The Oddworld Forums is an Internet message board for fans of Oddworld. They are unofficial and have never been owned by Oddworld Inhabitants. Its registered members include past and present Oddworld Inhabitants employees and other Oddworld videogame developers.
The Oddworld Forums were founded in by Sydney Cander, who co-administered the site alongside Abe Babe until she left the community in . Its owners since then have been Abe Babe and Alcar. For a while, they identified the site as a component of OddNet along with their respective fansites Oddworld-Web and Oddworld Universe, and the IRC channel OddChat.
Posting on the the Oddworld Forums was permanently suspended on , at which time the message board contained 20 878 threads, 626 501 posts and 14 476 registered members.
Early versions of the Oddworld Forums were hosted on ezboard and Ultimate Bulletin Board, but from it was hosted on a server running vBulletin. Although there were considerations to move them to XenForo, the Oddworld Forums still run on vBulletin 3.8.7, which was released by vBulletin in . vBulletin stopped supporting vBulletin 3 in .
The Oddworld Forums is divided into a number of individual message boards or forums, each one dedicated to a broad topic, so that users' posts are organised according to subject matter. For instance, Oddworld Discussion is where most posts about Oddworld are made while Forum Suggestions & Help contains posts about the Oddworld Forums themselves. Moderators would move posts that were created in the wrong forum. Users can begin a discussion by creating a ‘thread’ inside a forum, to which other members can reply with their own posts. Each thread is a sequence of posts ordered by the time they were published. The forum software does not allow for branching conversations, so often when the topics of a conversation diverge significantly, a member of staff will manually create a new thread move posts into it.
The forums are nested for organizational purposes, with user priviledges such as moderator powers being inherited by those boards contained within others, although user content within each forum remains independent. The highest levels of boards cannot be posted in and exist purely for organization. On the Oddworld Forums these are called ‘Zulags’, named after the fictional areas dividing up the factory RuptureFarms in the game Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee.
The current forum structure of the Oddworld Forums is as follows.
|Zulag One||Oddworld Discussion||Talk about things such as upcoming games, paramite pie recipes, evolution of different Oddworldian species etc. Anything you wish.|
|Oddworld Mods & Hacks||Discuss how to backwards-engineer the Oddworld games, extract their assets and create editing tools and new levels.|
|Oddworld Let's Plays and Speedruns||Share your gameplay videos and discuss how to shave fractions of seconds off your runtime. May contain spoilers.|
|Citizen Siege Discussion||Discuss this new intellectual property from the creators of Oddworld, currently planned as a feature film and video games.||Hidden and inaccessible to non-staff members|
|OIPT Oddlympics||Here you can participate in the Oddlympics, an extension of the famous OIPT. You can win points by placing bets on characters in different events.||Hidden|
|Spoiler Forum||Threads that may contain New 'n' Tasty spoilers should be made in this forum. Please see our Spoiler Policy for more information.||Hidden|
|Oddworld Help||Stuck in the game? Need technical help? Here you can post questions and receive answers from others.|
|Zulag Two||Forum Suggestions & Help||As a member oriented forum, we welcome suggestions and feedback from members to make OWF a place for all. Please post forum help questions and banner requests here also.|
|Welcomes & Birthdays||New here? Post a welcome thread to let people know you are new. Or if you want to wish fellow members happy birthday, do it here also.|
|Off-Topic Discussion||Post your off-topic threads here. This is the place where you can talk about miscellaneous things that aren't related to Oddworld.|
|Non-Oddworld Gaming||Discuss all your non-Oddworld gaming related topics, from the latest first person shooter to how to pass that last level on your favourite adventure title.|
|Zulag Three||Fan Corner||Like to write Oddworld fan fiction? Enjoy making fan art? Here is where you can view or post fan fics & art to receive feedback.|
|Non-Oddworld Art & Literature||Showcase your non-Oddworld related art and literature, or provide feedback on the work of other members.|
|Oddworld RPG||Join in the fun of the Oddworld Role Playing Game. Take on a character and transport yourself to the world of Oddworld.|
|Info (temp)||New 'n' Tasty. Coming Soon!||Hidden and inaccessible to non-staff members|
|Zulag Four||Employee Lounge||A seperate forum for Administrators and Moderators to discuss forum related issues.||Accessible only to current and former staff members|
|Necrum Burial Grounds||A forum where old topics come to rest. Please note that archived topics are for viewing only, and new topics can't be created or replied to.||Posts can't be created|
The Forums' current administrators are Nate, Wil and Xavier. The staff also includes Super Moderator JayDee. There are currently no moderators below this rank. Abe Babe and Alcar retain the highest administrative powers but have the rank of ‘Owners’ to distinguish them from active moderators. They are the only two members of staff to have server access.
