The Wongery

(Title graphic coming soon)

December 23, 2015: Reboot

So, the Wongery has been publically accessible for three years now, and... it's still nowhere near where we'd hoped it would be. (Technically, this past Monday was the three-year anniversary... I meant to make this post then, but I'm a bit late.)

I'd said in the last post (way back in May... aargh, we really haven't been keeping up the site) that "we've been putting things in order so that we can finally start making the regular updates we'd for so long intended and for so long not done". Well, it's still not done... that announcement was maybe a bit premature. We still hope to get to the point we have the time and opportunity to make regular updates, but we're not there yet. Soon, but I won't make any promises as to how soon.

In the meantime, though, there is one thing we are going to do, and it's what's referred to in the title of this post. No, we're not rebooting the entire site (I'm not even entirely sure what that means). But we are rebooting one of the site features. A feature that we launched soon after the site itself, but that we... probably shouldn't have.

Namely, the World of the Week.

We've been meaning to get caught up with the World of the Week, have a few future posts partly done and other planned... but when we're as far behind as we are, "catching up" is probably unrealistic. Better just to reboot from scratch, especially since, well, it's not like the site has a lot of visitors anyway, so it's not like anyone's going to miss it.

That doesn't mean we're going to delete the World of the Week entries that are already there. We're just going to redate them to the new year, and then pick up where they leave off. (And maybe update them as applicable... there's definitely an update needed for the very first World of the Week, Snaiad, anyway, given that at the time it was first posted the Snaiad website was offline, and, well, it's now finally back.)

There is one thing on the current World of the Week entries, though, that we are going to remove. But first, a brief digression.

I and the rest of the Grandmaster Wongers have a lot of partially written articles saved in various levels of completion, with of course the intent of eventually finishing and posting them. Most of these articles are intended for the Central Wongery mainspace, but I also have some in-progress articles intended for the projectspace of both the Central Wongery and the Public Wongery. One of these articles deals with copyrights (yes, at the time of this writing that's a redlink because the article doesn't exist yet, but I'll link to it anyway), and addresses a number of copyright myths. I'm not going to copy the whole article here, or even a large excerpt; I hope to have the whole thing posted relatively soon anyway. But I will quote below the final paragraph of the copyright myths section:

You may conclude based on all this that the Wongery is itself violating copyrights by using externally acquired images on the World of the Week pages without asking the artists' permission. And, well, technically you'd be right. We are hypocrites. We're operating under the assumption (or at least the hope) that the creators of the art we've "borrowed" won't mind our use of it, especially since we credit and link to the source... but we haven't actually asked them, and so by using their art without permission we are technically violating copyright, whether we credit the original source or not. In any case, the World of the Week is a very minor side part of the Wongery site, and one we wouldn't be terribly upset if it disappeared entirely. The Central Wongery, the Public Wongery, and the Private Wongeries are the core of the site—the Central Wongery especially—and for those we have much higher standards. (That being said, once we have the money and means to do so, we do intend to commission original art for the Worlds of the Week to replace the current images.)

But you know what? That third sentence is right. We are being hypocrites by using (manipulated versions of) existing artworks without getting the artists' permission. And I'm not comfortable with that. So the World of the Week title images are going. Yes, I know the pages won't look as nice without the pictures, but we don't have the money right now to commission art for them, and I'm not okay with going on violating copyright by using images without permission. Someday, when we do have the money, we'll get art done for them... but in the meantime, well, we can live without it.

So, anyway, the World of the Week will be relaunched starting in the new year. And the rest of the site... seriously, we're working on it. There'll be some progress made... eventually.

May 31, 2015: Blowing Off the Dust

Well, heck. It's been long enough since the last update that I find myself forced to once again reassure readers (purely hypothetical readers, since as far as I know no one actually frequents the site) that it is not dead. Undead, perhaps, given how long it's gone without an update, but not dead.

At any rate, I decided to check an article on the site today for reasons I don't now recollect, only to be confronted with an error message: "Table './wongeryc_wongforum/phpbb_sessions' is marked as crashed and should be repaired [145]". The error was, fortunately, very easy to fix... but I'm not sure how long it had been since I or any of the other Grandmasters last checked the site, so I don't know how long that error message has been there and the site has been inaccessible. Hm.

Let's see... the last new article was posted on... October 19, 2014!? And the last news post was... August 8, 2014! Yikes! Has it been that long? (That's a rhetorical question; of course it has.) Dang.

