Forum Graveyard

Kyrie

Habitué
Joined
Sep 2, 2009
Messages
1,016
The project I'm looking at is for people who are quitting the forum game. I want to take their data and upload it read-only. What do yall think would be best way to go about this?

I'm interested in the preservation of forums and I truly believe they are special.
 

Oh!

Adherent
Joined
Oct 1, 2020
Messages
295
Have you considered the implications of GDPR, CCPA and similar legislation? I am not 100% sure what you are proposing there.
 

Kyrie

Habitué
Joined
Sep 2, 2009
Messages
1,016
Have you considered the implications of GDPR, CCPA and similar legislation? I am not 100% sure what you are proposing there.

I've had a few people who wanted to abandon their old forums. Offered me ownership, I could have taken it (with permission) and archive it somewhere to save it.
 

haqzore

Devotee
Joined
Dec 6, 2012
Messages
2,573
Archive.org already has more than half a trillion web sites archived, forums included.

What are you going to be able to bring to that table? Especially considering the many forums that are simply abandoned without the owner proactively looking for someone to "give it to"?
 

Oh!

Adherent
Joined
Oct 1, 2020
Messages
295
Archive.org already has more than half a trillion web sites archived, forums included.

What are you going to be able to bring to that table? Especially considering the many forums that are simply abandoned without the owner looking for someone to "give it to"?
To be fair, The Wayback Machine tends to record little of the directory depth. In my experience, most forum content is not archived.
 

haqzore

Devotee
Joined
Dec 6, 2012
Messages
2,573
To be fair, The Wayback Machine tends to record little of the directory depth. In my experience, most forum content is not archived.
True enough.

I still think the majority of abandoned forums are just that - abandoned. This is the situation in every one of the lost forums I've had interest in.

Maybe I'm not "on the inside" enough to have seen owners still around and looking for people to "give away" their data to?
 

Oh!

Adherent
Joined
Oct 1, 2020
Messages
295
Ah. If you are taking over the domain and content, I expect this should be OK. From your opening post it seemed like that you would be taking the data and repurposing it elsewhere, which might be problematic. After all, this is not what most members would expect. Irrespective, my guess is that permanently holding onto the personal data of (European) former members (of the defunct groups) could cause some problems.
 

Jeremy8

Enthusiast
Joined
Mar 7, 2007
Messages
175
Ah. If you are taking over the domain and content, I expect this should be OK. From your opening post it seemed like that you would be taking the data and repurposing it elsewhere, which might be problematic. After all, this is not what most members would expect. Irrespective, my guess is that permanently holding onto the personal data of (European) former members (of the defunct groups) could cause some problems.
I assume most data that the GDPR might have issues with is private anyway, meaning it wouldn't need to be converted to a static version with things like usernames and posts.
 

Oh!

Adherent
Joined
Oct 1, 2020
Messages
295
True enough.

I still think the majority of abandoned forums are just that - abandoned. This is the situation in every one of the lost forums I've had interest in.

Maybe I'm not "on the inside" enough to have seen owners still around and looking for people to "give away" their data to?
I think we are going to have to accept that most content is not worth preserving. Or, at least, not worth the effort (time, money, storage). I think we (Internet users in general) need to think about what is worth preserving. I see it as somewhat akin to preserving buildings. Some are old and historic, and should be preserved if for no other reason than they form rare examples from their time. Some buildings are intrinsically important pieces of architecture, and again worth preserving (even if relatively new). If we kept all the old buildings, nothing would develop and we'd be stuck with crumbling structures, poorly insolated, etc. Most content on the Internet these days is ephemeral and of no real value in the first place. Let it - or most of it - go.
 

Jeremy8

Enthusiast
Joined
Mar 7, 2007
Messages
175
I think we are going to have to accept that most content is not worth preserving. Or, at least, not worth the effort (time, money, storage). I think we (Internet users in general) need to think about what is worth preserving. I see it as somewhat akin to preserving buildings. Some are old and historic, and should be preserved if for no other reason than they form rare examples from their time. Some buildings are intrinsically important pieces of architecture, and again worth preserving (even if relatively new). If we kept all the old buildings, nothing would develop and we'd be stuck with crumbling structures, poorly insolated, etc. Most content on the Internet these days is ephemeral and of no real value in the first place. Let it - or most of it - go.
One man's trash is another man's treasure. In other words, it might not be worth it to most people, but maybe it is to someone. Maybe an old engineering forum contains information about how to fix a really old appliance that isn't posted elsewhere on the internet. Maybe a dead gaming forum is nostalgic for fans to see what the community was like in its prime. If it's important to someone and they want to spend their time and money preserving it, why not?
 

