All - I wanted to first apologize for the recent outage with the site/forums. If you've been around for any length of time you'll know that an outage like this rarely happens.
I want to make sure that everyone knows that Roy and I are still dedicated to the site and forums. We know how important it is to the community, even after all these years.
If you want to know the details of what went wrong, read on. Otherwise, please rest assured that the site and forums are here to stay. We can't of course guarantee no down time ever, that just wouldn't be realistic. We do appreciate how much knowledge that this community has built over the last decade (or more). I also want people to know that the Roy is able to get a hold of me outside of the forums. Also, even though I'm not on the forums much anymore, I'm still very much connected to them and I know when things go wrong.
The site/forums are registered with Dreamhost, and at one point they used to be hosted with Dreamhost as well. Many, many years ago I had the site/forums hosted on dedicated servers to accommodate the bandwidth and usage needs. It cost me a couple hundred each month and as you know I've been very deliberate about keeping annoying ads out of the forums (unlike many other forums). My desire has never been to make money from this, just to provide a service to the community. After a while Roy and I found out that we could leverage ibiblio (thanks ibiblio!) to host the site/forums for free. I changed from a dedicated hosting plan with dreamhost to a regular shared server plan (to have the site/forums hosted on ibiblio, but the domain registration/renewals and DNS stayed with dreamhost). For some reason I couldn't just "change hosting plans" with my dreamhost account, I had to create a new account, move the sites/domains/registrations/DNS over and close the old account. This is where the problem apparently started...
I received an email a couple weeks ago (can't remember the exact date, but that's when the site went down) saying oesf.org has been deleted from the registry (as well as elsix.org, zaurususergroup.org and a couple other domains). There was no explanation or anything... just that it was deleted. I worked with dreamhost support to have them explain what the hell went wrong and apparently they didn't complete the move of the domain registration/renewls from my old (dedicated server) account to the new (shared hosting) account. Because of this, the annual domain renewals for the last couple years had not been paid. They never emailed me saying, 'hey, you have an outstanding balance' or notified me within the dreamhost control panel. They didn't say anything for years!
Because the domain was deleted from the registry, it of course went down completely. After working with (the largely incompetent) dreamhost support team (all via email, they have no phone support) they told me that I had to pay the past due domain renewals AND I had to pay $100 per domain for redemption, or wait 60 or so days for the sites to become available to re-register. This to me was complete bullshit. They didn't let me know that I owed anything, didn't let me know that the sites would be deleted.. no communication prior to them all being deleted. Yet, I got the email saying that they had been deleted... so they did know how to email me (it's not like they had an old email).
I immediately paid the past due renewals (rightfully mine to pay) but told them that I would not pay for the $100 redemption fees for each domain. I told them that because of their screw up (many) they should cover the costs. Ultimately I got to a support manager and he agreed that they had made the mistake and agreed to cover the redemption. I would have paid the redemption for oesf.org just to get it back online, but had I done so I wouldn't have any leverage to get them to reimburse me.
Dreamhost has fixed the account and the domain is setup for auto renewal (like all of my other domains). I haven't been happy with dreamhost for a while now, and last year registered/created a site with godaddy.com. In the near future, I will be migrating oesf (and my other domains) to godaddy. Dreamhost doesn't deserve my business anymore.