Sydney first created the Oddworldian Forums using ezboard on to accompany her Oddworld fansite, Oddworldian. Later, Super Moderator Pilot would claim this was an act of vengeance against the administrator of the older Oddworld fan community, Exoddus Club, a private Yahoo! Club. Sydney contended that this was not a motivation in the Forums' creation, which pre-dated her disagreement with that community.
Fan Corner was opened on to accomodate fan fiction stories. Some time between and the message board was renamed Oddworld Forums. Sydney made Abe Babe co-administrator of the Forums at the start of in advance of the opening of her fansite, Oddworld-Web.
After receiving a number of complaints about the increased number of adverts appearing on the Oddworld Forums, Sydney, Abe Babe and Elum decided to create new Oddworld Forums powered by Ultimate Bulletin Board (UBB), an ad-free system. These were opened on . Alcar would later allege that Sydney's copy of UBB was pirated.
In the server that was hosting the Oddworld Forums (along with Oddworld-Web and Oddworldian) emailed Sydney and Abe Babe to inform them that they were undergoing a merger, but that because of the size of OddNet (at the time 150 MB), they would have to switch to a more expensive hosting plan in order to continue on the service. In order to avoid paying these costs, Sydney and Abe Babe accepted an offer by Pilot to host OddNet on his personal server at no charge. The internet connection used by Pilot to hosts the Forums and fansites cost him $175 USD per month.
On , Sydney temporarily disabled member registration to prevent the user Havoc from creating multiple user accounts to spam the forums. Following the Havoc incident, new members required manual activation by an administrator before being given posting priviledges.
On , Abe Babe removed administrative powers from Sydney, resulting in what was later referred to as the Oddworld Forums–Glass Asylum schism. During this time, a number of members—including staff members—left the Forums, necessitating the installation of a number of new moderators. This was done via member voting, establishing a precedent for this process. In retaliation for having her admin rights revoked, Sydney deleted the original ezboard Oddworld Forums.
She also requested that her graphics and site styles be removed from Oddworld Forums. In order to grant this request, on , Abe Babe released a new Native style to replace Sydney's styles, and planned to create an Industrial style within the next ‘couple of weeks’. Other changes planned by Abe Babe, Pilot and Alcar included a new board for Oddworld Forums feedback and suggestions.
On , Pilot installed Microsoft ISA Enterprise Edition on the server running Oddworld Forums.
On , Abe Babe released the new Industrial style for the Forums, which became its default; users could still choose to use the Native style by selecting it from the control panel. Alongside this, new profile fields allowed members for the first to specify their gender and favourite films and games.
In , a small number of staff and established members created an account called Wired and used it to post under the pretense of being a real person. Although intended as a victimless joke, when this was discovered, a number of members were upset with the staff for breaking their own rules against having multiple accounts. Then-moderators Havoc and T-nex attempted to remove and replace administrator Alcar. Shortly afterwards, one member who was particularly upset by Wired—Dipstikk—asked Havoc to delete their artwork from the Forums, and Havoc obliged by deleting over 40 of their threads. To prevent historical content from being lost, Alcar activated Edit Locking, a feature that preventing users being able to edit posts more than an hour after first being made. After complaints, Alcar increased this limit to one week.
In , a DNS issue caused the Oddworld Forums to become inaccessible at their usual web address of oddworldforums.net. After being unable to contact Abe Babe, Alcar registered a new address for the site, owforums.net. In , the Forums began to degrade, with text strings disappearing, including from buttons and dropdown menus, and certain functions breaking such as navigation links, the user control panel, and reporting posts to administrators.
In , Nate announced that he would disable posting, later clarifying that this would take place on —20 years to the day since he joined the Oddworld Forums—but that the website would remain online to view and read. Nate eventually disabled posting on , posting a final farewell message and directing viewers to the Oddworld Forums Discord.
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