Why “Under Construction” should be made illegal on the web


The site www.emr.fr has been "under construction" for over eight years. I noticed it in June 1996 and check back on it periodically. Still Under Construction.

Another site that I noticed as "Under Construction" in June 1996 is www.leary.com. And as of this writing, it is still under construction.

Comments (29)
  1. Zorm says:

    Im rather amazed the sites are still up and running after all that time. One would figure the domain would have expired or such after 8 years.

  2. DrPizza says:

    Perhaps it’s a reflection that web sites are continually in a state of flux. I don’t know about the first one (as Archive.org shat itself when I tried looking) but the second one has actually had content on it at one time or another. Not for the past year or so, though….

  3. Derek Park says:

    Both emr.fr and leary.com apparently exist for the use in email addresses. Google shows email address results for both. It would be nice if such sites would post a "I’m just using this for my email" notice, rather that the standard "coming soon" or "under construction" notice, but oh well.

  4. Matt C. Wilson says:

    I always take "Under Construction" to mean "In my heart I want to have a really cool website but I just don’t give a crap."

  5. Chris Becke says:

    I thought the "Under Construction" stemmed from the real early days of the web, when people would be doing live updates to the web folders.

    "Under Construction" was a kind of hint that on any particular refresh links might not work, content could change (or be badly formed). Just try again soon…

  6. ed says:

    Raymond: You never really made the argument as to why "Under Construction" should be made illegal. All you did was mention two sites that have been so for a long time. So what?

  7. david says:

    Maybe their use is similar to http://www.example.com

  8. Raymond Chen says:

    I thought it was obvious: Because it’s a lie.

  9. quanta says:

    I think it’s a self-conscious thing. People want to put up a site, but realize it will never be good enough for their future "fans", so they put up an "under counstruction" notice as a deflector for not providing content. If someone complains that a link is broken, well, it’s still under construction, buddy.

    And you get to use the cool animated icon of the construction sign with the little man digging!

  10. Duncan says:

    In all fairness Timothy Leary (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_Leary) can’t really update his website….and hasn’t been able to since 1996. He did "drop out" before we were ready to turn on and tune in…

  11. Mat Hall says:

    And don’t forget, Rome wasn’t built in a day!

  12. w.h. says:

    I mean, at least one can do what the people at http://www.fark.com did and put a gross picture up instead.

  13. Scott says:

    It’s alway fun to find a site that was abandoned back in the day and uses the 1996 era icons of the little yellow guy in the hardhart digging.

  14. Michael Moulton says:

    I have always been annoyed when a company takes down a working site to put up under construction info. Take a look at http://www.hk-usa.com/ — had a perfectly good website, and now nothing. Not even a contact number! How much business might they be losing because people can’t even get a phone number from their website?

  15. Richard says:

    I think I can explain why http://www.leary.com still is under construction. It’s hard for a webmaster to make a good website if you’re already lost choosing trippy colors for it while being on LSD ;-)

  16. It would be nice if such sites would post a

    > "I’m just using this for my email" notice

    Or simply provide no HTTP services at all.. but then the WIPO would force you to relinquish your domain because if you don’t have a home page on your Interweb address then you must be cybersquatting! :)

  17. Marc Wallace says:

    Ha! I’ve had pages under construction since 1994. ;-)

    And you’re right, it’s pretty criminal. Especially those cases where sites take everything down just to put up a "coming soon" notice. The Oakland Zoo did that a few years ago. I stopped going.

    But sometimes it’s fun. Try various "standard" entrypoints under the domain and see if it’s just the main index page.

  18. John Goewert says:

    This post is under construction and will re-launch shortly.

  19. Peter Montgomery says:

    While "Under Construction" pages suck, I also hate websites that say "Coming Soon" without a date as to when they put "Coming Soon" on it. In some cases it’s entire websites, but usually it’s links to something that is of use or interest to me. Nothing more annoying than going back after three years to see that something is "Coming Soon." At least if they put a date as to when they made the notation "Coming Soon," you could tell if this was an ancient "Coming Soon," and hence something to not bother checking, or if it’s a recent one.

    I also love it when people don’t update links on websites. I was just on a website recently where the links to a paper on CRC calculations were broken. I took a few minutes to track down the papers on Google, and sent an email to the site owner explaininng the dead links and giving him the new ones. His reply?

    "Thanks for the new links; I haven’t updated my web pages in about five years — and I probably won’t update them now — but it’s good to know in case anyone asks me in the future."

    WTF? I take the time to actually hunt down the working links and make it easy on him, and his attitude is, "It’ll save me time when people email me about the broken links." Well, if he’d take five minutes and fix the site, no one would have to bug him for the links!

  20. Matt says:

    Derek, if the domain names are for email only, then why put up a web site at all? Just close port 80 and keep 25 and 110 open.

  21. kasey says:

    I think Timothy Leary is dead.

  22. DrPizza says:

    He is, but his web page appears to have been updated since his death. Spooky, eh.

  23. Homestarruner made a joke out of it:

    (http://homestarrunner.com/underconstruction.html)

    It’s anime Strongbad VS the digging guy. =^)

    For those of you who aren’t acquanted with Homestarrunner, you’ve got to play the videogames:

    (http://homestarrunner.com/sbemail94.html)

    I think you guys will get a kick out of them. My favorite is the text-based game. =^)

  24. SeattleLocal says:

    I’m surprised the Seattle Monorail site hasn’t been "Under Construction" for 8 years.

  25. Timothy Leary says:

    My http://www.leary.com site does not mention it is "under construction". It says "Currently closed for renovation", which should be interpreted phylosophically as "I will be back". Regretfully I am physically unable to update my site and unfortunately interverse.com just wants to cash in on the interest in me, without disseminating any of my ideas.

  26. DrPizza says:

    ph34r.

  27. Nekto says:

    Big thanks to WayBack machine ;)

    http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.leary.com/

    you could see how it was in 1997 or later

    hmm.. hey! But "under construction" there only from "Jul 13, 2003". Before there are pages!

    But I agree – this sign is a lie. Still it serves sometimes as an persuading thing. People could ask you "when?!". :)

  28. The "closed ports" solution is a good one. But a blank page or a page with just a logo is better than "Under Construction", which is a lie!

  29. Derek Park says:

    Hmm, I already tried to post this once . . .

    Matt, a lot of people get their domain through someone like Yahoo Website Services. In those circumstances, you have no control over whether your webserver is running. Even if you’re just using it for the email, you’ve got some standard, "no content yet" notice.

    Another (probably) common scenario is the file server. i.e. Keeping a website up just to host files on, but with no intention of ever making a proper website. Again, the standard message stays up unless someone changes it.

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