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Kaelon February 22, 2019 11:42 PM

Aelyria's Outage (The "Februination")
Serale, Fellow Aelyrians,

Well, that wasn't very much fun, was it? I had rather hoped that we'd be having more exciting conversations when I re-emerged from my eternal slumber into our shared universe. Given that we've all been Aelyria-less and I've been deep-diving into fixing-mode for several days now, we'll just get on with a brief report-back on the outage, which I am not-so-affectionately naming after this month as the "Februination."

Aelyria's Forums reached End of Life.

To make a long story short, vBulletin - the underlying forum architecture on which Aelyria has been built since 2001 (!!) - no longer supports modern conventions of PHP, the programming language that powered much of the open source web. When our Cloud Infrastructure performed a necessary upgrade to PHP 7.1 and PHP 7.2, vBulletin wasn't able to execute properly. When members tried to access Aelyria, they were presented with a number of cryptic and horrifying error messages. It took some time to track down the underlying root cause and then to slowly peel back the layers because, over the past 18 years, this incarnation of Aelyria has had many enhancements built on top of it.

Fortunately, I was able to apply an update from vBulletin that brought it up to compliance with PHP 7.1. And just to be clear, this technical mishap never once resulted in any data being lost or compromised; it just wasn't readable by our servers. So, we're back online!

Unfortunately, this is an incomplete fix and we're looking at two problems:
  1. Most of our enhancements over the past 18 years, including major features like the Wiki, Blogs, etc., are not accessible because they were built with older (no longer supported) conventions of PHP (typically PHP 5.4 or earlier). The data is still there, but it's just not readable (thanks, PHP!).
  2. PHP 7.1 will reach end of life in ~13 months, at which time, this is going to happen again and probably for good (*cue dramatic music*).
Current Status

Aelyria is now back online, and you can access all of the forum functionality - posting threads, replies, sending private messages, purchasing and benefiting from Companionships, etc. Please, feel free to resume your regularly scheduled roleplaying! There are a few caveats right now, however.

Critically, the clean URLs no longer properly redirect. This means we've defaulted to the forum-standard URLs. So, most manual links to posts that people inserted in their posts are broken and will result in a 404 error page. You should be able to use the Search Engine to find the content you were looking for (it's still there, I promise!)
  • SEO and Friendly URLs are broken
You will notice that many of the site's features, however, are no longer working properly (or at all), including:
  • The Front Page
  • The Art Gallery
  • The Links Directory
  • The Wiki
  • Automatic Media Embedding
  • Karma
  • Article Formatting
  • WebTemplates
  • Moderator Stats
  • Personal Sticky Threads
  • Quick Account Switching
  • Social Forums (but not Group Forums)
  • Badges and Awards/Achievements
Miraculously, these features were unaffected:
  • Personal Notepads
  • Gift Companionships
  • Support Tickets / Support Forum
What's Next?

While the forums are back online and working, remarkably, pretty quickly and much faster (either as a function of not being weighed down by ~40+ enhancements we had built, or simply being on a faster PHP version), Aelyria is long overdue for a systems upgrade. Only, because our Forums are End of Life, it really means we need a completely new system. Happy 30th Anniversary, am I right?

This is also an opportunity for us to take stock of our shared creation, the community that we have built together over the past thirty years, and make some intentional decisions about where we'd like to go over the next thirty. As always, Aelyria exists by and for you -- our members -- to create wondrous stories, to craft realms and fantastic places, and to build characters and develop them over time, among other things. For all of the past, present, and future Aelyrians, we need to have a conversation about our future. So you can expect two broad next steps:
  1. We are going to be launching a new website and platform in honor of our 30th Anniversary and, well, because we need it!
  2. We will be trying new things, either in parallel or as experiments that won't directly impact your day-to-day roleplaying here in Aelyria, to see what we might discover together as improvements, evolutions, and in some cases, revolutions of our play by post system.
I thank you all for your tremendous patience this week, and for your continued support and understanding as the days and weeks to come will require us to improvise and innovate for the future of our community. But for now, please do not hesitate to let me know if you should have any immediate questions or feedback about the Februination. And otherwise, have amazing adventures!

Your Fellow Creator,

Kaelon February 22, 2019 11:50 PM

This space reserved for top-level updates, as I expect this will be a pretty active thread.

