Database problems

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Karl_
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PostDatabase problems
by Karl_ » Tue May 21, 2019 9:01 pm

The forum database is currently - in some greater or lesser respect, I don't know the details - broken. The effects of this seem to be:
  • Intermittent SQL errors, which prevent a page from loading
  • Deleting a post sometimes takes a very long time
  • People are becoming randomly subscribed to threads, or receiving random notifications
  • Clicking links to particular posts often sends you to an entirely different post
I don't know if these are all symptoms of the same problem, or if there are four different simultaneous problems. I don't know of a way to meaningfully investigate the errors. I can however sometimes band-aid over the symptoms when they crop up by making manual changes to corrupted records in the database (such as recently, when I removed dozens of spurious subscriptions from ITSMILNER's account).

I suspect that the root cause of this is our size and age. PhpBB is intended to be run with a post pruner, but we have never run it. It is also intended that threads not run for months, or for hundreds of pages, but we do. The posts we made in 2008 were from an entirely different version of PhpBB, and the database has been through several upgrade processes since then.

I am interested in general discussion of this from a technical and a user perspective. By far the easiest solution would be to freeze the current version of the board (to act as a public archive, e.g. at something like old.grcade.co.uk) and start new threads on a new database. The most difficult solution would be to write a bespoke computer program to go through the database entry-by-entry for each user, thread, and post, and check it all for consistency, and either repairing errors or flagging particular segments of the database for review. The middle ground seems to be that we would implement policies (like an x-hundred page rule or an annual thread restart rule) to try to limit any further damage.

Although I am (clearly) fond of GRcade, I do not have any particular sentimental attachment to the idea of a contiguous database, and would personally be happy to archive & start fresh -- but I recognise others are likely to have strong feelings against that, so please discuss this ongoing problem thoroughly so we can reach a solution.

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Green Gecko
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PostRe: Database problems
by Green Gecko » Tue May 21, 2019 11:08 pm

If this presents a consistent problem then we can start a fresh database by importing the user table. We can archive the previous posts on a separate installation, implement redirects for Google, and add a note to visitors that they are viewing an archived version of content, and should head to the root domain should they wish to peruse our latest and greatest content. It will be detrimental in terms of side swiping traffic, but we can still serve some ads there, and I'm not one to clutch at pearls ancillary to the reality that the very core of something is fundamentally broken.

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