Vault 83 is something I’ve been wanting to do for years, but was never nail down the correct process to make it a sustainable project. Until now
The Wayback Machine is a little bit like looking through old high school yearbooks to see how things have (or have not) changed. The best part about it though, for me, is that I can still look at old, now defunct forums that I used to visit. It’s as close to time travel as I’ll probably ever see, and I’ve got a soft spot for nostalgia.
As great as it is, though, there’s a couple things that the Wayback Machine makes difficult:
Older forum software would often append a session ID to the page URL so that the site knew what threads you had or hadn’t visited yet. What happened though is that links on the page you’re browsing on Wayback are hard-coded with that session ID.
As an example, you might visit a page in the Wayback Machine that had a link to the next page in the thread. The page you’re on has a session ID in the URL, so a link to something like:
might be linked from the page as:
…but isn’t actually available at that URL because it was indexed with another session ID in the URL (or no session ID at all).
That’s not too much of an obstacle if you know what you’re looking for, but there’s also the problem of different thread views. Some forum software lets you change the order posts in a thread are displayed in. Threaded mode, newest to oldest, oldest to newest and often times even a printable version. All of those would have been indexed under totally different URLs (with their own session IDs), so if the thread you’re trying to read had different pages indexed using different views at different times, there’s very little hope in being able to read the whole thread, let alone know if any given page was indexed at all.
So, that’s what I’ve been working to solve. I’ve come up with a process that will allow me to systematically rebuild the entirety of an old forum, thread by thread, and know with 100% certainty that I have ALL available content.
As I progress, I’ll be making these available on https://vault83.com, which in turn will trigger a companion thread here on Curious Cosmos.
Right now, I’m working on restoring Time Travel Portal, a wonderful site once run by MadIce and Jorune. If you look at some of the threads already up, I’m also trying to reconstruct the original look and feel of the forum:
This project is still in it’s very early stages, so things will become more organized and polished as time goes on. I’ll keep this first post updated as things change, but what we have now is a good start and I wanted to share
The forums I currently plan on restoring are:
I’m open to any other now defunct communities as well, so if you have an idea (or have access to an old database) feel free to let me know!