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15 Websites That Changed the World 298

nuke-alwin writes "To mark the web's 15th anniversary, The Guardian is reporting on 15 websites that changed the world. Everything from commercial sites like eBay and Amazon to social collaboratives like Wikipedia and Slashdot made the list." From the article's comments on Blogger: "Content was once made by companies for passive consumption by people. After Blogger, people were the content. They wrote about and read about their friends, their opinions, their cats. (There was a lot about cats in the early blogs.) None had a huge audience but collectively they were massive. Now you see TV networks saying: 'We've gotta get on the web because that's where the audience is,' says Williams."
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15 Websites That Changed the World

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  • by Enselic ( 933809 ) * on Monday August 14, 2006 @05:38PM (#15906188) Homepage
    1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. (School reunion site) 7. (News site) 8. 9. 10. 11. (Online magazine and media company) 12. (A centralised network of online urban communities) 13. (Popular search engine) 14. 15. (Budget airline)
    • by Enselic ( 933809 ) * on Monday August 14, 2006 @05:43PM (#15906232) Homepage
      Great, misformatted and I forgot to check 'Post Anonymously'. Great.
    • by acvh ( 120205 ) <geek@m s c i g a r> on Monday August 14, 2006 @05:50PM (#15906300) Homepage
      1. - a big Flea Market
      2. - Brittanica on the bathroom wall
      3. - for about three minutes
      4. - eh
      5. - they wanted to acknowledge blogging, this is their surrogate
      6. (School reunion site)- never heard of it. probably helpful for stalking that girl who spit on you in 10th grade.
      7. (News site)- not really a News Site. A link aggregator with an agenda.
      8. - for about three MORE minutes
      9. - changed shopping, anyway.
      10. - WHO?
      11. (Online magazine and media company)- changed the world? How about "provides a home for whining elitists"?
      12. - supermarket community bulletin board with more eyes
      13. - changed the Internet maybe. The WORLD? nah
      14. - see #13
      15. (Budget airline)- see #6

      If this is how the Internet has changed the world, please have it changed back promptly.
      • Re:one man's summary (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Pleb' ( 712848 ) - changed the Internet maybe. The WORLD? nah
        Uh, hello. Did you miss the ./ article just previously where google has become a verb. I'd call that changing the world. I'd call yours 1/2 a man summary.
      • I agree. I used to read the website frequently, before the forced ad, and I like it a lot. But has it changed the world? Please. Probably only 0.001% of the world's population has even heard of it. By the way, where do you find these (liberal) elitists? I only see them on television, and read about the in right-wing publications.
      • 13. - changed the Internet maybe. The WORLD? nah

        Changed the web, yes, the internet is their next target [].....
      • Re:one man's summary (Score:5, Interesting)

        by PMuse ( 320639 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @06:35PM (#15906652)
        From profound to negligible, they are:
        • 13. - Search engines indeed changed the world, but Google has never claimed to be the first.
        • 9., 1., 15. (Budget airline) - Online commerce is important, but there were many pioneers. or one of it's bretheren might deserve a mention, but the importance of budjet airlines like easyjet wasn't their websites.
        • 5. , 4. - Content from the masses -- writing, video, and music, too. With the cost of publishing, distribution, and holding inventory reduced to near zero, change is indeed afoot.
        • 6. (School reunion site), 8. - Social networking sites certainly deserve a mention. The strength of their effect on social organization is not yet known.
        • 2. - Online collaboration in software is changing the world, but outside the software field it hasn't proven itself yet. The field is still young, though.
        • 3. - Herald of the era of online music and of music -sharing lawsuits.
        • 14. - Unable to point to a great iconic achievement, the portals will wind up sharing a footnote with AOL.
        • 10. - A fine example of its kind, but 'changed history' is a little much.
        • 12. - Ditto.
        • 11. (Online magazine and media company) - Ditto.
        • 7. (News site) - Ditto, sort of.

        • by kfg ( 145172 ) *
          9., 1., 15. (Budget airline) - Online commerce is important, but there were many pioneers.

