HTLAL Preservation

Discuss the LLORG's and HTLAL forum's past and its future here.
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Raconteur
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HTLAL Preservation

Postby Raconteur » Tue Apr 25, 2023 5:26 am

Is there any effort currently underway to preserve HTLAL content in full or in part?

Old HTLAL is still a goldmine of valuable resources and discussions, much of it from a time when forums in general were more lively. I do wonder what can be done to preserve that going forward. For some threads especially relevant to me, I already did an unsophisticated copy+paste backup. Is there more that can be done, however?

I just hate the idea of one day going to http://how-to-learn-any-language.com/ and seeing the website domain permanently gone. And it's bound to happen.

But what can be done about it? Saving "important threads" manually seems a gargantuan task. It would take a team. And moreover, who decides what to keep, how do we store it, and publish it, and ... would publishing it even be legal? (I vaguely recall some odd terms that stated that whatever got posted on HTLAL became IP of the domain, could be wrong tho).

As for more sophisticated/automated ways to backup the site wholesale, is there any way forward? We all know that https://archive.org/ backs up websites. But their snapshots are often incomplete. Is there a way to nudge them to categorize the HTLAL forum as website of some significance? Would that mean a complete (or more complete?) backup over on the Wayback Machine?

Just some musings from a longtime reader admittedly not very well versed in the technologies in question, but concerned about the resource disappearing for good.
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Re: HTLAL Preservation

Postby Iversen » Tue Apr 25, 2023 10:35 am

I remember that there was a member who made a complete copy, but it would definitely be against the 'odd terms' to republish the lot in its current form. As for individual items - well, you gave FX the right to dispose over your contributions, but it's unclear whether this excluded to make partial copies of the parts of the forum at the content level - at least the 'authors rights' aren't obliterated by the terms. I have a complete copy in MSWord of my own contributions, and I wouldn't hesitate to quote them (partly because I made them in conjunction with the upload to HTLAL and I didn't give away my rights to use my own copies)- but in practice I rarely consult my own writings.
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Re: HTLAL Preservation

Postby tastyonions » Tue Apr 25, 2023 10:45 am

Some enterprising programmer could definitely write a scraper to simply copy all the pages, and I don’t think that would be terribly complicated. Hosting it somewhere would be another question.
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Re: HTLAL Preservation

Postby Raconteur » Tue Apr 25, 2023 1:27 pm

Out of curiosity, these are the terms I dug up (registration page). Don't think that's what I remember from way back when, but either way maybe these "current" ones aren't as restrictive? In IP legal terms, I got no clue.
If you do post content or submit material you grant how-to-learn-any-language.com and its affiliates a nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, and fully sublicensable right to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, and display such content throughout the world in any media. You grant how-to-learn-any-language.com the right to use the name that you submit in connection with such content. You represent and warrant that you own or otherwise control all of the rights to the content that you post; that the content is accurate; that use of the content you supply does not violate this policy and will not cause injury to any person or entity; and that you will indemnify how-to-learn-any-language.com or its affiliates for all claims resulting from content you supply. how-to-learn-any-language.com has the right but not the obligation to monitor and edit or remove any activity or content. How-to-learn-any-language.com takes no responsibility and assumes no liability for any content posted by you or any third party.
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Re: HTLAL Preservation

Postby mrwarper » Tue Aug 08, 2023 12:09 am

Raconteur wrote:Is there any effort currently underway to preserve HTLAL content in full or in part?

"In part" being the operative word in 2023, there is. I am probably the member who Iversen remembers made a complete copy.

My backup covers the full HTLAL forum posts (that did not require moderator access) up to the semi-comatose state back in 2020 when the last sizeable amount of messages were posted there. There was some little non-spamming activity afterwards (up until mid-2022 IIRC) but I had noticed a few glitches in the forum by that time, so I stopped updating my 'full' backup automatically and post-2020 backups should be merged manually to ensure nothing meaningful is lost before a 'final cut' of the archive can be produced.

