[Written on 8/10/2022]

←← Take me back to the writings directory!

Did I startle you? Haha. The styling of the title is not something I would usually go for, but because it's a topic important to me, so I figured I'd highlight it for more people to see.

The root of this issue goes back to a few months ago while I was flipping through the Neocities setting menu, seeing what options were available to me. When you delete your account, Neocities will ask you to type your account name before you can delete your account. When I clicked that delete account tab, I was irked to find that my username had already been filled out in that field. This wasn't anyone's fault — my username being there was a feature from Firefox's auto-fill feature, but the possibility of someone I know abusing my trust and using that to troll me was deeply upsetting. I immediately went to download my entire site, and ever since it has been a regular habit for me to carry out every other week.

What inspired me to actually write this article was a browse through the Neocities subreddit (and thus this piece may mostly pertain to Neocities users, though the idea is universal if you use anything on the Internet). In particular, it was this post, listing off the things Neocities is and isn't for. There is no evidence going against the notion that Neocities is a one man project run by Kyle Drake. A woman named Victoria Wang did work on Neocities at some point, but her Twitter points to her having worked on Neocities formerly. The point of the matter is that Neocities is kind of in a fragile state. It isn't at risk of suddenly disappearing one day, as it seems like this operation has been running since 2013 without major site issues, especially not ones that affect the experience of actually viewing sites, but it is up in the air what will happen to Neocities once Mr. Drake finds himself unable to maintain the project for whatever reason.

There's also the fact that Neocities, in terms of development, is either really slow or just inactive. Activity on Neocities' GitHub and Facebook seem sparse, Twitter is a bit better, but the blog leaves something to be desired. Aside from that, there's also articles pointing to the fact that Neocities has been lacking in features, namely IPFS. If you don't know what IPFS is, imagine it this way: you want a book but the most popular library in the state is far from where you live. Instead of trekking to the library, you ask one of your town locals for the book. Instead of asking for data from a centralized server potentially miles away, your computer can ask computers nearby for the same data. It's almost like torrenting, in a sense, as if the main server of the service you want to access is down, you can ask someone else in the world if they have a copy of the information on that server. This protocol helps prevent things like link rot, where pages become dead ends due to any links present becoming inactive overtime. Neocities has had IPFS running before, but it hasn't been stable since 2018.

The issues with Neocities itself aside, it's also good just to account for things that just happen. Neocities allows you to download your entire site quite easily, just go to the bottom of your dashboard and click the 'Download entire site' button. Once downloaded, it's really easy to start editing your site from a text editor, which if you are a website owner, I also recommend getting. Whenever Neocities goes down for maintenance or something is up with it in general, there's always a bit of buzz about people not being able to update their sites. I think most text editors (VS Code and Atom are the ones I'm aware of) have live server capabilities which offer something similar to CodePen that allow you to preview your site as you modify it (with the added benefit of being available offline). It'll be unlikely that the Neocities code editor will ever be unavailable, but using a text editor is useful for much more than that specific scenario.

The idea of BACKING YOUR SHIT UP!! doesn't apply to just website owners. If you are a creator of anything, videos, music, software, artwork, then the entire idea of this article applies to you too. Before I am a webmaster, I am a self taught digital artist, and I've been drawing since I was very leedle. I don't have every artwork I've made on hand, but ever since I committed to doing digital art I've been more conscious about keeping the things I've made saved. Imagine for a moment that all of that was stored just on my laptop. I can be as careful as I want with that laptop, but all it would take is someone stealing it, it getting broken or wet, for me to get seperated from around 6 years of artwork and characters. I don't like to use fear as persuasion, but again, it's good to have a safety net for when things just happen. In most cases you don't have to go crazy with physical storage options — a 16 gigabyte USB drive may be enough for a few years worth of artworks, musics, or website files, for quite cheap too, but of course scale things to your own needs. If you don't have your own funds to get a physical drive, using a cloud drive is often a free and accessible option given you have a stable internet connection.

It doesn't matter to me what method you choose, but be sure to BACK THAT SHIT UP!