2018 Death and Resurrection of the Soundboard Prank Calls Wiki

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Circa October of 2018, the Soundboard Prank Calls wiki at SoundboardPrankCalls.Wikia.com was terminated by Wikia's staff and replaced with a webpage announcing that the Wiki was closed. The closing of the Wiki occurred shortly after a user / community member of the Wiki made a request to "adopt" the Wiki. The post-closing page at the URL of the former Wiki only provided XML "dump" file downloads of the former Wiki's article contents and edit histories, without providing images.

On 27 October 2018, a long-time reader and follower of the Soundboard Prank Calls Wiki was shocked and dismayed to learn that the beloved Soundboard Prank Calls Wiki site on Wikia had been closed, and that all that remained of the encyclopaedia were the XML file downloads provided by Wikia. This user took it upon themself to attempt to rescue the Soundboard Prank Calls Wiki in whatever way possible. Paying out of their own pocket, that user registered the Internet domain name "Soundboard.Wiki", obtained web hosting with a MediaWiki installation, and performed imports of the XML "dump" files that had been made available from Wikia.com. Thus, the Soundboard Prank Calls Wiki was reborn and resurrected as the "Soundboard.Wiki" website. The user began using the pseudonym and account name "SoundboardWikiAdmin". However, the Wiki site was missing all of its images and media files.

The next step that SoundboardWikiAdmin did was to attempt to recover whatever images of the Soundboard Prank Calls Wiki that could be recovered. Using the Internet Wayback machine Web.Archive.Org, SoundboardWikiAdmin managed to retrieve 292 (two-hundred ninety two) full-resolution images, and six (6) reduced-resolution images, that were extant from both Web.Archive.org and Wikia's image servers. This set of images represented approximately one-third of the entire image base of the Soundboard Prank Calls Wiki. SoundboardWikiAdmin used a MediaWiki maintenance script to bulk-upload these recovered image files, thus resulting in further restoration of the Wiki content.

Old information: At this time, much of the formatting on the resurrected Wiki needs to be repaired in order to match the former SoundboardPrankCalls.Wikia.com site, and the remaining approximately two-thirds of the original images have not been recovered. It remains to be seen whether the Wikia Community Support department can/will provide the missing images, or whether they have been lost to oblivion. If the images have been lost, then at least the textual contents and the edit histories of the Wiki have been migrated successfully thus allowing the Wiki to at least continue, and perhaps, over time, the community can find new/replacement images for the missing images.

Please see the email-communication transcripts below, as well as the "External Links" section at the bottom of this article, for the most up-to-date information about the migration of the Soundboard Prank Calls Wiki.

29/30 October 2018 update[edit]

SoundboardWikiAdmin received an e-mail response to an inquiry made to the Wikia Community Support department. SoundboardWikiAdmin sent the inquiry at Sunday 28 October 2018 02:14:51 UTC, and a representative from the Wikia Community Support department replied at Monday 29 October 2018 23:42:15 UTC. The subject line of the e-mail thread was: "Questions and assistance regarding the closing of the Soundboard Prank Calls Wiki". The name of the representative who replied to SoundboardWikiAdmin's inquiry is redacted here.

SoundboardWikiAdmin's message to Wikia Community Support[edit]

Dear Wikia Community Support Team,

I am writing to seek your assistance in regards to the closed Wikia site, http://soundboardprankcalls.wikia.com -- the Soundboard Prank Calls Wiki. Although I am not affiliated with whomever was the owner / administrator of that Wikia site, I am a member of the public who valued that site as an important and lawful public informational service and resource to society, and I was quite appalled when I recently observed that the site is discontinued, as I know that many of the site's now-former readers and users are or will be. Given this situation, I have taken it upon myself to resurrect the Soundboard Prank Calls Wiki as best as I could at a new website that I have created, http://www.soundboard.wiki. I have used the XML "dump" files of the closed Wiki site that are now available at the residual post-closing webpage at http://soundboardprankcalls.wikia.com, in order to migrate all of the articles and edit-histories of the Soundboard Prank Calls Wiki. However, the XML "dump" files that are available for download from Wikia do not appear to include the images and media files that were on the former Wikia site, and I have not seemed to be able to locate any information in Wikia's help documentation on whether or how images / media files can be retrieved from a closed Wikia site the same way that the article contents and edit histories can. Currently, if you visit my new http://www.soundboard.wiki site at this time, you will observe that only the article contents and the edit histories are present, yet all of the images and media files are missing.

