Shutdown Crisis

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The Shutdown Crisis began on the 11th of October, 2018 when, asked about the sudden reshuffling of forum sections, garry voiced feelings of shutting down Facepunch[1] before elaborating further on his feelings.[2][3]

This was met with severe backlash from many users; a great many would go on to post comments reflecting on how Facepunch had impacted their lives in a positive manner,[4] stating how there is no other place like it (especially when compared to the alternatives of reddit, Discord, and to a lesser extent, 4chan and Something Awful), with some resorting to shitposting, posting Ban Me threads, and others beginning to reminisce of older times.

2018 forum section reshuffle

Immediately preceding the crisis was the 2018 forum section reshuffle, which saw a radical change to the forum's layout on the same day prior to the posts that sparked the crisis. Among other changes, it saw a complete reversal of the Megathread crisis that had occurred shortly after the move to the New Sites Forum,[5] but in such a fashion that it went the complete opposite direction, with the near complete re-discontinuation of sub-forums.

Initially, aside from the almost complete discontinuation of sub-forums, resulting in their threads being merged into those of their parent forum sections, the entire Developers, Rust and Garry's Mod forum categories were merged into their own respective forum sections (sans Help & Support and Modding for Rust and Lua Developer Discussion and Help & Support for Garry's Mod, which were made sub-forums, the only ones remaining).

However, over the next few hours, Schindler's Fist was absorbed into OIFY, but more importantly, Fast Threads and Videos and That Kind Of Crap were absorbed into General Discussion, which subsequently was renamed to just General, and the section description being updated to reflect the new change: "Bitching about changes, funny videos and other crap"

Alongside the backlash that already existed in regarding to garry's posts, there was now also backlash due to the severity of the change, with some seeing it as too extreme as a response to all the criticisms the Newpunch sub-forum system had seen, but many were frustrated with the absorption of what were seen as incredibly active forum sections into an already saturated one, reminiscent of the complaints made after the 2015 forum section reshuffle; and General's new description likely didn't help impressions.

The Azure Scare

During the early hours of the 13th of October, 2018 (in British Summer Time), users began reporting server errors on the New Sites Forum (forum.facepunch.com), receiving the 'Server Error in '/' Application.' Runtime Error page. Whilst garry was likely asleep (combined with the fact that the remainder of facepunch.com was also down), many users chose to interpret this as the end of the forum in tandem with garry's earlier nuking of his Twitter sans a select few tweets and retweets, and the following hours were filled with reminiscence and sorrow, shitposting all around. As the early morning progressed, garry appeared on Discord and claimed that what was occurring was an Azure outage. A bit after that, and the Runtime Error page was replaced with the recognizable Downtime Disco Ball with the message saying "We're having problems with our Azure database We'll be back as soon as possible".

The famous disco ball, reborn.

Elsewhere online, while some discussion occurred on r/facepunch (and only one brief mention on 8chan's /facepunch/), much more discussion blossomed over on 4chan - just as those there had discussed the developments as they happened a day or so earlier,[6][7] it continued on in light of the scare, on not just /v/[8][9] but briefly on /b/ too,[10] of all places. Meanwhile, users noticed that Azure servers were operating normally, and naturally inquired what was going on with Facepunch now. Hezzy would elaborate that, from what he had been told, the Azure outage had apparently fucked up Facepunch Studios' database, and that now it had to be fixed, stretching the downtime even further.

It wasn't until the evening of the 15th of October when Facepunch finally got off the dance floor and came back up.[11] Later, on the 18th, garry made a blog post discussing what had happened during those few days when the forum was down,[12] along with his current view of possibly shutting down the forum.

Hezzy's Departure from Facepunch Studios

On the 18th of January, 2019, Hezzy revealed that, as a result of the previously mentioned developments making his role as Customer Support Manager of Facepunch Studios redundant, he would no longer be employed by Facepunch Studios Ltd as of the 25th. However, he revealed that he would continue to remain in charge in an unpaid position, leading him to remark on the clickbaity nature of the thread announcing this decision.[13]

Development of Alternatives

Right around when Garry had voiced his feelings, in Developers, user Inacio began work on a new forum system from scratch, initially titled "Notpunch".[14] The worries of Facepunchers over the fate of the forum would see itself manifest in the form of the 2019 Facepunch Census organized by Hezzy,[15][16] which included, among other things, a section of questions regarding the idea of planning a new forum.

