11 Comments

Scott Wilson
One question: what about domains previously registered for projects and national initiatives that are now no longer funded?

I assumed links to such sites would need to stay working "in perpetuity" given the instructions Jisc gave for archiving and preserving prior work - especially as some of these sites are still frequently referenced.

Which means these domains need to stay as they are, surely?
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Phil Gummett
Hi Scott. Thanks for your comment and sorry for the delay in replying.
As I understand each Jisc funded project will have their own terms and conditions with Jisc. However, for many Jisc projects, the website maintenance period is for three years and not ‘in perpetuity’. Hope this helps.
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Paul Walk
Like the previous commenter, I would also like to understand Jisc's intentions for .ac.uk domains previously registered for no-longer funded services.

In such cases there has been significant effort to preserve the content and ongoing (unfunded) commitment to host it.

Can we assume that Jisc will simply maintain the domain names in these cases so that content can continue to be found and referenced?
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Janet customer engagement team
Hi Paul. No domains will be removed without prior consultation with the domain owner and each domain will be looked at on an individual basis. To talk about your individual circumstances contact naming@ja.net.
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Andy Powell
Just endorsing the previous two comments...

I think it would be highly unfortunate if website material hosted at domains that used to meet the ac.uk criteria but that no longer do so was lost because the domains were not renewed. Some of this material remains highly valuable to the academic and wider communities and forms part of the digital history of UK academia.

Rendering this material unavailable would run counter to all the preservation good practice that JISC has promoted in the past.
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Janet customer engagement team
Hi Andy. As I said in the above reply, no domains will be removed without prior consultation with the domain owner and each domain will be looked at on an individual basis. To talk about your individual circumstances contact naming@ja.net.
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John Kirriemuir
I have spent much of this summer looking at (or looking for) the websites of old and shuttered UK digital library and education services and projects, many funded at some point by Jisc, for research and personal reasons.

What is clear is that most or all of these need to be kept 'live'. Relying on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, and its UK equivalent of the National Archive, is inadequate due to the limitations of those services. For example, static content is usually captured, but more dynamically created content is often 'broken', or lost - presumably forever.

In addition, what happens if or when the Internet Archive itself is shuttered?

Jisc has a growing legacy of previously funded centres, services and projects, such as www.ukoln.ac.uk and www.intute.ac.uk. There is much value in the accessible online content; as historical documents, usable resources (most of the links within Intute still function), funded works and results that should not be repeated, and content that can still be referenced or incorporated into contemporary work.

For example, much of the metadata work in www.ukoln.ac.uk is relevant and useful to today's education and library communities. This represents ongoing good value of the previous funding of Jisc.

If this family of services is made inaccessible, then all of those uses are lost for an very insignificant saving - if there is any cost at all - to Jisc. In addition, the proportion of dead links between sites, especially those in the UK academic community will increase; obviously poor practice.

Jisc has not really addressed its growing legacy issues, and has not followed through on the ethos of its own funded preservation research at a national level (note: legacy and preservation are related but not the same thing). Jisc finds itself with twenty years of "stuff", mostly online, to consider and curate. To absolve responsibility for this would be disappointing. Instead, it would be responsible for the domains of these websites to remain active until there is a coherent strategy to enable future use of Jiscs considerable, and growing, online legacy.
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Rebecca Whitehead
Hi John. Thanks for your comment. We're very aware of the value of information housed in project sites across the web, and the vulnerability of it.

We're making use of web archives where suitable, but aware of their limitations, and the dual importance of trying to maintain URLs.

Though it doesn't help here - I'm aware of work by the digital futures team here at Jisc to make upcoming project sites far more sustainable and no longer reliant on the good will of hosts to keep them live. You may wish to contact Andy McGregor, deputy chief innovation officer (a.mcgregor@jisc.ac.uk) to discuss this further.

As said previously no domains will be removed without prior consultation with the domain owner and each domain will be looked at on an individual basis.

As always, to talk about your individual circumstances contact naming@ja.net.
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Paul walk
Let's be careful not to confuse the issue at hand with wider issues of digital preservation.

What we're asking for here is simple and presents no significant burden to Jisc: we're simply asking that they honour the domain names that they have inherited from the old HEFCE committee (JISC).

Preservation of content is a whole other matter.
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John Pollitt
So what does this mean for the growing number of federations where the lead sponsor is an FE College with an .ac.uk address? We have been to date unsuccessful in securing similar for the group/federation domain due largely to the Academies within the group even thought the largest provider by x10 is the College and we have a UTC.
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Janet customer engagement team
Hi John, thanks for your comment. The eligibility policy covers organisations “whose core mission is tertiary education and/or public research, bodies whose membership predominantly consists of such organisations and bodies who are substantially owned by such organisations, by assisting them to meet that mission”. While each domain name request will of course be looked at on an individual basis, generally we would expect Federations to meet this criteria. If they did not, it may be possible for them to apply to Nominet for a sch.uk domain.

As before, contact naming@ja.net to talk about individual circumstances.
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