Unfortunately anything like that (a few days' worth of work) is more likely to happen when I decide to archive the thing once and for all and gain back some GBs of space, rather than out of interest in language learning discussions. I would like to think it is because I have finally 'matured' as a language learner --so I would not need to keep referring to the same old (or new), tired discussions--, but maybe it is simply because I have too many higher priorities now (about time too!). One way or another, the fact is I seldom read anything any more at old HTLAL, or here.

Please don't get me wrong, it is still fun to read you guys, but my so-renewed flare never seems to last enough to post again (it took me some conscious effort to log in and / to write this), and it's not unusual that I take months' breaks between very short visits -- I don't think I have kept a dedicated browser window for a couple of days just to read so many forum threads in full, in years.

That said, I will try and find a suitable home for the HTLAL backup if I ever think I am done with it for good. Meanwhile, anyone interested please feel free to contact me*, I am always open to discussing stuff ; )

* Just keep in mind that sometimes the forum does not notify me of PMs and such, so if you want me to read you before another year or more goes by, email me. If the forum won't let you, simply append -at- yahoo -dot- es to my forum user name and you have my address.
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Re: HTLAL Preservation

Postby rdearman » Tue Aug 08, 2023 7:38 pm

I would have to speak with EMK, but we have a number of DB instances hosted on AWS, so we could possibly get you a mysql or other DB instance for you to load everything on to?

Cloud storage is probably best. Or maybe stick it on Google Drive, post a link here and lots of people can take copies.
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Re: HTLAL Preservation

Postby aj8250 » Sun May 05, 2024 9:51 am

HTLAL is hosted by Swisscom. Swisscom have announced that web hosting will be discontinued at the end of this month. Unless alternative arrangements are made I expect that will be the end of the HTLAL website.

In case anyone is interested, I have imported the HTLAL posts into a local instance of phpBB. I did this for my convenience as HTLAL is very slow, unreliable, and the search and tags features don't work without an account.
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Re: HTLAL Preservation

Postby rdearman » Sun May 05, 2024 3:27 pm

I seriously doubt other arrangements have been made.
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Re: HTLAL Preservation

Postby Carl » Sun May 05, 2024 8:00 pm

aj8250 wrote:HTLAL is hosted by Swisscom. Swisscom have announced that web hosting will be discontinued at the end of this month. Unless alternative arrangements are made I expect that will be the end of the HTLAL website.


How comprehensive are the archives at the Wayback Machine? I picked a crawl from a random date in 2021 and went down several levels on several paths, and all the links worked. I just poked around for a few minutes, though, so there could be big chunks missing.
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Re: HTLAL Preservation

Postby iguanamon » Sun May 05, 2024 8:02 pm

aj8250 wrote:HTLAL is hosted by Swisscom. Swisscom have announced that web hosting will be discontinued at the end of this month. Unless alternative arrangements are made I expect that will be the end of the HTLAL website. ...

I'm actually surprised it didn't disappear years ago. That it is still useful is due to how little self language-learning has changed. Many, if not most, of the same courses are still being used today, along with many of the same techniques and approaches.

When HTLAL started going downhill it's demise came fairly quickly. I was reluctant to make the move at first, but I realized that nothing was ever going to change at HTLAL. It lead to the critical mass of members moving here and thanks to rdearman and emk, the success of LLORG. One of the fears of moving on from FX's HTLAL was that we would lose access to our "archive". In the nine years since the move took place, the archive at HTLAL has become less relevant as we now have a more modern, more up to date archive here. I find myself rarely going over there anymore. Hopefully, the site can be preserved for posterity, but it's imminent loss is certainly less catastrophic today, than it would've been in 2015.

I'll be sad to see the looming demise of HTLAL actually take place. I credit (blame?) the site for leading me to learning six languages over the years. I'm glad I found it almost 15 years ago, but we have moved on. So, thank you FX for creating HTLAL. I have many good memories.

Ironically, for all of FX's attempts to take legal control of the content, he never really did anything with it. He could have made more money from advertising, he could have made some books from the content. He didn't. With formerly free websites becoming more commercial, it's nice to have a place to discuss language-learning where we can avoid all that for the most part. So, thank you rdearman and emk.
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