Community:Zelda Dungeon Forums
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For much of Zelda Dungeon's history, Zelda Dungeon never did have a consistent forum for an extended period of time. In total, there have been three official incarnations of the Zelda Dungeon Forums, but minor forums that were connected to Zelda Dungeon did exist in the past.
During the early years of Zelda Dungeon Mases had always been very reluctant to start his own community forum. Mases had never been a big proponent of community message boards and had saw so many Zelda forums die out due to inactivity. Given Zelda Dungeon's small site size in its first few years, Mases chose not to go this route with Zelda Dungeon.
Instead of starting its own forum, Mases often times linked to forums of affiliate based websites. Often times this linked to other Zelda forums or even other generic Nintendo based forums that had a Zelda section. There were countless number of websites that were being linked to from the Zelda Dungeon home page. None of these forums were ever actively promoted and the websites being linked to changed on a monthly basis. Mases choose to go this route just to guide his fans towards a community forum, and to also support the forums of his affiliate websites.
1st Generation - Zelda Legacies
Zelda Dungeon also saw its first active participation in a forum during the Summer of 2004. One of the websites closest friends at the time was a website known as Zelda Legacies. They had their own community forum, but it was run by Cartoons, a webmaster of Zelda Dungeon. While it was not officially a part of Zelda Dungeon at its conception, the forums were actively promoted at Zelda Dungeon with links and consistent mentions of the forums.
Throughout this time period, Zelda Legacies was beginning to dwindle away, and the forums were becoming more and more interlaced with Zelda Dungeon rather than Zelda Legacies. This forum was known as the Forsaken Forums and in retrospect, is known as the 1st generation of Zelda Dungeon forums. The forum was run on the vBulletin forum software, which was licensed to the webmaster of Zelda Legacies.
Unfortunately, Zelda Legacies and its forums experienced some rough times and went offline, leaving Zelda Dungeon without its own community forum. Throughout its lifetime, the first generation of forums for Zelda Dungeon accumulated over 300 registered members and 7,000 total posts. Outside of Mases and Cartoons, no known members of the 1st generation of Zelda Dungeon Forums are still known to be members of the current incarnation of forums.
2nd Generation - PhpBB
Shortly after the fall of the first generation of forums, Cartoons wanted to relaunch the forums once again, and he did so on October 10th of 2004. The was the first forum software to be hosted by Zelda Dungeon and it became known as the 2nd generation of Zelda Dungeon forums. The forum program used for this second forum was the phpbb software. Phpbb is a very popular free forum software that was used by several Zelda fan websites at the time. Activity at the forum sparked immediately upon the launch of the forums, and a steady incline in activity followed for the next several months.
In the Spring of 2005 the Zelda Dungeon forums continued to slowly grow, eclipsing the 200 member mark and the 5000 post count. It was during this point in time that the Zelda Dungeon Forums saw the registration of several members who would go on to become forum staff members. Many of these members that joined the forums during this period of time still remain a part of the Zelda Dungeon forum staff including Arbiter Y2K3 and Super Moderator Linkman8.
The 2nd generation of forums had all the standard Zelda related sections, but it also had a few sections that were interlaced with projects going on at the website. One of these was about a project dedicated to the Mas & Vic Present project at Zelda Dungeon. This is where Mases and Vic would review old NES titles and post them at Zelda Dungeon and on Youtube. The section at the forums were used for users to be able to comment on the reviews.
Cartoons left the website in early 2007, and because of this, the Zelda Dungeon Forums were becoming neglected by Mases, and security upgrades for the forums phpbb software were ignored. Mases was disgusted with the direction that forum was going, as the forum was becoming more focused on forum word games, textual role playing games, and a controversial mature discussion. None of which had much to do with Zelda Dungeon or the Legend of Zelda series.
