Council takes one step forward and one hundred steps back

The talk at the moment is about Google threatening to withdraw their search engine from Australia. From my perspective the withdrawal by Google of their Search engine would be most unfortunate as I use Google for research. But Bing is good and there is always a VPN to fall back on. Google are of major benefit to The Beagle and to all of us in that they have, by default, become the major archive of the planet. Their bots trawl through websites and gather up information, indexing it all and making it available in an instant to satisfy any question we might ask. Every day Google trawls through The Beagle website so that you can find any article written over the past four years. I let it trawl through because I know the Beagle website is a resource for the community and also plays its role in capturing the history of our community for generation to come. In days of old we had newspapers that told the story of who we were. Through TROVE those old papers are being scanned giving us the opportunity to work back through the archives to discover how life was then and celebrate how we came to be where we are now. To date they have scanned the Moruya Times and South Coast Journal (NSW : 1888 - 1915) and there is hopefully a move to scan the Moruya Examiner newsprint. Newspapers play a vital role in research. And when they go behind a "wall" such as is the case with the Bay Post then we quickly discover that the Google trawl-bot is also blocked. This means the only way you can search Bay Post archive is if you subscribe and use their own website search. When the Bay Post went behind a paywall they retained little of the original Fairfax archives so a search of the site often comes to a halt around 2013/2014. Fairfax did say they would commit to allowing old newspaper editions to be scanned but only after twenty years had passed. It is not known if ACM has the same intentions of capturing their paper editions for antiquity. One area of history that The Beagle also relies on is the Council website, filled with past reports, agendas, minutes and media releases. A wonderful archive of information for anyone curious to want to delve into history. This week we learn that Eurobodalla Council had updated their website. For the many who had difficulty in navigating the old website trying to find information the new big, easy to follow format will come as a pleasant surprise. But for a few who now realise, the latest update has revealed that we have lost an incredibly valuable research resource as all of that wonderful information has been severed from Google and any search in Google (and BING) of Council related items ends up delivering you to the new website's home page.

While all the external search results are now broken (as per the examples shown above) Council offer that their own website search has vastly improved and that if you go onto their website instead and search for a term you will find what you are looking for. The break in the links is disappointing as there are thousands of articles that reference a specific report or document by the absolute file address such as:$25m-for-mackay-park Google used to have it but no longer.

We have since discovered that all of the external links ever made to Council's agendas, minutes, most media releases, reports no longer work either.

CLICK images to enlarge. So apologies to all the Beagle readers, now and into the future, who use this website as an archive and for research into Eurobodalla Council. In one, very unapologetic, fell swoop the Council website "upgrade" has rendered nearly all the hyperlinks ever provided by The Beagle to agendas, minutes and reports all but useless. Knowing that Council have also broken so many of their own internal hyperlinks between their own policies, agendas and reports is most distressing as it will require a lot more effort for staff to find day to day information if they are provided the more than inadequate internal search tool. .