Yahoo Answers will shut down, and so will your blog, eventually
What is online is bound to perish sooner or later. Is there a way to publish content that outlives an average internet company?
Yahoo Answers, for a long time the largest Q&A website, will shut down on May 4, 2021.
When we publish something on the internet, it feels like it will be around forever. But the internet is a network of computer networks — a communication medium.
Millions of people have created and published content on MySpace and LiveJournal. Gone. Can you find any Google+ posts? Of course not; all were deleted during the shutdown.
Do you think Quora will be around in 2041?
One day Medium will shut down too, and this article will disappear.
Some argue that the answer is to “own your content”: run a website or a blog on your own domain name. But that solution is even more fragile: if I get hit by a bus, nobody will renew the domain and keep the content up.
In the old days, if you cared about an idea so much that you wanted to share it with others, you had to print it. Once you have it in a book or magazine article, it is both transferrable and capable of surviving you.
What would be a way to publish online with a high chance of long-term survival? Perhaps it would be to:
- Publish any way you like, but
- Maintain a public copy in a timeless, plain-text format;
- Hosted on a website which makes it easy for search engines to index it and for humans to discover and retrieve it.
- The website would ideally be owned by a decades-old public company.
For people with technical skills, uploading files to an open source Git repository may be the best bet. I’m not aware of an equally robust option for the vast majority of people, though. Perhaps someone should create it?