I am writing in response to the Knight News story, “Sudden Shutdown of QWriting Platform Leaves Faculty Scrambling to Regain Decades-Worth of Information,” that appeared online on February 23, 2022.
I believe that your readers would benefit from having all of the facts in a situation as critical as the one in which faculty found themselves following the temporary shutdown of the QWriting platform on January 25. To that end, I am writing to clarify several points in the story so that affected users know that we did not undertake the shutdown lightly; nor did we risk losing important and irreplaceable content and leave them without the opportunity to retrieve and migrate it to a new platform.
The story claims that, “In the past few months IT has been swamped with service requests due to their limited staffing. Many IT staff left during the pandemic because technicians were in very high demand. This, combined with austerity cuts and the underfunding of CUNY, may have made the shutdown inevitable.” You should know that these details did not come from me as assistant vice president for Information Technology and CIO, since the topic of staffing was not raised in the inquiry reporters emailed me for their story on February 18.
Despite the fact that I provided a link to an IT resource page—QWriting Transition General Inquiry and FAQs—that offered answers to several of their questions, which would have been helpful to QWriting users, it was not included in the story nor was it included following a February 23 request by Maria Matteo from the Media and College Relations Office.
The reasons for disabling the Queens College QWriting platform are clarified on the resource page. QWriting was temporarily disabled on January 25, 2022, after CUNY Central Computing and Information Systems (CUNY CIS) and Queens College Information Technology (QC IT) received reports that malware was posted in the comments section of several sites on the platform. An investigation validated these reports and raised several additional security concerns. Only one sentence was devoted in the story to these issues.
In my response, I also made clear that no content was lost. In fact, as part of QC IT’s commitment to support the campus community following these threats, QC IT backed up content on three separate occasions—January 16, 18, and 25—from the Pagely-hosted QWriting servers. Every single site from the servers was exported and is securely stored. Individuals who have requested site copies have received them. Anyone who still needs a copy of their site content may submit their request by following the instructions on the previously mentioned IT resource page: QWriting Transition General Inquiry and FAQs.
It may help to ease readers’ minds to know that QWriting content is now supported in a CUNY- and Queens College hosted-environment which provides protections that were previously unavailable, such as firewalls, spam-preventive software, and a CUNYfirst ID encrypted sign-on process. In addition, the entire site will be hosted with Secure Socket Layer Certificates (SSL), a small data file installed on a web server that allows for a secure connection between the server and a web browser. Users will also benefit from the experience and expertise of technology security staff from both CUNY CIS and QC IT.
We are ITS, and we are here to help.