I am reaching out to you to ask the following questions:

1) Is there any way that your department / Wikia could please provide me with all of the images and media files of the former Soundboard Prank Calls Wiki -- or make them available for download in some manner -- so that I could migrate them to my new site? I feel that it will be a significant relief to everyone who would like the Soundboard Prank Calls Wiki to continue, if the former site's images are still extant and can be recovered and migrated to the new site in order to fully recover the encyclopaedic content. Otherwise, if the images and media files have really been lost to oblivion, then the Wiki will only be able to continue with what was available from the XML dumps provided by Wikia, and new/replacement images and media files would perhaps need to be sought by the community over time.

2) I am wondering if you could please explain the reason for the Wikia site having been taken down? Was this a decision by Wikia staff such as due to deeming that there was some kind of policy violation, or was the site discontinued by its owning user himself/herself? Can you say whether the owning user of the Wikia site had any notice and/or opportunity to be heard prior to the decision being made to terminate the site? I feel that these details would be helpful to communicate to members of the public who are wondering what happened to the Wikia site, perhaps such as with an explanatory article on my new Wiki site.

I really appreciate any assistance that your department can kindly provide regarding this matter. I am really hoping that those images and media files can be recovered and put back into production, and that the community can ascertain the reason for the Wikia site having been closed down.

Sincerely,

"SoundboardWikiAdmin"

(The administrator of the new Soundboard.Wiki site)

Reply from Wikia Community Support to SoundboardWikiAdmin[edit]

Hello,

Thank you for reaching out. We closed the wiki due to our assessment that it was promoting/celebrating criminal activity, though I recognize there is a good amount of nuance not captured with that statement.

I have reopened the wiki temporarily so that you can access the files. You may wish to refer to this article: https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Exporting_all_the_files_of_a_wiki

Please note that Fandom cannot offer any assistance in downloading the files aside from perhaps answering questions you may have.

The admin of the wiki, User:Officeredpowell contacted us shortly after the closure. He was thinking of setting up another one as well. I will follow up with him and make him aware of your site.

The assessment was triggered by some complaints we had received. Most recently someone related to this article contacted us: http://soundboardprankcalls.wikia.com/wiki/DatBoys_Data_Recovery

I wanted to let you know about this since it might be a good idea to remove that article from your site -- had we left the wiki open, Fandom might have done that.

The Fandom wiki will be closed again on November 13. Let me know if you need more time or if you have any other questions.

Best regards,

(Redacted)

Senior Director, Community Support

Looking for additional assistance? Check out our help pages at http://community.wikia.com/wiki/Help:Contents

07/08 November 2018 update[edit]

The Wikia Community Support department's representative's name is still redacted in the following e-mail communication transcript.

The Wikia Community Support department representative's follow-up message to SoundboardWikiAdmin at Wednesday 07 November 2018 16:51:22 UTC[edit]

Hello,

It appears you have all of the files loaded to the new wiki. Did you still need the Fandom Wiki to remain open? As I noted we plan to close it on November 13 but if you have what you need I would like to close it sooner.

Best regards,

(Redacted)

Senior Director, Community Support

Looking for additional assistance?

Check out our help pages at http://community.wikia.com/wiki/Help:Contents

SoundboardWikiAdmin's reply to the Wikia Community Support department representative at Thursday 08 November 2018 03:19:11 UTC[edit]

Hello (Redacted),

Thank you for following up with me, and, on behalf of the entire community that values the Soundboard Prank Calls Wiki, I would like to thank you very much for having temporarily reinstated the Wiki on SoundboardPrankCalls.Wikia.com for migration purposes. This has been extremely helpful.

During last week after you notified me that the Wikia site was temporarily reinstated, I had the following updates for the community that I posted in the following thread of the "Duncan Discussion" forum on Voat.co (which you may reference by visiting this URL): https://voat.co/v/Soundboardpranks/2816843

After I posted your/my e-mail communications on that thread for the community's reference, the following bulleted paragraphs are the relevant excerpts (quotes) from my follow-up posts in that forum thread up to this point in time:

