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I am concerned that Buddhism SE is seemingly running on fumes and wonder whether i should be backing up the content of interest in case of the site's closure.

Thanks.

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  • there doesn't seem to be any conveniently accessible definite repository indicated viz., so perhaps attention to material which Asker might find of interest might be indicated; and even if is/was such a depository, it could be altered or deleted at discretion. perhaps becoming a tangible example of impermanence.
    – M H
    Aug 1 '20 at 6:47
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The traffic (posts per month and views per month) on this site does not appear to have been decreasing since 2017. It declined from 2014 (when the site started) through about 2017, but remained steady or increased slightly since then.

Therefore I don't know about its "running on fumes", though you may be right.


The site's only problematic statistic is "posts per day" (which is why this site is still in "Beta").

I gathered from Meta.SE that:

  • The same is true of many SE sites (some of which have been in Beta for longer than this one)
  • SE says they won't close an otherwise healthy Beta site just because of its "posts per day" statistic

That's my summary of these posts on Meta.SE -- the following are quotes from three SE employees:

  • July 2018:

    As discussed in: Graduation, site closure, and a clearer outlook on the health of SE sites, just about the only criteria remaining to keep a site open is having enough users (three minimum) willing to step up to Moderate♦ it.

    If a site is in decline and doesn't have enough users willing to take care of it, we will typically issue several calls (through a meta post) to try and recruit more interest. Failing that, we will post a final site-closure notice announcing the closure date. This will appear as a 'system message' plastered across the top of every page on the site — all the time referring users back to a meta post where they can express interest in keeping it going.

    I can't imagine a site going from functional to "final notice" in less than a month; more typically the effort would persist three to five months… or more. Typically you can tell when a site is no longer working because view counts drop, questions go unanswered, and meta community issues go unanswered or never addressed. There is no particular system to reach out to non-users or disconnected users who are no longer participating in the site. If a site is closed, its content is archived through a "data dump" (search meta), or you can typically find specific posts through the Wayback Machine if you are wondering why a link to a post only brings up the final closure notice.

  • August 2019:

    The first major step, Design-independent graduation, was an important change that separated graduation from getting a full-site theme... but this still left sites in limbo that couldn't meet the 10 questions per day metric for graduating.

    Around the same time we recognized that "small sites" may never hit that target but they can still be successful sites and they wouldn't be at risk of closure unless they failed to maintain moderation levels to keep spam at bay and the questions on-topic and of good quality. This was a great step towards helping y'all feel that your communities would be safe from closure.

  • February 2020:

    So, unless we stumble upon the usual reasons for shutting down a site — that is, if no one's willing to step up to help moderate it — everything will keep going as usual.

So I think the site can continue to exist, independent of how busy it is, for as long as people are willing to help moderate it.

Therefore so far as I know there are no plans to close it in the near or the foreseeable future.


How would you propose to backup the site's data?

I think the current FAQ topic about the "data dump" on Meta.SE is this one.

As an experiment I downloaded the latest copy of buddhism.stackexchange.com.7z from https://archive.org/details/stackexchange --

  • It's a 36 Megabyte ZIP file which contains XML files

    01/06/2020  03:08         1,933,136 Badges.xml
    01/06/2020  03:08        13,973,543 Comments.xml
    01/06/2020  03:08       130,082,139 PostHistory.xml
    01/06/2020  03:08           484,885 PostLinks.xml
    01/06/2020  03:08        60,871,894 Posts.xml
    01/06/2020  03:08            29,222 Tags.xml
    01/06/2020  03:08         4,714,427 Users.xml
    01/06/2020  03:08         8,150,909 Votes.xml
                   8 File(s)    220,240,155 bytes
    
  • The XML files contain database rows

  • The schema of these database tables is presumably as defined here -- Database schema documentation for the public data dump and SEDE

  • Without further processing it's partially but not very readable (it's machine-readable but for a human the answers are not conveniently located near the questions, etc.)

  • I don't know if there's a user-friendly way -- i.e. software already written -- to convert these to text or to import them into a database with a front end user interface.

    I expect there probably is -- probably several such solutions already -- but because I don't expect this site to close without notice, I'm in no hurry to investigate that further.


The above seems to be a data dump only of still-live sites.

This answer from 2014 lists various closed sites, and shows that a link to their data dumps is hosted on their respective Area51 pages.

This answer states that was still true as of 2018.

I don't know what more-recently-closed sites there have been, but I don't doubt their dumps are listed somewhere -- probably on Area51.

The data dump whose link is near the top of the page of the now-closed https://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/62811/startups has the same kind of format as for a live site -- i.e. it's a ZIP file which contains XML files.


I hope this helps. Do ask if you have any other questions about this.

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    I don't have a good way to back up but i know what i would like to save. It's a lot of work to do manually so i hope it doesn't come to that and that you can keep the site alive. Either way i guess notice will be given and there are solutions for this in case of closure.
    – user8527
    Jul 25 '20 at 0:17
  • When uncompressed, it's only 220MB? That's not so much. That's less than the size of a 720p movie in MP4. But it's not surprising considering it's all text. Even images are merely links to imgur. So, if the site is in any risk of closing down, you can probably just backup the contents to Github or some other suitable site. But I don't think it will happen, considering we're doing excellent, according to Buddhism.SE Area51, except in the area of number of questions per day. The number of visits per day is just barely excellent.
    – ruben2020 Mod
    Jul 31 '20 at 4:12
  • @ruben2020 The backup data isn't threaded (e.g. into topics with answers next to questions), formatted (e.g. using CSS), nor online (accessible via the web), nor searchable in the same way. I imagine that software solutions to do this (i.e. which import an SE archive) exist but I haven't looked,, it doesn't seem necessary at the moment.
    – ChrisW Mod
    Jul 31 '20 at 6:49

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