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:
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.
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.
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...