Useful sites that go offline

Isn’t it sad when a site you periodically visit goes offline? I grew up in the 90s and 00s when sites were expected to randomly shut down without any notice. It is nothing new, but it’s always a little depressing.

When a big community like Geocities, one of the first places where users could create their own web pages for free, went offline in 2009 it didn’t really bothered me. There were preclosure announcements, a closing day celebration, and proper postmortems made by bloggers and tech giants around the world. Also, big sites like these typically become stagnant over time and begin to stink up the Internet. It’s for the best when the creators/maintainers of such sites take out the trash.

However, what actually makes me sad is when sites that are much smaller just up and disappear one day without any notice. “No goodbye, no see you later, no nothin’. Just left.”

There is one site in particular that I’m thinking about. It was called “TeachThemScience.org”. It was created by the Center for Inquiry and The Clergy Letter Project to counter evangelical Christians in Texas that wanted to alter science curriculum standards in order to comfort their religious beliefs. The evangelicals wanted to include rhetorical arguments in the curriculum to cover the “controversies” surrounding evolution. As stated by TeachThemScience.org, “These false arguments have no basis in science and actually teach students to think unscientifically.”

While certain aspects of the site did revolve around this one particular issue in Texas, the site as a whole was a good resource of scientific knowledge. All of the information provided was presented in a very logical and coherenct manner. It was very easy to navigate and find the facts you need. I would use it from time to time to help explain certain aspects of evolution and science to friends, family, and other random people on the Internet.

Either way, the site is gone now. It succeeded in it’s goal to prevent evangelicals from teaching false arguments to children. [1] It served its purpose, but it was still useful and did not deserve its untimely demise. All that’s left of it are remnants scattered about on archive.org. It’s no longer indexed by google and is not returned in any search results.

However, TeachThemScience.org’s copyright grants permission to share the information for noncommercial, educational purposes, provided the copyright notice appears on the reproduced materials. I may take out the small amount of material that is directed specifically at the Texas issue and host it on a free Github page. I feel this would be of great educational use for others like me who periodically reference this type material.

Maybe there’s a way to automate this and bring more of these dead sites back to life.

Stay tuned.

References

[1] https://ncse.com/news/2011/07/victory-evolution-texas-006802

Written on January 26, 2017