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Least Expected: A Journey of Reconstruction

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Back to the beginning [Mar. 12th, 2005|04:58 pm]
Least Expected: A Journey of Reconstruction

least_expected

[starbrow]
[Current Mood |determineddetermined]

wibbble and I are undertaking a great task -- completely redoing the Least Expected archive with fresh, updated code in PHP instead of nasty Perl. We plan to include the ability to add comments to individual stories, possibly unique user accounts, an ease of navigation and uploading all around.

And then I shall go on a quest to track down every Tolkien slash story ever written and encourage the author to put it in the archive.

This may take a very long time to complete, as we need to straighten out several things first, not the least of which is webhosting. We plan to place the archive on our own server, the very first of the websites to be hosted by our very own hosting company. We may not make it there for about a year -- we will see how it goes.

As time goes on and we work out the intricacies of code-writing (yes, we are writing code specifically for this site, although we may offer it later as part of a hosting package), hosting, and re-archiving everything (all 856) that's currently saved on my computer, we are going to need help. Beta testing. Archivers. Words of encouragement.

That would be where anyone who joins this community would come in. If you wanna help out, cool. If you want to throw some words of encouragement and expectation our way, we would be immensely grateful. If you just want to watch the progress, nifty.

Be prepared for a long bumpy ride. Fasten your seatbelts and make sure your tray tables are in the upright and locked position.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: sneezer222
2005-03-12 07:35 pm (UTC)
That is EXCELLENT news! And I'm in for whatever I can help with. At least I'm good at encouraging words. :)
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[User Picture]From: starbrow
2005-03-12 11:28 pm (UTC)
Yes, yes, you are very very good with those. :)
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From: cklplace
2005-03-12 07:54 pm (UTC)

resurrecting the least expected archive

Throwing words of encouragement, 'cause what y'all are attempting so far beyond what I can do with a computer, that the subject isn't even in the same dimension. Luck, much patience and here's hoping y'all get everything accomplishment with the least stress. ckl
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[User Picture]From: starbrow
2005-03-12 11:30 pm (UTC)

Re: resurrecting the least expected archive

Many thanks. I'm sure it will take a lot of patience, and need a lot of luck, but I'm all optimistic. :)
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[User Picture]From: alassenya
2005-03-12 11:04 pm (UTC)

A Quest!

"And then I shall go on a quest to track down every Tolkien slash story ever written and encourage the author to put it in the archive."

I can't begin to describe the leap of exhultation I felt when I read that. I'm an archivist/librarian at heart, and I would be happy to help out. Indexing, cross-referencing, web-trawling... I don't code, but I guess I could learn *runs quick Google search for PHP tutorials*.

Thank you for taking this on. It will be an enormous task, but that will make it all the more satisfying when it's done.

*blows kisses*
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[User Picture]From: starbrow
2005-03-12 11:37 pm (UTC)

Re: A Quest!

Thanks very much! Archiving skills (or just the patience to sit there and enter things into databases for a very long time) will be much needed.

(There are 856 stories currently saved on my computer that all have to be recoded once the hosting is sorted and the code is ready. Dear gods. Wah.)

And of course beyond that, before the site goes live, we will need testers.

But all that is in the far distant future now -- we're still struggling with the basic story code (it's very much not pretty yet, but it will be) and trying to decide how we are going to manage the hosting.

I will resurrect the archive, though I do not know the way. About how I feel right now.
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[User Picture]From: alassenya
2005-03-13 08:02 am (UTC)

Re: A Quest!

I have over 2,000 on my hard drive...
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[User Picture]From: starbrow
2005-03-13 09:56 am (UTC)

Re: A Quest!

Bloody hell. *grin*

One hopes that at no point will you have to reformat all of them!
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[User Picture]From: alassenya
2005-03-14 11:08 am (UTC)

Re: A Quest!

Well, an awful lot of them have been reformatted for my Palm pilot (I swear that DocumentsToGo is the best program ever invented), but that's not too difficult to fix with Dreamweaver or something similar. What worries me more is that I didn't insert the hyperlinks the ones I copied in the first six months or so, so if they're not on a current archive they may be hard to find again. Still, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
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[User Picture]From: starbrow
2005-03-14 07:57 pm (UTC)

Re: A Quest!

Yes, we will. I have every story that was ever put into the archive, so a lot of them might actually be from there.

(Oooh. I wonder if there's a way we can format for PalmPilot. Shall see.)
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[User Picture]From: wibbble
2005-08-27 04:11 pm (UTC)

Re: A Quest!

