Preservation Policies for Content Hosted on Third Party Blogs

We know that a variety of externally-hosted Web 2.0 services are being used to support institutional aims. But what about the associated risks of loss of important resources?  One approach to such risk would be to ban use of such services. But this is to ignore the benefits that such services provide and is likely to alienate users of such services if it were possible to implement such a policy.

The approach taken by the JISC PoWR project ( and described in more detail in the JISC PoWR handbook – see particularly chapter 13) has been to recognise that there are legitimate reasons to make use of such services and to look at ways in which content hosted on such services can be managed and curated in the long term.

The need to do this is of relevance to UKOLN which provides a number of blogs on externally-hosted services including the UK Web Focus blog, provided by Brian Kelly and the Rambling of a Remote Worker blog, provided by Marieke Guy.

The first stage is to define and publicise a policy covering the long-term access to the content of these two blogs, including what will happen if either of the authors leaves UKOLN.

Policies posted on the UK Web Focus and Ramblings of a Remote Worker blogs state that:

  • A rich copy of the contents of the blog will be made available to UKOLN (my host organisation) if I leave. Note that this may not include the full content if there are complications concerning third party content (e.g. guest blog posts, embedded objects, etc.), technical difficulties, etc.
  • Since the blog reflects personal views I reserve the rights to continue providing the blog if I leave UKOLN. If this happens I will remove any UKOLN branding from the blog.

These two simple statements can help, we feel, in ensuring that the content can be managed if the blog authors leave (or if they fall ill, go crazy or die!). The statements seek to avoid uncertainties regarding what can be done with the content.  The second statement also clarifies that if the authors were to leave, they may wish to continue using the blog.

It may be argued that since both blogs make their content available under a Creative Commons licence this already grants the host institution, along with anyone else, the rights to preserve the content. This may be true, but there is no harm in making this explicit, we feel.

Would it not be legitimate for organisations to expect its employees to make similar statements which clarify the ownership of content hosted on Web 2.0 services and created as a normal course of one’s duties?

Note: This blog post has been written to support a poster which will be provided for the Missing links: the enduring web conference. The poster, which has been produced by Marieke Guy and Brian Kelly, UKOLN, is entitled “Preservation Policies and Approaches for Use of Web 2.0 Services“. A series of blog posts published on this blog provide more detailed information of the content summarised in the poster.