          The importance of Amazon and eBay is not that they do online commerce, but that they link small sellers to the international market through a single, searchable site.

          Amazon changed the world of used books, not the world of the latest best seller.

          eBay changed the world of collectibles and small craftsmen.

          • I'm not sure how you figure that. I work in a huge new and used bookstore ( and have done so long before Amazon existed. We can't compete with Amazon on new book pricing. Used books are our bread and butter. I might be misunderstanding your post buy when you say Amazon hasn't changed the world of the greatest best seller it sounds like you are talking about content. Amazon hasn't changed what content appears in new books but they have changed where people buy them.
            • by kfg ( 145172 ) *
              I work in a huge new and used bookstore ( and have done so long before Amazon existed.

              Oddly enough my favorite, local independent opened the same years as Powell's. I've been their customer since the first day the door opened. I certainly don't order online from them (although I could) since I can just walk over to the store.

              If I'm after a best seller I can grab it there, any other bookstore, or even the supermarket. I don't buy that sort of book online unless I already happen to be online shopp
        • Re:one man's summary (Score:5, Interesting)

          by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <> on Monday August 14, 2006 @09:28PM (#15907590) Homepage
          14. - Unable to point to a great iconic achievement, the portals will wind up sharing a footnote with AOL.
          What made Yahoo different than other search engines back in that day was their directory - links chosen and edited by human beings and arranged by category with a description. Rarely used today, but powerful in it's day.
          • What made Yahoo powerful was it's directory because back in the elder times there were no search engines. If you wanted to find something you either had to go to Yahoo or stumble across it. Of course, most of you are too young to remember that.
            • Re:one man's summary (Score:3, Informative)

              by pthisis ( 27352 )
              Or you could use the Aliweb search engine (which predated Yahoo) or Lycos (which came out within a couple of months of Yahoo), or one of the dozens of other link categorization sites that were prevalent at the time (and were the reason that the first two letters in Yahoo stand for "yet another"...)
        • But when it melts server after server, it is surely changing insurance quotes
      • Re:one man's summary (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Well The Guardian is a British newspaper and both friendsreunited and easyjet are uk-based.
        Easyjet and other low-cost airlines definitely changed travel in a significant way, at least in Europe. Maybe that's not the world, but if the US can have a World Series then we can grant The Guardian a little leeway, no?
    • by Anonymous Coward, the site that basically invented the idiom of political blogging five years early, and mocked and on those sites' rise into faddishness among the "old media".

      But, of course, a site like Suck would never show up on a list like this. An article about this is basically a shrine to media enthusiasm about the internet-- a validation of the idea that the importance of a website can be measured by the significance that established pre-internet information sources (like The Guar
    • No dupe? (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Someone's gotta do this, and I don't like whoring (Score:4, Informative)
      by Enselic (933809) * on Monday August 14, @05:38PM (#15906188)

      1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. (School reunion site) 7. (News site) 8. 9. 10. 11. (Online magazine and media company) 12. (A centralised network of online urban communities) 13. (Popular search engine) 14. 15.

    • How many of these sites actually changed the world ?

    • For funny, way back when (mid-90's or so) I worked for IXA (now part of Savvis) as a network engineer. There were 2 of us, me and Nikos Moaut (or however you spell his name)

      Anyhow, we were the uplink for Amazon and I had to deal with them quite often. One day I asked Nik what "Amazon" was and he told me it was a book store.

      I told him it was a really stupid name for a bookstore. Shows what I knew.
    • Another "my take":

      1. - PayPal is actually the site that made eBay what it is today. If it wasn't for PayPals payment format people would be very suspect of eBay and fraud would be in the double digit percentile

      2. - Come back in about three years and we'll see. It's neat, it has potential, it's not ready for prime time.

      3. - The site was worthless. If you want to list internet software, sure. At that rate include AIM.