On July 27th, due to poor handling of security by Mases, the Zelda Dungeon forums were hacked into. Later that day, Mases made an announcement about the hacking and removed the forums from the website. In subsequent announcements, Mases claimed that the hacking was irreversible and that the data from the php forums was gone forever. However, this was not entirely true, as both Mases and former staff member Cartoons, had database backups that could have been restored. Mases chose not to pursue this route and made the forum appear as if it was gone for good. Mases had long term goals of restarting the forums with new forum software and a fresh slate.
Legend of Zelda.com
During the short lived merged between Zelda Dungeon and Legend of Zelda.com, LoZ.com was the home of the forums. During this brief flicker of time, the forums at LoZ.com were actually referred to as the Zelda Dungeon, as part of the agreement with the merger. Many of the Zelda Dungeon members during the 2nd generation did make the transition to the LoZ.com community during this period of time. After the fallout of the merger, most of the members of Zelda Dungeon did not remain active at LoZ.com.
Zelda Legacy - Chamber of Sages
After the fall of the php forums, Mases made an announcement that the forums at Zelda Legacy were to become the new temporary home of Zelda Dungeon until further notice. This occured on July 27th, 2007 and held true for a little over two and a half months. During this time period, Mases was given an administrator positions at the Zelda Legacy forums. However, Mases never did take an active role in the actual administration of the Zelda Legacy forums. Some of the Zelda Dungeon forum members made the shift to Zelda Legacy, while others just left the community all together. Some members remained a part of the Zelda Legacy Forums even after the launch of the 3rd generation of forums at Zelda Dungeon, much because the 3rd generation of Zelda Dungeon forums did not have a wide variety of general discussion sections.
3rd Generation of Forums - vBulletin
The 3rd generation of the Zelda Dungeon forums was officially released to the public on October 17th, 2007, just a few weeks after the release of Phantom Hourglass. At the initial launch, the forums were using the myBB forum software, which acts as a free alternative to vBulletin. However, after just three months with the software, the forums were upgraded to vBulletin in January of 2008.
The launch of the forums immediately brought controversy from long time members. Members were upset with the lack of general discussion sections. Many familiar sections from previous forum incarnations had been removed, such as the general discussion, mature discussion, word games, spam section, and the role playing area. This caused a divide amongst veteran members, many of which did not return to the forums. However, with Zelda Dungeon receiving record visitors after the launch of Phantom Hourglass, a large influx of brand new members came to the forums, giving the forum a diverse group of users.
The forums grew exponentially over the next year. From April 2008 through January of 2009, each consecutive month saw an increase in total posts. However, this came to a halt in early 2009 when the streak was broken and there were consecutive months of decline. The forums have since settled and there has been little growth or decline during the Summer of 2009 and into the Fall.
On August 19, 2009 some member managed to hack a moderator's account and use it to wipe out at least a 1/3 of the forums. Nearly 20,000 posts were lost during the attack. The hacker proceeded to ban people from the Shoutbox but then began deleting all the Zelda Sections that he was able to moderate. Luckily, A Super Moderator at the site, DarkLink01, realized that he could move all threads to sections in the forums the hacked moderator had no power over. This saved around 14,000 posts. The plans to upload the back ups for the site failed as the Shoutbox caused for all backups since February 2009 to fail. Mases then decided that we should just build up the forum from its damaged state.
Summer 2007 Hacking
The forums were spammed up by one, or possibly several, spammer's, creating multiple accounts to evade banning. Although these member's were eventually IP banned, it was very difficult for Mases to ban these spammers, as they seemed to be professionals, changing their IP addresses regularly. During the time before they were finally banned, they plagued Zelda Dungeon with spam, multiple accounts, and generally annoyed members. As well as spamming and vandalizing Zelda Dungeon-related pages on Zelda Wiki. Also, these members created clone accounts of members, such as making accounts like "Amelie2" , "smitie2", and also cloning other well known members. All the clone accounts and multiple accounts messages were turned into guests, as well as their messages never counting as a message made by members. The war on spam eventually came to an end, but only before much annoyance as caused, as well as stress for the moderator's, super mod's, and webmaster's. Also, Arbiter's were affected too, as members with shape usernames, ( such as a name made of triangle's) Plagued the shoutbox, sending people spam or trolling messages, even private messaging cartoon heads with middle finger's up at people.
