Abermud Announcements #9

August 1999


After an all-weekend compos-a-thon, I seem to have left out someone on the news around the muds.

Ebb of Reality has seen a number of minor changes and additions, but from the major ones they include: Zombie code where slain mobiles come back to life at half strength. Animated mobiles will follow you around and will help you fight other mobiles. There is a limit to the number of these mobiles you can have, but the more powerful you are, the more animated mobiles you can have. You will get score points for any damage your animated mobiles do, and any kills they make will be credited to you as well. If the kill is critical to the completion of a quest, you will get credit for the quest. If you get seperated from your animated mobiles, you may summon them back to yourself at no cost. Also, Ebb has created a money system where you can buy armor, weapons, spells, keys or information. The stores are in an extension to the Village. From the Village Green, go east towards the sea, and then head north from the second "Village Road". You will soon be on Main Street, and along that street you will find many shoppes which you will find useful in your adventures. At the bank, you can deposit and withdraw money, since you can only carry 250 coins with you at any one time. There is another location in the realm where you can do this, but you will have to find that for yourself! Where do you get all this money, you ask? Most of the time, you can get it by killing mobiles. Bigger mobiles usually carry more money on them, but just about anyone will have something you can collect when you kill them. Once you accumulate 250, head to the bank and make a deposit! You can also sell armor and weapons that you find in the realm for a quick little bit of cash. Mortals no longer "die" in deathrooms below level seven, a defrob/refrob system, and the water zone with the BuildArk quest added.

Also, Amanda Carlston, a.k.a. Daria has written up an interesting piece in mudworld's other monthly e-zine Imaginary Realities on Distance Tells, inspired from discussion in rec.games.mud.misc.

I.T. Labor Market Dead for Everyone but the Seniors?

A major shake up has come to pass as I was forced to join the most common profession on earth that every man, woman, and child will be in multiple times during their careers--the job hunter. Why was I cut out? Not enough progress, needed a "faster" guy, little things that arenít a big deal but they make it a bigger deal, some silly errors, and perhaps personality played a role. I could have left anyway after two years since it would have been enough to get over most employers minimum on-the-job experience requirements since I.T. people on average are making between 30k-50k a year, and I was making just 23K. Itís already the month of August since I was sent off looking in mid-February near the time I sent out the last issue. Considering the time it was taking to job hunt with all the web sites out there, SelectJobs, Dice, Monster Board, Computer Work, Tjobs, Americaís Job Bank, and countless others (main gripe about those, so much fluff in the way of the real stuff cuts the number of apps I actually send out in a week cause Iím wasting so much time trying to sort through it all), Iíve put a lot of personal projects aside, including this newsletter, and stuck to just maintenance of TCAL, Promised Land, and the Betterbox detailed mudlist and webring I was doing for them. Once in a while I would start doing something on this thing, and then stop due to "gasp, Iíve got no energy to mess with it for several hours straight" which requires a lot of reading of posts and news from MUDs plus whatever else I wanted to stick in it. This is not helped by the usual whiney spew from one individual whoís bitter from a number of things Iíve put in here and schemes Iíve interfered in and attempted to thwart in cyberspace. And for those who arenít readers of rec.games.mud.misc, the wrangling debate dominating late last May has been the thread "Sick-minded Mud Owner" over a former archwizard of PL having his own mud deleted by that one guy that doesnít know the horse heís beating has long since expired.