Oh!

Adherent
Joined
Oct 1, 2020
Messages
295
I assume most data that the GDPR might have issues with is private anyway, meaning it wouldn't need to be converted to a static version with things like usernames and posts.
I don't entirely follow you there.

I am not saying there is necessarily a problem, but usernames are indeed considered 'personal data' for the purposes of the GDPR. Perhaps a contact system could be employed for people to request content deletion. Though, there probably will be no way for you verify the authenticity of who is making the request. They might be required to sign an affidavit that they are the author/user and hint at some penalty if they misrepresent themselves. But a talk with a lawyer about the implications of doing that would seem in order.
 

Jeremy8

Enthusiast
Joined
Mar 7, 2007
Messages
175
I don't entirely follow you there.

I am not saying there is necessarily a problem, but usernames are indeed considered 'personal data' for the purposes of the GDPR. Perhaps a contact system could be employed for people to request content deletion. Though, there probably will be no way for you verify the authenticity of who is making the request. They might be required to sign an affidavit that they are the author/user and hint at some penalty if they misrepresent themselves. But a talk with a lawyer about the implications of doing that would seem in order.
I think you're right that username can sometimes be considered a part of a user's personal identity (but not always). I don't think this issue would be unique to archiving forums though. In fact, sites like archive.org already have partial archives of forum data anyway. I'm not a lawyer, but I don't see this as a roadblock here.
 

Oh!

Adherent
Joined
Oct 1, 2020
Messages
295
One man's trash is another man's treasure. In other words, it might not be worth it to most people, but maybe it is to someone. Maybe an old engineering forum contains information about how to fix a really old appliance that isn't posted elsewhere on the internet. Maybe a dead gaming forum is nostalgic for fans to see what the community was like in its prime. If it's important to someone and they want to spend their time and money preserving it, why not?
I don't disagree. Only that it is impossible to keep everything, and in attempting to do so (and failing) means that important content is disappearing anyway. There are possible Right to be Forgotten implications too. Should the inane scribblings of schoolchild be immortalized in perpetuity? Or, anyone for that matter? (Rhetorical questions)
 

Oh!

Adherent
Joined
Oct 1, 2020
Messages
295
I think you're right that username can sometimes be considered a part of a user's personal identity (but not always). I don't think this issue would be unique to archiving forums though. In fact, sites like archive.org already have partial archives of forum data anyway. I'm not a lawyer, but I don't see this as a roadblock here.
The problem is that laws and legal complaints are often applied retrospectively to such content. I anticipate more problems before we reach some better kind of better consensus on what is the best approach.
 

zappaDPJ

Administrator
Joined
Aug 26, 2010
Messages
7,751
To be clear, digital archives (databases) are not exempt from GDPR assuming they contain information that meets the GDPR’s definition of personal data . If the archive is made accessible and therefore public facing then the usual regulations apply.

I'd say if the abandoned content has real value then it's worth putting it back online but if it's just general chat, I'd leave it to rot.
 

LeadCrow

Apocalypse Admin
Joined
Jun 29, 2008
Messages
6,660
I want to take their data and upload it read-only. What do yall think would be best way to go about this?
Read-only is barely better than completely offline, without guaranteed purge of specific records like PMs, private sections, - anything that isnt completely public or safe to be.

Many online activities are better off being purged from people's records, instead of eternally preserved and capable of haunting them decades later. If a forum cannot be reactivated anymore and served as an independant platform, its most useful information like guides could simply be freely copypasted under liberal terms, or transferred to a new trustworthy custodian at no cost.
Transferrals of custodianship used to be the norm before the opportunity to cash out for a big payout corrupted webmasters of hobbyist communities.
 

Claverhouse

Aspirant
Joined
Aug 25, 2006
Messages
21
Archive.org and The Wayback Machine won't be around forever.



[ Plus Archive.org is fearfully fugly; and not essentially user friendly. ]
 

Jeremy8

Enthusiast
Joined
Mar 7, 2007
Messages
175
Archive.org and The Wayback Machine won't be around forever.



[ Plus Archive.org is fearfully fugly; and not essentially user friendly. ]
I doubt it's going anywhere any time soon. It has existed for nearly two decades.

That being said, you're right that it's not user friendly. It's also extremely slow and, from my experience, only saves a small amount of content from forums.
 
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haqzore

Devotee
Joined
Dec 6, 2012
Messages
2,573
Archive.org and The Wayback Machine won't be around forever.



[ Plus Archive.org is fearfully fugly; and not essentially user friendly. ]
Nothing is guaranteed forever.

Nothing personal, but I'd trust a 20+ year old company far more than a single random dude.
 
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