(2022-02-22) I Am Satisfied With My Neocities Experience So Far

It has almost been one and a half years since I first started this personal website of mine. I may be a bit biased, but I think that my website is like the best website on Neocities, though only in a well-rounded sense. My website certainly doesn't have the best design or best original content on this platform. In my opinion those titles are currently held by 5amgirlfriend for best design, and by e4494s for best original content. Anyways, in this post I will talk about basically everything regarding my experience on Neocities up to this point.

About 11 months ago I made a post on my old blog (which I later deleted) where I talked about the then very brief history of my site. Fortunately I do still have a copy of that deleted post saved, and I can now talk about the history of this site with more information and detail while still being able to remember what I wrote and thought back then. Note for my old followers: I will copy-paste and lightly edit a few parts of what I wrote in that old post because I'm lazy. But otherwise, it feels nice to have more to talk about as more time has passed and more things have changed since those early days.

I don't really remember the exact reason why I made this site way back in September 2020, but I do remember some of my motivations for wanting to have a personal website. One of these motivations was that I wanted a place to share the many links to random articles and sites that I bookmarked for around 7 years at that point. Another motivation was that I wanted to leave something, anything, behind that can be found later by people on the internet. My internet presence was minimal at that point as I mostly lurked and didn't have any online friends, and I didn't really express myself IRL much either. Basically if I died right then, I would basically have nothing to leave behind for the world. And making a website would be definitely something to leave behind in my view. Finally, the last motivation was that I wanted to apply my knowledge of HTML & CSS to at least one thing that I share with the world.

What my site originally looked like in the first few days has been lost to the ether, but it was just dancing letters that spelt out L-H-F-M, an "under construction" message, a triangle background pattern, and random anime GIFs. It looked similar to my old 404 page. About a week later, I finished organizing all of my bookmark collection into various categories and putting all of those links on their own pages. This first major update introduced the "V1" design of this site. This design was simple, but mobile-friendly, which I am proud of a little bit cause I see a lot of cooler sites than mine on neocities that just give up and tell you to view them at desktop resolutions. During this time is also when I wrote my Block Razer Synapse page, which will be important later.

Until December of 2020, not much changed with my site, I only added a few other links I found to my link collection pages, and added a bunch of random emojis to the front page. In December, I redesigned my site to its "V2" design which was a black theme with yellow highlights (my favourite colour scheme), inspired by the Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 Yellow Night. In December I also started working on my Creative Coding stuff, which was a bunch of pretty animations using the HTML5 2D canvas APIs. I kind of challenged myself to come up with six unique animations so I had a variety of things to show off. The hardest one to make was probably RainboWeave, though it only used some relatively basic math. One more thing I did in December was finally add an about me section at the top of my homepage, which I called "aboot me" because that's a funny Canadian way of pronouncing the word "about" if you live in certain parts of Canada.

I've never particularly enjoyed writing at that point, but I realized that I am able to write decently and in a clear enough way that people like what I have to say. On Reddit I've written a handful of long comments explaining things that have gotten hundreds of upvotes and generated some further discussion. The accounts I made to write those posts I did delete as part of my routine of jumping to new alts at the time, but the memory of me writing stuff and having people like it made me consider giving writing a shot. Another simultaneous thought I had when I thought about writing things was that I always had unique stories from my life (either about me or just interesting things I witnessed) that were often bouncing around in my head that I wanted to share with people. So because of this I decided to create my anecdotes page. On that page I wrote a lot of things (for me at that time) in December 2020 and January 2021. Later in 2021 I deleted the anecdotes page off my site because it felt too cringeworthy, but I later brought it back for reasons I forget.

Writing all the random little stories from my life felt great but wasn't enough to rid the thoughts bouncing around in my head. Unfortunately I still had more to say and needed a release valve for it, and I needed a long-form format to write it in. A blog format was perfect for this. I started the old blog on January 15th and wanted to publish posts daily, but I quickly ran out of good ideas as well as the motivation to polish them into presentable blogposts, so I just decided to write something whenever I was able to instead of forcing myself. I did also later delete the blog at the same time as I deleted my anecdotes page, and I did bring it back later with the anecdotes, but with a few blog posts removed. Those posts are not completely gone, I do still have a backup of them, but it's unlikely that I'll ever post them publicly again.