Does the "I.T. Labor Shortage" REALLY exist? From what I've seen, in the ENTRY level and whatever they call the next level (the lower-tier perhaps?) there is a massive lack of openings for people like me and college graduates. When I reentered the job market, I had believed from the press accounts in weekly magazines such as Computerworld and Info World that with the 1Ĺ years I can legally claim as "on-the-job" programming experience some employer would snap me up right away. But as usual with employers, every time I've reentered the job market, the expectations and qualifications have shot up greatly. Today they are looking for 2-6 years experience in SPECIFIC things (freelance stuff usually isnít counted). Sadly, many still donít make the connection that if you used Word Perfect that you would be able to work Microsoft Word, in my case I used Informix and I should be able to do other vendorís databases like Oracle. Secondly, many employers arenít willing to give you the time to learn the one or two things you are missing or weak in from the list of things that they are looking for and that is what needs to change. Employers are too stingy about who they hire, if they can't find someone that has IT ALL, they'd rather not hire anyone. It is almost as if they are laying in wait for to grab some of the potentially large number of I.T. people that could be laid off after Y2K and the Euro currency problems pass. What employers OUGHT to do is submit a list of all the things they saw that made them pick someone else--yes Iíve heard that they would be afraid to do that in case they might get sued, but a job seeker really doesnít have the money to pay a lawyer and the court system isnít going to listen to the case unless racial discrimination came into play somehow. I mean, it would be interpreted as you are just being a sore loser, and further it would have a negative effect on future prospects. Now, how have I been doing at these interviews? From my perspective, I feel Iíve done very well, with the only sore spot being body language, nothing serious, just using my hands. What do the employers think? I havenít a clue, I donít read minds or faces and have in the past come out of interviews thinking I have an excellent chance and come to the realization later that it was ALL just wishful thinking.

Itís ending up at the six month mark since I began searching, youíd think something would come along that I would be able to latch onto given the high versatility with programming and hardware support expertise. But no...I think by now Iíve had more interviews with head-hunting firms than employers now, simply for the influx of recruiters calling me the past couple of weeks. Some recruiters are much better than others, but many just interview you once and you never heard from them again--too many people, very few openings, and picky employers. As for employers, I think a lot of them are either NOT serious about getting help or are expecting too much, and any who think because itís taken over six months to land work that I must be lazy or else half-arsing the job hunt I say, "You think Iím being lazy? Why donít you hire me right now so I can prove you dead wrong like everyone else." Bleh, Iíd start a computer service shop if I had the know-how, patience, tax-lawyers, a lot of extra parts, and who knows what else. Well, that's it...I'm going to head back into the classroom and sit out the job market for four months and HOPE the new things I learn from them will produce RESULTS. Immortalized on my mud is a doomed soul known as "The Applicant", who carries around with him one blank application from every single employer on the planet, slowly moving from place to place and filling the same information time after time after time, and he looks like a mess too...years and years of it has taken its toll upon him. If you come over...please put him out of his misery.

So what the heck did the last three paragraphs have to do with the readers? Who would care about the situation I'm in? I'd assume a large segment are in the computer field or studying for a technical career. MUD administrators in the majority are programmers, it may not be their primary career field, but if you're going to manage a MUD, you have to know how to code. For those who are in the computer field or studying for one, all this testimony I've presented is what you may run up against when you enter the job market. Someone that I know for instance, an archwizard for a particular MUD, was studying computer science in college and decided well if he's having so much trouble finding work in the field, maybe I should study something else. And thus, he became a music major. He could not be talked out of it, with the reasoning that just because I'm having trouble getting work that it doesn't mean he will have trouble. But he's staying with his decision.

Now last time around I was blasted for talking politics...well, all I got to say now is weíre going to be kicking ourselves for not throwing Clinton out of office when we had the chance if this war in Kosovo engulfs more than whatís Slovoís trying to suck up for his own personal purposes. We used all our missiles while not replacing any of them...if China decides to attack Taiwan tomorrow, we likely will just sit back and watch...Clinton sold that missile technology to them a few years ago while ignoring the spy uploading all the blueprints and legacy codes to the nukes, now China is approaching the military threat the U.S.S.R. was back in the Ď80s. If you want to read a full accounting of what Clinton has done with foreign policy, I suggest picking up a copy of Bill Gurtzís new book "Betrayal: How the Clinton Administration Undermined American Security" which shot up to #1 on Amazon.comís top-seller list less than a week after it came out. Thank you Slick Willie, the legacy youíre leaving us is a "Cold War II".

