Friday, March 31, 2017

City to Roll New Site April 3rd, Potentially Erasing Important Documents

The City has announced that they will roll the new website on April 3rd. It has been in a public "beta" for a month or so now at the url

The announcement says
On Monday, April 3, the City of Salem will launch a new, community-centric website at The new site will feature a dramatic upgrade in features and appearance.
It looks like the materials at will overwrite those currently at

The new website has a lot of advantages over the old one, but in one very important way the old one remains useful and crucial.

Here's the new City website for the Salem River Crossing. It's mostly empty.

New City website
Here's the soon-to-be old site:

"Old" City website
In particular, here's just part of the whole case file for the Urban Growth Boundary Expansion and TSP amendments that collectively are still being legally contested. Access to the case file and confidence that its documents have not been altered are crucial. No funny business! The old site may be ugly, but it has critical information.

Lots of documents in the "old" site for the Land Use actions
An exhaustive list of potential loss is not possible, but here's another example.

The City has not yet created a page for the recently completed Commercial-Vista Corridor Study. You just get a null when you search for it.

Nothing to see here!
But there are important documents still, which were updated as recently as last month.

Lots of reference documents for the Commercial Vista study
The new site isn't fully populated with the document libraries and archival transfer.

In some instances, like with the State Street Corridor study (old site), the new site has documents, but dates on them are different and it doesn't look like the transfer has been done with the greatest care to keep everything exactly the same. Version control could be an issue.

If you rely on links to the current site for research or for understanding City government, you may also be out in the cold with a massive case of linkrot. If you rely on these links for any legal matters, your complaint might be even greater.

It is reasonable for the City to stop updating the "old" site and to keep current only the "new" site. The "double-entry" duplication is a pain in the butt for sure.

But it seems like shutting off the old site, its links, and its information is premature at the moment.

If the City actually intends on keeping the information on the old site, it should say in the press release how to access this information once the "new" site overwrites (or is redirected to) the old at The old site is an important archive, and this should not be lost in the rush for a shiny new site.


City Staff say that the old documents and pages will continue to be archived:
The old site will still be available for a few months while we complete the transition of old documents to the new site. The new site will feature a prominent banner on the home page that links to the old site. You can also get to the old site by visiting
Probably this means that "old" links to will in most cases be broken.


Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Updated with comment from City on archiving.

Susann Kaltwasser said...

I am personally archiving some documents that I do not want to 'get lost' with the new webpage.

I would sure hope that they have backed up the old webpages. Sometimes you can do this by keeping them on a Internet, but just keeping access only by IT staff.

I met the lady that is doing the update and she seemed pretty aware, so I am going to take a wait and see....while backing up certain documents.