And finally… the story of hessentag2011.de

Flying WWW - ©iStockphoto.com/alexhI could not let the year finish without returning to an issue that came up at the beginning of October involving the internet domain hessentag2011.de

The website www.hessentag2011.de was the official website of the Hessentag last year in Oberursel, and the AllThingsGerman.net blog had a number of links to the information contained on it.

To make sure that we do not link to websites that are not there, all of the links are regularly checked to make sure that they work.  So imagine my surprise when I received an e-mail at the beginning of October to tell me that the links to the Hessentag page were no longer valid!

But worse will still to come, because it turned out that not only had the website been taken down with all the information that it contained, but the domain itself was no longer registered to the town, but instead to a company in Auckland, New Zealand.

Now admittedly the town have moved some of the pages from the website into a an archive called a “splitter” on www.oberursel.de, but that does not stop not only our links becoming invalid, but all of the links on other websites as well that linked to the domain.

And whilst links on the internet can be changed, others in printed documents, newspaper archives and on physical items cannot.  Anyone entering the web address from those ended up on a page with links to dating websites and, used cars for sale, and other irrelevant items.

So how could that happen?

The main reason given is to save money.  In some respects, that reason makes sense.  The town had originally reserved 9 different domains to use for the event, so with 8 of these never being used no-one was going to miss those and the annual fee for the domains could be saved.

But when it comes to the actual website, the prices quoted seem to be far too high.  It would, apparently, have cost around €280 per month to leave the website online in addition to the cost of the domain itself.  That is a lot of webhosting!  That sort of cost may have been justified considering the server power needed in the run up to the event and especially during the 10 days of the Hessentag itself.  But surely it must have been possible to scale that down and keep it running for less.

At the very least, the name “hessentag2011.de” could have been kept for as little as €12 per year and simply re-directed to the “splitter” archive.

The domain hessentag2011.de has since changed hands again and is now owned by a company in Munich.  But despite that no-one seems to have told the “Hessentagspaar” who are still linking to it on their Facebook page, as is the town’s own Facebook page for the organising team.

It’s such a shame to see a website that obviously involved so much work being taken off-line, and even more of a shame to see the domain just be passed around rather than re-directing to something at least remotely relevant to the event.

I hope that in future both the town’s administration and also local businesses may become more sensitive to how the internet works and take advice from people who deal with it on a daily basis to avoid this sort of situation arising.

Here’s to a successful year on-line in Oberursel in 2013!

About Graham Tappenden

Graham Tappenden is a British ex-pat who first came to Oberursel in 1993 and returned with his family to live there in 2003. He has been writing for AllThingsGerman.net since 2006. When not writing blog posts or freelancing for the Oberurseler Woche he works as a self-employed IT consultant solving computer problems and designing websites. In 2016 he gained German citizenship.

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