      4. - This is today's stir. Much like wik
    • Those guys are apparently too clueless to realize that Wikipedia, a noncommercial project, is quite properly at, not ".com" as they listed it. (They did, however, correctly note Slashdot and Craigslist as .org sites, so they apparently aren't quite totally dot-com zombies who are unaware of any other top level domain.)
  • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @05:41PM (#15906209)
    Where's my website []?! Didn't my Slashdot F.A.Q. [] change the world? :P
  • #16 The Pirate Bay? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Keruo ( 771880 ) * on Monday August 14, 2006 @05:42PM (#15906225)
    Founded: 2004 by Fredrik Neij and Gottfrid Svartholm

    users: alot

    What is it? One of the only filesharing sites able to stick it to the man. Even after dealing with police.

    Hopefully eventually able to trigger positive discussion and evolution in copyright laws.

    • >One of the only filesharing sites able to stick it to the man. Even after dealing with police.

      I don't know about that. They lost their battle in Sweden and moved to the Netherlands. Most other torrent-sites just give up when they first get closed down. I would like to see TPB spark more debate about copyright issues, but it hasn't really happened yet in the general media (except for in Sweden maybe).
    • by Infonaut ( 96956 ) <> on Monday August 14, 2006 @06:42PM (#15906708) Homepage Journal

      From Wikipedia []:

      Upon reopening on June 3, 2006, its number of visitors has doubled, the increased popularity attributed to greater exposure through the recent media coverage. This has in turn increased the advertisement revenues to the founders Gottfrid Svartholm and Fredrik Neij. The advertisements now generate about 75,000 USD per month according to speculations by Swedish newspaper SvD.

      I guess you could call that "sticking it to the man." You could also call it profiting. Perhaps a bit less Robin Hood and a bit more ticket scalper.

    • I may be wrong, but I think [] was the first big torrent tracking site.

      Those who are members of the now largely private torrent tracking communities can understand how revolutionary it was.

      Perhaps in another five years, will replace Napster on this list as the mainstream catches up to whats going on.

  • by phorm ( 591458 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @05:44PM (#15906241) Journal
    Not all these changes have been positive. In terms of large-scale changes along those lines I'd probably include the nasties such as doubleclick and whatnot. They've definately had a lasting impression on how advertising is done on the 'net (regardless of poor motives or whether it was a possitive impression)
  • by Anonymous Crowhead ( 577505 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @05:45PM (#15906258)
    That changed my world, permanently.
  • What? (Score:2, Funny)

    by DiscWolf ( 976849 )
    How can you trust a list like that when it doesn't include goatse. Where have they been?
  • (Score:4, Insightful)

    by muftak ( 636261 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @05:48PM (#15906280) wasn't really a website that changed the world, napster was a bit of software that changed the world.
    • (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Crowhead ( 577505 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @05:54PM (#15906331)
      Here's how Napster changed the world: It made a generation of young people think that getting music for free was practically a birthright.
    • by pan_sapiens ( 647704 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @07:08PM (#15906887) Homepage
      .. and yet the mainstream media persist on calling it one, along with kazaa, grokster etc etc.

      Phrases like "the music swapping website kazza" are all two frequent in the media. I find this really depressing because it highlights the general lack of understanding of technologies which the authors then proceed to make value judgements about.

      Most of this is old news to Slashdotters, but just in case a "journalist" reads this post (yeh, right):
      • Napster / Kazaa etc are not websites. They were peer-to-peer filesharing networks, and associated software. After they were shutdown by legal action, the trademarks were retained and used to market services which sell music.
      • They were filesharing networks. This means potentially any data stored on a a computer, legal or illegal, can be shared. Not just music.
      • It's not file swapping, it's sharing. In a swap, two parties exchange goods. If I share a file with you, I do not lose a copy of it, and you don't need to offer me anything in return.

      When anyone calls Napster a "website", they quickly expose that they have no experience with the software they are talking about.

      Eh, got that off my chest, despite being a bit OT ..
  • Quibbler (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Paladin144 ( 676391 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @05:49PM (#15906282) Homepage
    I'm gonna have to quibble (stand back everyone!).

