Acorn Cybervillage needs new webmasterBy Mark Stephens. Published: 11th Feb 2005, 20:21:47 | Permalink | Printable
Campaign against dead websitesAcorn Cybervillage is to close this summer unless someone takes over from current webmaster Stuart Halliday. Stuart, 44, says ill-health has forced him to look for someone to succeed him.
"When you get a serious illness at my age, you realise there are more important things in life than supporting a tiny computer market with limited number of members," Stuart, who has been using Acorn kit since 1982, told us. Cybervillage, which opened in 1995, was once the principle source for RISC OS news and rumours on the Internet.
He adds: "I asked for volunteers to help in writing articles but no one came forward. That surprised me". Due to criticism received last year over the lack of updates to Cybervillage, Stuart decided to throw in the towel.
"I've now got little interest in the site now. Unless someone volunteers to take over, it will die in July when its hosting time runs out. Shame really. If someone wants to take over then that is fine by me. Get them to email me."
Stuart however praised a number of initiatives, which he feels are underrated. He says, "One of these is the amazing Nutshells web site. If this was developed and integrated with all RISC OS desktop users via small application, we'd have a desktop system which gives the non-techy user a huge database of quick and easy to find information, free software, news, software updates and support. Is the RISC OS community doing anything to drive this forward? Nope, not a thing."
The news of Cybervillage's imminent closure came during an investigation into the number of stagnant and non-updated RISC OS related websites rampant on the world wide web.
On reflection, many websites are run as personal activities and are therefore dependent on the free time and health of the volunteers behind them. However, there are also too many apparently 'abandoned' sites, which appear to be very out of date, with little or no excuse. What about even an update a month, or two? Arguably, these sites do a big disservice to the RISC OS market. Think about the impression to a casual visitor of logging onto a news site to see it was last updated two years ago or stumbling across details of a never-to-be-seen laptop. The market is dead, right?
We emailed a number of webmasters to ask them about this, and unsurprisingly, a few of our attempts bounced. The general response was to say that websites are not being updated either because they had nothing new to say or they are disillusioned with the RISC OS market. However, none of them had any plans to alter the website - a 10 minute cosmetic job in some cases, although considerable work in others.
Speaking of the lack of movement on the AAUG website, the site's former webmaster Andrew Harmsworth said: "User groups are notorious for not communicating updates to the site. Personally, I don't think AAUG's site has a negative effect overall. It is genuinely positive through its existence. It would just be more positive if it got updated."
Qercus publisher Finnybank, which absorbed Acorn User some time ago, advised us to 'watch this space' regarding the replacement of the Acorn User website - we'll hold them to that.
Jim Daniels of Pineapple software, whose website seems to be gathering cobwebs, told us: "[Our website] has been updated in as much as I have removed things that we no longer sell. The virus protection scheme which is the only remaining item on the site, is still available to anyone who wants it. New viruses have not appeared to my knowledge since the latest version of VProtect which is available free from the site."
Are we being too harsh? Let us know of any sites you think need a good spring clean. Websites with no news in months, hyping exposed vapourware or, say, advertising the Christmas 2003 edition of a magazine which no longer exists are all prime contenders. The current list looks like this:
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