xboxscene.org forums

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Author Topic: Xbox-Scene forums are back!!!  (Read 1626 times)

Iriez

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Xbox-Scene forums are back!!!
« on: June 23, 2021, 11:48:39 AM »

Hello to all! After 5 years of downtime the team @ xbins.org (romracer and myself) as well as CrunchBite (X-Link Kai dev) has brought the forums back to life after 3 years of painstaking recovery. We originally tried to do this in 2018 but were unsatisfied with the incompleteness of the database. I have asked CrunchBite to make a post detailing the process so that you can all be aware of the extensive work put into this project. Special thanks to Milenko for donating the xboxscene.org the domain and /u/xboxexpert for the partial backup that was the foundation of this work. At this time we still do not have access to the xbox-scene.com domain.


As it stands right now the forum is almost entirely functional with a few kinks to iron out. Old forum links will redirect to the new domain automagically but we cannot make links that have old/incompatible paths or missing posts appear. Unfortunately with the archive scraper and old rip we had to rebuild the database to work with SMF, which means the old topic IDs will not match with the new ones. Simply put, URL redirects wont work correctly and will instead just reload the home forums page. Old posts quote brackets didn't import right and would take quite a bit of work to rework the database so we are going to leave that as-is.  Crunchbite put a monumental effort into taking the partial backup that was created in /u/xboxexpert's reddit post and making it as complete as possible. However, there are a portion of posts that will be lost to the internet forever, unless Xantium decides to come back. We have put a significant effort to track him down through the years and know he's still alive because he keeps renewing the domain. A person managed to recover his old email in an attempt to get the domain back but cannot as Xantium keeps renewing before expiry. Milenko even tracked down a person in belgium who matched all of the info we have but he has stated he doesn't even own an xbox. I think that for whatever reason Xantium moved on and wants to not be associated with the project anymore. We do wish he would contact us and hand over the domain registration and any backups he has so we can properly preserve the decade + of knowledge that was contained in the xbox-scene forums. As it stands we currently have 1,545,490 Posts in 184018 Topics by 455530 Members recovered on this forum, with 283,201 of those posts being recovered via Crunchbite in addition to xboxhackers HTTrack rip.

This forum is not just intended to be a backup - but an actual continuation of the original forums. You will be able to post new content, reply to old threads, etc. We have even setup a old account recovery portal for those of you who can remember your old username/email/password. If you can, you can recover your original account and start posting again  :beer:. If you are a old moderator or significant contributor and still have access to your old email but cannot remember your password, I will consider restoring your original account on a one by one basis if you have enough proof. You may feel free to PM me on this issue, but be warned I will ignore anyone who was not a significant contributor. This option is not for 99.9% of the users on the forum, so please don't blow up my inbox if you cannot remember your password. Just make a new account and start fresh :)

You can attempt to recover your account here - https://xboxscene.org/recoveryportal/

I would like to take this moment to let everyone know that xbins has always been a community driven project with work supplied by open contributors through the past 2 decades. A special thanks to Parnic, Spiral, Fedex and Cr4zi3 for their dedication through the years and the biggest thanks to romracer for most of the heavy lifting, who if didn't exist I probably would have given up a decade ago.

With that said - We would really like anyone who has web back end experience or design/UI experience to reach out to us if you can help. At this point we have no support team to work on web-based issues, so any issues on the forum will likely remain issues until I can find someone willing to contribute. I would encourage everyone who uses this forum to report any bugs they find in this thread for us to document and we hope that someone(s) will step forward to help with the project to resolve.

At one point xbox-scene was a top 5,000 Alexa website, and xbins handling millions of unique IP addresses per month on the FTP alone. We were two powerhouses, always brother-sister sites. I was the only admin capable of posting on the front page for a few years when xantium disappeared and eventually I lost my access after a HD failure. The site stayed alive a few more years, disappeared, and then the forums popped back up online for a brief time when Xantium restored them, though still didn't come out of hiding. They quickly went down again in 2016 and have been down since.

Thanks to everyone who has ever contributed to the xbox hacking community, without all of you we wouldn't be here today!
« Last Edit: June 25, 2021, 11:42:03 AM by Iriez »
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CrunchBite

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Re: XS is back!!!
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2021, 12:09:43 PM »

From the technical side restoring the forum was a long process full of many late nights. Here is how it was done  ;D

The general process is:
1. Obtain a copy of an old topic as a web page.
2. Extract the post text, author, post dates, etc.
3. Rebuild the topics and posts in a database as those separate components.
4. Recreate the content in new forum software.

Let's break this down step by step:
1. Getting the old data
Believe it or not this was the easiest part. There are a couple 'backups' of the xbox-scene forum out there that have a large portion of the 4,797,459 posts (thanks xboxexpert!) but sadly none are complete. So where do you get more? The Internet Archive's Wayback Machine of course! Using a tool for ripping entire websites from IA I retrieved every capture the wayback machine had of forums.xbox-scene.com.

Okay we've got 1,887,080 HTML files. Now what?

2. Extracting the content
To extract the post body, author, post date, topic title etc we have to commit the ultimate programming sin: parsing HTML with regular expressions.
Since the captures from IA and the various backups were from different points in time the page styling and underlying HTML were not consistent. This meant having to write ~20 different parsers to extract the necessary data. The final results were then stored in a database for easier processing.

3. Cleaning, sorting, and deduplicating
Now that I had post body, author, date, topic title, post ID (so helpful), etc the next step was deduplicating and weeding out obvious parsing failures. This was done with a series of scripts using some really nasty regex and resulted in 1,545,492 posts in 184,019 topics. Just 32% of the original forum content. :s_cry: They say what you post on the internet is forever. Sadly, not in this case.

