What website did you use daily that doesn’t exist anymore?
One example that came to my brain immediately is a very peculiar Polish website whose name literally translates to Great Calendar of Names (great as in large, not in a boasting sense lol). You know I’ve been a name nerd for years, and I’m into almost everything that has to do with names – their etymology, popularity over time, social connotations associated with a specific name, trends, but even to some degree stuff that is seemingly as loosely associated with names as hagiography (writing about the lives of saints) as obviously saints have had a huge impact on how people in the Christian civilisation have named their offspring. So that calendar had name days for every single day (we do name days in Poland as several other European countries do, this is like a feast day associated with a specific name(s), often based on the commemoration day of the patron saint of that name if there is one, so when you have your name day you can celebrate it kind of like a birthday, although in some parts of the country they’re not quite as important or not celebrated at all, while in others a name day is a lot more celebrated than a birthday) ) but it wasn’t like your regular calendar that just shows you what day it is and two names per each day, it had loads and loads and loads of names for each day, pulled out of all sorts of different calendars, physical and online, from different points in history, as well as all kinds of name lists, name books, liturgical calendars, martyrologies and whatever else is out there, so basically it had data from all these places and books put in one place. And then when you clicked on a specific day, it would also show you what saints are venerated on that day and who they were, and that was very detailed as well, as it wasn’t just the most well-known saints, but also those that are pretty much only venerated somewhere locally or that it’s not even sure whether they actually existed but nonetheless their legendary existence had some impact on somewhere in the world, it also had people who weren’t even beatified but only declared venerable/servants of God, and aside from Catholic ones there were also Eastern Orthodox ones. The descriptions of their lives could sometimes also get quite lengthy if there was a lot that was known and could be written about that person, and if many sources mentioned them. I believe the sources themselves weren’t necessarily always very credible or trustworthy, but they weren’t listed anywhere, and I don’t think credibility or trustworthiness was the priority here, the author of that calendar seemed to just want to compile as complete a list of names as only possible and indeed I haven’t seen a more comprehensive Polish name resource when it comes to quantity either before or since that. The multiplicity of sources and their very diverse quality also contributed to a bit of a chaotic feel that it had, as it had different writing styles in different places and just simply looked like one huge bulky thing that combines a lot of bits and bobs from everywhere. Also separate from the calendar, there were alphabetical lists of names that were included in the calendar which had the origin of every name and if it’s been used in Poland lately at all, and with the more common names exactly how common they are.
The website itself apparently looked quite peculiar, because the man who made it was in his late 70’s from what I recall, he also had some other non-onomastic stuff on that website that I wasn’t into and I believe wrote some kind of a blog or articles or stuff like that on there as well, but I guess he wasn’t overly tech savvy because I once came across a discussion online where people were laughing at how dated that website looks but how at the same time it’s still so cool that he did such a thing, as people assumed, totally independently. As far as I and my screen reader were concerned, I saw nothing wrong with the thing, it was perfectly accessible, very easy to navigate and that was all I cared about.
I liked to look at that website daily to see all those huge lists of name days for each day and read the lives of the saints venerated on that day, and even though I thought I knew about a lot of very uncommon names and their origins, I still often found ones that were completely new to me. Like, it’s from that website that I learned that there is such a name as Tatul, which totally cracked me up because Tatul is how I call my Dad, and it seemed about just as absurd to be called Tatul as it would be for an English speaker if they learned that someone’s legal name is Daddy. Except I don’t think Tatul is used as a name in Poland these days, or had been used ever at all, because it’s an Armenian name. It was just mentioned in that calendar because there’s apparently one saint Tatul of Armenia. I’m not sure that info is even correct or reliable because I could never find anything about him anywhere else other than that website, but from what I can recall, it said that he was some sort of Armenian hermit who lived with two other men in one hermitage, one of them I believe was called Thomas, and the only thing they ate were some kind of leaves, , and they’re still much venerated in their home country and their feast day is 30 September. The author, or whatever other source he got that from, was guessing that perhaps it actually does come from the word dad in some language and claimed it to be a variant of the Latin name Papulus, but years later I read on Behind the Name that « Tatul » is a word in Armenian that means « paw » and I’m way more inclined to trust BTN here, even though « paw » seems like a weird name meaning to me. . Even when I went through the whole calendar in a year, later on I would still often consult it when looking up some names or was in search for a really odd and clunky rarity for a story or something, I really liked that website.
Sadly, some years later, the host of this website decided to shut down and thus so did the calendar, and I suppose the author didn’t have either the knowledge or energy or will to move it somewhere else. Now I feel a bit regretful that I haven’t archived it somehow for my personal use, but I guess back then I didn’t even know how I could have done that efficiently, and anyway I don’t really think I’d need it as much these days, it’s just a bit of a bummer that it’s completely gone.