That depends on what you mean by 'format for PalmPilot', really. If you mean Palm doc format - it can be done, but it's not easy. (I should be able to find some open source conversion tools, and then generate them as they're requested, and cache the Palm doc files so they don't need to be generated again.)

I'd suggest that our users instead install something like Plucker which will convert HTML pages into a format readable on the Palm. We can then produce stripped-down versions of the story pages which will convert nicely (and also display nicely on phones or other PDAs, and work better with text readers if there's any blind/partially-sighted slashgirls out there).
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[User Picture]From: wibbble
2005-03-13 09:46 am (UTC)

Re: A Quest!

Don't worry about learning to code: I'm handling that. In fact, no one else other than E and me /can/ do the code, since no one else is getting access to our computers. :o)
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[User Picture]From: alassenya
2005-03-14 11:24 am (UTC)

No problem - I'll do whatever else needs doing. Did I mention I love indexing?
*happy face*
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[User Picture]From: wibbble
2005-03-14 12:33 pm (UTC)
What will actually be required will be entering the meta-data (story headers) for each story into the database, and possibly stripping them from the story file, converting the story file to plain text (HTML allowed, but not required, newlines automatically added a la LJ).

It'll be a fairly dull job, which I'm glad I won't have to do. :o) (Slash scares me, therefor I write the code, but avoid the fic.)
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[User Picture]From: capella_fic
2005-03-13 05:04 pm (UTC)
This is very good news! I always liked your archive best and missed it in its absence. I'm not sure what help I could offer but I'll keep an eye open for any requests. And when the time comes it'll be a pleasure to post my stories there.

Best of luck with the enterprise...

Capella
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[User Picture]From: starbrow
2005-03-14 07:55 pm (UTC)
Nifty. Thank you -- and I'm sure there will be plenty you'll be able to do to help, once we're getting started here.
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[User Picture]From: marigoldg
2005-03-13 09:31 pm (UTC)
Good Luck! I have really missed Least Expected. I posted your yahoo message on my own LJ. I don't know what I can do to help, but I will certainly encourage.

You should post a notice at [Bad username: middle_earth_news] : )
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[User Picture]From: marigoldg
2005-03-13 09:34 pm (UTC)
That would be middleearthnews lol!
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From: mackinzey
2005-03-13 10:32 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm so glad you decided to re-open Least Expected! I was a regular visitor when it was online and working, although I thought it was kinda hard to navigate. Sounds like you'll improve on that, though.
I'm afraid I won't be able to offer any help, but I'm very good with encouragement ;)
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[User Picture]From: starbrow
2005-03-14 07:44 am (UTC)
Yes, we're redoing the code (which will unfortunately mean recoding every single story). I will also be having discussions on what kind of navigation would be best, so I would definitely welcome some input then.
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From: mackinzey
2005-03-14 03:39 pm (UTC)
Oooh, I'm good with making suggestions! Cound me in =)
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[User Picture]From: wibbble
2005-03-14 12:51 pm (UTC)
The archival code I've written (which will need to be adapted to work with Least Expected) is extremely flexible, so it'll be trivial to play around and find the best kind of navigation system.

The code itself is actually quite simple: most of the work is done with mod_rewrite, providing more obvious URLs to what are actually searches. For example, http://elance.slashgirl.org.uk/fandom/Highlander.html uses mod_rewrite to actually refer to http://elance.slashgirl.org.uk/search.php?fandom=Highlander&Submit=1 It's trivial to use mod_rewrite in this way to 'mask' searches as being index pages, and this gives us the flexibility to arrange things however we like.
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From: mackinzey
2005-03-14 03:43 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure whether I understood all that you wrote but I *think* I know what you mean... Sounds like an awful lot of work, though.

As an aside: Will you also archive RPS and RPH? Just curious.
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[User Picture]From: wibbble
2005-03-14 03:51 pm (UTC)
The policy regarding real person stories is undecided, as of yet.

We're planning to offer commercial hosting, and Least Expected will have to follow the same rules that we'd use for that. We don't want to host anything that we can be forced into taking down - under UK law, AFAIK, slash fanfiction is legal and we will laugh at C&D letters. Stories involving real people, however, might be considered libellous.

I know that most places have a policy that amounts to 'do whatever you like until you get caught', but I think that's weak. I want to have a policy that lets us back up people every time, and never give in - which means only allowing things that don't expose us to risk.

As for the amount of work - that example I gave you was one line in the web server config file, and it's smart enough that you can use /fandom/Star Wars.html too, and it'll work. (Which reminds me: I need to make it rewrite underscores in URLs to spaces.)
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[User Picture]From: starbrow
2005-03-14 08:00 pm (UTC)
John was referring, I think, more to the server policy than Least Expected's.

