Big News: RAnet

You may have heard it already from Ali herself:

I am thoroughly delighted that Ali has agreed to entrust me with her ‘baby’. When she dropped the news on Friday, my first reaction after a public reply was a message to Ali. I just wanted to take action and find out whether there were any alternatives to shuttering RAnet. Ali and I had a quick back-and-forth about the possibilities going forward, and the result is that Ali is going to transfer the website to my ownership some time in December. – The response on Twitter has been pretty overwhelming (and positive) so far. Many thanks to all of you for your messages of support. It is great to see the fandom pulling together – both for the deserved thank-you to Ali, as well as an expression of the wish to keep this well-known fan hub going. It reinforces my belief that it is a good idea to attempt keeping RAnet going – even at a time when much of the fandom activity has moved away from static websites and blogs to the fast-moving and short-lived social networks. The response has shown me that I am not the only one who values RAnet as a resource and a central platform where information about Richard, his projects and his fandom is collated and archived. However, our rejoicing may be a little bit premature because there are some challenges to deal with.

Richard GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

What’s the story?

I really hate to dampen your spirits but first of all I need to make clear to you all that we currently have no *guarantee* yet that RAnet can stay online in its current shape and form. It is *certainly* my objective to keep RAnet online as a fan resource *as is* but the problem is the following: The website is built in a CMS (content management system) called Joomla that is getting outdated. As such it may actually not be supported anymore in the near future. I won’t go into the technical details here, but suffice to say that we probably need the expertise of a professional web designer/Joomla expert to help us migrate and future-proof RAnet. So RAnet’s future hinges not on me alone as the new admin of the site, but there is a lot of tech to deal with.

While the costs of hosting and owning the domain are manageable for me (depending on the future platform, though, but we will deal with that when we get to it), I am aware that involving a professional will incur costs. But that is another bridge that we only need to cross when we get to it.

Going forward

The take-over will not take place until December, as outlined by Ali. I don’t envisage any drastic changes of the site but consider the take-over of RAnet like moving into an old house: It’s a precious, much-loved structure with lots of history that has been kept spic and span by Ali, who has furnished it with a huge amount of beautiful pieces of furniture. We may have to rearrange the furniture a bit and will certainly add to it over time, but I will only be the keeper of the contents. It might be a good idea to have a few additional caretakers who will also look after this unique and priceless property. But that will be dealt with once we have secured the foundations of the building.

The next steps are to find a web designer/Joomla expert to have a look and diagnose whether and how we can migrate the site. We then need to decide, with the help of an expert, what platform to move RAnet to, in order to future-proof it and keep it going.

I would like to cover costs that are connected with employing a professional, with the proceeds of a fundraiser.

I intend to make the process of securing RAnet’s future as transparent as possible. I know that the site is a beloved and appreciated home for many of us, as it was our first port of call on our journey as fans, and my motivation in offering Ali my help was to make sure RAnet can continue to be a fan resource as well as an information hub for new and prospective fans. I also see RAnet as a keeper of fandom history – with comments, fan reports and guestbook entries stretching back many years. That is worth preserving, too. But we will have to speak to a professional to see what can be done, what can be saved, what needs to go.

How You Can Help

  • If you are or know a web designer who knows Joomla, please get in touch or connect me with him/her.
  • In the case of a fundraiser, I would appreciate your support in the shape of donations, contributions, bids. (No action necessary right now – I will post details once we know more about the future of RAnet.)
  • And once RAnet’s continued presence online has been secured, there are opportunities to get involved and manage the upkeep of the site.

If you have other suggestions, ideas, advice, I am grateful to hear any of them. Comment below.

I look forward to the next step in RAnet’s long history – and I hope that you will be onboard.

Gifs snaffled from riepu10

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82 thoughts on “Big News: RAnet

  1. even though everything is up in the air right now I’m glad that you’re TRYING. the archive fan site is something that is becoming a thing of the past in so many fandoms and it saddens me greatly. hopefully you can at least find a way to save the media files and upload them to a new site.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are hitting on an important point – it’s up in the air. We have no guarantee, but we are looking for solutions. If we can’t save the site as a whole, we’ll have to try and save the contents for upload in a different format. But fingers crossed that we can somehow migrate. I’ll start exploring the options today.