By late February 2019, when the census occurred, nary a comment had come from Garry on the topic of the forum's fate, despite his initial comments pointing towards a conclusion on the matter "early next year".[12] With the feedback from the census, and some further discussion afterwards, a name for a potential new forum had manifested itself in the form of Knockout - and, on the 5th of March, 2019, Knockout as an actual forum would manifest itself, with Inacio's Notpunch going into open alpha with the name.[17] Multiple moderators, including Hezzy, Taliyah and Craptasket agreed to moderate the new forum when it was deemed ready for service. As Knockout continued development, moderators continued to report no word from Garry on the future of the forums. As a result, plans were made to jump to Knockout at a moment's notice if the forums suddenly shut down.

Preemptive Migration

During the last hour of the 29th of March, 2019 (in Greenwich Mean Time), Facepunch once more experienced the Runtime Error page. As previously mentioned, as a result of Garry's lack of communication, many began fearing and/or joking that the end of Facepunch was nigh. However, developments took a sharp turn as the entirety of the official Facepunch Discord server was muted.

While Hezzy was by now no longer an employee of Facepunch, he still remained the Discord server's operator. And behind the scenes, much discussion was being held among the moderators, with plans to notify the community on the developments being made with Knockout on the weekend, to let users know that there is an alternative under development where the community could migrate to. However, with the Runtime Error, an opportunity presented itself, and the previous plans were put into action early - the Discord server was muted (as to make sure folks were aware it was merely an Azure database issue as before, and to initiate the process of handing the reins over to Facepunch staff) and links to the official Knockout Discord server were added.

After about three hours (for most spent shitposting on Discord), going into the early hours of the 30th, Facepunch was once more up, and the moderators laid out what was going on.[18]

Later, on the 2nd of April, Garry posted in the Forums Discussion thread, revealing that he in fact was cool with Knockout, and revealed what his initial plans for the Facepunch forums were - doing backend work to make these forums so people could make their own clients (that is, the frontend), and have the main client on GitHub that people could contribute to - though he also revealed that he would have no need to do so if everyone happily migrated to Knockout.[19]

References

  1. General - "Frequently Asked Questions - Got a burning question? Ask it here!" (post #205): https://forum.facepunch.com/f/general/btsci/7/#postcwbkik
  2. General - "Frequently Asked Questions - Got a burning question? Ask it here!" (post #226): https://forum.facepunch.com/f/general/btsci/8/#postcwbkkh
  3. General - In case you're wondering what the fuck is going on with facepunch (recap thread): https://forum.facepunch.com/f/general/bttjr
  4. General - Facepunch Appreciation Station: https://forum.facepunch.com/f/general/bttoh
  5. General - "Frequently Asked Questions - Got a burning question? Ask it here!" (post #148): https://forum.facepunch.com/f/general/btsci/5/#postcwbjzw
  6. 4chan archive (/v/) - Thread #434873764 [external link]: https://boards.fireden.net/v/thread/434873764/
  7. 4chan archive (/v/) - Thread #434908046 [external link]: https://boards.fireden.net/v/thread/434908046/
  8. 4chan archive (/v/) - Thread #434959859 [external link]: https://boards.fireden.net/v/thread/434959859/
  9. 4chan archive (/v/) - Thread #435025059 [external link]: https://boards.fireden.net/v/thread/435025059/
  10. 4chan (/b/) - RIP FACEPUNCH [external link; gone]: http://b oards.4chan.org/b/thread/782185405
  11. General - Forums are back up - Thanks for your patience: https://forum.facepunch.com/f/general/btvbh
  12. 12.0 12.1 Garry's Blog - Forum Downtime [external link]: https://garry.tv/2018/10/18/forum-downtime/
  13. General - An Announcement: I'm Leaving Facepunch: https://forum.facepunch.com/f/general/buvax
  14. Developers/General - Notpunch - I'm making a forum system: https://forum.facepunch.com/f/general/bttke
  15. General Discussion - Facepunch Census 2019: https://forum.facepunch.com/f/general/bvawc
  16. General - Facepunch Census Results 2019: https://forum.facepunch.com/f/general/bvexz
  17. Developers/General - "Notpunch - I'm making a forum system": https://forum.facepunch.com/f/general/bttke/18/#postcwsebl
  18. General - What's happening, and where we're going from here: https://forum.facepunch.com/f/general/bvnec
  19. General - "Forum Discussion VII: We had a good run" (post #568): https://forum.facepunch.com/f/general/bvinm/19/#postcwvfdm