  • As an update, given that the old Wikia site has been temporarily reinstated for export and migration purposes at this time, I have now successfully Web-scraped the available images and media files from Wikia's servers, and bulk-imported them into the new site. I migrated approximately 861 or so images and media files, although many of these overlap with the ones that I recovered previously. There were a couple of files that had "File:" pages on the old Wiki but from which the actual media files were "orphaned" and not available for some reason (even with the old Wikia site temporarily restored), so those couple of files couldn't be migrated. There are also a number of "File:" pages that only represent and externally link to YouTube videos (that are not hosted on Wikia's servers), so those were not applicable for migration.
  • ...
  • I realized that the Soundboard Prank Calls Wiki uses certain MediaWiki Extensions, which are required in order for all of the Wiki's content to be rendered and displayed correctly. These MediaWiki Extensions are/were provided by Wikia on the SoundboardPrankCalls.Wikia.com website, but were not enabled or installed by default on my MediaWiki installation on the Soundboard.Wiki website. These MediaWiki Extensions are:
    • "Cite": This one came with the MediaWiki installation, but needed to be enabled in "LocalSettings.php".
    • "ParserFunctions": This one came with the MediaWiki installation, but needed to be enabled in "LocalSettings.php".
    • "RandomSelection": This one did not seem to come with the MediaWiki installation, so I needed to install it as well as enable it in "LocalSettings.php".
  • Thankfully, after I enabled -- or installed and enabled -- these three MediaWiki extensions, it appears at-a-glance to me that most of the Wiki's content is now rendering and displaying correctly on the new Soundboard.Wiki website. However, I'm not sure whether I'm still missing anything. I'm hoping that people in the community can please help me validate the Wiki in its entirety and let me know whether anything is still not accurately formatted and reproduced from the old website. Of particular urgency, I need to know whether any further work in migrating / transitioning any content or data from the old Wikia site to the new site is needed, or whether people consider the migration that I have already done up to now to be successful. As a reminder, the Wikia Community Support department currently plans to shut the Wikia site back down again on Tuesday 13 November, 2018 (I'm not certain of what time that day or of the time-zone nuances), which will probably be permanent this time. In case there are any further complex migration tasks that remain to be performed, I need to know as soon as possible so that they can be performed by myself and/or other people in the community who are able and willing to help out with this, and/or so that any necessary time extensions can be requested to the Wikia Community Support department prior to the Tuesday 13 November deadline. In addition, if anyone in the community knows a good technical methodology to capture a full final archive of the SoundboardPrankCalls.Wikia.com data and contents in any better / more thorough way than has already been done, please do that as soon as possible prior to the final permanent shutdown.


Thus, I have requested that the community provide assistance in validating and confirming whether I have performed the entire Wiki migration successfully, or whether any migration work remains.

One matter about which I have some concern at this time, is image media files that have/had multiple "versions"/"revisions" in their "File Histories" on the Wikia site. The only image media file that I have particularly found like this thus far is the one named "Russian Hotel Clerk.png":

This media file is one of several media files that seemed to require a manual migration on my part because it failed my bulk-migration process for some reason. When I found that the Wikia site has/had two (2) "revisions" of this image -- an older one with a higher resolution and a newer one that looks the same but with a lower resolution (size) -- I decided to migrate the older revision of the image due to the fact that the older revision is the higher-resolution version. However, I'm wondering if there is actually a more ideal migration method that would migrate all "revisions" -- i.e. the entire "File History" -- of all of the Wiki's media files, for full preservation of the Wiki's contents? In the case of the image "Russian Hotel Clerk.png" itself, perhaps migrating both revisions is not really important because the revisions are merely different resolutions of the same-looking image -- but is there any way in which we could identify the full set of the Wiki's media files that have multiple revisions in the "File History", and investigate whether there are any non-trivial differences between such revisions such that multiple/all revisions would need to be migrated to the new site in order to preserve the full "ambit" of content?

Otherwise, I am hoping that I can get some kind of feedback and "consensus" from the community as to whether people following this Wiki migration effort feel that the migration was successful, or whether anyone can catch any "edge cases" or "corner cases" of the migration that I might have missed.

I'd like to go ahead and post these follow-up e-mail communications on the Voat.co forum thread, and reiterate my solicitation to the community to provide the requested validation feedback as soon as possible, as well as to ask whether people feel that it is okay for the Wikia site to be taken down permanently prior to the original Tuesday 13 November deadline if the migration work is deemed to be already completed successfully.