    #3 -

    Ummm... I don't think anybody was going there because of the website. Napster was technically a program that you downloaded and installed on your computer. It used different ports than good ol' 80 and it was not a website in any recognizable way.

    Nothing wrong with Napster, I'm just sayin'!... If we let in, then why not let in?

    • Napster had a web site? Honestly, I used Napster heavily for years, and never even thought to go to for anything...
  • by overshoot ( 39700 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @05:50PM (#15906301)
    Silly, that's because a cat owns the Internet.
  • FriendsReuni...what? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Itninja ( 937614 )
    I must have been absent in geek school the day they talked about I had never even heard about it until I read the list.
  • by Nuclear Elephant ( 700938 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @05:55PM (#15906350) Homepage
    To get a handle on the scale of what has happened, think back to what the world was like 15 years ago.

    It was much BETTER...
    • John Romero wrote better games
    • People still built robot girlfriends
    • Nobody posted Goatsie on fidomail (and if they did, you had plenty of time to cancel the download)
    • If you didn't have anything interesting to say in a chatroom, you could just ask, "hey isn't this cool?"
    • Chicks digged us, cos we could hack their school grades and launch global thermonuclear wars

    • Re:15 Years ago... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by garcia ( 6573 )
      John Romero wrote better games

      Everyone wrote better games then. 10 years ago Romero came out with the best game at the time in a genre that has unforunately stuck around with people believing each one is "new".
    • Mr. Universe has(had?) a robot girlfriend, and that was just last year.
    • and on a philosophical note:

      - we got time to do stuff in the real world whilst out little modems crackled away . . .even if it was only to rant to baffled friends about this newfangled CSS thing . . .

      - our girlfriends & family didn't (on the whole) care for the intarweb and so we didn't have to run about cleaning windows sypware, lest we be accused of evil voodoo for sitting near their machine . . .leaving us at least one fewer thing to get in the way of, well . . . normal relations . .
  • (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 14, 2006 @05:56PM (#15906358) was a classic- more of a service than a website, but it was just one of those things that made anonymnity accesable (and yes, I did post this as AC)
  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @05:57PM (#15906360) Homepage Journal
    have changed the world. Not as individual sites. What is remarkable is how little claim most of these sites have to world changing status.

    Google is the strongest contender. But even Google did not invent the search engine, it "merely" improved it greatly. The Altavista engine, in its day, was a marvel, and it introduced on-line translation. But at the same time Altavista launched, there was Lycos and Excite.

    As a class search engine sites have certainly changed the world. But they appear to me to be a natural development of the web.

    It is possible that a web site like the Drudge report might tip an election and change the world but it hasn't happened.
    • Google has definitely changed the web, and the world, by making a huge amount of information instantly accessible.

      I also would nominate Yahoo for this same status.

      You see, in the early days of the web, there was no way to find anything at all. You had to just hyperlink from one site to another. Most web sites had a Links category where you could find other interesting things. There was no search facility.

      Then, the Yahoo guys came along, and they actually started trying to categorize everything. Th

  • 5.5m users a month? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by celardore ( 844933 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @05:57PM (#15906364)
    10. Founded: Rob Malda, 1997, US Users: 5.5m per month

    What the hell does 5.5m users per month mean? AFAIK the user IDs aren't even at 1m yet.
  • Until I read this, I didn't know that the wikimedia foundation had even registered the .com domain (though, it does make sense). It appears to be nothing more than a redirect to
  • by Lord Kano ( 13027 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @06:01PM (#15906409) Homepage Journal
    I was a /.er for a while beforehand, but when the Columbine shootings happened and then the massive backlash against kids who "don't fit in" sparked the Hellmouth series I was hooked. Slashdot helped to change the world due to those two stories.

    Katz was a fucktard but the Hellmouth [] series [] were groundbreaking. []

    • by kfg ( 145172 ) *
      Ahhhhhhhhhhhh, I actually miss Jon. At least he gave us something real to talk about. Ya know, stuff that mattered. Sometimes it takes a fucktard to do that.

      Of course sometimes you just end up with Dvorak.

      I miss Jon.

