Watchtower Observer site goes down

by Norm 149 Replies latest jw friends

  • Juan Viejo2
    Juan Viejo2


    More info to come...

  • Juan Viejo2
    Juan Viejo2

    Kent Steinhaug's Watchtower Observer is reborn...


    Watchtower Observer, for many years a leading news website for all things for, against, and about the Watchtower and Jehovah's Witnesses was a favorite of both ex-JWs and even some active JWs. It had a reputation for presenting a wide range of newsy and informative articles from all kinds of sources - but with a heavy emphasis on current news.

    Sometime before 2005 the site was taken down - for many reasons that have been discussed at length in the prior pages of this thread. I will let those posts stand as they are written and bring you up to date to March 2014.

    Last summer (2013), Kent Steinhaug asked if anyone wanted to take on the task of putting WO back online. He felt that the site had a lot to offer - especially historically - and that it should not just be ignored and allowed to die. The reality was that much of the site had been preserved on other sites such as, but was difficult to find and was incomplete.

    He approached the board of advisors at AAWA and asked if we would consider taking on the task. Because AAWA has a non-profit corporate structure and fairly strict publishing guidelines, we felt that we could make WO a project and take on the task using volunteers. We agreed that if he could provide us with copies of the original files and graphics, we would set up a new site that would have the look and feel of the old website as much as possible, but with some better indexing and presentation features.

    Kent sent us a complete set of archived files and graphics. The problem was (and Kent mentions that in a previous post) that the files were in an XML format used for high-end professional newspaper production, not for standard website presentation. So when we actually got the files and they were sent to me for a look-see, I was not sure if I could use them.

    I tried several XML to HTML - Text conversion programs, but they made things only worse. The files were nearly indecipherable. By chance - and that's exactly what it was - I tried an older style file reading program dating back to about 2001. I was able to see and copy the article text and convert the graphics to useable formats. But each and every article would be a major project taking about 2-4 hours just to get in draft form (the XML format had a mix of HTML/XML/inline CSS and other coding mixed throughout.

    Last October I started putting up the new website and categorizing and converting articles to some sort of useable format. There were still a lot of technical issues to resolve and quite a learning curve before I could transform old articles for useable and readable presentation.

    The site itself has been up since October, but has been hidden behind a splash screen while I worked on it.

    Over the past six months I have been very busy with a half dozen other projects. Quite frankly, Watchtower Observer was near the bottom of my list with AAWA, Watchtower Documents, Freeminds2, and my own personal websites ( and needing at least some new material from time to time. Freeminds2 no longer has my involvement and I've put a couple of other projects on the shelf for now.

    I decided to treat Watchtower Observer as a labor of love, not as a demanding task with some sort of short-fused due date. What I plan to do is convert 3-8 of the old articles from the archives and post them as I have my morning coffee. If I don't finish an article for a day or two, I'm not going to cry about it.

    I tried to decide whether to keep Watchtower Observer in maintenance mode until I got a lot of articles up. That was my original plan. But then I decided to go ahead and open it up for readers to enjoy. If they knew that new articles would be appearing every few days, then maybe they would come back and tell their friends as well.

    But most importantly, I wanted Kent Steinhaug to see his baby back online again and being read by a vast audience of new fans.

    For now, there will be no site registration. I don't have time to sift through all of the spammers and hackers that come to these kinds of sites. Comments will be open for those who feel the need, but I will not tolerate spam or obscenities.

    One more thing: Both Kent and WO readers may note that some articles have had some editing done - not to change them - but to protect them. The last thing we want is to be attacked by a bunch of DMCA and copyright complaints. So some of the formatting has been altered and some of the original photos and graphics have been deleted or changed. Some of the articles had Watchtower letters and documents in them. When those are necessary, quotes will be used with proper footnotes and if they documents are available offline or contained in another archive, then links will be provided. We will try to react in positive ways to any copyright complaints so that we can honor both the spirit and the law of property rights, and yet still fully document our stories.

    Please feel free to comment. Contact information can be found in the sidebar.

