Someone was really mad at Andrew...



  • Last week, a new member of ASW's web board, aregag or something similar, went on a spamming spree and gravedug hundreds of topics across the various subforums. They'd made 600 or 700 posts last I saw, each with some variant on "Andrew Welch is a SCAMMER!!!". However you may feel about it, you must admit it was an impressive commitment to spamming!

    That was around Monday July 15, and ASW was down, web board and all, by Friday July 19. They may come back online; they have before. In the six years since all the developers were laid off, ASW has gone off and on any number of times. But I have a feeling this is truly the end of Ambrosia. For one thing, their web board has been so thoroughly defaced with personal attacks levied at Andrew that I can't see him turning the forum back on without removing all the spam. For another thing, the web board has so many issues at this point, I doubt any moderator or admin can login to remove the spam. Then there's the problems of no email server, expiring SSL certificates, and the backlog of orders that need filling while the online store continues to take money. At the end of the day, Andrew probably decided to switch the server off and that's that.


    We've been independent of ASW for some time, so I'm not worried about it. I'm making this post partly to record what happened for my own reference, partly to share the Ambrosia Times Archive it inspired me to make, and partly to solicit some opinions.

    As an inveterate archivist, I'm trying to preserve as many old ASW materials as possible. Macintosh Garden has a nice collection, and of course you can visit the website throughout history using the Wayback Machine at archive.org. Cythera Guides has a few relevant pages as well. I'm comfortable saying everything is saved and accessible at this point, except the forums. Pallas has a very nice archive, although I don't believe he has subforums like Ferazel's Wand or Escape Velocity backed up. (Can you confirm if you have these, Pallas? I may just be struggling to find them and will happily add links if so!)

    Since there's a lot of useful information spread throughout the old web board, it'd be good to have that content somewhere, and I did pull down a complete copy a few months ago. Now I'm trying to decide what to do with it.


    One option is an archive in the older format, similar to what Pallas has. In this case, (1) if Pallas likes, we could morph the files into his archive and extend it to be a complete mirror of the old web board. Alternatively, I can (2) adjust the pages and put up a similar archive on Cythera Guides.

    The other option is an updated format like these boards. It should be possible to (3) merge all the other boards into an "Archives" section of these forums, or I can (4) create a different subdomain (like forums.archives or asw.forums) and host a different NodeBB instance for the other forums there.

    I'm really not sure what's best. I don't like (1) if it pushes a lot of effort on Pallas. (2) seems like a lot of work for a system that would ultimately not be searchable. I favor (3) or (4) because NodeBB makes browsing and searching so easy, it brings new life to all the old pages. However, (3) might migrate these boards away from a Cythera focus, and (4) might be an unnecessary use of resources if a static archive will do.

    It's a bit of a quandary, and I don't want to be unfair to anybody. I'm happy to help preserve everything and encourage the different communities to take part but also want to balance that with the goals of Cythera Guides.


    Sorry for another long and wandering Wizard™ post! All this was to ask: What do you guys think? Should a full web board archive exist? Which option would you favor?



  • @Wizard said in Someone was really mad at Andrew...:

    I'm comfortable saying everything is saved and accessible at this point, except the forums. Pallas has a very nice archive, although I don't believe he has subforums like Ferazel's Wand or Escape Velocity backed up. (Can you confirm if you have these, Pallas? I may just be struggling to find them and will happily add links if so!)

    Just to be clear, you have a complete but inaccessible archive, right? Mine is accessible but incomplete. I only backed up the Ares and Cythera forums, though I’m happy to incorporate more from a complete backup. (I would rather move it to a better URL, though)

    Did you also back up addons? I have archives of the Ares, Cythera, Avara, and Harry addons.

    Note that I didn’t back up all the resources, only the HTML, so now that ambrosiasw.com is down, the pages look a little broken.

    One option is an archive in the older format, similar to what Pallas has. In this case, (1) if Pallas likes, we could morph the files into his archive and extend it to be a complete mirror of the old web board. Alternatively, I can (2) adjust the pages and put up a similar archive on Cythera Guides.

    I would favor the static archive option, though I’m not sure either location is necessarily the best place (I’ve considered registering the org variant of ambrosiasw.com for stuff like this, but haven’t yet).

