Really ending a domain name and the web presence / 2018-12-04

2018-12-04 Really ending a domain name and the web presence 6 months ago
On 25 december 2004 there was a special deal giving me the .info names camp-wireless.info and campwireless.info for free for the first year. Since that moment I kept the names registered and redirected all web traffic to the right version: https://www.camp-wireless.org/. So the deal worked from a 'selling domain names' perspective: Christmas is a bad moment to review the need for domain names, so the easy solution is to renew it. My decision to stop with these names was made in January 2018.

Traffic to the .info versions is very minimal. With the cost of the domain registration I decided to stop doing that and devised an exit strategy which would result in a domain name that attracts no traffic and is not linked to my other webprojects. On the next renewal date the domain will expire. I have done this before in a different context: when we ended the students personal webspace at www.students.cs.uu.nl.

The solution is to start returing HTTP state 410 Gone for search engines while at the same time returning a somewhat user-friendly error page.

Relevant bit of apache 2.4 configuration:
<VirtualHost *:80>
    ServerName www.camp-wireless.info
    ServerAlias www.campwireless.info
    ServerAlias camp-wireless.info
    ServerAlias campwireless.info

	DocumentRoot /home/httpd/campwireless-expire/html

    <Directory "/home/httpd/campwireless-expire/html">
        Require all granted
    </Directory>

    RewriteEngine On
    RedirectMatch 410 ^/(?!gone.html|robots.txt)
    ErrorDocument 410 /gone.html
</VirtualHost>
The gone page is simple: It has an explanation for human visitors and a meta refresh tag to redirect the browser eventually. But to a search engine the status 410 on almost any url will give a clear flag the page is gone and should be flushed from the cache.

Update 2018-12-18: A week before the end date I have received several e-mails about the upcoming termination of the domain name, stating I have to do something to keep things running. Yes, I am really really sure I want to terminate these two domain names.

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, reachable as koos+website@idefix.net. PGP encrypted e-mail preferred.

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Other webprojects: Camp Wireless, wireless Internet access at campsites, The Virtual Bookcase, book reviews
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