Family's Negative Reaction to You Mudding...part 3.

Now for a THIRD look at this subject in light of the recent school shootings. It seems the pundits and the press is trying to blame everyone BUT the two trench coated killersóand that includes video games. Obviously this is ongoing problem with new aspects of this controversy showing up month after month. A complication of the two previous pieces and the current one was recently published at The Mud Journal. My piece generated good reviews, so I may send them more articles later, depending on what rubs me raw when I do. It seems a new yearly tradition at school has replaced "Senior Skip Day". Now it's "Shoot Your Classmates Day" where angry, hate-filled kids come to school with a gun and shoot people at random. Yes, that assessment is pretty cynical, but not far off. With the shootings in Littleton fresh in mind, it seems only a matter of time before one of these is blamed on people playing a MUD. In the case of Littleton, the shooting was partially blamed on these two kids playing the now five-year old game Doom. Despite the fact that there are more graphics intensive games like Quake, Unreal, Shadow Warrior, Duke Nukem 3d, Mortal Kombat, and many others Doom received the most attention.

Microsoft Office 2000--Buh?

This newsletter was composed with Microsoft Word 2000 Beta...at first. But when I needed to do work on this thing without it, all the [span] tags and litany of style sheet tags got to be too much of an irritation to read around. If you read any webpage that is composed with this product, you will find that Microsoft has moved their belief that bloated code means better code onto people who write web documents. As a result, the content may not be any longer, but the extra HTML JUNK they shove on you doubles or triples the size of the entire file, including making a new directory containing all the separate files you use and a Excel spreadsheet! So, anyone using a 28.8K or 33.6K modem will have to wait TWICE as long for documents to download, and add to the level of frustration with net lag. All these new tags designed to make a document look a certain way most definitely are not necessaryóand not surprising this did NOT deliver WYSIWYG, and professional HTML users most likely will continue writing HTML documents with a plain old text editor and avoid MS Office 2000. I donít care if this is what HTML 4.0 has to offer, FILE SIZE matters the MOST. I don't need all these erroneous tags to produce a webpage that looks the way I want it to. MS Office 97 didnít tack on THIS much garbage! Thumbs down to this new product, and my advice, use an older version MS Office 97 which does about everything a typical user needs or use a competitorís product. At least MS Frontpage 2000 allowed me to put the minimal needed tags.

Move For Creating the rec.games.mud.aber Newsgroup

Shortly after AA#8 went out, Sorisor of Delusion MUD wrote up a charter on creating a newsgroup specifically for Abermuds and posted it in news.groups. Last year, I had thoughts of writing up one myself, but after reading the documentation on newsgroup creation decided maybe not. For a new newsgroup to be created, the votes in favor must be two-thirds and 100 or more votes in favor greater than the nays. The course of the discussion period which was customarily set at 21 days broke into the two sides, one being that creating the newsgroup would bring more attention to Abermuds and make it easier for players to communicate with each other than jumping on all 40-50 MUDs to post notes, versus creating a newsgroup wonít make them come when theyíve not been using Usenet hardly at all to justify the expected traffic level. We were encouraged to start using rec.games.mud.misc and have the [Aber] in the subject heading for interested parties to find Aber-related posts. So far, there have been several flame wars between the usual suspects. Frankly, I'm glad the debates have raged in this particular newsgroup instead of on one or more particular MUDs, because the participation is broader with people from several other MUD-types giving their comments, and cheap shots are usually met with scorn. Unfortunately during one such debate, controversy reared its ugly head again, which Iíll talk about later.

Long Lost Aber Four Source Found

The owners of MudZone, a newer MUD hosting service based in the UK tracked down an archive of Abermud 4.00 which was the precursor to the Dirt 3 code. Things with the source, the zone files are piled into what the rooms, mobiles and objects files would be when one compiles all the zones in any of the Dirt class codebases. If Dirt 3 didnít come along Abermud would probably be dead or else everyone would be running Aber Vs.