4. Recreation
The final step is turning this nicely laundered content into a usable forum. I chose to use Simple Machines Forum (SMF) for this as the database schema was incredibly simple to work with and after writing a couple functions I could easily inject user accounts, topics, and posts. The rest of the work was pretty straight forward; inject all the users, inject all the topics, inject all the posts. The most tedious process was manually creating the forum board structure and associating topics to their correct forums. (Surprise, there was more regex involved).
The final result was a functional forum that suddenly was looking awfully familiar!

To wrap it up I recreated the IPB theme of ~2005 era X-S as an SMF theme for maximum nostalgia.  ;D
« Last Edit: June 23, 2021, 07:17:22 PM by CrunchBite »
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kaos_engr

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Re: XS is back!!!
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2021, 08:46:40 PM »

Excellent work! 

Able to recover my old account.
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jazzycian

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Re: XS is back!!!
« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2021, 01:24:13 AM »

Great work guys, I hope everyone appreciates the work that goes into something like this.

Recovered my old account too from when I was way younger than I am now hahaha  :sifi3:
« Last Edit: June 24, 2021, 01:37:08 AM by jazzycian »
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T3chWarrior

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Re: XS is back!!!
« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2021, 01:35:32 AM »

Great news, glad to have it back. Thank you for the work!
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fallenangle

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Re: XS is back!!!
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2021, 04:27:01 AM »

Yes, welcome back.

My old password/email didn't work but the account recovery tool did so here I am.  :)

Do not want to get too nostalgic but at one point just before the start of the last extended hiatus there seemed to be only two regular posters on the original Xbox boards, myself being one of them.

Please, please tell me that this resurrection has done away with most of the stupidly strict and noob unfriendly TOS conditions and 'welcome'. Utterly self-defeating if you're trying to create a forum which attracts traffic.

Due to the fact I was not using a PC but a set top box at the time which did not display some content on many web sites in full I accidentally (twice) posted links to web sites that included links to copyrighted material.

That meant a two week ban for the second instance and permanently shown on my account as 2 warnings from then on. That irked me greatly as a loyal and, I hope, helpful poster long after most other regulars had left too.
     
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rob1309

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Re: XS is back!!!
« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2021, 06:30:22 AM »

Was pleasantly surprised to see this when I woke this morning.
Thanks so much!!!  :b_beer2: :beer:
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Iriez

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Re: XS is back!!!
« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2021, 05:42:40 PM »

Was pleasantly surprised to see this when I woke this morning.
Thanks so much!!!  :b_beer2: :beer:

That is correct, you cannot just login with your old username/password. You must recover it first! Old users are in a seperate archived user group which does not have permissions. Only recovered accounts will have posting permissions.

Glad to have you back.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2021, 11:42:55 AM by Iriez »
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Alex548

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Re: Xbox-Scene forums are back!!!
« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2021, 11:40:17 PM »

Welcome back. :beerchug:
It appears account recovery doesn't restore our mod status, but at least There's a semi functional site again.
Before the site went down for good Xantium had already been MIA and HSDEMONZ also gave his farewell in head mod chat. Nobody had access to front page except Iriez and GaryOPA. All news stories were linked to maxconsole if I remember correctly. I spent most of my time moving spam posts to the garbage in the last few weeks before the site finally went down.
I still have my x-s shirt in the closet . . . Somewhere. shirt hasn't fit me in forever, but still held onto it  Lol
« Last Edit: June 25, 2021, 11:47:19 PM by Alex548 »
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MasterGouken

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Re: Xbox-Scene forums are back!!!
« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2021, 01:24:37 AM »

Awesome work guys, managed to recover my account no problem  :b_beer2:
So glad to see this forum back, i spent way too much time on it back in the day  :D
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romracer

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Re: Xbox-Scene forums are back!!!
« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2021, 05:53:05 AM »

Welcome back. :beerchug:
It appears account recovery doesn't restore our mod status, but at least There's a semi functional site again.
Before the site went down for good Xantium had already been MIA and HSDEMONZ also gave his farewell in head mod chat. Nobody had access to front page except Iriez and GaryOPA. All news stories were linked to maxconsole if I remember correctly. I spent most of my time moving spam posts to the garbage in the last few weeks before the site finally went down.
I still have my x-s shirt in the closet . . . Somewhere. shirt hasn't fit me in forever, but still held onto it  Lol

It does not restore your mod status.  And we actually flagged some users as not recoverable due to various reasons.  You can talk to Iriez about regaining previous status though.
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Mr_Milenko

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Re: Xbox-Scene forums are back!!!
« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2021, 06:46:04 PM »

It's a thing of beauty. Knowing some of the stuff that's been going on in the background has had me excited for this project, and in all honesty it's one of the key factors in us putting together a discord, as well as re-registering some TeamUIX/tHc/BSX related accounts and websites (fucking squatters got to some of them).

Let me know when I can brag about this, I also have the @xbox_scene twitter handle if anyone wants to take that over, or I can just use it to relay messages, it's a bit dead at the moment.
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ILTB

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Re: Xbox-Scene forums are back!!!
« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2021, 07:04:41 PM »

GG all :)
 :egypt:
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Mr_Milenko

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Re: Xbox-Scene forums are back!!!
« Reply #13 on: June 26, 2021, 07:16:30 PM »

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Hazeno

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Re: Xbox-Scene forums are back!!!
« Reply #14 on: July 01, 2021, 02:48:10 PM »

Well done Crunch and Team, After spending about 40 minutes trying to remember my old pass i finally made it!
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