Another thing that comes to mind, not so much a website but an app, although it still did have its own website which you could use to access some of the app features and it is no longer a thing either, was Klango, a sort of network community for blind people. The project was Polish but the community as such was very much international. It started out as an app containing several audio games, and then gradually morphed into something that I guess could be compared to what we currently know as social media, plus some more gimmicks. It was self-voiced and had a lot of sounds that informed you where in the app you are or on different things that were happening in it or what you were doing and people could create their own sound themes. You could exchange messages with people, write your own blog, which was really easy to do, as well as read the blogs of other users (people from outside the Klango world could see your blog too but it was unlikely to just pop up in Google so you had to give people the URL if you wanted to have any external visitors and I guess it wasn’t overly appealing graphically, it had all kinds of forums, including voice forums, groups in which you could talk about various topics of interests, you could create and take part in polls, add people to friends, change your status, have an audio avatar, create notes and collaborate on them with people, you could have a board like on Facebook etc. On the other hand, it also had a built-in media player, with a huge catalogue of radio stations, podcasts, a YouTube browser, Google, and if you really wanted you could browse the Internet with it, which had its upsides as the built-in web browser was super simple and accessible, but also stripped websites down to the bare minimum so a lot of features on websites didn’t work or were clunky, and it didn’t even have such basic options like being able to type in text fields, so logging in anywhere wasn’t an option. You could also manage files on your computer with it, listen to audio files, convert them, all kinds of stuff like that. The whole thing was controlled exclusively with keyboard, no mouse, and you could make it so that it wouldn’t show on the screen whatever you were doing, which was a cool privacy option if you wanted to do something discretely or something that your parents might not have been happy with you doing perhaps, 😀 people would just see the Klango Logo or optionally if your sound theme had any visual stuff to it it could show up as well. So it was a really fun place for me when I was just more or less starting to acquaint myself with computers and the online world as it was incredibly simple to use, you could perhaps even say too simplistic in some aspects. I met loads of people there and learned a lot of things and I generally feel quite grateful to Klango for all that. However, not very long after I joined, the authors decided that they’re going to ditch Klango in that they wouldn’t be developing it anymore. So while the community was more or less active for several more years, many Klango features were gradually becoming unusable, from YouTube and Google to blogs to all kinds of other things. I clung to it for a very long time, because I still talked to some people only on there, and I liked to use Klango for some of my online activity as a way of simplifying things. At some point one of the members of the Klango community decided to make a similar app that would actually work, which initially was a bit like a Klango copy but over time developed its very own look and personality, and I eventually joined it as well, but still used Klango or at least had it running somewhere in the background. But by then, I was feeling already since quite a while that, actually, I would like to go somewhere out. Outside of our blind community, where everyone knew me in person, often from school or something like that, and practically often the only thing that we really had in common was that we were blind. Of course it wasn’t like while I was there, I couldn’t be anywhere else, but I was feeling the need to distance myself from that. I know it works for a lot of people but when I was thinking about it I just couldn’t imagine staying like that my whole life and always mingling with people from school or thereabouts. I liked many of them and Called some friends, but none of that felt like any sort of deeper friendship. Initially I felt awful for even thinking about wanting to do this and never thought I actually could, because how do you even explain that without hurting people and not making them take it personally, but I talked about it with my Mum, Sofi and a few of my pen pals and they all said that I should do this. So one day I just simply left both those communities. I still felt awful initially, and whenever people like my Dad or my grandma asked if I still had contact with so-and-so from school or from Klango and knew how they were doing, and I said no, I’m no longer in touch with people from there, they were like « :O :O :O But why’d you do that!?» and seemed to think it was really weird or even really bad. Or I’d tell them something about someone online and they’d be like: «Are they blind?» That usually wouldn’t be the case but they seem to think that if you’re blind, you should mingle with blind people a lot or something. When my friend Jacek from Helsinki came to my 18th birthday party, my godmother, whom I told a lot about Jacek beforehand, was extremely surprised when she learned that he wasn’t blind and couldn’t get over it for the whole party and kept asking me why I didn’t tell her that. It hadn’t even crossed my mind to have to specify that, lol, and Jacek found it very amusing and regretted that he didn’t know in advance that she thought he was blind so that he could have pranked her. Perhaps my family make such assumptions precisely because I did mingle almost only with blind people as a kid. I do get it that it can be very useful because otherwise you may not know about things that could be important/relevant to you as a blind person, for example you could learn by word of mouth that there is some funding that you could apply for currently, or you can help each other with things relating to blindness, but I am aware of that possibility and I try to stay on top of things myself, plus obviously it’s not like I’ve completely cut myself off from the blind world as a whole, I am still on various mailing lists for the blind, read blindness-related websites or those about assistive technologies etc. etc. and I don’t really feel like I’m losing much at all. I no longer feel guilty either, as I think everyone feels the need to move on from something sometimes, even if this something had been a large part of their life before. I’m pretty sure that if I didn’t ditch Klango and all that, I wouldn’t have my current Mishmashy English blog, probably wouldn’t have a Mac now because this new app that people use instead of Klango now is only on Windows, and wouldn’t have done a lot of other things, because most of my time online would be likely spent there as always. Still, I do feel a little nostalgic thinking of Klango, as, while it was lasting, it was a really good thing, taught me extremely much and showed me a lot.
What were such websites for you? 🙂