C-Dirt is back in development!

After a couple of years and some controversy, the burdens of real life has lifted off the author of Crossroads MUD where he can work on his public codebase, C-Dirt. Early this year it was discovered that a couple of zones written by Shi & Janozsh were being distributed without permission which resulted in myself starting a listing of unauthorized stuff and posting signs at a computer fest advertising Asylum MUD. Also, a few individuals were exploiting some pretty lethal crash bugs. Prometheus, then began work recently on a new release of C-Dirt, removing the unauthorized items, and fixing several reported crash bugs and other annoyances. Hoping to put out one of the best publicly available codes, a number of new features have been added. Currently the official recent release is version 2.42, while there is also an beta release of version 3.0.

I've done some digging through the 2.42 code and so far found the following. Blind, Cripple, Deaf, and Mute have been moved into the EFlags and some can have an immunity to these disablers. If you don't have the cure spell, these effects do wear off, unless these effects are due to injury (this feature here will require another ZGEN update shortly). Wizards can use the BABEL and MAKEPIG spells on players as a joke. DNS-lookup have been totally rewritten. The vote feature has been redone a bit. A much needed AFlags command has been created. A major improvement to corpse looting has been coded. A considerable amount of the specials have been moved into header files (and more of them have been created) and have been #ifdef'ed so coders can safely remove zones and still have a functioning mud. Several of the basic commands have also been rewrote a bit with the few common checks between all of them have a call to a cantake() function. Finally, the config utility to set up the parameters of your mud has been rewritten with many new features and greater customization.

Abermud Webring

Many months ago, Cynthia Woodard who was the ringmaster of the Abermud Webring decided to disband it due to what she perceived as a lack of interest, even though there were about 15 sites in the ring, which isn't too half bad. More recently I had gotten e-mail from Webring itself telling me that I'm in the queue for the Abermud Webring and that the ringmaster was listed under "Adopt-A-Ring". After a bit of checking around I had decided to make a move to getting control of the ring after having learned the process of setting one up for Betterbox. It took several weeks to get someone's attention (ultimately it came from posting a note to its Usenet discussion groups) but finally got the ring near the beginning of July. Went to work fairly quickly on the ring's homepage and you can see it at http://members.xoom.com/smlucas/abermudring/. Membership is currently at 15 again, with a number of new sites entering the ring.

New Zone Editors for Abermud

A pair of new zone editors have cropped up in the past couple of months. First up, Triple-A. It has been described something the Aber community as needed for a LONG time has been an Area Editor for the Windows environment. One of the biggest problems in starting a new mud or gaining interest in an old one, has been that the "standard" Aber / Dirt areas just plain get old and boring. Wouldn't it be nice to have a way to (quickly & easily) create new and exciting areas for your mud? Thumper has been on the road to developing just the tool. It features:

     Written in Visual Basic 6.0 to provide a robust environment 
     Uses a Microsoft Access backend database to store area information 
     Dynamic Privilege/Mobile/Social Flag selection from listboxes 
     Clean interface with easy to understand controls 
     "Zone Proofing" to help avoid errors at run-time 
     Zone generation to text file or email address (MAPI Compliant) 
     Currently outputs Dirt 3.0 area format, others in the works. 

Excalibur of Northern Lights and multiple other MUDs has also composed a zone writer simply called "Zone Writer". This work in progress has reached version 3.20B. After a few minutes of use, I could tell that this program was well done. It can read a .zone file from multiple brands of Aber using a .flag file defining all flags that are used and finds a way to deal with zones that don't might not have a particular flag. Thankfully you won't have to deal with chance misspelling field names when composing zones, and you can re-output files for multiple MUDs without having to do the converts yourself.

It should also go without saying that Rhadmanthus has given a minor update to his ZED zone writer (after finding his work on a hidden FTP site) which includes versions for UNIX and MS-DOS.