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  2. First and foremost, thank you. The idea of all that hard work being lost is really awful. I am sure that much of the info probably cannot be found elsewhere nowadays, especially historical stuff from the beginning. Newbies like myself wouldn’t have had a snowball‘s chance in hell if finding some of the things on RAN.com, let alone nearly organized in one place.
    I will ask my two IT friends if they have any insight into this platform or can recommend anyone. I’ll report back around midweek since I don’t work until Wednesday.
    If/when a fundraiser is announced, I will be there with bells on. I’m not techie, but if there is any grunt work (and I have a working computer again—working on that) feel free to put me to work.
    Again, thanks to you and Ali for preserving this unique collation of the professional biogRAphy. 😘

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    • You are absolutely right, Kate. There are many reasons for keeping RAnet as a hub alive – and preserving the history of the fandom is one of them. Also, the accessibility of the site has been long established. That means that readers are familiar with where they find the content they are looking for. It makes RAnet an irreplaceable resource. Sure, we could all screen shot the desired scenes ourselves. But sometimes it’s hard to remember which season and episode a particular scene came from. The galleries in RAnet are an amazing encyclopaedia in that respect.
      Also, I think it is hugely important to save the Amazon referral scheme which Ali has established. It cannot be underestimated how much money Ali has generated in donations that way – without any additional costs to the users. I am very keen on saving this fund raising opportunity, too.
      Oh, please, yes, do ask your IT-literate friends for insights. I am going to start enquiries myself today, but I am sure that we can need any expertise that we can get. So, thank you.
      Also – definitely will come back to you re. grunt work. Much appreciated!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m zero regarding any software/technical issues but I’m ready to donate/help financially. This site and its archive means a lot to me! I don’t want it to disappear. 🙏🏻
    Many thanks for trying to save it! ❤️

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  4. Thanks, again for taking this (potentially) on. Throwing in a suggestion (to take or leave, of course): Might be good to get a sense from fans what features are currently used or liked. For instance, are fans visiting mostly for the Amz referrals? Visiting old articles? They like having a comprehensive archive in one place? Might be useful in order to prioritize tasks, restructure, or do away with components. This also might have i,plications re the migration. Export/import of files and relinking might not require a developer.

    Count me in to help, as needed. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • First of all – thank you for all your offers of help bts, Christine! Much appreciated, it really makes a difference!
      And your suggestion is spot-on. I will definitely put a poll out there once we know a bit more about our migration plans. And thanks for mentioning the Amazon referrals – that is a part of the site that is top on my list want to preserve.
      I’m very gladly accepting your help 😘

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      • Dommage que ce soit ici que ,pour la première fois, je remercie et félicite Ali pour son travail et son dévouement. Ce fut et c’est toujours un blog de référence, pour moi aussi.
        Merci à tous de continuer l’oeuvre d’Ali.
        As Thorton said : “BUT”… about “or do away with components”, I am crying:” Please, please no carved up”!
        Guylty and well wishers fans, please be careful not to put with garbage “old stuffs” .
        “Help, help help” don’t you ear the anguished cry , those SOS sent by old articles, who don’t want to be destroyed” …
        Let us respect Ali ‘s expertise and excellent hard work! Let us respect the slightest comment, even the most innocuous!
        They are the testimony of the historical layers, even “archeological” layers of the epic of the fans. Let us respect our ancestors, without them we would not exist!
        Let us remain historians concerned about their sources, concerned about the treasure that this blog represents: one of our “precious” Arkenstone.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I am not sure why you imply that my offer to keep RAnet online is a sign of disrespecting Ali’s expertise and work. I have not said that anywhere in my post. It is my intention to preserve the site as is. That is what I wrote in my text above. “I don’t envisage any drastic changes of the site but consider the take-over of RAnet like moving into an old house: It’s a precious, much-loved structure with lots of history that has been kept spic and span by Ali, who has furnished it with a huge amount of beautiful pieces of furniture. We may have to rearrange the furniture a bit and will certainly add to it over time, but I will only be the keeper of the contents.”

