YTMND has returned. Nearly a year after being brought down by a server failure, YTMND is back online and somewhat modernized, removing the need for Flash to view its archive of looping GIFs and synchronized music.
“Everyone is stuck inside right now, so I figured it would be a good time to let people play with the site again,” YTMND founder Max Goldberg told The Verge over Discord.
Goldberg has been working to restore the site since it went offline last May. The site’s database was being stored on eight-year-old hardware and was somehow deleted. After going down, Goldberg said he received an “outpouring of support from people all over.” He launched a Patreon, and “people clearly wanted to support the site sticking around,” so he started work on fixing it up.
The new YTMND looks mostly like the old YTMND that went down last year. But it’s had some major under-the-hood upgrades: the whole site is served over HTTPS, encrypting your connection, and audio is now played in HTML5 instead of Flash, so the site works properly on modern browsers (which no longer support Flash) and on mobile. Goldberg has also removed ads from the site since Patreon supporters are covering his server costs.
YTMND was started in 2004 and played a major role in online culture in the following years. Its eclectic and expansive collection of looping images and audio became the home of a number of early memes, like the Picard song. The site also had its more problematic sides and hosted plenty of shock-out loops, too. But its popularity waned as more formal creation platforms took off, and the site had been effectively dormant for years before going offline in 2019.
Goldberg said YTMND has largely been run has a solo project this whole time, as a side project to his day-to-day freelance work as a programmer and system administrator. The money coming in through Patreon isn’t enough to fund his work on the site, nor the hardware he’s purchased, but Goldberg was compelled to keep working on it by “just the amount and the positivity, how people had such fond memories of it.”
It’s possible, and even likely, that YTMND will remain in the state it’s been for years — an archive of old memories we don’t want to see vanish. “I’m not against it being an archive,” Goldberg said. But with everyone stuck indoors and online right now, looking for things to keep them occupied, maybe that’ll change. “We’ll see where it goes in the next couple weeks,” he said.