RIP Pageflakes?

Pageflakes is deadSome time in early November, Pageflakes went down, and it hasn’t come back yet. Pageflakes is a free web “start page” service. It let’s one aggregate a variety of web resources, especially dynamic feeds of information from other sites, onto single pages, by way of widgets. It also provided special functions that other similar services didn’t, like mini-blogs, message boards, and so on. I had come to depend on Pageflakes to present materials I found on the web, bringing together the sundry other tools I use to track useful information, including the blogroll in the sidebar of this page you’re reading now. Now I have to begin again.

UPDATE 28 Nov 2010: Pageflakes is back, sort of.  Today, I was able to load part of one of my pages.  A number of small images didn’t load – so you can’t really tell what you’re clicking on – and it was incredibly slow to load even the little it did.  But there seems to be some life in the old girl yet.
UPDATE 2 Dec 2010: I cannot yet get a full load of Pageflakes.  Sometimes some widgets load; other times I get a “service unavailable” message.  It seems like their servers are drowning – in what, I don’t know.
UPDATE 13 Dec 2010: Pageflakes appears up and running.  Loading pages is still (sometimes) an ordeal.  I can find no explanation or discussion about the service outage.  The Community area is loading poorly.
UPDATE 22 Mar 2011: It’s down again. It may have been for some time.
UPDATE 8 Apr 2011: It’s up again. Response time seems much faster. I wonder how long it will last this time.

Pageflakes’ main competitors are StumbleUpon and Netvibes. StumbleUpon is interesting in that it helps you explore the web in interesting ways, but it doesn’t provide the tools I prefer to use. Netvibes is very close to Pageflakes, lacking only a couple of tools I like, but it is an extremely polished and highly usable service. I’d actually started with Netvibes, some years ago, but switched to Pageflakes because of services like the mini-blogs and messaging systems. While Pageflakes was a little clumsy compared to Netvibes, I thought it won roundly on functionality. So I was quite happy with it, and used it quite a bit.

I’ve written elsewhere about Pageflakes and why I chose it over Netvibes, and I won’t repeat myself here. I will say, however, that I found very useful to organize and present web resources. I use Google Reader, Diigo and Zotero to track web resources of interest. I was able to package all these sources of information into a single, consistent bundle with Pageflakes. This is important to me because one of my main functions as a professor is to find really good information and make it available to my students and colleagues. Pageflakes let me do that.

I also had plans to base more courseware on Pageflakes, using its blog and messaging systems to get students more involved in the courses I taught, and collaborate better with colleagues.

Well, that’s all gone now, I think. Pageflakes has been down for some time, the site’s main page only gives a trite message that it will be back “soon,” and I can find no information on Google about what’s going on. It smells a lot like Pageflakes Inc. has folded.  I don’t know for sure, and I really hope not, but it sure looks that way to me. (Please note: I have no reliable information whatsoever about the current state of Pageflakes, and no one should read this and think that I do. I’m just running on my experience mucking about with the web since its early days in the mid-1990s.)

So back to Netvibes I go. And it will be hard. I’ve lost some information permanently because it was stored only in Pageflakes, like a mini-blog about my work in the City Move workshop in Malmberget, back in 2009. Likewise some notes I’d made on sundry topics are stuck in limbo. I know I should have found some way of backing stuff up, even if only as OPML exports, but it honestly didn’t cross my mind that this kind of service failure could happen. Mea culpa.

So there will be a slight delay while I update my old Netvibes site, try to put in as much as I can remember I had in Pageflakes, and tweak all the feeds here and on other sites I run to point to Netvibes.

Will I go back to Pageflakes if it ever comes back? I don’t know. They’ve burned me pretty badly; fool me twice, as they say, shame on me. But I learnt a long time ago to never say never, so I’ll be patient, wish Pageflakes the best, and see what the future holds.

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18 thoughts on “RIP Pageflakes?

  1. Pageflakes.com now simply loads the generic “Service Unavailable” error, a sign that they are almost assuredly dead.

    Personally I thought they jumped the shark when they started the overly-obtrusive advertising widgets (something which could be “fixed” with the Stylish plug-in via Firefox). I guess it’s time to look for pageflakes replacement…

    • Yes, the ads were a bit over the top, but they still didn’t prevent functionality. I was happy to live with the ads since pageflakes was a free service. What I liked the least was the sudden and unannounced nature of the change. They should have told the user community about the ads.

  2. What about iGoogle as a replacement for Pageflakes? The one thing I’ll miss is the “Top links” widget. It was so convenient to organize the links I used the most.

    • iGoogle would be good except that I can’t make the pages public; I can only share them with specific people. And for my purposes as an instructor and researcher, publishing to the “world” is very important.

  3. hi.
    I use pageflakes to check my gmail from work as gmail is blocked by firewall

    I don’t like netvibes because I cannot read the emails (only the subject) or send emails from it. However, with pageflakes it is possible and that’s why I love it.

    Do you guys know any other platform from which I could read gmail and send emails?

    thanks

    • You’re right: in Netvibes, when you click an email message, it opens gmail. Obviously this isn’t going to work for you.
      iGoogle does seem to have a gmail widget that opens within iGoogle rather than starting gmail. Have you tried that?
      Cheers.
      Fil

    • Aw, nuts. You’re employer has some serious security issues (psychological ones, not computer ones). I don’t know what else to suggest to you. If I ever hear of anything, I’ll post it here.
      Cheers.
      Fil

  4. Pingback: Tweets that mention RIP Pageflakes? « the trouble with normal -- Topsy.com
  5. Pingback:   PageFlakes – a cautionary reminder that free comes with a price by ClintLalonde.net
  6. Looks like it’s gone again. I think it went down Sat or Sun, 3/12-13, just didn’t think to get upset about it for a few days.

    It’s hard to use a site as your Homepage when it’s down so much.

    • Yeah. I’ve switched to NetVibes. It’s prettier, but not quite as interesting. I hope from the ashes of PageFlakes, something good comes. I’d switch back if I thought they were back for good. Fingers crossed.

  7. Tried Netvibes as an alternative but it’s too noisy for my tastes.Found Protopage a long time ago, I believe it was the first to use Ajax before the rest, so says Leo Laporte. So I’m loving being back to the same place as I started!

    • Taste is of course an important factor too. Protopage is quite similar to netvibes functionally. The most important feature for me is being able to make some parts of my site public while keeping others private. Protopage does this too.

      I’m sticking with netvibes (for now at least) because I actually like the look & feel of netvibes better than that of protopage.

      My I ask: what do you mean that netvibes is too “noisy”?

  8. yeah i used pageflakes for gmail at work too, argh.

    igoogle used to load gmail inline but not anymore it seems. helppppppp i neeeddddd 24hhhhh accesssss too myyyyy emaillllllsss

  9. there is a new site providing free custom startpages, it has links,bg image, search with google and rss functions.

    http://www.pageandlinks.com

    its for creative people suitable more than netvibes.
    stumbleupon is great but sort of different thing

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