How long until you’re hiding something?

I came across an interesting discussion recently. The content doesn’t matter, but there are a few things to think about ..

Let me summarize the issue:

  • – years ago, something happened
  • – Someone blogged about it
  • – People linked to that post
  • – that blog is now gone.

The reaction of some the people looking for the content now is that the original “blog owner” has attempted to erase history by not having the blog anymore. Now I’m not privy as to why the blog disappeared. Just thinking quickly, it could be that the costs of the domain/hosting/etc were no longer justified, could be that the platform it was hosted on is gone, it could be that it was no longer relevant to the owner, it could be that tiny little aliens showed up and zapped the database with their evil mind rays… the reasons don’t really matter (or do they?).

On the one hand, I see and understand thoughts from people like Dave Winer about maintaining a web presence long term, as in after you’re off the planet. On the other hand though, until you do kick the bucket, are you expected to maintain every web presence you’ve created so that hyperlinks will work until the end of time lest someone accuse you of hiding that you thought something sucked 20 years ago?

I don’t have an answer… but I admit to leaning on the Internet Archive‘s wayback machine from time to time though..

What do you think? Does online content have an expiration date? If so, who sets it?

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  1. The person writing the blog sets it. Personal freedom and all that.

    Isn’t that what the Internet is supposed to be all about?

    Good move not linking to the story that inspired this post, by the way. I fully support your decision.

  2. Bill Deys says:

    Yep the site’s owner decides when the site goes down, though now a day we can use things like the wayback machine to check on dead sites. Something to remember before you hit publish!

    You also have to remember that a screen capture is an easy way for anyone to save proof. That goes for both sides on the coin!

  3. julien says:

    this is actually a pretty solid idea. eventually everyone will have ‘hid’ something, no?

  4. KeiferB says:

    Yep I agree the content and it’s expiry is solely the responsibility of the creator.

  5. Mark Blevis says:

    I don’t even think it’s a matter of hiding something. It’s easy to amass a ton of content on a number of independent Internet properties. Many content creators find that eventually it is too much to manage either from a keep-current perspective or from a simple administrative perspective. Or perhaps the ship on which the content was created has sailed and it no longer bears any relevance to the creator.

    While we all get to enjoy the content that is made available, ultimately it is the creator of that content that has the right to do with it what they wish. And there should be no reason for others to take issue with the decision of the creator.

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