On August of 2009, one of the moderators of the Zelda Dungeon community forums was hacked. The hacker then presumed to delete 13,000 posts from the forums and ban people from the Zelda Dungeon Shoutbox. Several other users were hacked as well, and the damage continued outside of the Zelda Community on websites such as YouTube and Facebook, in which the hacked users also had accounts there. After the attacks, with a bit of a struggle, the administrators were able to recover some older, archived posts. However, all posts were not successfully restored, and the community is still recovering from all of those lost posts.
The forums at Zelda Dungeon have numerous features, some of which are very common to other Zelda forum communities around the net, while others are more distinctive to Zelda Dungeon.
The shoutbox works much like an instant messenger. It was visible on the main forum page and allowed users to chat about anything they feel they wanted to chat about. Features of the shoutbox include all of the same features as posting on a thread with the exception of adding attachments. This includes bolding letters and adding smileys.
The shoutbox is no longer available to the public, but rather, is restricted to ranked members, as well as registered users who have reached certain bench marks in terms of number of posts, number of days registered at the forum, and reputation level.
However, recently the shoutbox was given problems to Mases, so it was taken down in favor for a IRC that was available to everyone.
Mases holds a video podcast from time to time that is displayed to the right of the shoutbox. Mases is usually accompanied by a "special guest" (usually a Zelda webmaster) via skype. Announcements about the site are first made and then Q&A with Mases and the guest. People can PM or email Mases questions they'd like answered or ask it in the shoutbox during the Q&A section. Recently, Mases has implemented a Zelda related discussion at the end. For example, "The color of Link's hair." After the official podcast is over, Mases holds an "after party" for several hours. Usually just to hang out with ZD members and play games, such as Pokémon matches online.
Zelda Dungeon's forums also have an arcade. During the beginning new games were added frequently to keep users interested in the arcade, but games are added more infrequently now that it has had time to settle in. Many users compete for the highest score in various games so they can claim the title as King of the Arcade. The games usually added in the arcade are ones that take an appropriate amount of skill and don't rely too much on luck or how long one can simply endure playing the game. This prevents people from taking high scores simply by chance or just by having enough time to sit through hours of easy gameplay.
Recently added to the forums is a market system. This feature enables users to purchase various items to customize their user titles, donate to other users, and buy items from Zelda games to show off on their profiles.
The Market classifies items under specific shops. The current shops are as follows.
- Market Features
- Donation History - 40.62 points: Allows you to view donation transactions
- Gambling Access - 500 points: Allows users to gamble for more points
- User Title
- User Title Color - 6.25 points: Allows users to change the color of their user title
- User Title Glow - 15.95 points: Allows users to add a glow color to their user title
- User Title Strikethrough - 32.45 points: Allows users to add a strike through their user title
- Other Users
- Donate to Another User - 5.05 points - Allows users to donate points to other users
The market uses a currency at the forums known simply as points. Points are gained by registering, creating threads, receiving reputation, and making posts. Likewise, points are deducted for receiving negative reputation and receiving infractions.
- Registering = 150 market points
- Creating a new thread = 10 market points
- Replying to a thread = 5 market points
- Receiving reputation = 1 market point multiplied by the number of reputation points (if a user has 500 reputation points, he or she will receive 500 market points)
- Losing reputation = -5 market points for every negative rep (not multiplied by number of reputation points lost. -20 reputation points will still result in -5 market points)
- Receiving infractions = -20 market points for each infraction
With the newest update of the VBulletin forum software that Zelda Dungeon uses, there is now an option for users to customize their profiles. Users can do a numerous amount of things to there profiles from changing background images to the colors of header bars and the font on their page. There are specific rules for profile customization to avoid abuse of colors and background images. Many users customize their profiles and it livens up the profile pages of all users.