Other sites of interest:

Abermud Central has undergone a total redesign, and features a number of new code chunks anyone can use on their MUDs.

Abermud Depot is another source for Aber-related materials, and features a submittal form for posting news items on a daily basis.

Besides this newsletter, there are other Abermuds that compose issues on a semi-regular basis.  They include:  DragonFriend, Bit of Hysteria, and FreeWheeling.


News Roundup from all the MUDs

This will be a thick section, a lot has changed over the past six months where I was barely keeping up with maintenance of the website and the mud I help administrate.

Asylum--A lot of things have changed on Asylum in the past six months, so here is the cliff notes version...the web site has been redone with all new graphics. These quests has received a facelift from the original versions: Darksword and Ildharas, no surprise both have been made more difficult. New quests: Masquerade by Suede and Herbert. New features: The qcom (or questcom) command can be used by all levels of players. The command takes two arguments: qcom and allows you to talk only to other players who have the relevant quest. Noqcom will toggle the channel off. A new storage facility has been added to the Osterland content. You can now store 5 items in EACH store area with an allowable 10 maximum held clones. Dodgy Dave awaits your business! For now he sounds just like Honest John but will be enhanced shortly to have his own individual style. Virtual cloning has now been enhanced to work with the donations command. Donated items now become clones while the original is destroyed - allowing a more rapid regeneration. Quest items can now be donated as well. Movement messages have been enhanced to give more information and have been coded into the Mobile class system so that classed mobiles (such as birds, reptiles, etc.) now have a more meaningful message. Water flagged locations have also been upgraded to be more meaningful. No more players striding off across the sea! Lastly, Asylum has been developing their own custom telnet client for use with the mud. You can see a screenshot right here. No word on when it will be released, since the author keeps making changes to it--do what I do, release it now and post new versions every couple of weeks. ;)

Promised Land--I have stuck things in when I had time and/or got sick of job hunting for the day. For new additions, zones added included a ZGEN convert called the Yllythad Sea zone by Kaaz who is the owner of Dibvora MUD (Diku). The sea is huge at 300 rooms and will eventually lead to other lands once suitable areas are acquired. The rarely implemented SleepingBeauty and Fairybook quests by Trent were included, after some investigating on what events were supposed to happen where...something that got lost in translation between the old Aber IV and Dirt. These are also very large zones and take considerable time to clear much less accomplish the goals. From an idea acquired from the winning entry in the Mud Journal's contest of best quest without special code, a Scrabble game was created, based on the poker game a bit, except instead of cards you have lettered tiles. Finally a pair of mobile flags, Aquatic and Flyer. Aquatic is for sea creatures who stay in the water, while Flyers can move over land, over the surface of the water, and in the future the sky.

Northern Lights recently celebrated its 7th anniversary, and they have added some completely new zones. The first, written by Andrei, is called "Dream" and the quest goes by the name "MadWizard". Look out for the crazy old wizard unless you want to become the subject of one of his experiments. In the EIRAHEART quest your goal is to get hold of the magical gem "Eiraheart". This quest was written by Og. Also, Og did a freshening up of the old "Pirate" zone. It now has a lot more examinable objects and some other stuff.

Phoenix remains active in game play enhancements and world expansion. A summary of originals: Current zones expanded or changed: Vineyard by Mathius, and the Alluvea. New zones/quests: Graffiti by Teryn, Star by Zaphod, St. Christophe by Armitage, and Sommerlund by Aso. New skills: Jab for warriors and thieves, whirlpool for druids, donate and trustee for familiars, sixthsense for thieves, secondstrike for warriors, and the litany and enchant spells. New features: players level 6 and under will be able to keep customized equipment after logging off and returning days later, dragons are now able to damage or destroy your armor, the shops and bars in Mercea are open, autosplit for groups, Puff can tell you where you are in the game, and ranged weapons like bows and arrows. And finally some unfortunate news to report, Lexmorgan of Marky Comics and author of the series Land of Phoenix has decided to cancel the remaining two parts of the four part comic following a dispute and cutting ties with the MUD.

