. . . are FINALLY back up.
I know this has been an enormous frustration for folks who regularly use the forums, and it has been a HUGE headache for us as well.
Because I've gotten a number of e-mails about the problem, I've been meaning to do a post about it, letting folks know when the forums would be back up, but I kept getting told that we were on the verge of having them up and I wanted the post to reflect that, but one problem after another intervened and kept pushing the date back a day or so each time, and thus this post is later than I meant it to be.
Sorry about that.
Anyway--since I know a lot of folks are wondering what happened--here's what did: A mysterious event occurred three weeks ago that wiped out the forums. Period. They were gone. The nature of this event is not entirely clear, but it appears that it likely was a hacker attack on the server where the forums are hosted.
Also (apparently) destroyed were the backups of the forums that were resident there. The most recent backup copy of the forums database that escaped destruction (for reasons I won't disclose for security reasons) was from April, meaning that this was all we had to use to rebuild with, so even when the forums came up again that means all conversations underway would have to get a 5 month reset. (So basically people will have to restart their conversations from scratch.)
Worse, the people who registered since the last surviving backup--about 4,000 of them--would have to re-register.
Once the forums went down and we learned that it was likely a hacker attack that took them out, we realized that we wouldn't be able to just put the forums back up the way they were, with no additional security. It would do nobody any good to simply put up the forums the way they were and let the hackers come back and take them down again a week or two later, just as the forum patrons were getting used to having them back.
So we undertook a massive upgrade--a new box for the forums to run off of, a fresh install of the forum software with all the latest security upgrades, additional security provided by our hosting service, a new backup system that will not be vulnerable to the kind of multi-month data loss we suffered this time, various ways I can't talk about to thwart additional attacks, etc.
And absolutely none of this was in the budget--but we're making the investment to keep the forums up and secure in the future.
We're extremely serious about this and have had multiple meetings devising ways to try and ensure that this kind of event never replicates, and the need to take such extensive protection measures has slowed down our ability to get the forums back online.
It's been a huge headache for our web guys--getting multiple pieces of hardware and software, configured properly, and working together in a new, tighter security environment--integrating what can be salvaged from the old forums, and testing the systems to try and make sure that they'll work properly and wouldn't immediately break as soon as we got them back online.
We wish--very strongly--that it hadn't taken three weeks to accomplish all this, and forum users have our apologies, but we wanted to be very thorough so as to not have an even more frustrating crash as soon as or soon after we went back on line.
Having said that, the forums are back up and functioning so,
Incidentally, one note about getting to the forums: Apparently we don't yet have all the ordinary ways of accessing them smoothed out (that'll be a top priority), so for now you need to get to them by going to forum(singular) dot catholic dot com, with no Ws up front, like this:
UPDATE: You can now get back in by going to forums.catholic.com (plural) or from the forums tab on the Catholic.com homepage.
NOTE TO FELLOW BLOGGERS: Many of your readers may be users of the Catholic Answers Forums. Please consider a post letting folks know that they are back up. Thanks!