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          • I am more reassured by your words.
            By dint of your computer mouse, all of you are holding the privilege, the responsibility, as sole archivists, guardians, keepers of our old collective memory. On the other hand, as I am sure you are all aware, this task would be very complex. No “Time Team’s” preventive archaeology but some archiving of a treasure that shouldn’t stay “under the mountain” but be definitely accessible.

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      • Sorry, butting in here to say that IMO Guylty has quite clearly stated her intentions of preserving things ‘as is’ if at all possible. But the Venn diagram of what’s desirable and what’s technically and financially feasible may not turn out to be a perfect circle. And in that case, there will have to be a Plan B. I’d rather preserve something than nothing at all and I think working together is the only logical approach. The alternative is to lose everything or each of us trying to download the whole shebang individually (which btw everyone is and always has been free to do regardless).

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        • Having been involved in site migrations on academic networks years ago, when the debate Joomla v. WordPress debate was really acute, and discussing what we could get from our archives into each system, I’m quite aware of the nature of the technical challenges involved, if not necessarily of the minutia. Because of that experience, I’m also very aware that not everything may migrate easily, even stuff that a developer tells you will migrate without a problem.. And thirdly, again because of that experience, I’m quite aware that stuff that doesn’t migrate easily gets lost, especially if it has to be migrated in any way manually. Finally, as someone who has worked professionally in and with archives every week of her life until recently, I’m trying to express — in response to the suggestion that we should poll people to see what gets the most use — that what gets the most foot traffic is not necessarily the most useful criteria for determining what gets archived. Most archives in the US and Canada are moving away from solely user-centered approaches and toward thematic and contextual approaches for exactly this reason: because we don’t immediately know what’s valuable from the perspective of our present, and because current users don’t necessarily know what they will need in future. There are ways to archive things that are not one-to-one migrations — images instead of text, for instance, etc.

          You’re exactly right that many of us have and maintain private archives of all kinds of fan things 🙂 And will continue to do so. Luckily for many current fans, previous fans have shared from their wealth when things “disappear.” I assume this will continue to happen and I try to help people if I have stuff. I understand this as the epitome of “working together,” as you put it.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Something else that it might be useful to be aware of — as far as I know, although maybe this isn’t true for RichardArmitageNet.com — the main archive sites all involved re-archiving of material from predecessor sites that have since disappeared (the main one I remember being Armitage Army) and fan collections.

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    • You are absolutely right, Nell. The gallery is integral. I use it frequently. Even if images are available elsewhere in bits and pieces over the web, the fact that the galleries are neatly and clearly categorised
      and all in one spot, means that they are user-friendly and helpful. It’s like a library – you can get the individual contents anywhere. But you cannot replace a catalogue of books that has been collected over the years *just like that*. Glad to have your support – we’ll definitely try!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. well done on taking over the task G
    re the website -BF says Joomla might be outdated but apparently it’s not going away (he’s not heard anything saying it’s going anywhere)
    HOWEVER, he says the website appears to be on Joomla 1.5 which is a 10 yr old version (Which is the main problem) and needs to be updated to 3.10 which is the current version
    he says you can email him if you’d like-he can give some pointers x

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you, once again you are a rare gem. And also a smart cookie putting out the word that this is going to be hard work & a real project. I concur with Chris/MT about determining fan priorities in addition to the massive tech analysis required. Clearly, Ali has been a hero behind the scenes for years, if we didn’t know already. I am happy to help with fundraising for this when you get there, & with publicizing/ RTing the things you need to know & have from us. Much love & thanks, my dear ❤