Delusion currently remains the LARGEST Abermud in existence as you can see from the tale of the tape below. New features: A warning is given to the player if they enter a zone that is rated too difficult for their level, the TRACE command has been totally redone, three new LFlags WeaponShop, ArmorShop and FoodShop makes any room a shop, link buffers for those who lose link can't miss what went on while they were reconnecting, ip headers are built on the mud itself to cut lag times, a child daemon and bi-directional pipes for resolving hostnames added to improve performance. Five quests that have been seen on other MUDs are added to this one, Universe, Brooch, Hobbit, Sherwood and Bhelliom.

Dark Cloud II--A pair of new quests....KillBeast quest: There is some new geography west of the orc hold which contains a quest to discover an ancient evil and the means to defeat him forever. Features some self-respawning mobiles. Goblins: More new geography near orc hold. A village of goblins possesses an artifact that prevents then from dying forever. Find it and destroy it. Features self-respawning mobiles. (This quest has also been added to Everest MUD.) Respawning mobiles: a number of mobiles now "heal" once dead and reenter the game once healed. An entry message is displayed at their respawn point to preserve the illusion of the mobile arriving at the scene as opposed to just POOF appearing. Respawning objects: certain objects (food, low power weapons and armor) now return to their starting point (at value of 0) when pitted or eaten.

Dragonmud II--Dragonmud has opened three new quests, Simpleton, Spielburg, and Efnan. Also, the tunnel zone added forming a cross-mud passageway. The DragonMUD newsletter known as Dragonfriends has been re-started under a new editor. Check out the bboards in the Warm Haven and Wizards chat room for details of how to submit articles, and receive the finished product.

Hysteria--They have been offering email addresses for $25 or more under some domain name that's been undetermined, originally it was under @hysteria.mudservices.com but they have since moved from that site. New spells/skills: detectsneak for thieves, acidstorm for legends, headbutt for warriors. New unnamed zones were donated by Rinoa. New classes of character were added, Soothsayer resembling the Mages with the spells senselife. Something that is controversial, all immortals were reduced to mortals again and regular immortal levels have been declared powers. So now the goal is reaching level Legend 101 with 15 quests and can play up to level 125 where they can use the old wiz channel. If someone wishes to run to a true wizard, they have to run eight different characters to level 125, three of which must sweep all the quests, all eight cannot be killed by another player more than once, and all eight must playerkill five other players. (Who's got time to run eight guys to wiz? And further start over if someone keeps killing you when you hit level 124? And who will be willing to act as five sacrifices?) Also, because the mud changed its policy regarding names to strict role-play type names, a large number of players had to come up with new names. Question is, what makes a role-play name a role-play name? It alas, is in the eye of the beholder--too many people seem to not like my role, to that I say *pffffth*.

Inferno--Some minor game play changes....nine spells are scheduled to be added to the game, where you do have to be of a certain level to cast, and they are available when you finish a certain quest or buy them in the shop. The City zone was also added recently of which a number of new quests are connected to it.

Nemesis is a fairly new mud, but surprise surprise they have a number of new quests written by Silz. Empire--A Dark Force is invading Nemesis, you are the only Jedi available to combat it. Find your trusty weapon and slay Darth Vader and the evil Emperor. Ghost--It is rumored that a ghost train runs on a deserted track around here. A train which will take you to a deserted ship. Ark--Long ago, so it is said, Noah created an Ark, but some of the animals escaped, can you find the missing pairs and return them to Noah to complete the quest before Nemesis floods? Bomb--It is rumored that an aircraft has been hijacked, and a bomb left on board. Find a way to diffuse the bomb to complete the quest. Bomb--Find the way to rejuvenate a land devastated by mankind. Once complete, find your way through the forest which sprouts all around covering the bare landscape. Wedding--Somewhere there is an unhappy bride, find your way to her to find out why, and help her solve her problems. City--Find your way to a city devastated by war, once there get yourself arrested , and seek help to be released on parole. You will of course need a way to post bail. Finally, a game play feature, mortals should note that Nemesis has introduced a system whereby you may increase your chances of hitting a mobile or casting a spell by finding and carrying certain items. Your chances are reflected by the '+ to hit' and '+ to cast' entries in your score statistics.

