The Speaker and the Downed Forum

Day 2,427, 23:34 Published in USA USA by Derphoof

Mood Music

It’s a dark night in a forum that knows how to argue all night, but on the 8th floor of the Capitol overlooking the National Mall, one lone equine legislator is still trying to keep the peace. A down-on-his-luck subforum moderator, Derphoof… Speaker of the House.

It was July and I had taken up the job as Speaker. Moderator Reports poured in like hail in a thunderstorm… or with the climate of congress, more like lava from a volcano. Outside, the weather was scorching hot. As the cool breeze hit our face, the heat of the day quickly came rushing in behind it, scorching the skin. Just as the breeze got your hopes up, the heat melted it away. Like sitting next to a campfire, on a lovely evening, only to have the wind throw the fire at your face catching your marshmallow and some of your hair on fire. So too did this fine feathered friend catch my heart on fire. Knocking on the door of my congressional office, Seppo stepped into the room.

“Mr. Speaker...” chimed Seppo as he waddled through the door


“May I sit down?”

“Oh, well I don’t see why not.”

Now Seppo was the kind of duck who, when he waddled through a door, attracted the attention of most all of the players in the room. For some it was his anti-establishment views, or how he was unafraid to let his opinion fly. Let’s just say, reports can fly in when he posts his unabashed opinion. You could always tell he wasn’t from around these parts, as he always wore winter clothes, as though he was perpetually frozen from the harsh snows of Sweden. Yet for me, it was none of that. It was his slick feathers, all pressed up neatly against his smooth ducky skin, the sound of his laughing quacks as they reached my ear, like an earsplitting kazoo piercing through the most peaceful of songs. I could feel my heart throbbing every time he laid eyes on me, his small beady eyes gazing at my equine frame… I felt like a piano eagerly waiting for his soft touch on my keys, hoping to make sweet music….

“Sir, my eyes are up here,” Seppo said, noticing me staring at his frame.

“Sorry, it’s just that nobody seems to wear a fine coat of feathers like you do nowadays...”

“Thanks, but I couldn’t help but notice that we have a bit of a problem.” Seppo said.

“Really? What problem?” I said, straightening up my desk, seemingly oblivious to the situation.

“You haven’t noticed? The forums have been down for a few hours now…” he said, bewildered I hadn’t noticed.

“Well, I guess that’s why I haven’t seen any moderator reports lately... Any idea what might have caused it?”

“Not really, I was hoping you might know what happened.”

“Well, I can’t say for certain… These things happen all the time. Could be a malfunction, downed host, or a malicious attack. Maybe someone torched the servers, hoping to quell the madness.” I said, trying to make light of the situation.

“Well, I wouldn’t be too surprised, considering the state of Congress these days… Old grudges and partisan politics seem to take the forefront and dominate every discussion.” Seppo said.

“Ha, and then everyone reports each other for all of it and I have to sort out all of the mess…”

“Yeah, there’s a reason nobody goes for back to back terms.”

“Well, somebody should’ve probably warned me before I did…” I said, shuffling paperwork on my desk.

“Mhm, I suppose I have to get back to work. Buttons to mash and posts to write up, moderator reports to submit….”

“Gee thanks…” I said, begrudgingly.

“Oh, you’ll live. I’ll leave you to your work, then.” Said Seppo, turning and waddling towards the door.

“Hey, if ya see PigInZen around, tell him to stop by so he can tell me what’s up”

“Will do...” Said Seppo, waving his wing as he walked out, closing the door behind him.

With the forums down, it looked as though I didn’t have much left to do. Just sit in my desk and revel in the fact that I didn’t have to deal with those pesky reports. No posts to edit, no threads to move and nothing to send to the garbage bin. Well…. that was only until the forums would come back online in probably less than an hour.

Yet, I sat around, playing games on my computer when I looked up at my clock. It was 1:43am, and the forums hadn’t been up since about 7:30pm. Yet, I hadn’t heard anything from the admins. This wasn’t just some ordinary maintenance or downtime.

I pressed the intercom button with my hoof, calling for David Wilson, my secretary.

“Hey David, could ya reach Piggy for me?”

“Sure thing” said David.

Time passed, but no word from the Pig. So I decided to see if anyone else knew anything.

Why I haven’t even been on in the past day, let alone talked to anyone else on the staff,” Rahl said, complaining I had called him this late at night.

“Well, we’ve gotta have it up soon. We’ve got important Congress stuff to do…”

“Oh yeah, like what?”

