Rasputins of the Web

Legend has it that Russian mystic Grigori Rasputin survived four gunshot wounds, a severe beating and enough cyanide to kill ten people. He's got nothing ...
by | April 10, 2007

Legend has it that Russian mystic Grigori Rasputin survived four gunshot wounds, a severe beating and enough cyanide to kill ten people. He's got nothing on some government Web sites.

Until a few days ago, New Jersey's Web site still listed Mary Jo Codey as the first lady of New Jersey, although her husband hasn't been governor since January 2006. Oversights like that are common.

For example, I was just fact checking a story for which I spoke to Daryl Slusher, a former member of Austin's City Council. To make sure I had his name spelled correctly, I googled him.

The top result was his official City Council Web site, which, except for small print indicating June 2005 as the end of his term, gives no hint that he's out of office. If you go through the Austin City Council main page, you get the current Council member, but there's no guarantee a citizen will ever visit the main page.

Webmasters don't necessarily have to remove old content to avoid this sort of confusion. For example, the state of Washington has a neat digital archive, where you can view the old Web sites of former governors Mike Lowry and Gary Locke. These pages have a header that reads, "Archived WebSite," and their URLs begin "www.digitalarchives.wa.gov," which clarifies that they, just as much as Rasputin, are relics of history.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

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