Reef Central is an online forum that has been around the aquarium hobby for quite some time. For as long as I can remember (around 1999) the site has been alive and well. Over the years it has changed hands from the owner being John Link, to now being managed by Ryan Baker, or “rbaker” as his handles online goes. Reef Central has quite a lot of information for the average hobbyists to toil through. It wasn’t until recently that you could search through all this information. For years their search engines simply refused to work, bogged down with unpatched, out-of-date software that was in desperately need of an upgrade.
Finally something happened. Within the past year, the admins at Reef Central decided to get their act together. No doubt, with the increased competition of other online forums, like 3reef, Nano-Reef, and Reef 2 Reef this spurred the upgrade in both software and hardware. For years everyone was told that it simply couldn’t be done, an upgrade wasn’t possible. Apparently, they borrowed a bag of Pixie dust from Steve Jobs, as the upgrade was complete over a long weekend. With the new software and hardware in place, they could continue down their war path of picking up new users and being the most trafficked reef forum site on the internet.
Our story with Reef Central started before the upgrade happened. It was a little over a year ago, July 15th. That date is when Reef Central was down for over 72 hours. After the initial report that we published saying that Reef Central was down, we got several comments on the post claiming to be from top admins on the forum. It looked legit. So we took the comments and posted them up on a new post. Normally, we have a review process for anything that does get posted on the home page. We couldn’t email the Reef Central staff members so we posted the comments up. (Email doesn’t usually work when your main servers are down unless you have specific MX DNS records pointing to another server.) The sad part was, is that the comments were not legit; they were from another person(s) who falsely pretended to be someone who he wasn’t. That was our fault. The comments should have never been posted. And as soon as we learned of our mistake, we corrected the original post.
Reef Central didn’t make it any easier, it seemed that they were making major changes to the site and going down all the time without any notification to its members. They had a habit of doing this. And when they did go down for over 72 hours, they didn’t provide any status or notification update. Everyone was left in the dark, again.
As soon as our post appeared on the home page it spread like wild fire as you could imagine. We didn’t receive any update from Reef Central up until about 90% into their total downtime. They instantly said the “rumors of their demise had been greatly exaggerated.” Well thanks for the update guys. Get the damn site back online.
Reef Central did finally start fixing their problems and their servers did start meeting requests for packets. Now, to be fair, Reef Builders has had its share of downtime. We’ve been hit with increasing traffic, and other issues over the years and running a large site that receives massive data demands is a lot to manage and scale. About a day after Reef Central returned online, I received an email from Ryan Baker wanting to talk as soon as possible. He asked for my phone number. The conversation on the phone went something like this:
Ryan Baker: “Hi Ryan, this is in regards to your false posting about Reef Central on Reef Builders”
Ryan Gripp: “Hi Ryan, yes we see our mistake. We fixed the post. You could have given us an update after the site went down…”
Ryan Baker: “Our lawyers would love to come after you guys about that story. Plus, tearing our logo up like that is complete copyright infringement. We would love to take you down.”
Ryan Baker was referring to the graphic logo that we designed that showed the Reef Central logo being torn into two parts. The same way you could tear a sheet of paper with your hands, that is how the logo was designed. In the end, he wanted us to publish a “we are sorry post” to Reef Central in regards to our original story about them being down and possibly gone forever. We didn’t and we did not hear anything back from him since. The storm seemed to have settled.
Everything was okay up until we started to receive emails from our readers. It seems Reef Central was hurt and sore over the fact that the story was posted and to get revenge they started to block our links. They did this via their forum software, by inserting “reef builders” in their profanity filter it would block out links such as: *******.com. Our content is linked to constantly since we provide instant, fresh news topics every day. We didn’t believe it ourselves up until we saw it with our own eyes. The sad part of this was, it was more of a troublesome spot to Reef Centrals members than to us.
Whether or not we get bullied again by the large behemoth, we will always report the news and strive to get it right. We have emailed Reef Central several times about blocking our links on their forum. To date, we have not received a response and we doubt we ever will. But we forge on, finding the next big story in the reef aquarium hobby.
This was a big one.