  • Tim Berners-Lee (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @06:05PM (#15906440)
    Interesting, he's going to go down in history with similar status as Gutenberg. One of the very very few people alive who will still be referenced in 500, 1000 years where even kings, prime ministers and presidents will be forgotten.

    • Re:Tim Berners-Lee (Score:3, Insightful)

      by WindBourne ( 631190 )
      That is not necessarily true. it is only now, that the book is heading towards obsolescence. For all these centuries, the book has been needed throughout the world. Once a tech is outmoded, then the history tends to be forgotten. After all, how many here can name those that developed ftp, gopher (who, not where), slip (the forerunner to PPP) or SGML (the true foundation of HTML)? And I mean without googling it.

      The web will probably go to the side within another 20 years. Once it does, Tim and others will
  • by TheNoxx ( 412624 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @06:06PM (#15906448) Homepage Journal
    Maybe I've just missed the boat on that one, but it doesn't seem to have more of an impact than any of the sites listed below it... and EasyJet? First time I've heard of them, but again, could've just been out to lunch for that one, but both seem more like advertising plugs than deserving of being on the list. If anything, those modding group websites that release patches like good old Hot Coffee for GTA seem to have made a much larger impact. Shit, if you're going to put up Napster as a website, then you might as well add too. I do wish Cryptome was up there, but... not too surprised it isn't.

    Oh well. I suppose most irk-worthy point is that artists haven't found a large, well-organized central hub on the web to gather around. I suppose Deviantart counts, but... not really. Friends that are far more talented than I can't find any good groups (and technically, the site discourages forming groups. Brilliant.) to organize projects with or easily find people of the same caliber, or just the same level of dedication (hobbyist vs. career artist).

    That, and as it was noted before, the job-finding/headhunting websites are ridiculously inept in comparison to what they could achieve and help others achieve.
    • I like Flickr much better than DA. Flickr is a little bit less snobby, and its easier to ignore the plethera of angsty goths. Granted the signal to noise ratio is much higher on Flickr, but as a whole I think the quality of people is a bit better.

      Speaking of, why aren't the social websites (yes, I could call them Web 2.0, but then I'd have to go shoot myself) such as, or Flickr? Granted has not actually changed much in-itself it started the whole social thing that is so prevelant
      • And while I'm bitching why is there? Didn't LiveJournal come first on the free blogging scene?

        Not only were they first (albeit only by a few months), but they really created the whole blogging scene in the first place. LiveJournal is far more worthy of a "website that changes the world" award than Blogger. I don't use either, but LJ started it all, and for the first few years, no one had even heard of Blogger. This is just yet another article from an uninformed journalist that wasn't there at

    • by grahamsz ( 150076 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @06:25PM (#15906585) Homepage Journal
      FriendsReunited is a school reunion site, or probably a Web 2.0 social networking paradigm. I can only think of about 1 person in my high school class that isn't listed, it's got phenomenal scope. Unfortunately they started charging to contact people, and quite honestly i dont care that much about contacting old friends... after all I lost contact with them for good reason.

      OTOH easyjet are huge. I'm not sure how you could miss them, they pretty much changed the european airline industry.

      I thought it was actually a fairly good list. Considering i've used almost every one of those sites, and at least half of them would be in my personal top 10.

      • I guess I made a logical fault in most web sites being universal in the english-speaking world, so I didn't consider UK-specific or euro-specific possibilities. Honest to god, I'd only seen an ad for the reunion thing amongst the plethora of other reunion sites, and I'd never heard the name EasyJet once till now.

        Learn something new every day.
    • And both Friends Reunited and EasyJet are very popular UK web sites.

  • ... Richard Stallman, the founder of the Free Software movement and author of the GPL, says that while he doesn't support the philosophy of "open source" ...

    Joe, tell me it ain't so!
    • Actually, I think that is the origin of a dramatic world change, although it may never be recognized by the mass of mankind.

      ...Oh, and some successor of babelfish will fundamentally enhance our ability to communicate globally, so that site will prove to be a landmark.