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    • Yep, while I am very enthusiastic about the developments, I also had a brief moment yesterday where I thought that I was setting myself up for failure. I know that there are high expectations and hopes connected with this rescue. I share them all. I want to preserve the site – but despite all the enthusiasm we also need to be realistic and see first what the pros say.
      You are absolutely right about finding the priorities. If there are issues with a one-stop migration, or if there are issues with the size of the data, we may have to streamline. If we need to downsize I intend to make a poll at a later stage and find out what the essentials are.
      In the meantime, thank you for your support and your suggestions. Everything is much appreciated!!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Mezz. I am overwhelmed by the many messages of support and offers of help. And I will definitely take everyone up on their offers when we get to the stage. xx

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  7. Not that I am a Joomla expert, but one of my clients once had a site and I had to look to keep it up for a while, till she wanted a new site entirely and did not move her old one. But I know from back then, that I had looked for options to directly move a Joomla website to WordPress, if that is a way you would consider to go. I searched for the description again:
    https://www.wpbeginner.com/wp-tutorials/how-to-move-your-site-from-joomla-to-wordpress/
    Perhaps that can help you with moving the content to a more future proof open source solution.
    Let me know if you need help, but as I say, I am not good with Joomla, just barely find my way around.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That is fab – thank you C, for your suggestion. I had a look at the tutorial, too, and while I am not 100% confident that I could actually execute the migration as suggested there, it at least gives me hope that there seem to be ways and means of importing from Joomla to WP. But yep, as mentioned elsewhere, I’ll get some insights from some tech-savvy people/professionals, and hopefully that will enable me to make an informed decision. I’ll keep you all up-to-date!

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  8. Oh thank you thank you thank you for taking this on, Guylty!!!
    I volunteer to work: not as programmer or director (don’t have that experience), but as a worker bee. I know graphics programs and can edit photos in Photoshop (resize, res-down, etc.). Also can recognize html, and can be taught some techie tasks, e.g., if you need something copied and pasted hundreds of times, or file formats changed, or…whatever. Put me on the list for “grunt work,” as Kate put it so brilliantly.

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    • Hehe, hold your horses. Yes, taking it on – but I am aware that we may encounter stumbling blocks. But it’s all about giving it a try, right, while preserving the fantastic work that Ali has put into the site over the years. I’d hate to see her legacy go.
      And thank you for the offer of help. Any kind of help will be appreciated – especially in case we might have to go the copy and paste route. I’ll keep you updated on the progress of the rescue plan.

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  9. Thanks so much to wonderful RAnet founder and curator Ali for her many many years of care of RAnet and RA’s fandom! And kudos to Guylty for offering to help keep it going into a new web platform, as needed! I’m always happy to help with a donation to keep things running and “the lights on”! Hugs & Cheers! Grati ;->

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  10. You lot are all stars. From Ali to Guylty and everyone offering help and suggestions here. Wish I could do more than sending best wishes and admiration for a very special bunch.

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  11. Wishing you every success
    This seems a task worthy of Hercules lol
    Will it be possible to keep the charity donations? Over the years hundreds of pounds have been raised for good causes via Amazon

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    • Many thanks. I’m willing to try 😉
      And the charity donations are one of the main reasons why I think we need to preserve the site. It’s actually and literally thousands of pounds that Ali has raised through the referral links, and that is just amazing. I will most definitely try to save that feature of RAnet.

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  12. You’re a rock star! Thanks for preserving this treasured site in any shape or form you can.
    It’s a tribute to all our love for this man and his work. You tread on sacred ground. Lol!
    We’ll all be ready to help.

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    • Thank you, Trudy. I will do my very best, and I am very much encouraged by the feedback and messages of support that have come both Ali’s and my way so far.
      Hehe, sacred ground is right!!! I am slightly scared by that, but hell, someone has got to try, right? I am sure you will keep me on the straight and narrow 🙂

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  13. Vielen lieben Dank nochmal Guylty, dass du dir auch noch diese Arbeit aufhalst! Wenn es tatsächlich gelingen sollte, die Seite zu retten, wäre das einfach wunderbar. Wenn du Hilfe brauchst, meld dich, ich bin dabei (soweit es um untechnische Sachen geht, mit dem ganzen IT-Zeugs kenn ich mich leider absolut nicht aus).

