Yesterweb: Requiem of Silence
There have been many attempts in the past to prop up web revival. One of the more popular groups was
yesterweb, a neocities(?) focused community that rejects the web as it currently exists in favour of a more decentralized, personal one.
I must admit, I am not the greatest fan of yesterweb, especially since they moved away from the purehearted goal of website creation towards manifestos and Marxism. The group has also struggled with many issues that, in my opinion, have completely crippled their “movement”. But before we talk about an illness, it can be useful to identify the symptoms.
Firstly, the Yesterweb webring was shut down. According to
sadgrl, this is because of issues of extreme demand and a lack of moderators to sort through applicants. While I can sympathize with the reasoning, I do not agree with the decision. Given the limitations that the moderation team at yesterweb faced, the reasonable thing to do was halting all new applicants, NOT blowing up their whole project.
I myself run Travelers of Agora Road, a webring for the users of Agora Road’s Macintosh Cafe. I can tell you how much the individual members value their place in it. Several members have voluntarily gone above and beyond to contribute to the project.
Sizeof(cat) made an awesome script that lets you subscribe to all the RSS feeds in the webring with the click of a button. I-330 has reimplemented the client side webring code in PHP. Many members created their websites for the explicit purpose of being able to participate.
My point is, people really care about these kinds of projects. Why take that away from them? Someone MUST have noticed the webring was getting too large, long before they reached 800 members. Why was no initiative taken to pause and consolidate the current group?
There is something terribly ironic about a community focused on the importance of web autonomy, anti commercialization, and repelling the influence of massive corporations using DISCORD.
Don’t get me wrong, Discord is quite useful: It has a very low barrier to entry, takes minimal effort to set up, and allows you to quickly disseminate information. It is however, from my perspective, completely unacceptable that discord was ever a home for yesterweb. Discord is completely antithetical to any values that group claims to have.
In February, yesterweb decided to shut down the discord server in favor of putting more resources into their forum. I agree with most of their criticisms of discord as a medium. I do however find their reason for shutting it down quite dubious?
Once again, it’s moderation. How much effort does it take to moderate a discord server exactly? This is foreshadowing for what's to come.
“The only systemic issue is bad leadership. This is a good reminder that just because you start a Discord server doesn't mean you have what it takes to lead a community. ” - Regal
The forum getting shut down is as bizarre as it gets. Nothing screams “old web” quite like a web forum.
Of course, a principle problem with setting up a web forum is that participation takes effort. Probably significantly more effort than your average yesterweb member is willing to put in.
The webring? Submit and forget.
Discord? Join and send a message when you're taking a shit.
Forum? Oftentimes hours of collective effort get put in to a single thread.
Forums require a higher tier of engagement than other platforms for the reason that the expectations put on the users of said forum are higher. It’s quite simple. If the quality of the threads are low on a forum, people will stop visiting.
Therefore, the community that yesterweb had been fostering up until that point (one of low effort engagements) was not suited to the new format, and as such, the YW forum was doomed before it started.
When a community begins to immolate itself with purity tests, its ultimate demise will soon follow. This characteristic of more left leaning activist(?) groups invokes the eternal image of the ouroboros; The snake that eats its own tail, and suffocates to death as a consequence.
I’ll save the contemporary political analysis of autocannibalistic snakes for another time. What’s important is understanding the dangers this sort of behaviour poses towards a “movement”.
Yesterweb *was* an unnecessarily political group. Many members of the top brass are explicitly Marxists. That is not necessarily an issue, but it becomes one when you push your personal ideology onto an otherwise apolitical movement (web revival).
Despite my distaste for big tech social media, it is important to give the devil his due. It is not any corporation's fault that the web is as it is today. Rather, “fault” lies with the individual who decides to forfeit control over both his content and how it is presented in exchange for convenience. Although it is undeniably expedient, this arrangement is the prevailing reality. These corporations have simply facilitated the ease of laziness; the sloth of their customers is hardly their fault.
Therefore, the connection between marxism and personal website creation is exclusionary, and does web revival no good. Facebook is NOT stopping you from making your own website. Instead of complaining about how awful social media is, make something better. If what you have done is compelling enough, others will follow.
Hope you made your site, bob
If you have not read Yesterweb’s dying words (the dreaded “summary”), I would not recommend it. It is pretentious and verbose. The very existence of this 13,000-word document also calls into question the claim that yesterweb shut down due to a lack of organizers. Writing a 13,000 word anything takes a lot of effort. If the kind of effort put into writing manifestos and postmortems had been put into the project, maybe it would still be around today.
By the way, I am not implying that the misplaced effort known as “the summary” is any good, take this for example:
“The regressive solution identifies the problem as a concentrated effort by a political elite, such as liberals, globalists, socialists, communists, and the like.
The progressive solution identifies the problem as one or many social systems, such as capitalism, imperialism, and the like.”
This excerpt from their summary is truly telling. The essential argument is that blaming an identity group for an issue is regressive, whereas blaming the system itself is progressive.
Excusing the use of the term “regressive” and “progressive” to describe what you do and don’t approve of, the exclusionary nature of yesterweb reveals itself.
I do not even seriously believe the writer of this section even believes the above statement about how blaming individuals is regressive. After all, the inverse, ‘The regressive solution identifies the problem as a concentrated effort by a political elite, such as Capitalists, Imperialists, and the like.’ is a statement I speculate the author would disapprove of. Thereby disproving the original statement.
Selective use of reason is highly characteristic of ideologues. It is then no wonder why the Yesterweb summary is filled with this sort of politically motivated illogy. It’s no wonder yesterweb remained a fart sniffing contest as opposed to a serious, practical effort to improve anything.