(That means, among other things, we missed April Fools' Day this year... but then, it seems we missed it last year, as well. But that's okay; that I'm content to keep on missing. I'm actually kind of ashamed of the stupid April Fools hoax we pulled in 2013; I can only take some consolation in the fact that since nobody was visiting our site at the time nobody was actually fooled by it. I regret having posted that not just because it was a rather stupid hoax (though it was), but because I've developed a distaste for April Fools' hoaxes in general. Last month science journalist Lee Billings wrote a column on the Scientific American website decrying April Fools' Day prank stories by "reputable science publications," and I can't really say I disagree with him... and though the Wongery is not by any means a reputable science publication, I'm still going to go ahead and promise that there will be no future April Fools' Day hoaxes here. (That does not necessarily preclude messing with the site on April Fools' Day in ways that don't involve false stories.)

But I am (as usual) getting off the point. The point is... the point is that we've gone way too long without updating again, and I keep saying we're going to be better about updating, and we keep... not doing it. But once again, despite appearances, we haven't been entirely idle. In fact, we've been putting things in order so that we can finally start making the regular updates we'd for so long intended and for so long not done.

I said in the inaugural news post that we, the Grandmaster Wongers, were going to set a goal of adding, between the six of us, at least one new article a day. That... didn't happen. But it can. And now that we have everything more or less in order, I hope it finally will.

Starting tomorrow, because I don't think we're going to have a new article up tonight.

August 8, 2014: Easy Come, Easy Go

One thing I said in the previous news post was that "we've really got to start posting new articles again." In light of this declaration, you might find it noteworthy that there have not, in fact, been any new articles posted since then. This is not to say, however, that we have again neglected the Wongery. Rather, I've spent considerable time since that post cleaning up spam in the forums.

This may seem a somewhat pointless task, since the spam I've been removing was invisible to nonadminstrators, so its removal has little apparent effect. phpBB does an excellent job of filtering out questionable posts and holding them to be accepted or rejected by an administrator. Or perhaps it simply holds all posts by users who haven't made accepted posts before—since there have been no posts yet by nonadministrators that were unambiguously not spam, I don't currently have enough data to tell the difference. Regardless, the tens of thousands of spam posts that have cluttered the forum have stayed safely sequestered away from the public eye, and even if I didn't bother to delete them they would remain publicly unseen.

Although I'd still probably want to clean up the offending posts in any case, what makes it more of a priority is that while the posts themselves aren't visible, the users are. The main forum page lists at the bottom the number of registered members... and it listed over six thousand members. Given that the vast majority of these have undoubtedly just registered in order to spam the forums, this number doesn't accurately represent the authentic membership of the forum, and I plan to pare it down until it does. Not only do I not like the inflated number of registered posts; I'm not a fan of the birthday notifications for spammers either. It doesn't look great to have a notice on the bottom of the forum giving "Congratulations to: nn7luflzfi (39), hu7xrcstaa (39), qp2ruwwnnc (39), eg5kjqsvan (39), wt0rbxmqms (39), gr5acbymeo (39), te6miwrpdx (39), pf4yctthku (39), cu8yiwycds (39), qm2hiqccge (39), qg6xjipyzu (39), momaPiowarp (39), DedushkaMorozz (38), nw0cughrrp (30), tz0nugczdo (30), ba6ckxuxkd (30), cs8stltrqr (30), hiletriella (30), xm9pydakqn (30), vr5bdgemgh (30), hg3javrqwq (30), xa1rkzjrsq (30), qr4vncruwc (30), vf0abnyrqq (30), qi9iijbbwz (30), jp6gxgtzpi (30), Tymnskisk (28), Aliaheldi (26)". (For what it's worth, not all the spammers' usernames are as unpronounceable as the majority of those on the list; apparently that just happened to be a day that many of those with the more galimatiary names had designated as their faux birthday.)