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    • An den Reaktionen – zunächst auf Alis erste Ankündigung und dann auf die Übernahmeoption – sieht man, wie sehr die Seite dem Fandom am Herzen liegt. Mir auch. Und mir ist sehr bewusst, dass es heikel werden kann, so eine geliebte Plattform zu übernehmen, besonders wenn dabei Änderungen nötig werden. Aber ich vertraue darauf, dass wir das gemeinsam schaffen. Jegliche Unterstützung – und wenn es einfach nur Rückmeldung ist – ist für mich wertvoll. Danke dir!!

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      • Na ich hoffe doch, ich kann zu gegebener Zeit mehr als nur moralische Unterstützung leisten. Ich glaube, ich sehe einige Dinge diesbezüglich weniger emotional als andere Fans, wenn ich mir die sich entwickelnden Diskussionen anschaue. Liegt vielleicht daran, dass ich die Seite nicht mehr in ihren “aktiven” Zeiten kennengelernt habe. Mir ist es z.B. nicht wichtig, wie die Website hinterher aussehen wird (das heißt nicht, dass mir das Design nicht gefällt, im Gegenteil). Für mich ist aber das Entscheidende, dass die Inhalte erhalten bleiben, wünschenswerterweise alle, aber wenn das nicht funktionieren sollte, dann eben soviel wie möglich. Daher hoffe ich im Moment erstmal nur, dass sich ein gangbarer technischer Weg hierfür finden wird.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Die Inhalte in ihrer Gänze und Fülle sind absolut erhaltenswert. Das ist das Ziel der Überführung von RAnet in meine Pflege. Für mich ist *im Moment* die Priorität, dafür einen technischen Weg zu finden. Aber letztlich sind die Diskussionen, die bereits jetzt stattfinden, (wenn auch verfrüht dann aber) doch ultimativ wichtig, um alle möglichen Bedenken auszuloten. Ich hoffe, dass wir wenigstens in Sachen Technik bald schon etwas mehr wissen.

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  14. I’m so grateful for your efforts to preserve this site, G. This is valuable source of not only to newbies to the fandom but as a reference to revisit again and again by seasoned ones. It may not look exactly the same after the transition (until you hear from experts it is too early to tell) but I have no doubts that it will be maintained by you with the same love, dedication and skill as Ali has done. If you’re able to pull this off, you are doing the fandom a marvelous service. I have every confidence you are the right person to take this on and you have the connections of so many talented people in the fandom who would not hesitate to help when called upon. I have no tech skills but I can help with fundraising etc. whatever is needed.
    I’m keeping my fingers crossed you will succeed in saving this treasure. Heartfelt thanks ❤️

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    • You are hitting it right on the head, Donna – it’s a resource for fans at *any* stage of their fandom journey. I am absolutely thrilled that we get a chance to carry it over to a new host. And I wouldn’t have even attempted to do so if I hadn’t known that I would find backers in the fandom who share our desire to keep RAnet going.
      Fingers crossed that it will all go smoothly.

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  15. I’m glad you’re making the effort to preserve it, although I’m sure what I’m going to say will not be well received by everyone: every piece of that site is valuable. Just because some pages may not get a lot of hits or may not be consulted frequently doesn’t mean they should be “done away with.” (If that’s the plan, let me know, and I’ll archive some of it myself, elsewhere.) In particular, each of the “big 3” sites when I became a fan incorporated things that were unique to it and valuable for that reason. RichardArmitageOnline had a lot of information about stage roles, resulting from the work of earlier fans who had put a lot of it on C19, that wasn’t included in detail anywhere else. Richard Armitage Central has a lot of fan art, a lot of transcripts of interviews (esp useful for video and audio interviews that have disappeared, and for fans with hearing impairments) and a lot of fan art. RichardArmitageNet.com is valuable for its scrollable chronological approach, its meticulous documentation of the dates and development of Armitage’s projects, its inclusion of early fan candids, and the day by day archive of news, especially from very hectic periods. Maybe not every fan wants to read all of that but I suspect that each piece has at least a few fans who appreciate it. It also hosts birthday wishes for Armitage in the days before Twitter and event reports from fans who met Armitage in the days when that was a lot harder to do. Destroying any of that stuff just because it’s not visited frequently would be a horrible decision and imo disrespectful to the mind(s) behind it. (Teaching public history this semester has made clear to me that every archive is the result of an archiving mind or minds and those things are important to preserve as well.) My impression, too, is that relatively speaking it doesn’t take up a lot of space. Yes, there are a lot of pictures in the galleries, but most of them are very small files.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I was biding my time on this, as it is early days, but I agree vehemently with Servetus and Squirrel. As far as it is possible, the archive should be preserved in its complete state, whether or not some features are popular or not. Importance is subjective here. Less-visited ones are just as valuable: as historical commentary and also as part of a comprehensive resource {I have an archives background (hoarding?) so any whiff of a selection process fills me with horror – particularly as it concerns RA.)