    The other option is an updated format like these boards. It should be possible to (3) merge all the other boards into an "Archives" section of these forums, or I can (4) create a different subdomain (like forums.archives or asw.forums) and host a different NodeBB instance for the other forums there.

    I don’t think it makes sense to do this work up-front. Maybe the B&Bers will want a live forum, but I suspect they would probably do that work themselves and host their own live forum.

    It would be nice if the static archive multiplexed out to live forums where they exist, though.



  • @Pallas-Athene said in Someone was really mad at Andrew...:

    Just to be clear, you have a complete but inaccessible archive, right? Mine is accessible but incomplete. I only backed up the Ares and Cythera forums, though I’m happy to incorporate more from a complete backup. (I would rather move it to a better URL, though)

    Yes, I have a mostly complete backup of the HTML. I also didn't backup resources since the script that did the crawling was the same used to convert to NodeBB, and that was focused on preserving text due to resources largely being replaced by the new forum software.

    Did you also back up addons? I have archives of the Ares, Cythera, Avara, and Harry addons.

    Note that I didn’t back up all the resources, only the HTML, so now that ambrosiasw.com is down, the pages look a little broken.

    Yep, here's that archive. It's quite ugly, but I didn't keep any of the original HTML for that. I just pulled the info into a json file and used that to generate the pages seen there.

    I would favor the static archive option, though I’m not sure either location is necessarily the best place (I’ve considered registering the org variant of ambrosiasw.com for stuff like this, but haven’t yet).

    Actually, I was checking the whois earlier, and ambrosiasw.com expires next March! Andrew may not renew it, although no knowing how much it would cost to get. That being said, since it's such a small community, the domain may not be as much an issue.

    I don’t think it makes sense to do this work up-front. Maybe the B&Bers will want a live forum, but I suspect they would probably do that work themselves and host their own live forum.

    The B&Bers might. They're part of my uncertainty as I'm happy to let them backup and host their own forum. On the other hand, there's so many other forums mixed in that I really want available for reference (e.g. Ferazel's Wand, PoG, EV, & EVO), but I'm not sure about splitting them out.



  • Well, if you grab www.ambrosiasw.com you might have random people thinking you're the company and contacting you for support or spamming the archive for venting. Assuming it wasn't read-only.

    I'd personally prefer anything other than option 3.



  • During Ambrosia’s early troubled days they let a few of their domains expire, including arescentral.com. They used to host stuff on a few domains, but for several years they had just been redirects to the main site. I picked it up by using a service from GoDaddy that tried to register it before anyone else did (they now have a service called Domain Backorder which I think is a little different). I don’t remember it being super-expensive, and now that I own it I pay the regular ~$10/y price.

    I wouldn’t want to host live content there, but I’d rather set up a proper tombstone than let some squatter have the domain.



  • @Wizard said in Someone was really mad at Andrew...:

    Yes, I have a mostly complete backup of the HTML.

    When I wrote this, I was sure everything but the "Just" discussion boards had been saved. However, at sierro's prompting, I had a look through the files to confirm which boards I have, and now I'm realizing the archive isn't as complete as I thought. Sadly, B&B, Redline, and Ambrosia's general support forums are missing as well. It's really too bad this slipped my mind! There were ample opportunities to get these backed up just a couple weeks ago, but I didn't worry since I was sure it was done! Oh well... so it is with all data loss.

    I'd been leaning toward option 4, but that may be overkill for these reference forums since the general discussion boards are missing. I suppose a static archive is a good idea too; I'd just want to figure out a convenient way to search them.



  • @Troyen said in Someone was really mad at Andrew...:

    Well, if you grab www.ambrosiasw.com you might have random people thinking you're the company and contacting you for support or spamming the archive for venting. Assuming it wasn't read-only.

    I'm inclined to agree with this statement.



  • @Wizard I am quite keen to find a copy of the B&B and I know there are #ev3ers who are willing to host it. Please let me know if you hear of anything. I'm sure someone grabbed a copy of it at some point.



