Forum Admin Death

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JMichael007
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Forum Admin Death

Post by JMichael007 »

I belong to a forum that runs on phpBB software.

The forum administrator recently died and the members are concerned about the future of the board. Unfortunately, we don't know anything about the technical underpinning or how he maintained the site. It contains a lot of archival materials and members are concerned about the forum disappearing and losing access at some point.

Could someone provide direction or speak from personal experience as to what happens in a situation like this?

Thank you very much.
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david63
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Re: Forum Admin Death

Post by david63 »

Unless the previous Admin passed on the details of usernames and passwords to both the board and the hosting account then, unfortunately there will be little that can be done.

One of the key things that you will need is to access the hosting account and, for obvious security reasons, that is not something that you can just ask to change.

Do you know who the hosts are?

Once you have access to the hosting account then most other things can be accomplished.

Another thing that will require attention is the domain name - that will need transferring.

If you do not know all of this then if you give us a link to the board we may be able to provide some more information.

As to actually running and maintaining the board then just ask away on here - there will be somebody who knows the answer.
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KevC
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Re: Forum Admin Death

Post by KevC »

Sorry to hear about that situation.

I haven't had personal experience of that with a site but I think we've had a couple of topics in the past on here along similar lines.

The first thing I would do is put the site address in to a whois lookup site like https://whois.domaintools.com/ which will tell you when the domain name expires. That should be a rough guide to how much time you have to play with as it's possible the hosting and domain renewed at the same time. It should also tell you who the hosting company is (quite possibly the 'registrar' of the domain name if they got hosting in the same place). Then I would contact them and ask how you can go about claiming control over the site. I suspect you would need a copy of the death certificate for that. If you don't have any contact with the owners family then things get very tricky but sometime hosts will act as go-betweens to pass on requests to take control.
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JMichael007
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Re: Forum Admin Death

Post by JMichael007 »

Hey,

Thank you both very much.

I'll do some investigative work and provide an update on what I find.

Thanks again,
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JoshyPHP
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Re: Forum Admin Death

Post by JoshyPHP »

JMichael007 wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 1:25 pm
Could someone provide direction or speak from personal experience as to what happens in a situation like this?
That's not much but step one would be to find the host and make sure the account remains in good standing. If you don't know the host, post the URL here and someone will probably find it for you. Contact the host, explain your situation and offer to pay the bills to keep the account in good standing if the hosting plan defaults before you're able to secure a database backup.

Ideally, you'd need to find someone who has access the admin's emails so that you can request a new password for the admin's phpBB account, log as the admin and give yourself and other users admin privileges. In phpBB, you may be able to create a database backup. With that, you'd be able to copy the forums to a new hosting plan you control.
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david63
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Re: Forum Admin Death

Post by david63 »

JoshyPHP wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 3:10 pm
In phpBB, you may be able to create a database backup. With that, you'd be able to copy the forums to a new hosting plan you control.
Depending on the version of phpBB that may not be possible without ftp access
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JMichael007
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Re: Forum Admin Death

Post by JMichael007 »

I appreciate the guidance from each of you.

Using the link to whois.domain, I found the host domain name, the registry domain id, registrar server, url and the expiration date, which is March 2023. So I'm thinking it will stay up until the expiration date, unless there are other potential impacts I'm not aware of.

Is there any risk when phhpBB releases software updates, fixes or makes other changes? Wouldn't forum administrative rights and support be required for it to remain complaint and continue working?

We are not aware of any family or close friends who might have access to the administrative functions or if the admin granted access to anyone else either. If he did, hopefully someone will come forward to let us know.

Thank you again for your quick replies and helpful information.

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david63
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Re: Forum Admin Death

Post by david63 »

JMichael007 wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 4:25 pm
the expiration date, which is March 2023.
That's fine - you do not need to worry about that for now.
JMichael007 wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 4:25 pm
Is there any risk when phhpBB releases software updates, fixes or makes other changes? Wouldn't forum administrative rights and support be required for it to remain complaint and continue working?
Yes and no. In a lot of circumstances there is nothing that desperately needs doing but where you can encounter a problem is if the host changes something (such as PHP version) that is not compatible with the version of phpBB that you are running.

The main thing that you need to address is finding and contacting the host - partly to ensure that the account remains active and that sooner or later you can gain access to the account.
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WelshPaul
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Re: Forum Admin Death

Post by WelshPaul »

With all these GDPR and data protection laws in place the host isn't going to tell you anything. Whoever is dealing with the deceased estate needs to make contact with the host and they will need to submit the following information/documentation in order to gain control/access:
  1. Identification if you are the estate receiver (e.g., driver license, photo ID card, passport, and so on).
  2. Either the username, email address, or website name of the individual who passed away that you are trying to access.
  3. A copy of the death certificate of the deceased.
  4. A copy of the document that gives you power of attorney over the account or estate receiver of the deceased.
  5. If the account owner was under the age of 18, a copy of their birth certificate to verify their age and to verify you are the parent of the individual. In this case, power of attorney is not required.
Good luck.
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Re: Forum Admin Death

Post by stevemaury »

Where are you located? Where did the deceased reside? Where is the host located? Where is the domain registrar located?
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Lumpy Burgertushie
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Re: Forum Admin Death

Post by Lumpy Burgertushie »

are there any other admins that have access to the admin panel of the board.

if so, then they might be able to take care of moving the board to a new host etc.

depending on where the hosting company is and/or where the board owner lived, the GDPR thing may not even apply.


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Re: Forum Admin Death

Post by stevemaury »

When you click the link that says "The Team", who shows up?
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Re: Forum Admin Death

Post by stevemaury »

Lumpy Burgertushie wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 12:12 am
are there any other admins that have access to the admin panel of the board.

if so, then they might be able to take care of moving the board to a new host etc.
Depends on the version. Somewhere in the 3.2 line, the ability to download a backup was removed.
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stevemaury
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Re: Forum Admin Death

Post by stevemaury »

stevemaury wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 7:37 pm
Where are you located? Where did the deceased reside? Where is the host located? Where is the domain registrar located?
For REALLY good and VERY inexpensive hosting CLICK HERE

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Re: Forum Admin Death

Post by rockedge »

I am the main site admin for the new Puppy Linux forum. We also just had a major problem when the site admin and owner of the host server died suddenly.

To regain access we had to deal with the person who was in charge of the estate and his widow to see if they first could find any passwords and usernames in the personal papers. Nothing was found and so the next step was to contact the VPS host company and fill out the forms for getting access, which included presenting a death certificate. The case was reviewed and we, the stewards of Puppy Linux were able to regain control of the server. We had received all the necessary documents from the deceased's estate to do this.

Next step is the domain name registration which would have expired in November. The case has been presented to the Registrar company and is being reviewed. But they did accept payment without the transfer of ownership so we renewed the registration for 2 years so there is time for the transfer request to be reviewed. But since the company is willing to allow us to continue to pay perhaps the complete transfer is not needed. We have now set up an ALIAS using another registered domain to point to the forum.

The new forum which was originally setup to practice an upgrade of the phpBB software from v2 to version 3.3.1, has now become the new home for the community. Like a lifeboat at first. Our original forum has well over 1 million posts and around 40,000 registered users.
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