CROI website: vital community and research resource vanishes
Simon Collins, HIV i-Base
It is with a growing frustration that the excellent and unmatched website for the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections has been unavailable for many weeks.
Neither the secretariat responsible for previous meetings (Westover Associates) nor the conference organisers have yet responded to requests for information. Currently the URL returns a “site unavailable” message.
It is somewhat unnerving that the established site (www.retroconference.org) has no information and does not link to (what appears to be) a hastily thrown together holding page for the meeting (www.croi2014.org). This page has no contact details for the organisers, the secretariat or about the disappeance of this essential resource.
CROI is established as the most important HIV scientific meeting and their committment to website is unparalled in the medical field and should be a model for other disease areas. The website is a vital resource not only as a record of previous meetings but as a free open-access research tool.
i-Base, along with many other community organisations, goes to considerable effort to include hyperlinks to abstracts, posters, presentations and webcasts in our reports. The reliability of the original URLs are an essential aspects of the site.
The lack of communication is not helpful. The value of the CROI website is also due to the intellectual and financial investments of many (including public institutions) that have committed to the meeting for over 20 years. It is not acceptable for this to vanish for so long without explanation or commitment that it will return.
Since going to press CROI has announced that they will partner with the International Antiviral Society USA (IAS-USA) for the next conference.
It appears that the previous secretariat are responsible for inactivating the website and presumably are refusing to reinstate it. This squabble needs to be resolved. The organising committee are apparently committed to retrieving or replicating the resource.
On 30 July 2013, CROI also announced that the next meeting will be from 3-6 March 2013 in Boston.