Westeros: Updates

Westeros is the premiere fansite for George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. Discuss the series on the forums, browse our resource collections, read about the TV series from HBO and play the MUSH, to name just a few of the things we offer.

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A Wiki of Ice and Fire

Forum and Wiki Downtime

Please read for more information about the issues the forum and the wiki have been having lately.

As you probably know, the TV show leads to spike in traffic that lead to intermittent outages. We have slowly been working to reduce the frequency of these. However, last Friday new problem cropped up: msnbot spiders were slamming the server with hundreds of requests per second. If you Google, you’ll see that this is a common problem that other webmasters have had to deal with for their own servers, but it was a new experience for us. We thought we had mostly fixed the problem… only to have something new crop up, which may be connected to potential hardware failure.

The last few days we and our host have been spending a huge amount of time trying to track down what is going wrong, but as of yet we have not found a solution. We’ll keep trying, but right now we do not have an ETA for when the problems may be fixed.

Nameserver Change

We’re experimenting with a new nameserver host for all Westeros.org sites. We’ve switched to Cloudflare, which uses its nameservers to cache static content (images, scripts) on its servers distributed across several continents, and to serve that content from the server nearest to the user. This should, in theory, improve site performance and marginally improve server load, as the server will spend less time pushing images and scripts and have more time to churn through the database which powers Westeros-proper, the wiki, and the forum.

For most of you, this change should happen in the background and will require no action from you. However, in some cases your ISP’s domain name server may change in an incorrect fashion, or your own computer may be holding on to outdated information. This may lead to your not being able to reach some Westeros sites but not others.

In this case, we recommend flushing DNS on your computer (if on a Windows PC: Start -> Run -> cmd -> ipconfig /flushdns; for Mac OS X users, please see this.) That should correct the problem in many cases. If your own ISP’s name resolver is at fault, usually they will update their records in anything from 2 to 4 hours. Please be patient and try again after that time (making sure to use ipconfig /flushdns again).

If problems persist, please e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and we’ll try to help you resolve them.

On Recent Downtime

Just to bring everyone up to speed on this and past downtime issues:

In the last couple of months, the A Song of Ice and Fire forum has boomed, becoming the #1 spot on the web to discuss the series, and we thought that was the major part of the issues. We’ve worked hard to address many issues, and have succeeded to some degree. But ... we just discovered another part: the Wiki of Ice and Fire. We never realized just how used the wiki is (as an aside—hats off to our various wiki editors who’ve made it such a fantastic resource! Anyone who’s a member of the forum can join in editing it, BTW), until we put in Google Analytics a couple of days ago….

It turns out the wiki draws even more traffic than the forum does! No wonder the forum was suddenly unable to keep up with the crush: it was fighting for MySQL connection space with the wiki. This led us to experiment with a major increase in maximum MySQL connections allowed, but that was badly advised on my part—we should have waited for a quieter period to try it. It ended up completely choking the server, so much so that our wonderful host (Sparks) could only reboot it in hopes of getting in after it restarted to fix things…. but the crush of traffic to the wiki and forum meant that it was no go. Ultimately, the server had to be taken down and a tech at the data center shut off Apache before putting it back on the web for Sparks to settle it down. The reboots and extreme hard disk and memory usage led to corruption that also had to repaired.

End result? Boy, howdy, Westeros.org is an extremely popular site—thank you very much, to our visitors, the members of the forum, the wiki editors, Sparks, and everyone else who’s contributed to its existence!—but we need to do more tinkering. This may well include a move to a mightier server, and some other back-end changes to help alleviate the problems as far as possible. The serve move, if it happens, may happen as soon as next week.

More info when we have it .. and please, keep an eye out for our annual summer fundraiser, a way to pay back Sparks for the work she’s done and to make sure the forum and wiki can keep on going!

Ice and Fire Wiki Russified

Thanks to Narwen at Chronarda.ru, the Wiki of Ice and Fire, devoted to George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, is now interwiki linked to Chronarda’s own wiki. As editors of both sites go through the pages, they can add a simple tag to easily link to English or Russian language versions of the webpages.

This increases the global fan community cooperation already present in the wikified “Ice and Fire” fan project, as the Wiki of Ice and Fire also shares interwiki linking with La Garde de Nuit, the French-language Ice and Fire fansite and associated wiki.

Forum and Wiki Update

The A Song of Ice and Fire forum and the Wiki of Ice and Fire are up and running on our new server; response-times should generally be faster. Those who can’t get there just now need to wait for DNS information to propagate (which can take as much as 24 hours). If after that time you are still unable to reach the site, do please let us know via our e-mail address.

Site Move

A misunderstanding on our part got the time of the website move wrong by about twelve hours. The wiki and forum have now been moved. However, for some people it seems that the site appears to be down or not available, while others are seeing it just fine (with some minor issues). We have mailed our server admin, but she’s probably in bed now, so it may be awhile before the issues are corrected. Please keep an eye on the updates page for further news.

Downtime

Tomorrow (the 17th) the A Song of Ice and Fire forum and the Wiki of Ice and Fire will go offline so that they can be moved to a new, much more powerful server. This will probably not happen before 3-5 PM Eastern Standard Time. The down time could extend through the next day if problems ensue, but hopefully there will be no issues.

Forum and Wiki Downtime

The colocation facility where Westeros.org is hosted was compromised by some crackers installing rootkits. Sparks has taken some of the server functions down, and that seems to cover HTTP or the server where the forum and wiki are right now. Westeros.org sites such as the Citadel, All Sorts of Weird Stuff, Game of Thrones, and so on are currently working, as is the Blood of Dragons MUSH, however.

Will update when we’ve more information.

Wiki of Ice and Fire Updates

The Wiki of Ice and Fire is presently the largest English-language wiki dedicated to George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, with hundreds of articles in some stage of development. There is, however, room for much more work! To help facilitate making it as useful as possible, we’ve returned to trying to stay on top of the MediaWiki release cycle by upgrading to the latest stable release (1.14). We have also enabled uploading of images, although these must be (at this time) under terms compatible with the GFDL license (this means images must be fair use, public domain, or explicitly licensed for any and all use, including commercial use; traditionally copyright-protected images are not valid).

As Wikipedia has recently determined it will be shifting to the Creative Commons license, we will be examining doing the same to ease migration of articles from Wikipedia to the wiki. We’re also examining keeping texts as GFDL/Creative Commons but allowing more scope for images that aren’t licensed for commercial use to be a part of the wiki. Finally, we’re examining available Mediawiki extensions to make the wiki more useful. Should fans of the series be interested in contributing to the wiki, all they need is a membership at the A Song of Ice and Fire forum. If you’ve ideas, suggestions, prior experience with wikis (especially template creation and management), or just some time and interest in helping provide and edit content, we’ll be happy to have you as a member of the community!