Sleepless Nights--Extensions to several guilds designed and coded by either Gordama, Rincewind, and Jared. Some soft putty to extend the facilities of the meta room. Now you can mould your own objects. The following quests were introduced by Gordama (these are the goals, the quests don't have a one-word name): Return the Bible. Find the Sewers. Retrieve the Shell Necklace. Recite the Necronomicon. Steal the Pirate Treasure. Sneak into the Elven Kingdom (very hard, not for the non-puzzle oriented runner).

TerraFirmA--summing up some of their changes: Thieves beware! Patrolling mobiles can now tell if you are carrying anything stolen, and will arrest you and confiscate the stolen property. However, there is rumored to be a dodgy shop within Hamelin where you can fence your stolen wares. Read INFO STOLEN and INFO FENCE on the game for more information. Brought to you by Nirvana (coding) and Firefly (concept). The core of the TerraScripting system is now in place and the first TerraScripted quests and puzzles are showing up. The workings of the system will mostly appear "behind the scenes" to players, but TerraScript will allow us to bring new quests and features into the game much faster, and enables even more people to contribute to the game. Brought to you by Cyn and several TerraScripters. Ever wanted to be Indiana Jones or Lara Croft? Well this is your chance in our new Tomb quest. Can you retrieve an artifact from an ancient tomb for the local museum to exhibit?

Tale of the Tape...

Haven't done this in a while, so I thought it'd be interesting to see how the more active MUDs are growing.

Mud Name












Atrocity 4969 109 45 2544 1609

Black Star












Illusionary Realms II












Mystique 4578 100 58 1997 1258

Northern Lights












Promised Land 4428 100 44 2589 1591







* Quests are split up into regular quests and altquests, this is the sum of the two.
** Sorisor did not want to part with these statistics, remarkably regular wizards aren't allowed to see these stats with the ACCOUNT command, thus these are estimated totals except the quest count. Funny, I thought he would enjoy the bragging rights. 

Yahoo-Geocities -- Match Made in Hades?

Earlier this year, the original host of TCAL, Geocities of which I shall forever despise for their ridiculous conduct toward their members and myself because of their webpage defacing cattle brand pasted on top of everyone's content, merged with Yahoo. After the merger took effect and the name of the company because Yahoo-Geocities, the cattle brand went away! And also surprising, the space I held at my old address is accessible again, but all that was there vanished. Some enlightening comments from Michael Stevens, webmaster for the former AlterIcon site:

"A lot of us suspected the real reason behind the watermark wasn't to drive traffic or help out homesteaders, but to create brand awareness for a company preparing an Initial Public Offering. And if that were the case, it certainly worked, as Geocities stock shot up to incredible heights. CLs who had at one time a few hundred dollars worth of stock now have over a thousand. If I had wisely invested in Geo, a stock that I predicted would drop like lead, I would be writing to you from the beaches of the Caribbean, not from the coffee capitol of the world.

"But of course Geo told us, and more specifically it's 'Community Leaders' that this was a 'cool' tool for homesteaders, and gosh, homesteaders all loved it. If you were to believe Geo, homesteaders thought the watermark was the greatest thing ever seen on the World Wide Web, despite the fact that at the time most homesteaders weren't even using DHTML capable browsers.

"In fact, the people that were using DHTML capable browsers were the ones Geo cared about. They were the investors Geo wanted to attract with it's funky little watermark. And the more press we gave them, the better off they were! Even though industry analysts were telling people that GCTY was a piece of junk that held no real value, people were buying it up like crazy.

