20 Years of

Today’s a day some some personal significance: 20 years ago today I secured the “” domain, making it my permanent home on the Web and on the Internet. To some extent it happened out of necessity — I was about to be laid off from AOL and all my email addresses there were about to be discontinued, so I needed to get an email address — but in a larger sense I decided that I needed an online home that I couldn’t suddenly get kicked out of, at the whims of someone else. So long as I paid the domain and ISP fees on an annual basis, I had a place to call my own.

And so it has been this last double decade. AOL is reduced to a tiny sliver of what it once was, Friendster and Myspace and LiveJournal (not to mention AngelFire or Geocities) are similarly gone or greatly reduced, and all manner of sites that existed in the long-lost days of 1998 are now only accessible via the Internet Archive. And yet, here’s, still plugging along. There are of course older sites out there, but in the increasingly thin segment of personal web sites, not all that many.

I’ll note that today is not the 20th anniversary of Whatever, the blog; that comes in September. It took me about six months to get my act together on that score. Instead what was here was collections of writing from when I was at AOL and, before then, at the Fresno Bee — basically a lot of writing samples I could point people to if they wanted to hire me. It worked, inasmuch as I was soon hired to write music and video game reviews, although I never did go back to working as a full-time employee for anyone else.

Lots of good things have come from having this site out there, including selling Old Man’s War, which started me on my way to becoming a full-time novelist. I’ve told that story before and so I don’t think I need to go into great detail about it again right now. Nevertheless one thing I will repeat now and as often as people need to hear it is that especially for creative people having your own domain is really important. Other sites are highly contingent: they come and go, and they may also arbitrarily decide who gets to see your stuff and who doesn’t (see: Facebook, and its annoying tendency not to show everything you post to everyone who follows you).

Even if you have a large following elsewhere, you should always have a place to call your own, that you are in control of, not someone else. So when Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat are dead and buried — and they will be — people can still find you. And email you! There’s something to be said for having the same email address for 20 years.

So: Hooray, 20 years. is definitely not going anywhere anytime soon. I suspect it’ll be here as long as I am here, and then, probably, well after that.

By John Scalzi

I enjoy pie.

31 replies on “20 Years of”

Congratulations! It’s not been as long for me to’ve followed this great space as it’s been for you to have been Master of Your Domain, but I’ve been glad of the continuing wisdom for as long as I’ve been aware of it :-)

I never quite remember the address of your blog, so usually I punch in ‘whatever’ in my browser’s search field and let Google sort it out.

But you are no longer above the fold. These days I get:

– A Youtube video related to the word whatever.
– The metadata of that video.
– “People also search for” [things that have nothing to do with ‘whatever’].
– “People also ask…”
– “Top Stories”.

It is almost as if Google no longer wants you to leave the search results page.

It is still valid advice to have your own domain name, but it is not the same advice as 10 or 20 years ago.

Among the many domain names I’ve registered over the years, I did have a site containing my name, but I had other sites that generated income (and took up a great deal of my time) so I really never did much of anything with it. I eventually sold the money makers (my wife called it “cashing in on the Internet”) but kept my name site until this started happening:

For years I resisted getting onto any social media, and when my friends would ask me why I didn’t have a Facebook or Myspace account I’d say it was silly and a waste of time, to which many would reply, “And yet you have your own website with your fucking name on it?” So I let the site go. And of course ten years later I’m on Facebook and Twitter. ☺️ But I’m NOT joining Snapchat – it’s silly and a waste of time.

John, you said, “Lots of good things have come from having this site out there, including selling Old Man’s War, which started me on my way to becoming a full-time novelist. I’ve told that story before and so I don’t think I need to go into great detail about it again right now. ”

Would you be kind enough to post a link where we can get to that story?

Great post, thanks!

1) Do you think it matters what the domain is, or just that you have one under your control? That is, suppose had been taken. What percentage of the benefits do you think would have accrued if you had registered, e.g.,

2) I’d love to hear how you have managed your email account over the last 20 years. I agree about the virtue of having a stable email address, but because I didn’t want to manage my own, I have a long term gmail account, and so long as Google is around, I’m set. My guess is that Google has a longer estimated lifespan than Facebook, do you think I am living in a fool’s paradise?

Cheers, having your own home on the net is better than being on the places you listed. And who knows how long Facebook will be around? Many of the large sites on the net today that we use is where you are the product – even without knowing it. I also run my own domain for hobbyist purposes. The only convenient way to get around the dynamic IP addresses provided by the ISP.

My first Scalzi memory. Trawling through the internet, finding Agent to the Stars on Not quite 20 years ago, but it was my first ever bookmark. Back then I kept my favorite links in a file, not as bookmarks on the browser. Not sure why. I found the file around 12 months ago.

Happy domain anniversary, and here’s to the next 20 years.

Congrats on making it to 20. For most active well-known people, keeping something going for that long, especially on the web, is usually an exercise of consistent inconsistency. Here’s to another 20.

>timrowledge says:
>Being master of your domain is good.
>It also means that your relatives can have better email addresses, which saves them from

I have owned my own name as long as has been around and I tried to help my family with email address and it was a thankless task. I either got no response from my telling them what I would do for them or the few I set up complained about spam they were getting so I stopped.

So did you actually remember the date or was this prompted by an email reminding you to renew the domain? If it’s the former then I am impressed!

Belated congratulations.

Now are you going to have a piece on how wrong you were on the Oscars? I must admit that I was 10 for 10 on my picks, but then, there weren’t any real surprises in the end.

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