I’ve been building & maintaining web sites since I started back in 1998 with a very old and “newbie”-ish Dragon Ball (Z/GT) fan fiction site hosted by Geocities (that is, before Yahoo! took it over…). Of course, back then CSS wasn’t the major “norm” back then and HTML 4.01 was godto many beginner web designers back then, and if you were around at that time and had been converted in to an internet junkie such as myself, you know what I’m talking about.
Months (or probably a year or so… I can’t remember anymore) after I took a few classes with basic graphic designing and basic CSS as well as doing some research regarding the “trends” of personal (collective?) sites, I “stepped up” to my HTML web designing and recreate some of my current sites and even started creating a “collective” site. Back then a few of these trends were listed as such:
- Miniscule fonts used, primarily with Verdana and in some cases Arial.
- Some random “stock photo” that was supposed to be considered artistic and slightly altered with some Filter, added text, and a border around the image slapped in the center or at the side (left or right), miniscule fonts on the side or at the bottom and call it a “layout.”
Supposedly back then, this was the “standard” of what personal sites and collectives looked like. Being the curious (more of one who “thirsts” for knowledge with web designing) designer would-be that I am I often test their designs by copying their source codes and modify them to my own liking. It’s one of the methods that I do whenever I learn new stuff (it doesn’t work that way if you’re trying to learn PHP, by the way…) regarding web design. I even remembered how I used to see a lot of these personal sites giving us some “copyright notices” that they will sue those who “steal” their source code for their own sites. My first reaction then was a question: Since when did HTML and CSS languages became your property? Of course, back then I didn’t have any general knowledge regarding web designing and development and the terms open source were still foreign to me. Then again maybe there wasn’t such a thing as open source during those earlier years.
As I continued to work, bit by bit, with my first “site collective” I also discovered this one particular trend that seems to be dying at around this time. If you’re a web designer such as myself who do sites as their hobby (in addition to working on it for a living) you should know what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the elite web clique sites that was spawning around the net during the years 1999-2000. Why I say that this particular trend was dying among the web? Web designing had become innovative for all that it was very difficult for these “elite cliques” to catch up to the latest standards with web design because their own “standards” of what an “elite” website pretty much became obsolete.
Majority of these elite web clique sites back then pretty much had the same rules. There were a few more rules and a few less rules on some others, but the rules for submission used to go something like this…
- Please do keep in mind that this is an elite clique, therefore be aware of it before you join.
- Personal sites with beautiful design (from the clique owner’s view) are only accepted. No fan sites or other types of non-personal sites will be accepted.
- Your site must be clean, eye-pleasing, and beautiful. That would mean no Times New Roman fonts, no 12+ pixel font sizes, and now tiling/repeating background images. I don’t care if you have tons of content, if your design is horrible then you are not accepted.
- Your site has no pop-up ads or any embedded ads anywhere in your site.
- Don’t come and whine to me if you have not been accepted. This is my clique and I only submit the ones to my personal liking. If you got a problem with that, then deal with it.
… and so on and so forth. Not much different from today’s “web cliques”, but there were a lot others not mentioned which I thought was just completely ridiculous.
Back then, no one really cared about your chock-full of original content that you have in your site. If you have so much wonderful original content but your overall web design lacked “art” (as in some form of original digital art used as part of the layout) then you won’t get accepted. Majority of the ones I’ve seen back then were all on the “dark” theme or a very simplistic (yet miniscule hard-to-read text) layout with some black & white random stock photography and/or infested with random brushes and they already considered that type of layout as “elite.” I even remembered one “elite” clique that I stumbled upon (no longer existing, I don’t think) that only accepted sites with its own domain or hosted by a someone else’s domain with domain names based on adjectives such as mesmerized.net, bleeding-silence.org, etc. etc. I understand the no pop-ups bit but back then owning a domain and getting hosted wasn’t affordable then.
I had a previous article about my views regarding elite cliques many years ago and it was more of a rant rather than a concrete observation commentary such as this one and as my basis of that particular rant I actually did some tests with those elite cliques to see how open minded or narrow minded these clique owners were. I signed up using my very first collective site (Adventure Antibiotics) with a modified standard anime image as my main image for my layout and a good amount of content from the usual “site projects” and all that, as well as a good amount of “readables” in one of the sections. I was hosted by the old envy.nu hosting, but back then there weren’t any ads plastered all over the place. I applied for about seven of these elite cliques and out of the seven only one accepted me. I got about four responses from those sites telling me that they can’t accept me because of one thing: They will not accept any sites that has some form of anime image in them. Though it got me a little angry because of that what really upset me the most was that there was no mention about no “anime-themed” sites accepted whether if it was just for the design or for the entire content. That was when I posted my first commentary about these elite cliques, giving a rather negative view of them.
