Since Friday, many members of Tripod have tried to access their home pages and accounts and found them gone. The company is owned by Terra Lycos Inc. and provides simple site development and maintenance tools as well as hosting for millions of Web sites.
The culprit is a "technical error" that deleted numerous acceptable sites from Tripod's servers, along with those deemed to have violated the company's Terms of Service, according to Dorianne Almann, a spokesperson for Tripod's communications and community section.
Among the deleted sites were several that Tripod itself is spotlighting as Super Member sites. They come from sections such as Cars & Trucks and Home & Family. Among the missing was a high school wrestling team site in the Sports section.
Sweeping sites clean
Tripod has a team that reviews member sites to maintain the integrity of its content, Almann says. Policy violators are removed routinely, but this time some sites and members who were not in violation were swept off the servers as well.
Tripod knows which members were wrongfully affected, and their sites "should be restored in the next 24 to 48 hours," Almann says. Those members should also be receiving an e-mail from Tripod with details about the problem.
Like many other free hosting sites, Tripod reserves the right to refuse to host material it deems inappropriate. The list includes what you'd expect: illegal content, offensive or defamatory postings, and copyrighted material posted by someone other than the copyright holder. The policy also bars members from doing some things you might not expect, such as using a Tripod page as a door or signpost to another home page, or conducting their own contests and promotions (a Lycos network condition). Violators can be removed without notice--and even for no reason at all, not an uncommon policy among Web-hosting services.
By Monday afternoon, Tripod's home page still carried no information about the snafu. But rumours have been flying all weekend on Internet newsgroups, chat rooms, and mailing lists--some of them claiming as many as 30,000 sites were affected. The number could not be confirmed by Tripod.