A recently added feature to Zelda Dungeon is the ability to create your own blogs. The idea really hit off well with a majority of the forum users after much debate on whether or not they should be added, which was decided with an almost unanimous decision of yes. Users are able to create their blogs about almost anything, just like a real blog! Users all across the forum are getting into blogging and creating many different blogs.
Of course, like many other forums on other fan sites, there is much controversy on many topics. The Zelda Dungeon tries its hardest to keep controversy clean by having rules against flaming, foul language and off topic posting to make sure that arguments don't get too out of hand. Controversy on the different topics is also necessary for making a good forum as it keeps the conversations fresh, fun and it keeps the users thinking.
At the launch of the 3rd generation of the Zelda Dungeon forum, Mases decided not to include many of the general discussion sections at the forum. Instead, the forum was heavily Zelda based with very little sections existing around general discussion at all. Mases took harsh criticism by many of the long time members of Zelda Dungeon because there was no general discussion, role playing, word game, or mature discussion present at the launch, all of which were popular at the previous incarnation of the forum. It wasn't until several weeks into the forums existence that a general discussion was added to the website, and several months down the line until a mature discussion was added. There were talks of a return of the role playing section at the forum, but those talks were abandoned, and as of today there is no discussion of bringing a role playing or word games section to the forum. Today the General Discussion area also has a General Gaming and Entertainment section, but it stays a minor part of the forums.
Mature Discussion is where the users at Zelda Dungeon can post and respond to threads dealing with the more serious topics that deal with things like politics, war, religion and many other topics of the like.
War on Spam
The War on Spam was a point in history where Zelda Dungeon took action to try to restrict spam at the forums. After numerous complaints that the forums had been infested with younger members and members who did not care to put any effort into making quality posts, the War on Spam was launched. There were five key implementations during the War on Spam.
- A vBulletin modification that automatically capitalizes words in new threads.
- The minimum character requirement was bumped up from 15 to 100. (Later reduced to 50)
- Minimum Time Between Posts increased to 120 seconds. (Later reduced to 90)
- Reputation system was utilized to discourage frequent spelling and grammar errors.
- Harsher punishments were given out to spammers and repeat offenders.
The War on Spam received a mostly positive reaction from members, but a handful of members had voiced their disagreement with the policy. In particular, people were upset with the character requirement of 100, as well as the reputation system. While the 100 character limit comes out to 10-20 words on average, or roughly two sentences, users believed that such a restriction did not allow users post how they would like to post, but rather, they believed the ranked members at Zelda Dungeon wanted to dictate the way members would post.
The complaints in regards to the spelling and grammar subsided after clarification from Mases. The purpose of this was not to make posts seem like a school paper, in which missing grammar would deduct points. The purpose was to weed out certain posts and members who deliberately were using improper grammar. In example would be not using any capitalization at all during an entire post, or using capitalization for every letter in a post.
In September of 2009, it had been decided that it was in the forums best interest to restrict access to the shoutbox to certain user groups and registered users who had reached certain bench marks. The reasoning for this was that the shoutbox was becoming more of a hangout for members that had little to no interest in improving the forums at Zelda Dungeon. Often times the shoutbox was becoming the center of attention at the forum due to constant controversy and drama popping up. Additionally, it was believed that restricting access to the shoutbox would increase overall post activity at the forums, as members would not have the option of the chatroom, and thus would carry discussion over to the forum topics.
This received a very mixed reaction by many long time Zelda Dungeon forum members. Some believed that the shoutbox was the life blood of the forums, and without allowing access to everybody, the forums would lose its distinctiveness from other Zelda communities. On the flipside, others believed it was a necessary step to progress the forums and to shift the activity in the forums back to the actual forums, rather than the shoutbox. The end result of this restriction has caused a small group of members to leave the Zelda Dungeon forum coommunity. Howver, because the shoutbox was taken down and replaced, only one post is needed.