Today, there weren’t very many elite cliques existing around the net anymore. However, the views of designers (hobbyist or whatever) of what an elite clique should be like had evolved. Today’s elite cliques I have seen had a lot more rules but they still make sense. Many of today’s elite cliques focused more on both layout presentation and the amount and quality of your chock-full quality, just as what the real purpose of a standard web site should be. Thanks to web standards, more language technologies such as CSS, PHP, other web programming languages not mentioned, and the promotion of validated code from the W3, the definition of an elite web site has evolved a bit.
My take overall regarding this somewhat still existing internet trend is that in some ways, there are some good elite web cliques and bad elite web cliques. The “good” ones that I consider personally are the ones who are more open in terms of what they are looking for in a website. In each (personal?) website there’s always something unique about them, whether if it’s design-wise or content-wise. On the other hand I personally think that content matters more than how the site looks because we as visitors to the site have always something to look for in the future of that site. Redesigning sites take a long time to do, especially if you have some kind of an artist/designer’s block or something, so visitors shouldn’t expect a new redesign would be done right away. Whereas, content in general, be it a blog entry, a commentary, a piece of artwork, and such, are a lot easier to add and update. Otherwise, what’s the point of having a website in the first place?
Moving along, I’ve thought about this as I write and I also thought that the vocabulary word of elite is being misused by these elite web clique owners; primarily towards the ones who have little or no skill in semantic markup standards or those who have no comprehension with color relationships in terms of the designing itself. I looked up the word according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and here are the definitions.
elite n 1: the choice part; also : a superior group 2: a typewriter type providing 12 characters to the inch — elite adj
elitism n : leadership or rule by an elite; also : advocacy of such elitism
Okay, so the dictionary didn’t provide more in-depth definition, though I’m pretty sure there was more to that word than what was printed. But what got my attention to the definition was the part that stated a superior group. Is it telling me that these elite cliques consider themselves superior?
There are a few elite cliques that I recommend you check it out. In fact, some of these aren’t really that elite, but they do have certain standards that they look for if you plan to join one. I’ve only joined a few of these for other sites, but still, well worth visiting and consider to join.
- My Own (NOTE: ORIGINAL CONTENT only. This includes your design. If you have some stock photo of some celebrity or anime-related images that are not your own then chances are you will not make it in this clique)
- Respect My Work (NOTE: The rules are pretty much the same as My Own. However, this is more of a support clique where members support originality of one’s own work (from the visual to the literary and that also includes the design of your site too) and demand respect for those who should be aware that they cannot take any form of artistic and/or literary work from others and then use them in their sites.)
- New Millennium (NOTE: If you do get accepted in this clique you need to have at least one referral for another person/designer in order for you to remain a member of this clique. I used to be a member of this clique for my portfolio but I failed to get at least one referral regardless if I had that link right at the main page of my site, thus I was removed. Now that I thought about it, why didn’t this site owner just add her clique in to various link directories such as Glitter in order to get more members?)
- Perfection (NOTE: Unless if you really have a very impressive personal/blog site both in and out, I believe that this is the hardest to get in to. For one thing, this is also a form of community within the members who were accepted, which can only mean one thing. It’s the members of the clique who will decide if your submission is accepted or not. Therefore if your site did not get accepted the first time, please don’t yell at the owner of this clique. It’s the entire clique community that you’ve got to deal with, thus I don’t recommend you ranting against them. Just upgrade, do some revisions in your site and apply again the next time. You get plenty of “second chances” after all.)
For those of you who are thinking of starting an elite clique, please consider the following first:
- Please be more specific as to what type of site you are actually looking for. Also, I don’t recommend you mentioning that your clique is elite, simply because you are referring yourself and whoever you accept in to your clique as being superior. When owners do that they get frowned upon by the more experienced, knowledgeable web designers & developers all around the net. I don’t call myself experienced or knowledgeable myself but I do look down on these elite cliques too.
- If you are really serious with populating your clique with these sites and the people behind them please do not just flat-out reject them once if you didn’t like their site. There is no such thing as a “finished website” after all. There’s always going to be updates and revisions and they may be better than the previous ones. If you start to act like a prissy little snob at these people you will be frowned upon by the masses. Seriously.
On the other hand, maybe it’s best if you don’t open one. It’s a mere fact that regardless of what you do to show the entire world you are the greatest, there’s always going to be someone better, or for the record more elite, than you.