Also in January, I realized how amazing 88x31 buttons are and decided to collect a ton of them and link to people. I also made a bunch of my own, and now it's cool to see other sites use my buttons that don't even know they were made by me. The random silly "[thing] now!" buttons and the like are fun, but what's really cool are all the unique buttons that people make for other people to link to their site. Despite the somewhat restrictive format, there are so many creative and unique ways to make these, even if they are not animated GIFs. I also made my own button that had my LH logo in black and yellow for other people to link to during this time, which I still have on my homepage right now. I later did make other buttons for my site that look different, but the original is the one I still love the most. While we're still on the topic of 88x31 button collections, if you have a collection of buttons that link to other people's sites, please check all of them sometimes to see if the sites you are linking to are still active. I found out that about 5 sites I linked to were either deleted or publicly quit when I checked them all about a month ago.

After that point, not much really happened on my website for the rest of the first half of 2021. I did publish some blog posts, made the V3 theme, made the Vtuber page, and made the kids shows page, plus maybe some other small things. But then I had a small breakthrough idea! This idea was a page that I could update with new content on it every day, and most of this content was already something that I had partially ready to go: my favourite singing synthesizer songs. You see, I have been listening to Vocaloid and other vocal synth songs since 2012, and I had accumulated a ton of favourite songs that I wanted to share. And also in May/June 2021 I had (re)discovered Tohoku Kiritan and the Kotonoha Sisters and found out that they were capable of singing and wanted to share the awesome songs they sung. But I didn't just want to plainly share all these songs, I also wanted to add some commentary to a the songs I link that often explain something interesting about the song that people might not know about or notice at first glance. I also wanted to shine a light on singing synthesizer programs that aren't Vocaloid such as CeVIO or Voiceroid (w/ Kotonosync or VocalShifter).

So I worked out a neat format to put songs out in and on June 15th I made the Singing Synthesizers Daily page and it started off with three songs: a cover of Harder Better Faster Stronger, an amusing GYARI song, and a bittersweet song sung by Miku. Despite the name, I didn't publish on it 100% daily until I finished it off. There were good stretches of daily consistency with maybe a day skipped, but there are also was a month-long hiatus from mid-July to mid-August, a weeks-long break around the last week of September and the first week of October, and another weeks-long break around the last week of October and the first weeks of November. In case you're wondering how I know these dates, I'm just looking at the "date modified" time of the image files for the page that I have stored on my computer.

At the end of September 2021 I decided I would start blogging again after not blogging since April. I decided to put a little bit more effort and professionalism into my writing instead of just writing very casually as I did with my old blog. I'll go into my writing process later in this post, but during this time I did things like making sure everything is properly capitalized and banning myself from ever writing "kinda", "sorta", or "cause" in a blog post ever again. If you look at the dates on my blog directory you'll notice that there were times where I published a blog post day-after-day. This is because I'd have a ton of blog post ideas I want to write pile up and decided to spend my free time writing day-after-day on those days until my ideas pile ran out. Me deciding to put more effort into my blog posts was probably the best decision ever because I've ended up writing so much that even I'm kind of surprised.

Pretty much since September the only new content that's gone on my site was either new blog posts or new songs for my Singing Synthesizer page. I did redesign my site to have the V5 theme at the very end of October and I did rearrange/restructure some pages here and there, and made some CSS tweaks. Eventually my song queue for the Singing Synthesizers Daily page ran out, and the page had so many songs that I decided it was time to stop it. All of the songs that I had discovered over the years before plus some new ones I found while the page was still active were on that page. I knew it wasn't the end for sharing music on my site and that I would likely eventually make a new page where I would share the new songs I was starting to discover after I had killed off SSD, but I didn't expect to find a lot of good songs immediately and end up making a new Singing Synthesizers page basically two weeks later.

