The Phorum, Part 7: Stolen!

When we’d left off last time, I had set up a landing page for the Phorum, an online messageboard I had taken offline. I happily paid the $10 or so a year for the domain registration, and the hosting was free.

Mid-last-year, I got a notification in my email that it was time to renew my domain. I had it set up on auto-pay so I prepared to do the usual amount of work, which was nothing. However, instead of a notice that the bill had been automatically paid, I received increasingly dire warnings that not paying my bill would result in bad things happening. I clicked through to the site and paid manually. I didn’t want to lose the domain, after all.

A few weeks later, I got an email saying I’d lost the domain.

Annoyed, I filed a support request and thought no more about it. But after a week went by with no response, I decided to check Chuck’s Twitter feed to see if he was extremely busy with something.

That’s when I discovered that Chuck was dead.

I tell the whole story here, but I was absolutely staggered. I had known that he’d been going through some health challenges, but I thought he’d gotten them under control. Turns out…they were less under control than I’d thought. He was gone.

I didn’t care at all about the ten bucks I lost on the domain. I hope it went to his widow and not to his creditors, but I really have no idea. I’m sure things were — and continue to be — hard for them. I felt gutted at the loss, and I barely knew the guy.

Tragic as his passing was, though, it left me with a problem: I had lost my domain.

I emailed the registrar who provided the domain to the hosting company. Unfortunately, they were incredibly unhelpful. I was starting out on the back foot since I’d already lost the domain.

The domain has been since snatched up by some Chinese company and seems to be a semi-spammy page now. Given that for most of the Phorum’s existence one of my main jobs was fighting spam, I can’t help but feel as though the spammers have won.

In any case, there is now nearly no trace left of the Phorum. I feel a bit of sadness at that fact, and significantly more sadness at the circumstances surrounding the loss.

I do still have the entire message database backed up on my computer. If I wanted, I could (with a not insignificant amount of effort) restore the Phorum to its former glory. But I don’t want to. I might be willing to buy back the domain for a modest price, if the opportunity presented itself, just for nostalgia reasons. But the Phorum is well and truly at rest now.

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