What is a Single Serving Site?
A Brief History
A single serving site is a site with really only one purpose. In the case of purple.com, the purpose is to show a purple background; for webhamster.com, it is to show you hamsters dancing; and for omglasergunspewpewpew.com, the purpose is, like so many single serving websites, debatable.
The term was first popularized by Jason Kottke in 2008, although some of the earliest examples of single serving sites predate this. At one point, these sites gained enough popular acceptance to be the topic of an academic essay by an Information Science graduate student, Ryan Greenberg. In his paper, he aimed to highlight the concept of a single serving website and provide insight into its role on the Internet. He categorized a list of 130 sites into six groups (popular culture, status, question, information and instruction, advice and commentary, and miscellaneous) and discovered at least one reason why people create single serving sites--it provides a creative medium that most people can view but few can completely understand.
What They're About
Most single serving sites are random in nature. Some aim to provide social commentary while others serve as an online art fixture. Some are matter of fact, others are more convoluted. Some single serving sites are not that useful while others are very useful.
If there is anything to be learned from these sites, it is that like the Internet, there will be good ones and bad ones that will come and go. The best of them though, even if they do go, will be remembered on the Internet for years to come.