Life, Programming

Blast from the past: The Humor Archive

There’s no point to this post; it’s just a collection of memories I have about launching one of my first websites.

The first website I ever built was called “The Humor Archive:”

  • It went online in late 1999 at the URL The motivation behind the building of the site was that our ISP offered free Web space to all subscribers; my dad agreed that I could use the space if I learned how to create a website, so I chose to use the spacious 5MB to build a collection of funny lists and jokes. I curated the archive by copying/pasting funny things I found online (usually without attribution, because I was young and didn’t know any better), and I also included a new humor column each week written by my dad. He didn’t write them specifically for my site; they had been published previously in a number of Midwestern newspapers.

  • I dutifully submitted the site to various directories and search engines; at some point, I realized that I was getting the short end of the stick from dmoz, since it listed sites in alphabetical order. That’s when I had the stroke of genius to rename “The Humor Archive” to “Absurd! The Humor Archive.” I would later rename it again in an attempt to game the listings, this time to “!Absurd! The Humor Archive.” My SEO skills were obviously ahead of their time. (Looking back through the archives of alt.html, I realized that I had originally named the site “Did you hear the one about?…”, but changed it after this response from legendary Finn Jukka Korpela.)

  • Not long after I launched it (using Notepad and WS_FTP), I noticed that my odometer-style hit counter was jumping up by dozens each time I would refresh the page. As it turned out, The Humor Archive was the fourth result when AOL users searched for “humor.” That high placement didn’t last long, but the feeling while it did was exhilarating.

  • For a short while, I ran a mailing list called “The Daily Laugh.” I doubt I sent out more than five editions of the “daily” laugh over a period of six months, but I never bothered to change the name to “The Occasional Laugh.”

  • When my family moved and I no longer had access to our old ISPs Web space, The Humor Archive disappeared. Surprisingly, someone actually noticed.

Eventually, I took The Humor Archive offline and forgot about it.


I’ve collected the pieces of the site that I could find online and in my backups and reinstated it at

Sharp-eyed readers with a memory for early-21st century websites may recognize the header graphic as coming from I was unable to find the original header image, but as it turns out, FlamingText is still up and running, producing exactly the same graphics as it did ten years ago, so the current header is a faithful reproduction. (I don’t remember why I chose cows as the theme for the site – besides the bovine header, the list bullets are all little cow heads – but it was probably because cows are hilarious.)


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