The forum (which I'll refer to as DoD) quickly became one of the largest english-speaking forum for Dune readers from all over the world. In 4 years, DoD has accumulated more than 60.000 posts in 20 different categories and 2500 members.

Unfortunately, something terribly bad happened to this successful forum in June 2005. Yes, the database got corrupted and the forum lost all 60.000 posts. And because bad news never travel alone, the webmaster of DoD had lost all interest in the forum and therefore was not around to fix the database. In fact, he had not been around for several months but moderators were still keeping the forum a good place to discuss Dune topics.

I discovered DoD back in April 2005, when the massive database was still healthy. I remember talking about DoD to a good friend of mine, the same who, in March 2004, gave me Dune 1 in French for my 21st birthday ! I had never heard of Dune before and it was a true revelation. Since then I have read the whole saga in French and I am in the process of completing the English version.

Anyway, at the beginning of August 2005, I have decided to do something about DoD. The forum was slowly dying because all of the messages were lost, people had to find hacks to post new messages, they could not use private messages anymore,... So I tried to contact the webmaster but to no avail. Emails bounced back, he never replied to PMs, I even phoned him in the US (got his number from the whois database) but the phone number had expired. My last desperate attempt to contact him was to ask Netweaver, the company that hosted the website, if they could give me his valid email or phone number but of course, I'm not the FBI and for obvious reason they refused to do it.

All these failed attempts made me really sad. I could imagine what these 60.000 messages meant to so many people because I have also lost thousands of messages on another board. But at that time, everything was tried to get the messages back. This time, with DoD, I felt like I was standing in front of a very large and beautiful garden with all sorts of flowers, and suddenly someone comes in and starts to walk on all the flowers, and tear them and burn them... I'm not going to watch this guy kill such a beautiful place, I have to act !

And so I did. I fired my last bullet, played my last card, I hacked the forum ! I had never done this before and at first, I felt guilty about this. Luckily, I had a friend helping me, both technically and morally so it all went smoothly. Technically it was quite simple because the forum used an antique version of phpBB that was 4 years old, the 1.4.2. I'm not going into more details but it took me two days to figure out how I was going to do it and by Sunday, 28th of August, at 00:32 AM, the entire forum was at its new location : http://dreamersofdune.zaup.org. What also wasn't really straightforward, was the upgrade from phpBB 1.4.2 to 2.0.17, such a huge gap :)

Then, I sent an email to the 2500 members telling them about the ghola forum. Of course, not all of them got the email because many addresses were very old and no longer active, about 1000 of them. But still, I am quite astonished that only 48 hours later, 100 old members have already logged in at the ghola forum ! I have received all sorts of kind messages via email, PM and on the forum itself. Does it mean it was a success ? Not quite, or at least, not yet...

I still haven't achieved my main priority, I didn't recover the 60.000 lost messages. It is still a heavy burden when I think of it and it will not go away until all the messages are recovered or if I get evidence that these messages are truly lost and there is nothing to do about them.

To achieve this, I have decided to contact again the company that hosts the old forum and ask them if they could :

  • attempt to fix the database using myisamchk

or, even better,

  • send me the *.MYD/*.MYI files so that I can do it myself

This request will be sent both via email and via regular mail and many members of the forum will co-sign it. Why all these precautions ? Well because we are not their customers and if they really don't want to do anything about it, there is nothing stopping them. But my hope is to make them realise how strong and large this community is and how much we care about these messages.

Well, that's pretty much everything for now. If you want to see the ghola forum for yourself, just head your thopter over to http://dreamersofdune.zaup.org. This is the axlotl tank where the new ghola is being formed. Just like a Tleilaxu Master, my goal is to help him recover his memories from his previous lives...