarly grouped around a large theme, from rock music to computers to gay lifestyles.

All you need for a free Geocities Web page is an existing e-mail account (so they can send you your password info) – and access to a Web browser. Which means even folks without a full Internet account can have their own Web page: You could have Internet e-mail at work or through a local BBS and then use free public-access Internet accounts – such as at the public library or local cyber cafe – to update and maintain your Geocities page.

They do have a few restrictions: The free Web pages can't be used for commercial purposes (although they also have low-cost business pages available), you can't post or link to pornographic or racist materials, you can't use your free site as a pass-through to another server – and you are required to have a plug for Geocities on your page.

But for most folks' purposes, those are reasonable restrictions for a free page. You can have up to 2 megs of files in your account (more than enough for most people), and can add more if you either pay or let Geocities put additional advertising on your page.

While I didn't try it out yet, Geocities offers an online Web editor you can use to build your pages with little or no knowledge of html> or ftp. But they also offer the traditional ftp (file transfer protocol, a method of moving files over the Internet) for folks who prefer designing their pages on a different program and posting them from there.

Geocities also offers free e-mail accounts, so if one member of your family has a full Internet account with Netscape, you can use the Netscape mail reader to access other Geocities e-mail accounts. And depending on how they have their systems set up, you might even be able to use free Internet services at the public library or local cafe to maintain your Geocities e-mail account.

You can visit the Geocities site at for more info.