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Abandoned site... what to do?

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drathbun
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Joined: 24 Jul 2008

Posts: 663
Location: Texas


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 3:26 am 
Post subject: Abandoned site... what to do?

Some years back I answered a PM at phpbb.com requesting help with a modification. One thing lead to another and I ended up becoming a partner (of sorts) in the site and wrote a bunch of code for it. Some years later the owner got divorced and needed cash and sold the site. I agreed to work with the new owner to continue the site. I have also been hosting the site on my server.

At one point I had to take time off from working on that site and told the new owner as much. The old owner would bug me every month about when could I get back to the project, and he was actively involved in the site with posting and everything else required to maintain a thriving site.

The last communication I had with the new owner was a year ago. He hasn't read my PM from back in June, and it was a month or so later was the last time he even logged in to the site. I am still hosting the site and have access to everything but the actual domain name.

I have just sent the owner a PM via the site as well as an email telling him that he needs to move the site elsewhere, that I have no interest in continued coding for the site if he's not going to be an active participant in the site. So far no answer to the email, and he hasn't logged in to read the PM. So that's the background.

The question is, what obligation do I have? I hosted the board for free for all of last year, expecting that I would get paid for hosting once I started on the site updates that I had planned. (Notice that the updates were my plans, not the new owner's plans. I don't think he even had an idea of what was needed.) At this point I am not interested in continuing to host it for free, nor am I really interested in working for an absentee owner. I have told him (via email and PM) that he has until the end of this month (February) to contact me about moving elsewhere or I would simply shut down the site.

I figure if nothing else, turning off the advertising will get his attention, when he doesn't see any income from google or yahoo anymore. icon_wink.gif

So if you were hosting a site and hadn't heard from the domain owner in over half a year, what would you do?

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roadhog
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Joined: 19 Nov 2008

Posts: 95
Location: Central Texas


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 5:44 am 
Post subject: Re: Abandoned site... what to do?

A collateral issue is whether or not there is any obligation to the membership, to keep the board viable. If the board provides valuable support for members, then this might be an issue, (a moral issue, anyway). If not, then it's probably irrelevant.

Assuming that's not an issue, then if I were in your shoes, (with no way to recover my expenses, and no responses to reasonable contact attempts), I would probably pull the plug.
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dogs and things
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Joined: 18 Nov 2008

Posts: 621
Location: Spain


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 5:58 am 
Post subject: Re: Abandoned site... what to do?

See what PM systems can lead to? icon_razz.gif

Half a year is not that long, but seems a good moment for starting some action.

Turning of the advertisements is a good first step, turn them of, write another email and PM and wait two months.

If no reaction is given hide the site from public view and leave only an index.html stating something about problems and a way to contact the owner's email address, write an new email ( a PM would be pretty useless at this stage icon_razz.gif ) and wait another two months.

Still no reaction? Make a backup of the whole site, save it on a disk and remove the whole thing from your server.

Is there no way of locating the owner's phone number with WhoIs or some similar tool?

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drathbun
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Joined: 24 Jul 2008

Posts: 663
Location: Texas


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 2:13 pm 
Post subject: Re: Abandoned site... what to do?

The service is not "vital" in that it's primarily an investing site with a game attached... it's the stock market game part that I custom wrote. I'm quite proud of it, actually. icon_smile.gif It has some things that could be improved, but the original owner was running the site and growing it very successfully before he had to pull out.

As far as contacting the current owner, they never gave me more than an email address. I never even got the person's real name, just his initials.

It just boggles my mind that someone would pay good money for a site and then just seemingly abandon it. The morbid curiousity in me wonders (and hopes this isn't true) if something has happened to the guy.

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Sylver Cheetah 53
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Joined: 17 Dec 2008

Posts: 426
Location: Milky Way


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 2:21 pm 
Post subject: Re: Abandoned site... what to do?

I guess you can contact the first owner, he should know who selled the site to. icon_wink.gif
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Ptirhiik
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Joined: 19 Nov 2008

Posts: 114


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 6:38 pm 
Post subject: Re: Abandoned site... what to do?