"Now, Yahoo merges with (read: takes over) Geocities and what immediately happens? The watermark disappears. Completely. Sure, we have an image that say "Yahoo! Geocities" but it doesn't really function like the watermark. There's no dynamic properties. It doesn't take you anywhere but the Geo main page. What happened to the targeted traffic the watermark was supposed to present?

"It was all a sham. It was all a lie. There was no real added value to homesteaders. When GCTY died, when the stock disappeared from NASDAQ as it was acquired by Yahoo!, the watermark died too. Now that Geocities doesn't have to worry about the investor, it can suddenly concentrate on the customer. And sure enough, people are getting actual responses from Geo. Pages sent to Alert are disappearing. It's everything we've been crying for over the last year. Maybe we just needed to buy stock."

My observations: It took a long while for the Geo stock to go up, but it did rocket once it was announced Yahoo was wanting to buy Geocities. The Yahoo stock however, has not been doing well as of late. Off its peak at $225 in April, it has sunk to about $125 during the first week of August. Tom Evans, the CEO of Geocities and blamed for the horrid change in business practices, thankfully is gone. But under new management, this happened to occur--during June of 1999, the Terms of Service at all Yahoo properties (such as GeoCities) were changed to say the following:


By submitting Content to any Yahoo property, you automatically
grant, or warrant that the owner of such Content has expressly
granted, Yahoo the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable,
non-exclusive and fully sub licensable right and license to use,
reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative
works from, distribute, perform and display such Content (in
whole or part) worldwide and/or to incorporate it in other works
in any form, media, or technology now known or later developed.
You acknowledge that Yahoo does not pre-screen Content, but that
Yahoo and its designees shall have the right (but not the
obligation) in their sole discretion to refuse, edit, move or
remove any Content that is publicly available via the Service.
Without limiting the foregoing, Yahoo and its designees shall
have the right to remove any Content that violates the TOS or is
otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and
bear all risks associated with, the use of any Content,
including any reliance on the accuracy, completeness, or
usefulness of such Content. In this regard, you acknowledge that
you may not rely on any Content created by Yahoo or submitted to
Yahoo, including without limitation information in Yahoo!
Message Boards, Yahoo! Clubs, and in all other parts of the Service. 

Jim Townsend quickly organized another boycott at http://come.to/boycottyahoo for these reasons:

"In short, any content you have on GeoCities or any other of Yahoo's properties is theirs to use, ROYALTY-FREE, forever. Any images that you've made, any of your own copyrighted material you've made available, any pictures you've published, etc. belongs to them and they can do whatever they want with it, forever, in any medium 'or technology now known or later developed.'

I bet you weren't aware that any work you've produced and shown to others via your GeoCities site now 'belongs' to you AND Yahoo. Further, if you read closely you see that they also gave themselves the 'fully sub licensable right and license to use' so they can take your property, sell it to others (giving you nothing), or even license it to your competitor AND NOT PAY YOU A DIME!

What's worse, you can't even take your content off of GeoCities WITHOUT AGREEING TO THESE TERMS! If you're there already, they've got your material now, lock, stock and barrel!"

Well this boycott proved much more effective than the one against the watermark, as it only took seven days to force Yahoo to change their TOS agreement to an acceptable form. What made it more effective was all the press attention it garnered unlike the watermark flap. Regardless, it's too late. I'm not moving these pages back over there. They screwed me once, and they are not going to get another chance to do it again. Tom Evans should also not be permitted control of any other commercial web page service, unless they really want to be an ex-web page service. I don't know why anyone would want to use watermark code, but I've found a couple of them that do, and it really ruins the site.

That is all for this edition. It really didn't take six months to write, but it certainly wasn't a priority with other things I had to deal with. Take heed, those who become too big for their britches get exposed in the end. The slick one alas has yet to learn that lesson.

Click on NEWS to read the previous issue. Cast a vote here--

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