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DIY Search, an internet search engine and directory, was started in 1996 by David Palmer initially as a CGI script and a flat-file text database, being served from a sub directory on a shared hosting provider. The primary motivation for the creation of the site was out of frustration in that in the mid-1990's very little was indexed in terms of DIY (Do It Yourself) projects, the large search engines of the time (pre-Google) simply didn't spider or index out on the fringe zine sites or small record labels or distros (zine and record distributors).

To rectify this situation, Palmer took it upon himself, having been involved in the DIY-ethic for a number of years (primarily through zine publishing) to create a specialized search engine and directory system to catalog independent projects.


The first incarnation of the site appeared in 1996, as a sub-directory off of Palmer's zine home page (the zine, Upstate Zine had been in print since early 1990 and launched a web presence in mid 1995). Originally the directory and search engine was written as a CGI script developed using the PERL language, and mostly compiled together from other existing open source projects. Palmer, a graphic designer by trade, was new to programming and over the coarse of four months learned the language and managed to launch the site in the early spring, posting to alt.zines (a USENET group) announcing that a new independent search engine had launched and needs links to populate the database.

The response was largely mixed, most approving of the idea and submitting links, but at the same time many were dubious of the intentions of the site. It wasn't till a piece written by Mark Frauenfelder and appearing in the online version of Wired Magazine that people started to take note of the site. The piece in Wired Magazine was cautious as well, stressing the real danger of the site being crushed under its own success.

After 1998, the site enjoyed a pretty significant growth in links and users, but cracks started to appear in the foundation. The site was not built to handle the traffic it was experiencing and started to buckle. In addition, spammers and scam artists started taking advantage of the open and free nature of the site and exploited it to boost page ranks of their nefarious endeavors.

The year 2000 saw the site reaching nearly 100,000 unique visitors a month and growing a few hundred links every week. Through the early 2000's the site started to falter. After a series of hacker attacks, the site was taken down numerous times through exploits in open source code (that was use to drive the content management system)

The site was taken down again in 2005 and personal problems cropped up and the site lay dormant for many months. The site came back in May of 2006 with an entirely new code base, design and renewed sense of purpose.

Current State

The site currently has been running without any major problems through its own proprietary software since its relaunch in May 2006. During the intervening months a volunteer editor-in-chief has joined the site. Solomon Grey, a web-comic and fiction writer, joined the effort officially in July of 2006 and has been instrumental in developing new ideas and concepts but also taking on a significant amount of the grunt work. There are a number of new development projects under way, such as DiyShare, and new link moderation tools as well as incorporating more user-participation features.

I Don't Need You

The site's motto, "I don't need you," basically spells out the independent rugged individualistic attitude it takes to undertake a DIY project.

External Links

Editor Blog
A Full History
Original Wired Piece