    The articles published so far were chosen to be both far-ranging as far as subject matter and not-widely known to current JW discussion readers. I can assure you that there is so much more that Kent has put together in this collection. You will be both amazed and informed.

    One last thing: You will note that when possible I have updated the original article with links to other or more recent articles on a case or subject. Hopefully my efforts will answer your questions about "what happened next?" or "whatever became of...?"

    Enjoy :


  • Phizzy

    Thanks for all your hard work ! and Kent's of course.

  • Miss.Fit


  • tim hooper
    tim hooper

    Kent's last apostafest held in Norway. Some famous names too.

    That's him 40 seconds in:

  • minimus

    Wonderful site that helped me the most!

  • JunkYardDog

    I remember the wt observer, had alot of info on RutherfRAUD ANND THE Nazi's . Kents site had great research and info I have not found anywhere else. Kent went into deep detail on how the wt lied about how many jw's were killed by Hitler. thank you for bringing it back. JYD

  • Juan Viejo2
    Juan Viejo2

    Just a few updates:

    I am doing my best to put up at least one article a day. Some days there may be 2 or 3 depending on how much coding repair I have to do. The cleanest articles will go up first without regard to subject or original date, etc. So at first, you might see a bit of a mishmash and wonder what I am doing. For now just consider the value of the original source and not the incompetence of the webmaster.

    By the way, Kent will be providing me with a new page or post very soon outlining his hopes for the future of the He is aware of the size of the task ahead and my limitations involving time and other projects. But he knows I'll do my best and do it as quickly as humanly possible.

    For now, each new (old) article will appear automatically at 12:00 midnight UTC, so those of you in the US and points west of the Atlantic pond will see them appear mid-day. Eastern Europe and points East will see them come up before breakfast.

    You'll note that there does not seem to be any rhyme or reason to the articles being chosen. Go back and read the first paragraph above for the primary reason. The secondary reason is that Kent's collection covers the whole spectrum of subjects connected to all things Watchtower and JW. Criminals, Governing Body (whoops! are those one and the same?), personalities, history, doctrine, court cases, books by and against apostates, and so many other subjects I can only scratch the surface. But you will find them all sorted by categories, by year Kent originally published, and by keywords. I've installed a very strong and effective search program that will begin to suggest the ten most likely articles that you are looking for, but will get more specific as you type in more text.

    Screen grab:

    Although I've decided not to allow registration on the site to keep spammers and hackers off as much as possible, there is a subscription option (just requires your email address) that will automatically send new articles directly to your email box (you might want to set up a separate email address for that purpose). After much debate (mostly with myself), I've opened up most articles to comments. Anyone spamming, using extreme profanity, or being abusive will see their comments disappear and their IP blocked. I want everyone to enjoy the site and learn from it.

    As I've mentioned before, Kent and I want as many new readers to discover this great resource. Just understand that a lot of the stories are very dated (although I do try to update some of the news articles as much as possible based on available news articles) - so please don't scratch your head and wonder why we are reprinting articles dating from 1998 to 2004. That's what Observer is - a time capsule. There are dozens of websites covering current stories that are doing a wonderful job of keeping us all informed. Observer is a history lesson.

    And by the way, for those who knew that Kent Steinhaug has been quite ill in recent years, I can let you know that he is doing well, living in Northern Europe and has beaten a very nasty case of cancer. He wrote me the other day and told me that there are no signs of the cancer he had and that he is getting stronger every day. He loves the fact that many of the readers of JWN remember him and have been so supportive. But you'll all hear more from him on the site in a few days.

    So check it out - feel free to subscribe - feel free to comment.

    Juan Viejo2

  • JunkYardDog

    the wt observer along with Ken Raines site the were Extremly helpful years aGO to kick the crap out of most any elder or c.o. they brang around. i would leave these bethelites and wt overseer's speachless, just slamming them with all this Info I learned from these site's. I'm into wt history and once a JW{S tells me the wt is the "truth" I put them through the Saw Mill , then run them over with a steam roller............ I learned how to do this from many old time ApostaTES . and the Kent was one...........

  • yalbmert99

Share this