It’s been over month since I posted my original update that the forums would be returning in “days, not weeks”. Unfortunately, as everyone has noticed, I made that statement prematurely. We’ve since encountered a number of issues that have roadblocked our restore of the forums. I want to talk about that process here so that everyone understands what we’ve been going through over the last month.

As you may know, we are transitioning away from vBulletin, our message board software, due to issues with its aging infrastructure. There are numerous problems with vBulletin that we just can’t solve, which caused us to take the forums down temporarily. Meanwhile, we had been working for many months on a new version of the ZU forums running on new, modern software with a fresh design inspired by our major redesign last year. We decided it was better to launch this new version of the forums in beta than attempt to rewrite vBulletin ourselves.

However, along the way, we have encountered numerous problems in the data import process. The ZU forums are massive: over 10GB in size. The import also involves converting the data from vBulletin format into the format for our new message board software. What this means is that each full import of the ZU forums takes roughly four days, uninterrupted.

If the import is interrupted for any reason, we have to start the process all over again. Because the import process is extremely sensitive (all posts, threads and more must pass through completely intact), hiccups can occur during the import process and cause us to have to start over. Sometimes these hiccups are merely annoying, but in other cases we’ve had to develop solutions to real issues that we did not anticipate. This has happened several times, which takes us right about to today.

We hope that the issue we’re currently solving will be the last, but only time will tell. Make no mistake: we’re working literally 24/7 to get the forums back up, with multiple team members around the globe in different time zones taking shifts to watch the status of the imports and provide immediate solutions if necessary. This is the absolute highest priority inside ZU staff right now.

Since we don’t know how long it will take to run a successful import (although we obviously hope this is the last issue we’ll be dealing with), we’re working on a temporary solution where everyone in the community can go until the forums are back online. I’ll make another post when that’s up as well.

Thank you, everyone, so much for being so incredibly patient. You are truly the lifeblood of ZU, and the heart of the Zelda community. Even though it’s taken inexcusably longer than expected, I still think you’ll agree it’s worth the wait. In the meantime, I’ll be answering any questions you have in the comments below.

~ Jason Rappaport.