Least Expected doesn't do RPS and RPH, not because we don't like it, just because it's for Tolkien characterslash and always has been. I think we'd be completely overwhelmed if we added RPF to the archive, honestly.

I would love to do a corresponding RPF archive, but first things first.
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From: mackinzey
2005-03-15 06:13 pm (UTC)
Well, I guess I can live with that ;D

As long as LE is worked on again I'm happy =)
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[User Picture]From: sayhello
2005-03-13 10:45 pm (UTC)
Cool! I always did like Least Expected. Glad to see it coming back eventually. I have 1,600 stories on my hard drive, the majority of which is hobbit slash. Let me know if you want help tracking down stuff.

ENCOURAGEMENT!

Hewene
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[User Picture]From: starbrow
2005-03-14 08:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you! There will be more to come later, definitely.
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[User Picture]From: mordelhin
2005-03-14 02:47 am (UTC)
Woo hoo! I'm so glad you're doing this! You just made my night.
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[User Picture]From: starbrow
2005-03-14 08:04 pm (UTC)
Nifty. Thank you.
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[User Picture]From: baranduin
2005-03-14 03:09 am (UTC)
That's wonderful news! Least Expected was where I discovered slash for the first time, and it's always made me sad when it went under (both for just plain missing the site and for your troubles). This is lovely. Will pimp where I can.

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[User Picture]From: abby_normal
2005-03-14 03:28 am (UTC)
Hello. A couple people on my f-list linked to here and I just wanted to pop in and let you know that my co-mod and I might be able to help you get the word out, if you'd like. We run a LOTR newsletter, middleearthnews and we'd be happy to post an announcement for you, if you'd like. All you need to do is send us what you want posted to middle_earth_news@yahoo.com (lj formatted) by 8:00 a.m. tomorrow and we'll be happy to include it in tomorrow's edition. Check out the newsletter and, if you're interested, just send it on in. You don't have to be a member but you're certainly welcome to join.

(By the way, I think what you're doing will be very much appreciated and I look forward to seeing you succeed.)
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[User Picture]From: starbrow
2005-03-14 07:38 am (UTC)
Done. :)
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[User Picture]From: aprilkat
2005-03-14 03:40 am (UTC)
Wow, what great news! (Came over via baranduin.) This is wonderful for the community.

One thing I was wondering - with all the hoohah about the ratings system, might you come up with your own when you activate the site? It would be nice to have a common place where people could agree on a new set of ratings, and it could start here. Of course, if you are going to be linking it would be up to each writer to make the change. Oh, well, just a thought...

Looking forward to your site!
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[User Picture]From: starbrow
2005-03-14 07:42 am (UTC)
They won't be linked -- they will be stored on our server, so, yes, it is a very strong possibility that we could be coming up with a new set of ratings.

I'm pretty sure my husband is strongly opposed to the use of the American ratings system anyway.

I'll probably be posting an entry about that for discussion in a few days.
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[User Picture]From: wibbble
2005-03-14 12:45 pm (UTC)
The MPAA ratings are still 'safe' to use - they've not defended their trademarks sufficiently well, IMO, and I doubt that their legal sabre-rattling would stand up in court.

Alternatively, we could just use the BBFC ratings, which I'm more familiar with, or come up with something entirely new.
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[User Picture]From: mj_fanfiction
2005-03-14 03:42 am (UTC)

If that don't beat all...

What great news this is! I still remember those olden days when Tolkien slashfic was just peeking out from under the sheets. I've never stopped hoping the archive would come back, bigger and better and chocked full of veetamins and marbles. I can hardly wait!

Very happy MJ

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[User Picture]From: b_briarwood
2005-03-14 04:57 am (UTC)
Followed baranduin's link over here. I'm not technical enough to help with anything like that, but I sure do give lots o'encouragement!
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[User Picture]From: ladysunrope
2005-03-14 06:44 am (UTC)
You were the site where I discovered Tolkien slash for the first time. Good luck on this mammoth project. Any help I can give is yours.
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[User Picture]From: framianne
2005-03-14 11:54 am (UTC)
Here via alassenya.
If it helps, and if you tell me how to do it, I'm always glad to insert things into databases for hours. Archives and me get along quite well, once I grasp how they work. Yours is a wonderful project, and I'd be happy to contribute in any way I can.
Good work! :)
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[User Picture]From: rubynye
2005-03-14 07:38 pm (UTC)
When I joined this fandom a year a go, I heard a great many wonderful things about this archive. So, here I am, cheering you on and looking forward to finally getting to see it!
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