I've been deleting the accounts of members that have posted nothing but spam (or have spam links in their profiles, even if they haven't posted anything yet), and that's decreased the number somewhat, but it's still over five thousand; I'm going to try to eliminate them all, but it's going to take time. I've been as lenient as possible, sparing anyone who hasn't posted any spam yet and doesn't have a spam link in their profile, even if they have a username that follows a similar pattern to the spammers'. I've even accepted any posts that weren't completely unambiguous spam, even if I was pretty sure they were made with spammic intent... you can see examples of such posts here, here, and here. In fact, those are the only such examples; in all the many thousands of posts I've removed so far, those are the only ones that weren't chock full of spam links. (Well, technically it's not strictly accurate to say I've gone through all those thousands of posts; when I've seen a spam post, I've deleted the user and all their posts with them. So when a spammer has made multiple posts, most of those posts have been deleted without anyone's ever seeing them. (Well, to be completely technically accurate, for a spammer who's made exactly two posts (and there were many who did), I saw exactly half their posts, so what I can definitively say is that at least half of the posts of a spammer with multiple posts have been deleted without anyone's ever seeing them.) I suppose one could argue that there's a slight possibility that someone might post both spam and legitimate messages so some non-spam messages may have been caught in the crossfire, but (a) I think the chances that a spammer would also post genuine messages are low enough to be negligible, and (b) even if they did, I'd say that by posting spam they forfeited their right to get other messages through.)

I did like the subject of one of the spam posts, however. "Worldguard Infinity". The nominal subject, of course, had nothing whatsoever to do with the content of the post, which was in Polish for some reason and comprised paragraphs of gibberish alternating with lists of assorted links. A Google search turns up no uses of that phrase... there's apparently a plugin for Minecraft called "WorldGuard", but Google only found three instances of the phrase "Worldguard infinity", and those were the result of the two words being together by happenstance. No doubt "Worldguard Infinity" was just a random sequence of words put together by whatever algorithm spammers use for that sort of thing. Still, in this case the spam algorithm hit on an evocative title. I want to do something with that. Worldguard Infinity sounds like the name of some heroic organization that travels between worlds guarding against... well, against whatever's threatening the worlds, I guess. I see it as the subject of a children's cartoon series. Or maybe a comic book. Or both. Maybe Worldguard Infinity has a specific archenemy they fight against, or maybe they just face various diverse threats. Or, again, maybe both; maybe some episodes feature the series' main antagonist, whereas others pit Worldguard Infinity against a villain of the week. You know, this is something I'd actually be interested in developing... if I can find the time, of course (a dubious proposition at best). Still... yeah. I like it. There remain a lot of details to work out, though. I shall consult the other Grandmasters, and we shall perhaps get back to this.

Anyway, despamming the forum isn't the only Wongery-related thing I've been occupied with. In fact, this very post was delayed a few weeks by another matter I had to attend to. Namely, I had to upgrade to a new hosting plan. The site had been hosted on a shared server, but it seems that it had been taking up more than its share of the CPU, which left me with three choices: reduce the CPU usage, upgrade to a dedicated server, or have the site disabled. Obviously, the last of these choices was not one I was willing to accept, so that left the first two.

I tried to track down why the site's CPU usage was so high, and from the log files the biggest offender seemed to have been the Bingbot. This is, apparently, not an unknown issue, and there are ways to possibly ameliorate it, namely setting a crawl delay to slow Bing down, or even using robots.txt to block it entirely. Of course, neither of those is an ideal solution from my standpoint, as I want the site indexed—just because I'm not actively promoting it doesn't mean I want to actively hide it from search engines. Besides, they would anyway be a temporary fix; as traffic grew I'd run again into the same problem. So I decided to bite the bullet and upgrade to a dedicated server, even though I wasn't sure I could really afford it.

This posed other problems, besides the extra expense. The server upgrade did not go as smoothly as I had rather hoped; there were some issues with databases not being transferred to the new server, or code not being updated to point to the new database locations. There's also the issue that for some reason code that worked fine on the old server was now causing problems, suggesting that maybe the new server had a different version of PHP installed, I guess, though that particular issue doesn't seem to have affected this site (it did affect other sites I had hosted in the same account). But it seems to all have worked itself out now. Though a few days ago there was some brief outage related to "RAM exhaustion," and it seems at some point I may need to pony up to pay for more RAM for my hosting account... ugh. Oh well.

Anyway, none of this is what this post is really about, or rather clearly it is in part what this post is about, given that I've just gone on for eight paragraphs about it, but none of it is what this post was originally intended to be about. But it's not what was intended as the main point of the news post, or the topic that gives the post its title (despite the fact that at this point it's looking like that topic will have far fewer words devoted to it than the above). No, what I'd primarily wanted to write about was a follow-up to the last post, in which I mentioned having found another link to the Wongery on a site called the Creepy Wiki.

