Oasis plans

Since we're officially at the half-way point of the year, I figured I should catch everyone up on the state of things with Oasis.

As we haven't really moved the needle on traffic, and no plans have emerged to continue the site in some new direction with increased traffic, the site will shut down on November 30. As for why that specific date, Oasis launched on December 1, 1995, so that will put it at exactly 19 years.

As for what happens between now and then, here is what I am looking into:

Journal exports

Since many people have shared their lives on this site, I do want to give people the option to take all of their content with them. The site will already give you an ugly XML dump of your content now, but that is more suitable for importing into some other blog platform moreso than something you could actually read/keep as a record of your time here.

So, I am looking to find some easy way to get everyone the ability to export a Word or PDF document of their content. It may not be the prettiest, but I do want people to be able to take this content with them in some fashion.

That will be your journal content only, I'm guessing, not forums. I would like your journals to retain the comments, as well, if possible.

I want to try and get the journal export set up as soon as possible, so people who no longer post/visit the site often can grab their stuff sooner rather than later.

Account deletion

I'll discuss the post-November 30 plans next, but a crucial piece of what will happen after November 30, as far as I'm concerned, is whether users can delete their user accounts/content on demand. As I understand it right now, our software doesn't allow it, primarily because of how community content builds.

Examples:

If swimmerguy started a forum, and it became a popular one that everyone commented on for years, like the wordplay ones, or the sadly traffic-driving "I don't want to be gay!" forum, if he deleted his account, that whole thread would disappear from the forums, taking hundreds of people's comments with him.

Also, if someone comments on a journal, and a good chunk of subsequent replies reply to that journal comment and not the journal itself, then the same thing would happen, a user deletion would wipe out that whole conversation.

So, there is a practical reason for the software to disallow outright deletion.

What the software does when you "delete" an account now is the login details and profile do get deleted, but all of the content remains and it just attributed to the anonymous account. So, if something identifiable shows up in Google, it is still on Google, just not linked to your account/username/profile anymore.

When users who have wanted content deleted in the past have been told of this setup, about half of users manually go and delete the content from each and every journal, and then we delete the account so those blanked journals get attributed to anonymous. So, this isn't a new problem.

So, what will be here on December 1?!

First and foremost, the site will not immediately disappear. On that day, people will no longer be able to post new journals, and comments site-wide will be disabled. No new users will be able to join the site, and I imagine pm's will still function in case people want to trade contact info, etc.

I imagine the only content on the front page will be something from me announcing that the site has shut down, and how to get your content/delete your account. We will continue to stay up and running for some period of time to enable people to get their content downloaded.

Here is where I'm still not sure what happens, as Adrian and I have different views on this. He is visiting NYC next week, so we'll probably talk through this stuff. But there are two options floating around for what happens long term after the site is closed, but still online:

Option 1: It disappears.

This is my preference. The site will forever be archived in some deep corners of the Internet anyway, so people can dig it up if they want to on archive.org or something. Once you remove the live aspect of the site, I just don't think it is worth keeping online as some perpetual archive.

Since I'm closely associated with the site, I get regular e-mails already about now-older people wanting their teenaged ramblings removed so it stops showing up on Google as they look for jobs now as adults, as there is some weird thing that still possibly links it to them personally. So, I'd rather just cut the cord, and give people a few months to download their content, and then it just goes away.

Option 2: It stays up as a frozen archive.

This is Adrian's preference. And, in many cases, I agree with this philosophy. I wrote for an Internet magazine during the dot-com era, and none of the stuff I wrote back then is still online, which seems... insane, as it relates directly to the growth of the Internet that exists today (but isn't on the Internet today). But web content platforms were still new then, and moving content from one to the other apparently wasn't a top priority, so none of that stuff exists.

I just don't see LGBT* youth, in any meaningful numbers, using the site to look back at the issues facing kids their own age back in 1997, 2001, or 2006, etc. Some academics may want it, and a handful of others, but not enough to matter.

That said, as long as there is some method for people to: 1) gain access to their accounts and 2) delete their accounts that is spelled out online and specifically does not involve me, I guess I don't care strongly enough to say no. BUT, the deletion/account management has to both be spelled out on the site, and not involve me. Otherwise, I'm still in "delete my teenaged ramblings" mode in perpetuity, which is a boring task I am not planning to continue.

I don't think there is all that much new information in this update, but a lot of this stuff I've said here and there to various people on journals or such. So, I wanted to capture everything in one place.

I don't mean to sound dispassionate about the site disappearing after 19 years, as it has become a part of my life after nearly two decades. But that sort of reflection can come later. After the technology/future stuff is taken care of...

