|At one time, Zipingo apparently offered a fair amount of content. (Click image to enlarge) Now it’s gone.|
This morning, I learned via the Ajax blog that yet another site that relied on content contributed by its user community has shut down. On Aug. 23, Zipingo, a small business review site launched in 2002 by Intuit, shuttered its site. All that remains is this announcement — none of the other site content remains accessible.
But looking on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, I saw that, at least as of Mar. 1, 2007, Zipingo offered a fair amount of content: 122,324 total ratings (I’m not sure if “ratings” were actual reviews or something else on this site), 734 of which came in during the prior week. Unfortunately, you can’t look up actual ratings/reviews via the Internet Archive.
So all that content that people took the time to create and contribute has simply vanished, apparently. Seems awfully disrespectful to Zipingo’s user community, such as it was. This is yet another reason why sites like Furl, which allow you to save your own searchable archive of web pages, can be crucial — things get moved, changed, or deleted all the time online, without notice. Even your own stuff. That can suck.
Seems to me that any site that relies on contributed content should have a content exit strategy, whereby if the site tanks people can still access their content. Or at least, contributors will be notified before the site vanishes so they have an opportunity to save a copy of their contributions if they so desire. Just taking people’s content and trashing it is likely to discourage anyone from contributing to a community site.
Also, this experience seems like one more reason why a good “Me Collector” tool or service is needed.