Kaelon February 23, 2019 12:03 AM

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are all of my blog posts, art galleries, wiki entries, etc. lost?
A: No, they are all safe and sound but unreadable (for the moment).

Q: Why do we need a new platform? Can't we just upgrade to a new version of vBulletin?
A: Future versions of vBulletin are actually completely new platforms and largely incompatible with much of the framework and architecture we've built in Aelyria over the past 18 years. It behooves us to consider all options, rather than remain married to one of the least innovative and most antiquated platforms on the web today.

Q: Will the new platform restore access to my blog posts, art galleries, wiki entries, etc.?
A: Yes. This is a key consideration - a platform that will allow us to import/migrate all of our community's content.

Q: Will this new conversation about the future mean a crazy shake-up for Aelyria?
A: No. The Aelyria that you know and love will continue as-is. But we may try totally new things, and I would love your participation and feedback!

Q: Will Companions receive any compensation for the downtime?
A: Yes. Any active Companion can simply request a credit of ~7 days onto their account. Simply submit a request to the Help Desk, and an Admin will make the appropriate adjustment (usually me). Feel free to PM me as well. Note, if you're on auto-renewal, your renewal payment will kick in before your term expires, but you will be credited a new month in addition to your current end-date.

Indefinite February 23, 2019 01:12 AM

"New Posts" does not appear to work correctly, however "Today's Posts" under "Quick Links" should be a workaround.

Edit: Maybe it's just not working for me? Perhaps it's a moderator permission: other users have been reporting that it works fine for them.

Mimesis February 23, 2019 02:56 PM

And for folks like me who can't function without continuous access to the wiki:

Kaelon February 24, 2019 10:41 PM

Quick update -- The Wiki articles are now accessible via the forums at the Wiki forum's Lorebook sub-forum. Many of the wiki tags are not working, but at least you should be able to search within this forum and find relevant and timely lore results.

Straylor Leonard February 24, 2019 11:56 PM

If this is how it feels to score meth, then I get it.

Thank you for bringing joy back into my life, Juan.

Argon Shatterskin February 25, 2019 08:22 AM

I've had no issues with threads and posts which indicates how well the fixes have worked.

If the worst thing to happen is a few broken links from a major incompatibility issue with the software driving the forum we should count ourselves lucky.

Happy Februination day everyone!

Moss Oktra'rek February 25, 2019 02:36 PM

Just mentioning this in case it hasn't been noticed...

Most of the basic formatting options appear to be business as usual:

But one of my favourites, (perfect for use with scene transitions), appears to no longer be working...


No horizontal line. *sniff*

EDIT: Also heading sizes appear to have fallen over.

Argon Shatterskin February 25, 2019 08:42 PM

Is it possible to put an automatic redirect that will apply to all weblinks not found back to the main forum page?

Some aelyrian players may be assuming the site is still down based on these broken links

Niven May 23, 2019 03:36 PM

Any updates on .... well, anything? *Looks hopeful*

Rothgar August 3, 2019 10:39 AM

It is August, six months since the black out. Do we have an estimated date for the site to be fully restored?

Argon Shatterskin August 8, 2019 05:03 AM

With the barbarians at the gates (spambots) an update would be mightily well received

Charybdis August 9, 2019 12:24 PM

From Ann:


This incarnation of Aelyria is now 17 years old; pretty ancient if you consider how quickly technology changes. From my discussions with Juan,Aelyria is in need of a new website. It is probably going to have to have a name change as well.

In the grand scheme of things, as annoying as things are currently they could be a lot worse. At least you still have the opportunity to post. When I first started Aelyria the site could go down for months on end with no restoration in sight.

If I get any updates from Juan I will pass them along.

Indefinite August 15, 2019 07:15 PM

So for those who have been asking, thus far, there is no update. As a note, nobody on staff really has any insight into what's going on behind the scenes or any ability to do anything about this. We're waiting on Kaelon for any updates on the status of the site and any information passed on has been through private conversations with him.

In the meantime, however, we've like to keep track of some of the current major pain points that we'd like to be addressed. I think so far the big four would be:

1) Many old thread links currently broken
2) Wiki not working as it used to
3) Spambots!
4) Old bbcode not working, breaking some older threads and CIRs

Please feel free to chime in with any other major issues you can think of.

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