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      • Preserving the archive in its entirety, goes without saying. Or so I thought. I thought that I had been clear on that in my post, but I’m sorry if I expressed myself badly. So to put your worries at rest: There are no parts of the archive getting destroyed *on my watch*. There is no selection process from *my* side. The objective is to preserve the site *as is*, like I said in the post.
        BTW, it is far too early to worry about that at this stage. We do not even know yet whether the site can be transferred *at all*.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I am very relieved Guylty and know that the archive will be safe in your hands. My comment was in response to the suggestions of other commenteers. It is early days and I wasn’t going to say anything yet as it seemed divisive, in this period of jubilation and might cause tussles, but felt I had to endorse Servetus and Squirrels’ concerns.

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    • Thank you for your comment. I can assure you that no one is planning to destroy Ali’s site. I have the utmost respect for her work over the years and do not want to belittle that in any way. In fact, if you read my post closely, you’ll see that I am explicitly stating that I envisage to preserve RAnet *as is*. That includes all the parts of the site that you have mentioned in your comment. I am *fully* aware of their importance, so there is no need to worry. The reason a poll was mentioned here in the comments, relates to the challenges of the migration. It might be useful to find out, which website parts need to be moved in their entirety *first* whereas others, if they are more time-consuming, for instance, can be transferred over time.
      If you would like to be more closely involved with the technical side of preserving RAnet, that would be great.

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        • I see. I think at this point, we are all basically bouncing ideas off each other. No decisions have been taken on anything yet.
          And I would like to confirm and reassure once more that the aim of the change-over is to preserve RAnet *in its entirety*.
          Thanks for voicing your concerns and reservations. They are part of the process, and they reflect what I think, too. (See my post.) My main focus at the moment, however, is finding out *whether* we can save the site and then *how* it will be done without losing *any* of the contents. That will also depend on the new platform we settle on.

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        • Servetus, merci de repréciser ( avec la plus grande exactitude) mon propos de départ. Ici, je n’ai jamais tenu d’autres propos, d’autres versions que celle-ci. Merci encore pour votre droiture intellectuelle.
          Servetus, thank you to clarify (with the greatest accuracy) my original intention. Here, I have never made any other comments, other versions than this one. Thank you again for your intellectual righteousness.

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  16. What a relief to know that there is a plan to take over the site and that you will be doing it with all intent of preserving it entirely! It will be a Herculean task, I’m not sure I have anything useful to offer in regards to expertise but if there is anything I can do to help I will be glad to. You are wonderful for offering to do this Guylty. Thank you!

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  17. I want to send my best wishes and thanks for saving Ali’s fantastic site. I enjoyed my time helping Ali with the Facebook page for RANet and her site is a wonderful resource for Richard Armitage fans everywhere. I have my fingers (and toes!) crossed for you that it will all work out okay with the techie side 🙂

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    • Thanks for your comment Smithylass, and your work on the site. It has provided so much fun and info to so many of us. If it weren’t for fans like you and Ali, we wouldn’t have such a brilliant archive. Thank you!

      Like

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