  • A quick update on this topic:

    Recent discussion on /r/evnova reminded me that others may benefit from an ASW forum archive. I elected option 4 because NodeBB's searching is just too good to pass up for something that will be used for reference:

    asw.forums.cytheraguides.com

    It's read-only to preserve the integrity of the archive. Plus, until I see what the usage stats are, I'm not sure there's much of a community who would use it for posting; even us Cythera folk have migrated a lot of discussion to Discord these days.

    Being a separate subdomain also protects the integrity of these boards and makes it easier to fill in missing ones should we ever manage to locate another archive. I've pondered emailing Andrew to ask if he'd switch the server on for a few more days or share the database so we can convert it, but I'm not sure anything would come of that.

    Anyways, it's not much but seemed worth sharing since this topic had been left hanging.



  • Nice. Three thoughts:

    1. Looks like the forums are sorting topics by start date instead of last post date, which buries long threads (like the Officer’s Club Bar).
    2. Is there any reason not to incorporate ATT? I can send you my backup.
    3. Since this is in the interest of preservation, would you consider putting a database dump somewhere so others could easily back up your server without writing their own scraper? :)

    Outside ATT, I appear to have been the only person to start a topic in the Ares forums in the past decade, so… huh.



  • @Pallas-Athene said in Someone was really mad at Andrew...:

    1. Looks like the forums are sorting topics by start date instead of last post date, which buries long threads (like the Officer’s Club Bar).

    That's very odd. Last post date is tracked inside the topic entry and a supplemental "event" entry in the database. Both those fields get updated by the importer script and seemed to work correctly when making the Cythera forum.

    But I can't get the new one to sort properly no matter what, so I'm guessing the latest version of NodeBB has some changes. Well, it certainly does since I had to alter the source to get profiles showing post history—they'd changed the way viewing permissions are handled. If I get a chance to track down the change, it may be possible to fix with a re-import.

    1. Is there any reason not to incorporate ATT? I can send you my backup.

    Mostly laziness on my part 😛. Although I did think about asking you, I decided there'd be edits to make for the slightly different link structure and that an external link might be a good way to reference your archive.

    You're welcome to send your backup! If I can find any other archives about, a re-import would definitely be worthwhile.

    1. Since this is in the interest of preservation, would you consider putting a database dump somewhere so others could easily back up your server without writing their own scraper? :)

    Yes! I would like to do this and will put up a copy on Google Drive soon. Since media isn't included, the DB is not too big.



  • I uploaded the raw data generated from webforum_to_nodebb's converter scripts; that can be downloaded from here. It's basically a Python object containing the JSON entries for NodeBB, and you can automate the import using the "fields_to_db.py" script linked above.


    Regarding the ambrosiasw.com domain name, I was checking the whois records and found that it has been renewed! Just a couple interesting notes:

    Originally, ASW's domain was managed by Network Solutions. It looks like Andrew renews it on a 5-year cycle since the previous term was initiated in 2015.

    Domain Name: AMBROSIASW.COM
    Registrar: NETWORK SOLUTIONS, LLC.
    Updated Date: 02-feb-2015
    Creation Date: 22-mar-1995
    Expiration Date: 23-mar-2020
    

    Last month, not only was it renewed through 2025, but the registrar was transferred over to Tucows.

    Domain Name: AMBROSIASW.COM
    Registrar: Tucows Domains Inc.
    Updated Date: 2020-01-24T05:33:48Z
    Creation Date: 1995-03-22T05:00:00Z
    Registry Expiry Date: 2025-03-23T04:00:00Z
    

    This made me wonder if the domain was transferred to different ownership entirely; perhaps Andrew was not the one to renew? So I checked his current consulting business and found it also registered through Tucows since 2017.

    Domain Name: NYSTUDIO107.COM
    Registrar: Tucows Domains Inc.
    Updated Date: 2017-03-22T18:02:23Z
    Creation Date: 2005-03-07T03:55:56Z
    Registry Expiry Date: 2022-03-07T03:55:56Z
    

    I take this to mean that Andrew is still personally involved in keeping the website domain, and he merely wanted to consolidate to a single registrar. The fact that he's holding on to the domain might mean something... or it might not. Either way, the server's still down and he is keeping the domain.



  • @Wizard Well, domains are relatively cheap and even if he doesn't want to keep the website up, that doesn't necessarily mean he wants it taken over by a porn domain. Long running website domains tend to be a good target for scammers and spammers.


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