Forum Owner AWOL

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bingbong
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Forum Owner AWOL

Post by bingbong » Sun Jan 27, 2019 8:05 am

Hi,

I have been active on a brewing and distilling forum helping other people out, as a member. Now I need your help. Please.

http://www.stillsmart.co.uk/forum/

The forum has been severely neglected. There is only one active administrator (maybe just a mod - can't be sure).
The owner has gone absent ( fully off-line ). This first became apparent when Google withdrew captcha. From that point on it was impossible to get new users onboard And the site is in decline.

The site is an enormous wealth of information, however this is soon to be lost. The immediate threat is that the hosting will expire.
The admin, myself and many other members, want to work together to gain control of the hosting and the software.

Any help would be MUCH appreciated. We seem to be in a perfect storm.

PS. I have read a few other posts on this site and we have no access whatsoever to the original PCs/email trials/browsing history/passwords. This is a cold start.

PPS. If someone has already tried this and has proved there is no way forward, knowing that would also help.
Last edited by thecoalman on Sun Jan 27, 2019 8:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Moved to phpBB Discussion

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thecoalman
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Re: Forum Owner AWOL

Post by thecoalman » Sun Jan 27, 2019 8:34 am

There is nothing specific phpBB can do, phpBB only provides the software. We do not control it's usage.

If you have active administrator they should be able to access the backup section in the ACP.

ACP >> Maintenance Tab >> Backup

If they are just a moderator they would not have access to this panel.

If you able to download that file it's the most critical thing as it contains all the information to recreate the forum elsewhere with the exception of avatars and files that have been uploaded. It will contain posts, members etc. Since you are not the owner of this site the legality of using it is something you are going to have figure out on your own.

You may be able to obtain the domain, if you go to a registrar and obtain an account they have options to try and obtain expiring domains. The instant it expires they will try and register it for you, you just have to hope someone else is not doing the same thing and is quicker. Of course the domain expiration may not coincide with the hosting expiration. This would only give you control of the domain but if you were able to obtain the backup first you would be able to recreate it.

Beyond that there is really nothing else to suggest, you need to find the owner to fully obtain it.
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david63
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Re: Forum Owner AWOL

Post by david63 » Sun Jan 27, 2019 8:37 am

Without access to the server/hosting account then, unfortunately, there is nothing that you can do.

The good news is that the domain is registered until February 2020.

You could try approaching the hosts Website Welcome but I suspect that they would be very reluctant to be able to help (for obvious security reasons)
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KevC
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Re: Forum Owner AWOL

Post by KevC » Sun Jan 27, 2019 11:47 am

I had this exact situation several years ago where I was a moderator on a site where the owner went awol.

I ended up buying a domain name very similar to the one we had, installing a new board with the same forum layout and then posting an announcement explaining the situation and asking everyone to register on the new site. It's about all you can do. If people are willing to help out copying over topic content, that's great, but do it while you still have the chance. When the hosting runs out, it'll just vanish. If you have no access to the database there isn't a lot you can do.

As mentioned, you can try to get access to the server from the hosts but understandably they will be extremely reluctant as there are privacy and security issues. Without the express permission of the account owner they are not likely to give you anything.
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stevemaury
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Re: Forum Owner AWOL

Post by stevemaury » Sun Jan 27, 2019 5:54 pm

You need to find out if the existing admin? Moderator? has access to the backup utility in the ACP. Otherwise, Kevin's solution is the only one.
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EA117
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Re: Forum Owner AWOL

Post by EA117 » Sun Jan 27, 2019 7:49 pm

Not sure it's a great option, but if the current moderator doesn't turn out to have ACP Backup access, something to consider:

Someone posted in here a week or two ago about having used WGET to make a backup of their site. The intention was really to have performed a backup of the files over FTP, but it appeared that what they did was allow WGET to iterate over the site using HTTP.

What that gives you is something essentially like a Google bot crawling every link on your site: It will download the HTML page that is generated for each thread and page, as WGET recursively walks every link within your site.

"As HTML" isn't going to be the best or most fun to have to re-parse through later (manually, or with some scripting or macro prowess) to try and make new similar phpBB posts on the new site. But it's at least "something", and would be "complete" in terms of knowledge on the current site, and doesn't require any more access to create beyond "an ability to view the current web site."

I see there is a GUI front-end for WGET available from https://sourceforge.net/projects/winwget/ . That's probably better for people like me who are unfamiliar with WGET, rather than trying to download and use the Win32 port of the GNU original.

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hewmac06
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Re: Forum Owner AWOL

Post by hewmac06 » Sun Jan 27, 2019 8:32 pm

KevC wrote:
Sun Jan 27, 2019 11:47 am
I ended up buying a domain name very similar to the one we had, installing a new board with the same forum layout and then posting an announcement explaining the situation and asking everyone to register on the new site. It's about all you can do. If people are willing to help out copying over topic content, that's great, but do it while you still have the chance. When the hosting runs out, it'll just vanish.
Yes, that's what I would consider. While you have the chance, and with the help of other members, why not capture page images of the most relevant topics using the Chrome Full Screen Capture extension. Then, again with a bit of help re-publish them when you have the new board set up.

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bonelifer
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Re: Forum Owner AWOL

Post by bonelifer » Mon Jan 28, 2019 3:21 am

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thecoalman
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Re: Forum Owner AWOL

Post by thecoalman » Mon Jan 28, 2019 4:41 am

bonelifer wrote:
Mon Jan 28, 2019 3:21 am
Possibly try this:
https://www.archiveteam.org/index.php?title=PhpBB
Thanks for this :D I have a need for it for other purposes. I was going to suggest something similar. Many years back I was getting warning about CPU usage from my shared host at the time. I had literally days to move to new VPS on another host. To give myself some breathing space I edited the templates so it was just serving viewtopic and viewforum with all the login and other links removed. This was on local machine, ran spider on it to generate thousands of static files. Deleted the phpBB install and uploaded them to host. :D That allowed me to keep it live while I navigate d the new world of my shiny new VPS. :D Best thing that ever happened to me actually if I were honest.

If someone wrote script to parse the HTML I don't seen reason you would not be able to recreate almost entire forum live.
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bingbong
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Re: Forum Owner AWOL

Post by bingbong » Mon Jan 28, 2019 9:58 am

Thanks guys.

As I suspected - I hold out little hope of being to take control of the existing setup.

WGET sounds interesting. I will look into that. Nice one. Thank you.

I think hosting fresh is probably the way to go - similar name, similar look and feel etc. And get on it while we still have time.

Thank you.

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