“Well, ya know… stuff. Stuff I can’t write about in this article ‘cause it’s in the Private section.”

“Yeah, whatever. Just wait on it. I’m sure it’ll be up soon enough” He said, hanging up on me and going back to sleep.

But just when I put down the phone was when an anonymous tip came into my inbox. The message was from an account that was just made, simply to disguise the real sender. No damage, no strength... level one. It told me that he/she/it had overheard a conversation in the IRC channels that someone was planning on DDoS’ing the forum.

I start thinking to myself… “Who would want to take down the forums? Serbs? Cubanos? Canadians?”

Nobody seemed to make sense. Just seemed like too much time and resources to commit to such a random cause.

“Well, maybe it was just someone who didn’t like the meta game or the forum in general…” I began to think.

So I moved over to the eRepublik site, checking my shout feed and looking at the media. There I had noticed a rather peculiar personality that had come back from a seemingly long hiatus. His name was Valiant Thor, a person treated like a pariah for past actions. Unwanted in the community and silent ever since. Yet, here he was in an interview with Ghost of Tom Joad, a respected member of the SFP. Perhaps Valiant Thor had found a conduit to get his message and story out.

I considered him as a potential suspect. After all, he had felt that the forums were unfair to him, and unfairly moderated. The meta game had supposedly wronged him, and maybe he was out for a bit of well timed revenge. At 5am, this seemed like a pretty good lead, so I ran with it.

I flew back to Seppo, who thought it was a bit far-fetched. As did WildOwl, SColbert, Apollo, and many other government officials and party presidents. However, I was sure it was the solution. With no word from Pig, he would well be trying to sort out this mess and be unable to reach us. So I flew out to his home and confronted him.

“Now look here, as much as I’d love to burn down those forums, I can’t feasibly do that.” he said, with conviction.

Valiant Thor was the kind of guy who looked a bit crazier than he probably was. His tin foil hat was crooked on his head and it looked like he had gained several wrinkles and grey hair from thinking and worrying about different conspiracies. He was so crazy, I was beginning to think that he accidentally made his hat out of lead instead of tin…

“Well sure you can! I can’t imagine that it’d take much, right?” I said.

“Oh well that where you’re wrong! You’d need a whole network of computers, like zombies or hypnotized people, waiting to do your bidding.” He said, turning to face the wall of news clippings and string he had on his wall, still talking…

“It’s kind of like Pfeiffer and Frost and others with their massive botnets you know, you just can’t trust them. I mean it’s blatantly obvious they have them, they’re probably rigging ALL of the elections, party and national, and defrauding all of the government, taking their money! I mean, what even is SCI and the CBO, just a few select people who hoard our money and use it how they want, probably furnishing their own….” He continued to ramble, as I ceased to listen.

It was at this point that I proceeded to slowly back away and walk out the door. Closing the door, I wasn’t even sure if he knew I left his home. I could see his silhouette in the window continue to lecture to the wall what he had likely been saying for months now. I simply got in my car, and drove away.

This man was obviously too unstable and disorganized to hatch such a plot. Perhaps it was really all in my head. Maybe the forums weren’t even down anymore. Yet, I could just tell something had happened. Something was smelled fishy, and I was going to get down to the bottom of it.

Flying into my congressional office, the forums were still down and I paced the room wondering what it could be. Finally, at about 8:30am, I plopped down on my swivel chair and decided to take a nap. I had been up all night, so maybe after some sleep, everything would be clear. Yet, looking down, I noticed a letter on my desk.

“Mr. Speaker,

I’m sorry I didn’t inform you beforehand, but we’re suffering some extended downtime due to some forum maintenance. We’re migrating to a different host, due to all of our problems with the old one.

Please Understand,

Well, it looked like I was wrong after all. Everything was fine and congress would get back to work soon enough. No conspiracy, DDoS, or enemy infiltrators.

Taking comfort in the assurance that everything was okay, I closed my eyes and curled up in my chair to get some sleep…. Only to be disturbed by the sound of a torrent of pings from my computer…

The forums were back online and my mailbox was filled with moderator reports. I yawn and slowly move over to the computer, only to notice a flamewar between Pfeiffer, Kemal and some BSP members…

Looks like everything is back to normal.

It’s a dark night in a forum that knows how to argue all night, but on the 8th floor of the Capitol overlooking the National Mall, one lone equine legislator is still trying to keep the peace. A down-on-his-luck subforum moderator, Derphoof… Speaker of the House.