Honestly, I could have made it even sooner, I just didn't want to reuse the same background and colour scheme that SSD had. It took me a couple days to find and apply the beautiful official Kotonoha Sisters art and then derive a colour scheme from it. But it was worth it in the end, I have a cool new Singing Synthesizers Occasionally page now to post my latest favourite songs onto. Though now I wonder what I will do if/when SSO will also have too many songs on it, should I make a third page then? Regardless, if you've listened to most or all of the songs I've linked, you are very awesome!

Back in November I set up a Flag Counter widget at the bottom of my homepage to track the visitors of my website. Unfortunately this widget gets blocked by most adblockers, and the Neocities crowd is more tech-savvy so I'm definitely not seeing a portion of my visitors. However, the visitors I do see are both surprising and unsurprising. It is not surprising that the top visiting country is the United States, but the thing that surprised me the most was that I'm getting a lot of visitors from China. I do know that Neocities is currently not blocked by the Great Firewall, but I was confused why so Chinese people were going to my site. More on that later. It is also very cool to see that I'm getting visitors from basically everywhere in the world, it makes me feel very cool. Though I kind of wonder who these people from far away countries are. WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE?! Here's a link to my Flag Counter stats page, but below is a sceencap of what my stats looked like at the time of writing.

Since we're on the topic of site visitors, my Neocities visitor stats make zero sense to me. On the days where I've linked my site outside Neocities I did get spikes in activity, but on the days where I'm just posting to Neocities the visitors fluctuate with no rhyme or reason. On days where I'm just posting some songs I sometimes get a ton of visitors, and sometimes on days where I post a blog post I'm really excited about I get a drop in visitors. Though it's cool to see that I'm getting visitors mostly in the 200-300 range daily when I'm updating my site regularly.

One day in December I was on Twitter, and I clicked on my DMs for whatever reason, and I saw that I had a direct message request from a Japanese person that was sent all the way back in September. I have no idea why I didn't get a notification for that message request, but the contents of the message really surprised me: they thanked me for helping them out with their Razer Synapse problem and that my Block Razer Synapse page helped them out. You see, I've never advertised that page and I also buried it in my site, so either this Japanese person browsed my entire site and by pure coincidence found that page and it helped them, or they came from outside somehow.

I eventually figured out that my Block Razer Synapse page was the second result on Google if you searched "block razer synapse", which surprised me. After doing a little more curious investigating, I found out that my Razer Synapse page was linked to on a Chinese Q&A site where someone asked how to get rid of Razer's crap, which finally explained the Chinese visitors I was seeing on my Flag Counter stats. After I found out about that, I added a "hey Chinese people!" message at the top of the page that's in Chinese. As of writing, the Razer page is nowhere to be seen in the Google search results for "block razer synapse" or similar searches. What on earth is going on with Google's search algorithm that made this obscure page a top result before, but then later made it completely disappear? Although right now my Vtubers page is a top Google result if you search for "Taiwanese Vtubers" which makes me happy.

One thing that I did not expect to happen when I started this website was that I would start to somewhat enjoy writing. I've written things in the past for school assignments and stuff, but I never really wrote things personally. I have done personal writing before, but very rarely, and all of it is no longer around, so I don't have any of my past writing to look at (thankfully). The things I'm writing on this blog would probably not impress even the most supportive and lenient of my high school English teachers, but that's okay, I'm not writing to pass a class anymore, and it feels great. I wish I started writing personal writing sooner, because it's actually kind of fun now. And I wish in school I was taught why essays and writing are important as well as the meaning of the writing rules we have to follow instead of just having to write something while following seemingly arbitrary writing rules.

When I write my blog posts, I do follow some writing rules, but these rules are not clearly defined or written down. It is all intuitive. Part of this intuition is driven by the "writing rules" I internalized back in high school after writing tons of essays and writing assignments in my AP English classes and getting feedback and corrections from my teachers. Another part is that I've read so many things on the internet, a lot of which is written by people who went to college and know how to write proper formal writing and stuff, so I've picked up on the patterns of writing that sound nice somewhat. Basically, if something I write feels odd, I go back to change it so it sounds better to my ears. Though I'd probably benefit from either reading a professional writing guide or getting an editor for my writing.