  • The real innovators (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Animats ( 122034 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @06:40PM (#15906693) Homepage
    Here are some of the real innovators. The links given are all to their earliest pages, from 1996.
    • [] FedEx had the first major web site that did something - you could track packages and get an immediate response.
    • [] The first web site that supported page creation via the web. The first general-purpose shopping cart. Eventually became Yahoo Store. Implemented in LISP.
  • US (Score:2, Interesting)

    by minus_273 ( 174041 )
    notice that even though this is a british site, all but one of the sites mentioned is american.
  • #16 (Score:3, Funny)

    by spirit_fingers ( 777604 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @06:45PM (#15906727)

    OK, maybe it didn't change, like, the WHOLE world, but it sure rocked mine.
  • Interesting list (Score:3, Interesting)

    by z_gringo ( 452163 ) <z_gringo@hotmai l . com> on Monday August 14, 2006 @07:12PM (#15906919)
    I mostly agree with them.

    I have never been on, but I see why it made the list.

    I have never heard of either "" or "" - Yay! - What? How did this crappy website change the world? - Duh.. Why isn't this number 1? - Really? Yahoo?

    15. (Budget airline) -- And out of nowhere. Easyjet? Man, I love Easyjet. I fly them everywhere I can. But I don't see how they changed the world or even influenced any other sites very much. This was a really wierd one to be on this list.

    • Uhh, Obviously you don't know much about your #1 pick because google OWNS and has owned for quite some time.

      Where you even around in the 'good ol days' ?
    • Re:Interesting list (Score:3, Interesting)

      by adrianmonk ( 890071 ) - Duh.. Why isn't this number 1? - Really? Yahoo?

      Have you not been on the internet very long!? Yahoo deserves to be on the list more than Google does, in my opinion, for two reasons:

      1. Yahoo was the first site to try to index the web; sure, at first it was manually (by hiring people to read e-mail suggestions that they should list a site and then categorizing it by hand), and that failed to scale (SLIGHTLY), but they were the first site that tried to scratch the "I think this migh
      • Have you not been on the internet very long!?

        quite a while. Longer than yahoo.

        I was just surprised to see them on the list. It's not like I hate yahoo or anything. And clearly you are a big fan. That is great. I can't argue with either of your points.

        Yahoo has a really nice currency converter, which I have used for years.

        We agree that sucks though, right?

  • The strangest thing is how casually we have come to take it for granted. We buy books from Amazon, airline tickets from Easyjet and Ryanair, tickets for theatres and cinemas online, as if doing so were the most natural thing in the world.

    Welcome to the power of the liberal market, catastrophe theory and tipping points, or How Things Change. Who says mathematics is completely useless.

  • Geocities (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Trespass ( 225077 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @08:16PM (#15907268) Homepage
    Yeah, Geocities. A lot of people made their first (crappy) webpage there and got their feet wet that way.
  • To mark the 15 years of WWW and HTTP, there is not one that is 15 years old. What about dejanews. What about hotbot? Yes, they are not around anymore, yet at their time they realy changed at least the online world.

    And what about the real first ones? They actually DID change the world.
  • by jeffsenter ( 95083 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @08:23PM (#15907289) Homepage
    I think the list is pretty good, but it is missing what got the web started in large part, porn. I don't mean to be a troll, but early in the web's commercial development porn was a big fraction of the business, perhaps a third of the web. I do not know if there is a single pioneering porn website that could be listed with the likes of eBay, Yahoo, and craigslist, but porn's role should not be forgotten.

    P.S. I think Yahoo should be ranked higher. Yahoo was a leader in searching and portalness. also maybe should have made the list over say or
  • by Joebert ( 946227 ) on Monday August 14, 2006 @08:31PM (#15907327) Homepage
    I can't believe isn't on that list !
    When's the last time anyone was paid $14 million For Sex [] ?
  • Hope this story does not create a sudden rush of vistitors to slashdot, so many so that the site goes down and create a name for that phenomenon ;-)

I THINK MAN INVENTED THE CAR by instinct. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.