This is the second time I've been hit by an Area 51 site I got really involved in (Productivity.SE), being closed due to "not enough activity" (the first was Startups).
Productivity.SE was active for eight years. I joined after 3 or 4. It had plenty of activity when I was involved. I didn't pay much heed to the "Beta" badge. Had I known all my content could be deleted, I wouldn't have bothered, and would've posted it on my blog.
Today I wanted to point someone to an insightful Q&A I had bookmarked on the site. Gone. I downloaded the dump, found the question (in an XML attribute (not element)🤮), but,
- I can't map it to URLs, so there's no way to even check if archive.org has a copy.
- I can't easily figure out where the answers are in the archive and how they're linked to it.
- Googling for exact strings doesn't find anything - the caches have been purged.
Let's not get into technical details on how to do this. The vast majority of users will have given up way before this point. I'm not going to send my friend some XML dump. I'm not going to try to resurrect the site somewhere (I don't have the time or the brand to not look like yet another SE copycat). I have nothing to show on my resume for my effort.
Is it really that expensive for SE to host a frozen, static, copy of these sites? Wouldn't ads make up for the hosting costs? It pains me to see so much valuable content (that I know of) being simply wiped out. And it pains Jeff Atwood too, and also Shog9. Hundreds (thousands?) of people contributed tens of thousands of person-hours to these sites, and we just delete them? Am I and this user the only ones who find this blatantly disrespectful to the creators of the content the network is built on?