Recovering data from patch sites that have disappeared

March 6, 2007 Glenn Chase Base Camp

Every few months I get an email from a visitor advising me that I have a broken link on The Scout Patch Collector’s Base Camp. Sometimes it’s just a polite “heads up” so I can try to track down the new location. Often it’s a plaintive request that I put it back online, and I have to explain in my reply that the site wasn’t mine to begin with, I just provided a link to it.

Over the years many sites in the world of Scout patch collecting have vanished. As Councils merge their web pages related to emblem history often vanish as a new site quickly replaces those of the merged councils. I witnessed this when my old Council in Alexandria, Louisiana merged with Ouachita Valley Council of Monroe to form Louisiana Purchase Council in May of 2003. The attakapas.org web site featured a great set of pages related to the Council shoulder patches and Ouxouiga Lodge patches. Ouxouiga 264 was my ordeal lodge, and I was devastated when just a few months after the merger attakapas.org was gone, replaced by one of those fake search pages that domain scavengers put up. No where on the new site was any trace of the patch history of Attakapas Council or Ouxouiga Lodge.

The same scenario occurred in the early ’90’s when Peninsula Council and Kecoughtan Lodge 463 (where I became a Brotherhood member) merged with Old Dominion Area Council to form Colonial Virginia Council and Wahunsenakah Lodge 333. I was so alarmed at how the history and tradition of Kecoughtan Lodge vanished from the worldwide web overnight that I was motivated to create my own site to preserve the decades of service that preceded the merger.

If you’ve ever gone to a favorite web site and received the dreaded “404-Page Not Found” error here are a couple of ideas which might help you find what you were looking for. Both are ways for you to see previous copies of the web server content.

The first is use the Google search engine for the site you are looking for. Point your browser to http://www.google.com and enter the exact URL of the site you were unable to connect to.

When Google presents its results it will show you a link to the site (which probably still won’t work if the site is offline) and also an option to view a cached (saved) version of the site. Click on the “Cached” option and if you are lucky you will see what the site included the last time that Google successfully visited and saved it to cache.

Sometimes, though, a site has been offline for so long that Google can’t show a cached version. Or, the site may not have ever been visited by the Google search engine.

In this case I recommend that you try one of the most wonderful free tools on the internet – the “Internet Archive Wayback Machine” at http://www.archive.org

This incredible site lets you view saved copies of web sites which span several years. You can actually go “wayback” to see how a web site has evolved since its inception. The Wayback machine was able to display the Ouxouiga Lodge emblem page complete with pictures of the patches just the way I remembered it.

Next time your bookmark comes up with a “404-Not Found” error don’t just delete it. Search for traces in google’s cache and by using the Wayback Machine at archive.org!

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