Comments

jeff's picture

Just to close the loop,

Just to close the loop, there was a discussion online where angel syndrome was thinking of taking over the site. While I'd be interested to see how his vision would play out, he ultimately realized he is just too busy with school, art, and other projects to give this one the time it would need.

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"You don't know you're beautiful." - Harry Styles

Uncertain's picture

I prefer the former option.

I prefer the former option.

jeff's picture

Overdue update...

So, Adrian was recently visiting in NYC, so we had a chance to discuss these things and here is the update.

Nothing will change on Oasis prior to December 1. So, there will be no advance methods of journal extraction, etc. On that date, the site will be switched to read-only. If it is something that I can do, it will be at midnight on the east coast of the US. If it something adrian will have to do, then it will happen after that time, but on that day. ;-)

Shortly thereafter, Adrian will go through and have our web system export a flat HTML version of the site. (The site may be offline or somesuch for a bit as he tinkers with that)

After that, the site will look the same, but there will no longer be any way to update it, send private messages, login, etc. It will just be a flat text representation of what the site looked like when it went offline.

The key component of this will be the removal of profile pages (since we always told people their profile pages were where they could put things and not have them indexed by Google), and making sure the user pages can be exported.

On the export, the solution is rather simple. The goal is to make the journal page for each user (such as this page for Beau) present the full text of every article that user has written, with no comments, so that any user could take that page and use their operating system or a browser plug-in to create a single PDF of all of their content. I do not know if the comments all disappear from the site at that point, or whether they require clicking to make them appear (might be too soon to know that).

So, everyone will get a chance to make a pretty PDF of their content. At that point, adrian will also have some solution where you can submit your all of your content for deletion. And then you will have a PDF of everything you wrote here, and it is no longer available online. Or, leave it here. Your choice.

How long the site stays online at that point will be up to Adrian, and whatever he sets up, as I will no longer be involved. But there should be no issue that cannot be automated as far as creating your own export, or deleting all your content.

But the new bit of info is that pm's and any logged-in activity will cease on that day. So, if anyone does plan to stay in contact with people from Oasis after December, exchange contact info early. One thing to remember is that I won't have it, either, as the system will disappear. So after December 1, it will be completely inaccessible AFAIK.

Probably no updates for a while, as it sounds like everything happens after 12/1 now, as opposed to things happening in advance.

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"You don't know you're beautiful." - Harry Styles

MacAvity's picture

-

Sad to see Oasis go, of course, but I can see that it's time....

A way to get all the journal entries and their comments would be much appreciated - I've taken a few of mine by copy-and-paste, and I'm willing to do the same for the rest, but if there's an easier way then that's obviously preferable.

Deletion makes sense to me - if there's no activity it seems unlikely that enough newcomers would benefit much by going back and reading old journals, and the problem of privacy would probably outweigh....

Roamer's picture

I'm a bit dismayed that

I'm a bit dismayed that there's no official Oasis page on Facebook...if GLBT teens don't know about this site how can they experience it???

I spend quite a bit of time Facebooking and think it would be great exposure for this site, and maybe could save it???

(Alex)

jeff's picture

There was one...

The problem with Oasis is typically that many of our users are closeted, so the only content ever posted there was when I would do interviews or somesuch, and no one would share content from the site, or comment publicly, etc., and if it were a private group, people could join, but then it was would just be mainly the same people as here all decloaked on there.

Which was another issue, people liked their anonymity on Oasis, and didn't want everyone here to know their real names, locations, and to look through their friends, etc., to figure out which one they were writing about crushing on, etc.

And also because Oasis is anonymous, if people were saying that they post on here, and recommending it, then their friends would be able to come here and sort out who they were. So, people told me they specifically can't post or share anything, or join, for that reason. And that also included their gay friends, since they wanted a place where they could just post without worrying who would read it.

I had since closed up our Facebook and Twitter pages, maybe 2-3 years ago?

I really don't anticipate anything saving Oasis.

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"You don't know you're beautiful." - Harry Styles

Perhaps We Should Leave's picture

Yup

Part of the reason I post here is because nobody knows what I'm talking about... After some people learned who I was on this site I basically stopped posting things. :P Can't talk about private stuff that way.

* * *

And as I stand here, strange and fearful,
beholding heaven at the peak,
I know that to complete my journey
still stranger pastures must I seek.

ChrisH1551's picture

"Journal exports"

Should've read this post before I bothered to just swipe all my journals into a wordpad file.

Took an hour and a half, but they're all there and dated with the dates bolded!

jeff's picture

Well...

Your version may be prettier than the end result we come up with, so I wouldn't worry too much about the lost time. I still need to move all my interviews from here to jeffwalsh.com, keep putting it off...

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"You don't know you're beautiful." - Harry Styles