Back from the Climate Change and Wine conference — it was a great experience. I’ve got epic notes (41 pages, urk!) and plan to distill them into something hopefully cohesive and post that later this week, time permitting.
Meanwhile, the build of the new database is crunching along nicely. If all goes well it should be complete within a couple of days, and then after some testing, I’ll put it live. In general, it’s got about 1000 new sites, and will be maybe 10% bigger than the previous database.
But at the same time there’s always some attrition. Some of this is natural; websites go up, websites disappear, websites change format. But what kills me is when some site “relaunches” and throws away a goldmine of great archive content, all because they’re either not aware of its value, or just can’t be bothered to make the old content work under the new site.
While putting together Able Grape I’ve seen this happen a few times, and sometimes it’s heartbreaking. I’d find some goldmine of information from a unique perspective, and get excited (yeah, I’m like that; sad, isn’t it?). I’d do a bunch of work to make sure that it got properly included and found in search results, instead of getting buried, as it might on a general-purpose search engine, and then boom! it disappears. Back to square one.
Read on if you’re interested in a couple of examples where you could help get the content back by writing to these publications!
Last year, the UK publication Wine & Spirit, having merged with their competitor Wine International, decided they would launch a new website. No problem there, but in so doing, they simply made the old Wine International website redirect to the new website, which didn’t have any of any of the old content. They had this wonderful little Wine Encyclopedia which had pithy definitions of wine regions and producers, and they had quite a few well-written articles. Boom. All gone. It did a disservice to their users, and it probably also caused their traffic to drop precipitously: all of the links into Wine International became dead links, and fell out of the search engines at their next refresh. I wrote them at the time, and they said they planned to put it back online someday, but nothing’s happened, and that editor has since moved on to another publication. The new online editor seems to be Chris Mercer, if you feel inspired to write. I imagine (hope!) they have that content backed up somewhere, and if they put it back I’d love to have it in Able Grape.
Well, it happened again this week. The fine Massachusetts publication Beverage Business launched a new site, and they dropped all of their archives prior to 2005, including some of the finest wine writing on the web. You can see these results in quite a few searches on Able Grape. Look for the beveragebusiness results in the following queries. They’re dead links now, so you’ll have to guess how great and in-depth the content was from the abstracts that show up:
- Zinfandel (results page 2)
- 4-ethyl-phenol — Bill Nesto’s great article about wine faults
- Sauvignon Gris (results page 2, article about Entre-deux-Mers)
- Giulio Gambelli (filtered by trade press). A very good article about the great and often overlooked Tuscan winemaker.
- Bill Nesto – the MW who wrote many of these articles. Of 400 results, > 300 are on beveragebusiness.
- Sandy Block – same deal
Etc. I found more than 500 examples, just looking through the query logs for the handful of users we’ve had in the first couple of weeks. For many of these topics, those documents were unique. For example, that Giacomo Tachis & Giulio Gambelli article, which I and others used as a reference for a WSET paper, was the only in-depth information on Gambelli in English. Boom! Gone. I wrote to the editors, but they seemed unconvinced as to the value of the content, saying there are updated versions of many articles. I tried, but I couldn’t find many (I mean, how often are they going to update an article about Pinotage?).
So these docs will drop out in the new database. If you’d like to write Beverage Business and tell them this was useful content, I’ll make sure I get it back in Able Grape if they put it back on line. The editors’ addresses are on this contact page.