In addition, once the Wikia site is taken down again, I'm wondering if you can please put in some kind of a redirection hyperlink to point users to the new Soundboard.Wiki site? If this is possible, I think that it would also help greatly with Web search-engine optimization to get online search engines to reference the new site for the same searches that would lead to the Wikia site.

I really appreciate your assistance.

Sincerely,

"SoundboardWikiAdmin"

The Wikia Community Support department representative's reply to SoundboardWikiAdmin at Thursday 08 November 2018 13:30:21 UTC[edit]

Hi SoundboardWikiAdmin,

Thank you for following up. I am not sure if some of the questions you posed are for me specifically since this seems to be more of a message to the community as well.

However, Fandom is not in a position to assess the completeness of your migration and data import, so hopefully you can leverage the community for that.

If you find that there are tasks you still need to perform but can't do that before November 13, we are open to leaving the site open a bit longer.

We will not be able to set up a redirect to the new domain. My suggestion is that you optimize the meta information for the new wiki to include the term "prank calls". With that, and the new domain, and the fact that the Fandom site will no longer be indexed by Google, I expect people will find the new site easily once the Fandom content disappears from search results. If anyone contacts us wondering what happened to the wiki, we will let them know about the new site (I have done this once already).

Best regards,

(Redacted)

Senior Director, Community Support

Looking for additional assistance?

Check out our help pages at http://community.wikia.com/wiki/Help:Contents

SoundboardWikiAdmin's reply to the Wikia Community Support department representative at Thursday 08 November 2018 17:21:16 UTC[edit]

Hello (Redacted),

Thank you for being flexible with the timeframe to keep the SoundboardPrankCalls.Wikia.com site temporarily back up while I am attempting to solicit the aforementioned feedback from the community. For your information and reference, in addition to posting your and my e-mail communication transcripts on the Voat.co forum thread at https://voat.co/v/Soundboardpranks/2816843 , I have also been posting them in a Wiki article that I created on the new Wiki site named "2018 Death and Resurrection of the Soundboard Prank Calls Wiki" at the following URL: https://www.soundboard.wiki/wiki/2018_Death_and_Resurrection_of_the_Soundboard_Prank_Calls_Wiki

I am wondering whether you can also please provide the following details regarding the planned re-discontinuation of the SoundboardPrankCalls.Wikia.com site: Once you terminate the Wikia site again (which would ideally be by the planned date of Tuesday 13 November after I were to receive a "validation consensus" from the community by then that the migration to the new site is deemed to have been done successfully), then, in case any issue(s) ever happen to be tardily discovered/caught and raised in the future regarding some aspect(s) of the migration that was/were not performed completely/successfully, and in case the old Wikia site is needed again in order to remedy such issue(s)/shortcoming(s), can you say whether you or your department will then be able and willing to temporarily reinstate the old Wikia site again upon request on a case-by-case basis for those migration-remediation purposes? Or, would you say that this time that you re-terminate the Wikia site will need to be final and permanent/forever, and that your department would not be able and/or would not be willing to reinstate the Wikia site at any date in the future even if a migration shortcoming in the new Soundboard.Wiki site gets discovered at some point "down-the-road"? Are you planning to delete and purge all of the files, records, and data -- including the database records/data, the media files on the Wikia "Vignette" servers, and everything else -- associated with the Wikia site, from your servers, upon/after terminating the site this time, such that it would not be possible to reinstate or recover data from the Wikia site anymore? Would you say that this termination that you are hoping to do by Tuesday 13 November would be a "soft" termination (so-to-speak) with the ability for subsequent temporary reinstatements of the site if/as needed, and would you be planning a separate purge of the data from your servers at some subsequent date which would be considered a "hard" deadline to be able to recover anything else from the Wikia site or to temporarily reinstate the Wikia site anymore? I appreciate any details that you can share and for any flexibility that you can offer regarding this, and I hope that it is acceptable that I am asking these logistically-detailed questions.

Thank you for your assistance!

Sincerely,

"SoundboardWikiAdmin"

10 November 2018 update[edit]

The Wikia Community Support department representative's reply to SoundboardWikiAdmin at Saturday 10 November 2018 00:27:59 UTC[edit]

Hi SoundboardWikiAdmin,


The initial closure of a community is a "soft" deletion as you said, and that will be the state it's in for a brief time, usually no less than 30 days. After that, true deletion of the community occurs via automated processes and the community cannot be restored. So my advice is to spend the next few weeks doing all you can to ensure you have what you need.