Well, as the post title says, easy come easy go. That link is now gone from the web, not because it was deleted from the Creepy Wiki, but because the Creepy Wiki itself is now gone from the web. (There is another site on Weebly that calls itself the Creepy Wiki, but it's completely unrelated—it's a site that claims to dedicate itself to "the creepiest, paranormal, unexplained mysteries that wikipedia and the rest of the web have to offer", and yet for some reason chooses to put as its main image a picture of an oarfish, which is in no way either paranormal or unexplained (or, I'd say, creepy, but I suppose that's subjective).) The site's creator—"Slimebeast", as he pseudonymously styles himself (not that he makes any effort to hide his real name, of course; it's right there on the bottom of his webpage)—deleted it, apparently having become discouraged by the low levels of participation. At least, that's what I assume the reason was for its deletion, though it remains speculative; I searched Slimebeast's forum and Twitter feed and could find nary a mention of the site's expunction, let alone an explanation. The forum thread announcing the site's creation had no posts since the first few days. He had, however, while the site was still up expressed his frustration on a Creepy Wiki talk page about his failure to drum up participation, though, so I think it's relatively safe to suppose this was why he took the site down.

It's tempting to decry Slimebeast's infortitude; the site was only up for a few months before he gave up on it, after all, while the Wongery has now been up for going on two years and has no one at all participating aside from its creators, unless you count the spammers and the handful of probably-but-not-absolutely-certain spammers mentioned above. But that's not really a fair comparison. We haven't been actively trying to get people to come to the site, content to just wait and see if people find it without our active effort; if we'd been making a serious effort to drum up participation and still had nothing to show for it, maybe we'd be more discouraged. Besides, the Wongery, as mentioned before, I consider my magnum opus, the project I most want to bring to full fruition, despite my not having had nearly as much time as I'd have liked to work on it so far. It's not the only thing I have going on, certainly, but it may be the one I consider the most important to me. Slimebeast, on the other hand, has a lot else on his plate, and the Creepy Wiki was just one of many projects, and there's no evidence that it was one he was particularly attached to. Given the struggles he'd posted about on the talk pages with spam, it's understandable, if lamentable, that with no one else participating he decided that maintaining the site just wasn't worth his time.

And so goes a fleeting nod to the Wongery's exisence. For one ephemeral moment, the Wongery was cited as a reference on something, even if that something was an entry on the World of the Week and not something in the Central Wongery itself. And now, for now, that has gone the way of all flesh, and I suppose of all weblinks, which I don't expect to be immortal either.

Or so I thought, until I did another search on Google for the Wongery just now. Turns out there's another page citing the Wongery as a reference on the Dogscape, this one a YouTube reading of some of the Dogscape stories. In the "About" text, the page reads "Learn more about Dogscape here:", and includes a link to the Wongery World of the Week page on the Dogscape... the same page, of course, that was linked to by the Creepy Wiki. Though it's not entirely impossible that the creator of that reading, the rather dolichonymic "Lord Dragonwolfworm", ran across the page on his own, it seems more likely that he saw the reference on the Creepy Wiki before its demise. So, hey, the Creepy Wiki's link to the Wongery may be gone, but its scion survives. I guess.

Being cited as an authority on the Dogscape is not what I had in mind for the Wongery, of course, but if there's a possibility those links may eventually bring people to the site to check out what else is there... eh, couldn't hurt.

(As an aside, it belatedly occurs to me that I ought to put, at the bottom of all the World of the Week threads and these news posts, links to the corresponding forum threads. They all have corresponding forum threads; there's just no direct link to them. I'll have to get around to adding that one of these days... not that I don't have plenty of other things I need to do on the site as well, not the least being finally making a header image; the top of the page has said "Title graphic coming soon" for over eighteen months now, which I think far exceeds any reasonable interpretation in context of "soon".)

Anyway. Enough of that. While pruning spammers from the fora may not be an entirely unproductive activity, I've really, really got to start posting more articles on the Central Wongery again (and motivate the other Grandmasters to do the same, though my own posting will go a long way toward that). I have a rather long article about Thamarand I've been working on for some time and should probably get around to finishing and posting, and I know last I talked to him Tada had an article in progress about Telifog I'm going to encourage him to finish. So... I guess I should probably get on that. Tata.