If you have a forum on this site, make your concern public to the community there: at least, one may be interested in, and recognized by the community. If none arise, then inform them that the site will be shut down at - whatever the date you want.
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drathbun
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Joined: 24 Jul 2008

Posts: 663
Location: Texas


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 7:29 pm 
Post subject: Re: Abandoned site... what to do?

I have already made the announcement to the community, as I did not want it to be a surprise. Many of them know that I am hosting the board, and also developing the code for the custom features. I did not want the blame for the site going offline all of a sudden, so I let them know what steps I have taken to contact the current owner.

Interestingly enough, at least two of the board members have tried to contact the current owner with offers to buy the site. They have not heard back from the owner either, so he's not just ignoring me. icon_smile.gif

I do appreciate the comments and observations so far, thanks. It has been a bit of a struggle to decide how to best approach the situation.

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Jim_UK
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Joined: 19 Nov 2008

Posts: 551
Location: North West UK


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 8:13 pm 
Post subject: Re: Abandoned site... what to do?

dogs and things wrote:

Is there no way of locating the owner's phone number with WhoIs or some similar tool?


Does a Whois on the domain name which presumably he owns not give you any contact info?

Jim
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drathbun
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Joined: 24 Jul 2008

Posts: 663
Location: Texas


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 9:45 pm 
Post subject: Re: Abandoned site... what to do?

Do a "whois" on phpbb2refugees.com and see what you get. icon_smile.gif Many domain owners use a privacy service like I do.

I will check his domain info tonight; I assumed it was protected, but it's worth checking anyway.

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Sylver Cheetah 53
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Joined: 17 Dec 2008

Posts: 426
Location: Milky Way


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 10:57 am 
Post subject: Re: Abandoned site... what to do?

Try www.domaintools.com, it is pretty good. icon_wink.gif
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RMcGirr83
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Joined: 02 Dec 2008

Posts: 53
Location: East Lyme, CT


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 4:44 pm 
Post subject: Re: Abandoned site... what to do?

Free or not Dave, you should have a written agreement I would think...and yes, six months is more than enough time for the new owner to, excuse me, "shit or get off the pot". So to speak.

Then again, you could just forget about it all and game with me in RockBand. A Little birdie told me you got the game. icon_wink.gif

icon_lol.gif @ Dogs and Stuff with the PM remark.

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drathbun
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Joined: 24 Jul 2008

Posts: 663
Location: Texas


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 6:54 pm 
Post subject: Re: Abandoned site... what to do?

Yeah, I got Rockband 2 this weekend. I got blisters from playing the drums. icon_smile.gif

I have a backup of the php code and everything related to the site. I will back up the database and then shut the board down, replacing it with a page that will last as long as the domain does. I guess I really expect to hear from the owner once the revenues stop. If not, and if it gets so far that the domain expires, then I guess I will consider opening up something of my own with "new and improved" code. icon_smile.gif

Thanks for all the bits of advice.

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~Cowboy~
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Joined: 08 Dec 2008

Posts: 297
Location: Chicago


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2009 6:46 am 
Post subject: Re: Abandoned site... what to do?

Change the advertisements over to your name so you don't have to eat anymore server expenses. icon_biggrin.gif

Isn't there anyone on the planet that knows who he is?

Look up his last IP address and contact his ISP and see if they can get him a message. icon_biggrin.gif If you talk to the right support guy they might be able to help you. If you talk to the wrong one though they will just quote you policy...

Hey but if all else fails and you really don't want the site on your machine anymore ... zip it and send it to him at his last known email address. icon_wink.gif

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scotty
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Joined: 22 Dec 2008

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 5:29 am 
Post subject: Re: Abandoned site... what to do?

Interesting reading......
drathbun !.......what was the final result you decided to do ?
icon_rolleyes.gif

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drathbun
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Joined: 24 Jul 2008

Posts: 663
Location: Texas


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 4:13 pm 
Post subject: Re: Abandoned site... what to do?

I sent a second email late last week using the original email I had for contact information as well as the "admin contact" email listed in the whois database. I got an answer. So for now, the site remains up, but as the owner seems to be quite uninterested in it, I don't know how much further my involvement will go.
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