Let me know if you have any other questions.


Best regards,

(Redacted)

Senior Director, Community Support


Looking for additional assistance?

Check out our help pages at http://community.wikia.com/wiki/Help:Contents

13/14 November 2018 update[edit]

SoundboardWikiAdmin's reply to the Wikia Community Support department representative at Tuesday 13 November 2018 19:01:55 UTC[edit]

Hello (Redacted),

I'm wondering if I may please ask you a couple of other technical-support questions regarding the migration of the Soundboard Prank Calls Wiki from the SoundboardPrankCalls.Wikia.com site to the new Soundboard.Wiki site, and whether you might be able to please provide any assistance with these?

On the forum discussion at https://voat.co/v/Soundboardpranks/2816843 , someone pointed out to me a couple of observations/issues with the current state of the migration:

(1) This seems to be a formatting difference affecting many article pages: Most or all of the "Infoboxes" on article pages are rendering on the new site with the "Infobox" positioned at the top-left-hand corner of the article with the article text completely underneath the "Infobox", whereas, on the original Wikia site, the "Infobox" usually appears on the top-right-hand side of the article with the article text wrapped around the left-hand side as well as the bottom of the "Infobox". Here are a couple of comparison examples:

    (a) http://soundboardprankcalls.wikia.com/wiki/Arnold_Schwarzenegger versus https://www.soundboard.wiki/wiki/Arnold_Schwarzenegger

    (b) http://soundboardprankcalls.wikia.com/wiki/Duncan versus https://www.soundboard.wiki/wiki/Duncan

(2) This seems to be a more-serious issue with broken rendering, but affecting only a handful of Wiki pages: A handful of the Wiki's pages seem to use a "<infobox>...</infobox>" Wiki-markup tag that is valid on Wikia but is not currently parsed as valid mark-up on the new site. Fortunately, the new site's MediaWiki engine seems to have automatically "binned" these pages at the following "Category" page: https://www.soundboard.wiki/wiki/Category:Pages_using_invalid_self-closed_HTML_tags Based on the initial research that I have performed thus far, it seems that the "<infobox>" Wiki mark-up tag might be syntax that is specific and proprietary to Wikia/Fandom, and it appears that it might not be as simple as just installing/enabling publicly-available MediaWiki Extensions to enable this syntax on the new site as was the case for some of the other aspects of porting the Wiki. Can you please confirm that the "<infobox>" Wiki mark-up syntax is indeed a feature devised particularly for Wikia/Fandom's platform? Can you please say what would need to be done in order to port/replicate this feature on other MediaWiki websites like Soundboard.Wiki, including approximately how much technical and coding work that it would probably take? Would you say that it would be better to instead modify those Wiki pages to utilize some other "generic" "retrofit" solution in lieu of the "<infobox>" syntax that would be compatible and interoperable outside of the Wikia/Fandom system?


I know that, at the time of this message, it is now Tuesday 13 November 2018 or later in all time-zones on Earth. Do you believe that I would probably need a time-extension on the Wikia site still being up and available in order to remedy the above two issues that have been brought to my attention thus far, or are these issues probably resolvable without needing to refer to the Wikia site or by relying on publicly-available archives such as on Web.Archive.org? My hope is that I don't need to ask you for a time-extension on keeping the Wikia site up, and that it should be fine for you to do the "soft" re-take-down of the site as planned. I hope that there also won't be a need for anyone to request more temporary reinstatements of the Wikia site while the clock is running for the eventual "hard" data purge from Wikia's servers to take place, but I do appreciate your being open to any such potential requests in case any subsequent migration issues that get raised happen to require it in order to be resolved.

Thank you very much for any assistance that you can provide on these matters!


Sincerely,

"SoundboardWikiAdmin"

06/07 December 2018 update[edit]

The Wikia Community Support department representative's reply to SoundboardWikiAdmin at Thursday 06 December 2018 17:04:19 UTC[edit]

Hello,


My apologies for the delay in response.


I expect that infobox alignment issues can be resolved with conventional markup.


For the specific markup you mentioned, this was developed by Fandom and is available as a MediaWiki extension:

https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Extension:PortableInfobox


I hope that this is helpful!

I have closed the Fandom wiki again.


Best regards,


(Redacted)

Senior Director, Community Support


Looking for additional assistance?

Check out our help pages at http://community.wikia.com/wiki/Help:Contents

External links[edit]