Decommissioning of archived site

More disappointing news for those who find using the archived site more effective for monitoring events and registered teams.

“This is the archived site and will be decommissioned January 2017.”


Now how will I find anything?

Does FIRST have any idea how much teams still rely on the old site to find anything? Sometimes I really think they make almost all of their decisions in a vacuum from the actual experience of teams.

It’s like any big business. They spent thousands on what they were sold as much better website. They don’t want to spend maintenance on the old site, or spend money to operate it since the new site is much better. So they turn it off. There are only a few vocal end users in the base of established teams (aka current customer) that care. They are creating new teams (aka new customers) at a decent rate, so disenfranchising a few old customers isn’t a big deal. Especially since the friction to transfer to a new vendor (FIRST -> VEX) is so high, the current customers won’t move. Keeping the old website is a sign that maybe the new site isn’t great, so the old has to go.

tl;dr: It’s a business 101 thing and FIRST is a business.

Remember, still exists for those who don’t like the new website UI.

This is pretty disappointing. I use the archived site fairly exclusively.

The most worrying part about this whole decommissioning is that they don’t seem to know what parts people actually use

Do they even have a better, more easily accessible equivalent on the new site yet? Even simple items are buried deep withing the site. I wouldn’t even consider moving until you know your target platform is ready. It’s like trying to move from one apartment to another but not even knowing if the new apartment is done, or even if it’s had it’s electrical and plumbing all done.

Either way… Good luck to them, and please don’t break everything. It’s one thing for a team to make a mistake and them be out of luck, but FIRST making a tragic error puts everyone at a disadvantage. There simply is no alternative to the old system for being straight to the point and clean.

My initial reaction (and reply to their tweet about it):

Second, a number of times I’ve searched on Google for FRC-related stuff, it’s sent me to the usfirst site, not firstinspires. This tells me a few things - either the content is not on firstinspires, is not indexed well, or that so many other sites are still linking to the old site that Google thinks it’s more authoritative. (Page Rank)

Third, right in the middle of build season?!? I’d get it if it got decommissioned after Champs in the off season or something, but seriously. Don’t they have better things to do?

It will hopefully help them fix those issues actually, because they do not have to spend anymore effort maintaining the old site.

I feel like this page isn’t well known but is a quick way to get to the official event team lists and results.

I’m sorry… but the amount of effort “maintaining” an older site, i.e. just keeping it running, is utterly dwarfed by the amount of work they need to put into their current problems on the “new” site. It’s not like the archive site is getting new content.

Besides, last I checked all the old blogs on the new site that were migrated over still have broken links. The amount of time it would take to fix that alone is larger than the time required to maintain the old site.

They should. The site should still have active analytics to count the number of visitors. If not, maybe they should do that to just see how popular the archive site really is. Perhaps a comparison would show that the old site is used more , But my guess is that the new site sees a lot more traffic simply because more people know it.

This seems unlikely on a substantive level, given that I can tell what people actually use, at least to some degree of comparative accuracy. Alexa, SimilarWeb, and a bunch of the smaller checkers I looked at all agree that firstinspires gets about 3 times as much traffic as usfirst. Which is good, but that’s still a lot of usfirst traffic.

Moreover, both checkers agree that firstinspires gets most of its traffic from web searches like “first”, “first robotics”, “fll”, “frc”, etc. For its part, usfirst traffic mostly comes from “stims” “tims” “vims” kind of stuff. This should give HQ a pretty good idea of who’s going where and why–and how to fix it. An speaking of fixing things, the vast majority of users landing on usfirst–after you omit the Googlers–came directly from firstinspires. (firstinspires is also directing to usfirst, though it’s to, which they may be keeping. SimilarWeb tells me this is the 3 outgoing site for firstinspires after youtube and firstinspires’ own blob core.)

I really hope they fix all that before kickoff and decommissioning.

I’ve asked FIRST to remove the restrictive robots.txt rules so that can crawl and preserve the original website.

The archive site is also useful for old files. One time, I had issues with reimaging a Classmate, and it turned out there was some from 2011 that I had to run in order to get Windows to activate.

Their manuals (volunteers) still reference some stuff that’s not up on the new site yet. Like seriously, how hard is it to replicate everything over to a new site?!?!

This is bad.

FIRST seems to not understand that some of us use the old stuff. For example, this Fall we built a demo bot out of some old FTC parts we had lying around. But I had a terrible time trying to find documentation about setting up the software. There were plenty of non-FIRST sites that had overviews about this, but for the real details they all linked to documentation on the FIRST web site – that appears to have been completely removed from the World Wide Web. A mere broken link we could have dealt with – but this stuff was completely gone.

It cost nearly nothing to keep a site of static content on the web nowadays.

You really need to think about creating stable URLs to old content – especially documentation. Yes, FTC may not use NXT bricks anymore, but some of us still have them around.

At least stuff like cRIOs and Jaguars are in better shape – mostly because the real documentation was at the vendor sites, not FIRST’s.

This doesn’t directly address the problem, but I have found that FIRST HQ’s phone support is very good. Not many questions asked, get to a polite human relatively quickly, and they seem to be able to easily accomplish most tasks that people are having trouble with. It is almost to the point where I start with a call, rather than going to the website. I’m sure they will be glad to help find information that is not readily available on the new website.

I call (800) 871-8326, then press 2. After that, pick from the following menu:

  1. Team support/general information - The general place to start.
  2. Finance, accounts payable/receivable
  3. Marketing and Communications
  4. FIRST place?
  5. Development/Financial support of FIRST
  6. Volunteer Information
  7. Human Resources
  8. Office of the President
  9. Procurement or Shipping

Even on busy days I don’t hold for more than 15 minutes, and the person who answers the phone has always been able to do what was needed very quickly (no supervisor approval).