The majority of the blog posts I've written before this post were either written just before they were published, or written the day before they were published. In other cases I write things intermittently over some time before I publish a post. For example, my Global Anglosphere post — currently the longest post on my blog — was written over the course of about a week before I posted it, with some days of no writing going into it. My writing is very off-the-cuff and I write as if I am speaking into the keyboard. A comment I got from automatic-llama (shown below) about how my writing style is "very natural" seems to confirm this I guess. Makes me wonder how other people perceive my writing.

I do not edit my writing a lot, pretty much over 90% of what you read on my posts is the same as it was written originally. The edits I do make are minor corrections or making sure that my wording is interpreted exactly the way I meant it. Though I always end up finding like 5 things I need to fix after I publish a post. Before, I thought that my spelling and typing ability was flawless, until I copy-pasted one of my posts into Word and there were some red underlines under common words that I misspelled. I found this out after I had written a lot of blog posts, so it was a little embarrassing going back and auto spell checking all of my previous posts. Now I make sure to spell check everything before I publish a post.

Since I've been on Neocities for a while now, I've accumulated a bunch of awesome mutual followers. I'm cool with all my mutuals, but here I'd like to highlight the most noteworthy ones:

♫ But do you recall the most famous reindeer.. *ahem* mutual of all? ♫

Holeinmyheart! Or as I like to call him, Holy-Heart. So back near the end of 2020, I was followed by Holy-Heart, and I was surprised to see someone else on Neocities who was interested in birds. Holy-heart-sama at the time disabled posting messages on his Neocities feed, which was a bummer at first because I wanted to tell him how cool his birbs page was, and that my favourite bird was the White-breasted Nuthatch. Fortunately, the Holy Heart later enabled posting on his feed, and I finally was able to tell Holy-Heart that his birds page was epic. We interacted some times after that, but not as frequently as we do now. I was surprised to know that Holy-Heart "reread" my anecdotes page and actually liked that page, which was totally unexpected to me.

Holy-Heart is pretty cool actually. He knows fancy math, is a GNU/Linux enjoyer, knows Japanese pretty well, and has very good and very creative writing ability. Holy-Heart has recently been translating most of the songs I've been posting on my singing synthesizer pages. In the past he'd only post the translations as TXT files, but I later suggested to Holy-Heart to make dedicated pages on his site for the translations and the madlad actually did it. Holy-Heart did recently ask me to be his valentine, and though I think it is very sweet, I still stand by my original response. It's so funny how both of our websites have gotten so intertwined thanks to all this recent interaction.

One thing I sometimes wonder is: why do people follow me? Why as in why exactly? What do y'all like about my content enough to want to get updates from me on your feed? I know some of my followers are weebs that like my weeb content, and other followers like my writing, but a lot of my followers are just people I've followed randomly and they just followed back. It's kind of awkward unfollowing these kinds of mutuals just because I didn't realize that their updates wouldn't interest me, and they remain following me after that. Some of my followers have been a little bit unexpected, and the most unexpected one for me was Bytemoth, who praised me for my Web Theory page, which is like the most unusual page on my site.

As a place to host a simple static website like this one, Neocities is very good and I have no complaints in that department. It also seems like Neocities isn't going anywhere soon, as there seem to be enough Neocities supporters to make the income of this platform be in a respectable six-figure range annually. I could be wrong, but it seems like Kyle Drake is the only person running this place. What will happen if he goes away or something? And it's kind of strange that Neocities hasn't really been updated with any new features for a while. I'm not talking about a total overhaul or anything. For example it would be nice if there was a confirmation prompt before you deleted something on the social feed. It's kind of annoying when you accidentally click the delete button and someone's question or informative comment disappears. Kyle Drake, plz fix.

I don't know what the future holds for this site. What I already have I already think is great, and I could abandon this site today and feel satisfied with what I'm leaving behind. Of course that won't happen yet, but that day will eventually come at some point. Nothing lasts forever, but you can make the time something is around a great time. Thanks for reading.

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