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Digital Archiving for a Side About to Close

About This Document

This page provide advice on the digital archiving and related activities which are recommended for Morris sides which are intending to close.

Context

The Morris Federation has been informed of several affiliated sides which, due to reasons such as Covid-related illnesses and departures of members of the side, have folded.

Deorfrith Morris would be closed.

We try to contact sides directly to ensure that they are aware of approaches to digital archiving which could be taken, if this was felt useful. This document summarises the approaches which may be of interest to other sides in a similar situation.

Do We Want a Digital Archive?

The first thing to decide is whether you want a digital record of your side’s history. In many cases members of the sides, including former members, may find it useful to have access to photographs (and possibly videos) which may provide memories of activities when they were younger.

There may be additional reasons why a digital archive is useful. IN brief the main reasons which come to mind include:

  • Personal memories: which is likely to be primarily of interest to members and former members of the side and others with close links.
  • Local media: Local newspapers occasionally run a “Remember when …” column. In the future they may wish to feature the local morris side.
  • Social historians: In the future historians may have an interest in your side, your dance, your musical instruments, your links with the local community, famous people who danced with your side, etc.

Assuming you do want a digital record there will be the question of how much time and effort which is available for this task. The good news is that in many cases an archive of your side’s website may already exist, and the challenges will be to find its location and to share the location details with others.

If you do not want a digital archive (or you want to ensure that some parts are removed) you may need to be pro-active in managing the content, before losing access to the digital resource.

Digital Archival Processes

Audit of Online Services Used

The first setup is to identify the online services used by the side. For many sides tyh key onlien services will be:

  • A website
  • A Facebook page

The main focus of this case study is the archiving of the website. Note that archiving of Facebook pages will involve a different approach, and we currently do not have expertise in that area.

Checking the Internet Archive’s WayBack Machine

As described in the document Digital Preservation: Using the WayBack Machine your website may have been automatically archived without you being aware of this.

To see if there are archival copies of your website simply go to the Internet Archive WayBack Machine at https://archive.org/web/ and enter your side’s URL.

If copies of your website are not shown, you should request an archive copy as described in the document “Digital Preservation: Using the WayBack Machine“. However, as can be seen in the “Survey: Archive Copies of Morris Federation Team Websites” document, archives copies of most websites are kept automatically. Bot the challenge is to ensure that an up-to-date copy of your website is taken, which makes it clar that the side has folded.

Case Study: Closure of Deorfrith Morris

As an example, Deorfrith Morris closed recently. Their website illustrates some of the recommended best practises.

As shown in Figure 1 the WayBack Machine holds 25 copies of the Deorfrith Morris website, between 2012 and 2021.

Figure 1: The WayBack Machine holds 25 copies of the Deorfrith Morris website

Clicking on any specific date for which a copy was taken will take you to a copy which shows the content of the page on that date.

Figure 2 shows the most recent archival copy, which shows that the side has now folded and provides background information:

Coronavirus Covid-19 has meant that we have been unable to dance out either in summer 2020 or during summer 2021. Unfortunately two of our members are now no longer dancing with us and to be able to restart practices in September we needed to build the side up again. We have been unable to recruit sufficient new members and as the side is too small really to be viable, we have reluctantly decided to close.   

Figure 2: Final archive copy of Deorfrith Morris website

WayBack Machine: Adding Missing Pages

As described above, your website may have been archived automatically, so there is no need to take any further action, apart from ensuring that people know how to find the archive.

However it may be that not all pages on your website are included in the archive. If your website still exists you can add missing pages to the archive, as described an article on “If You See Something, Save Something – 6 Ways to Save Pages In the Wayback Machine”.

Updating Your Website Content Before Archiving

It may be useful to update some of the content on your website, prior to archiving. This might include (a) clearly stating that your side has closed on the home; (b) updating practice details (time and location) so that anyone finding an archive copy doesn’t try to attend a practice night and (c) perhaps most importantly, ensue that any unnecessary personal information is removed (you may be happy to leave details of squire, bagperson, etc. but you should remove personal addresses and phone numbers).

Arching Your Website Using the British Library’s UK Web Archive Service

As described in a document Digital Preservation: Submitting Your Website to the UK Web Archive you can submit your side’s website for archiving by the British Library’s UK Web Archive Service. However you should note that this is an opt-in service and it may take some time for your website to be archived.

Key Information

As can be seen from Figure 1 there are often a number of archival snapshots of your website (in this case dating back to 2012). If you wish to ensure that former members of the side and others with an interest you should ensure that you provide details of the two key URLs:

  1. Address of the Internet Archive WayBack Machine: https://web.archive.org/web/
  2. Your side’s website address: http://www.deorfrithmorris.org.uk/

When Will Your Website Disappear For Good?

Your website will vanish when you stop paying for the domain name or you stop paying for the website hosting, whichever comes first.

Yu can check the expiry date for your domain name using a Whois domain name checking service such as who.is. In the case of the Deorfrith Morris the website the domain name expiry date is January 2023.

What Happens When Your Domain Name Expires?

When your domain name expires it can be reused by others. You often find that domain name are purchased by ‘domain parking companies’ who will look to resell the domain to others. You may subsequently find that your website belongs to a company using it in a way that does not reflect your side’s previous activities – for example if a website was named after the Cotswold Morris dance “Ladies’ Pleasure” you might expect it to be purchased by a porn company”!

Also note that there have been some recent examples of an expired morris-related domain being taken over and masquerading as a morris side, but having subtle ads and links to gaming sites.

Should You Retain Ownership of Your Domain Name?

If this is a concern, you may chose to register your domain name for a number of years (which should not be expensive) without paying for the website hosting – no content will be displayed, but it prevents the domain from being reused by others. This process is referred to as “parking your domain“. Information on why this can be of use and how to do it is given in the “What Is a Parked Domain, and Why Should You Care?” document on the HubSpot blog.

Your Other Digital Presences

This case study has focussed on preservation of websites. There may be other online services used by your side (e.g. Facebook page, Instagram account, Twitter channel, etc. You should audit these services (to ensure you haven’t forgotten any) before deciding whether to delete the accounts or not. If you decide to continue the services you may want to change its purpose (e.g. a Facebook page could be a “Friends of …” page for reminiscing about the side). You should also ensure that you keep a record of email address(es) used to manage the service.

Other Issues Besides Your Side’s Public Online Presences

The Morris Federation’s ‘For Teams‘ area provides advice on other issues related to the closure of a side (e.g. disposal of assets; depositing physical archival records; etc).

You may also wish to address other IT-related issues such as depositing archival records of dance notation.


We welcome feedback on this document. In addition we would like to hear from morris, sword and other traditional dance sides who use IT and would be willing to share their experiences. Would you like to contribute a case study?


Status of this Document

Document published: 23 Aug 2022

Licence for this Document

This document is available with a Creative Commons Sharealike (CC-BY) licence. In brief, this means you can copy and make changes to this document provided you give acknowledgements to the author/publisher. A suggested wording for acknowledgements is:

This document is based on the "Digital Archiving for a Side About to Close" document by Brian Kelly, Comms and IT volunteer with the Morris Federation.

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