Today, I moved this website over from GitHub Pages to Neocities.
There’s not much to the decision, really. There are several hosting options for static sites like GH Pages, GitLab Pages, Netlify, and now even Cloudflare Pages. Anyone starting out should be more than fine picking any of these options. But here’s what drew me to Neocities.
When you use Neocities, it is extremely evident that they are a “little guy” company that puts its values up front for everyone to see, and backs them up by making the source freely available for anyone to audit and augment. There’s very little “marketing speak” because it’s not really a product. When they say Neocities is bringing back the fun, creativity and independence that made the web great, you want to believe them, and a click on the “Websites” button in the header gives you exactly that belief.
It’s beautiful, wild, completely chaotic and hard to believe as something one would see in 2020. No two sites look the same, and it feels like a rudimentary social network in the craziest way possible. There are glowing reviews for everyone to see on sites like Hacker News, and it is wickedly easy to get started and to set up a site. That said, surface simplicity does not mean it is in any way a shallow product or inferior to the other static hosts, at least for basic use cases. No ads or tracking anywhere to be seen, free HTTPS for all sites on the platform, and they even run a CDN with 11 datacenters. I’m not sure anyone can really ask for more, especially considering the free tier is extremely generous and will likely be more than most users need.
Moving my site over was really easy. I could have just used the upload options on the dashboard, but I set up a git hook and configured the site in under 5 minutes. This may not be the last destination for my site; indeed I would love to have my own domain some time in the future, but I don’t have the funds or really the justification to go there yet.
My workflow remains almost entirely unchanged, as does the experience for any visitors to the site. But I get to keep a smug grin on my face, thinking about being a part of something that is exciting and wonderful. I’m not sure one can ask for more.
Update: As of 21st February 2021, this website is now on its own domain and no longer on Neocities. The allure of owning my own online presence was too good for me to pass up. My short stint on neocities was extremely positive and I still recommend it without any qualms to anyone who wants to host static websites for free. It remains one of my favourite projects on the internet and I wish them nothing but the best. I’m very satisfied with my hosting solution at the moment, but in a future where I can afford the $5 per month supporter fee for Neocities, I would absolutely consider retaining my custom domain and switching to them for static hosting so I can support this excellent platform.