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gpaumier at wikimedia

Aug 16, 2012, 2:00 AM

Post #1 of 29 (2996 views)
Permalink
Mailman archives broken?

Hi,

I was told yesterday that the mailman/pipermail archives were broken,
in that permalinks were no longer linking to the messages they used to
link to (therefore not being "permalinks" at all).

I know this happened at least once in the past, when the archives were
rebuilt. Retroactively fixing permalinks on-wiki and elsewhere is a
nightmare (particularly for old messages used to source early
Wikimedia history), and we're still finding tons of obsolete links
today. I'm hoping that whatever caused the permalinks to be changed
again can be swiftly reverted, so that we don't end up with another
huge pile of obsolete links.

Does anyone have any more information about what happened this time,
and if there's any chance links will be returned to their previous
state? I haven't been able to find a thread or recent bug about this
issue.

Thanks,

--
Guillaume Paumier

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dzahn at wikimedia

Aug 16, 2012, 10:07 AM

Post #2 of 29 (2945 views)
Permalink
Re: Mailman archives broken? [In reply to]

On Thu, Aug 16, 2012 at 2:00 AM, Guillaume Paumier
<gpaumier [at] wikimedia> wrote:

> I was told yesterday that the mailman/pipermail archives were broken,
> in that permalinks were no longer linking to the messages they used to
> link to (therefore not being "permalinks" at all).\

Hi Guillaume,

the last time we had to rebuild archives was about 2 weeks ago.
Unfortunately this is a major drawback of removing messages from
archives as you pointed out and we are aware of it. We had a thread
there though that contained private information and we also did not
want to refuse the request of the person affected to remove their
data. A subsequent request that followed shortly after was actually
rejected for this very reason. In the future such requests will more
likely rejected and if unavoidable we will just XXX out information
instead of removing complete threads to avoid this from happening
again. Everybody on this list please be extra careful about posting
private information to a public list you might regret in the future.
Sorry for breaking links, we are aware URLs should never change if at
all possible.

reference ticket is RT-3281

--
Daniel Zahn <dzahn [at] wikimedia>
Operations Engineer

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nemowiki at gmail

Aug 16, 2012, 1:49 PM

Post #3 of 29 (2941 views)
Permalink
Re: Mailman archives broken? [In reply to]

Thanks Daniel. I don't understand, how can a message need to be removed
completely? I can't imagine anything which couldn't just be redacted by
leaving at least the message's "skeleton" as demanded by
<https://wikitech.wikimedia.org/view/Remove_a_message_from_mailing_list_archive>

Nemo

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dzahn at wikimedia

Aug 16, 2012, 2:16 PM

Post #4 of 29 (2940 views)
Permalink
Re: Mailman archives broken? [In reply to]

On Thu, Aug 16, 2012 at 1:49 PM, Federico Leva (Nemo)
<nemowiki [at] gmail> wrote:
> Thanks Daniel. I don't understand, how can a message need to be removed
> completely?

In this case the request was for a complete thread to be removed.
Since many people reply with full quotes it usually repeats the
information in almost every message. ("TOFU"-posting). But you are
right, even in these cases we should, and will, just replace content
of every message with a "deleted" message.

--
Daniel Zahn <dzahn [at] wikimedia>
Operations Engineer

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z at mzmcbride

Aug 16, 2012, 6:23 PM

Post #5 of 29 (2941 views)
Permalink
Re: Mailman archives broken? [In reply to]

Daniel Zahn wrote:
> On Thu, Aug 16, 2012 at 1:49 PM, Federico Leva (Nemo)
> <nemowiki [at] gmail> wrote:
>> Thanks Daniel. I don't understand, how can a message need to be removed
>> completely?
>
> In this case the request was for a complete thread to be removed.
> Since many people reply with full quotes it usually repeats the
> information in almost every message. ("TOFU"-posting). But you are
> right, even in these cases we should, and will, just replace content
> of every message with a "deleted" message.

What is your plan to clean up the mess you made?

MZMcBride



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gpaumier at wikimedia

Aug 16, 2012, 11:37 PM

Post #6 of 29 (2938 views)
Permalink
Re: Mailman archives broken? [In reply to]

Hi,

On Thu, Aug 16, 2012 at 7:07 PM, Daniel Zahn <dzahn [at] wikimedia> wrote:
>
> the last time we had to rebuild archives was about 2 weeks ago.
> Unfortunately this is a major drawback of removing messages from
> archives as you pointed out and we are aware of it. We had a thread
> there though that contained private information and we also did not
> want to refuse the request of the person affected to remove their
> data. A subsequent request that followed shortly after was actually
> rejected for this very reason. In the future such requests will more
> likely rejected and if unavoidable we will just XXX out information
> instead of removing complete threads to avoid this from happening
> again. Everybody on this list please be extra careful about posting
> private information to a public list you might regret in the future.
> Sorry for breaking links, we are aware URLs should never change if at
> all possible.

Thank you for the explanation, Daniel.

--
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dgerard at gmail

Aug 17, 2012, 12:31 AM

Post #7 of 29 (2939 views)
Permalink
Re: Mailman archives broken? [In reply to]

On 17 August 2012 02:23, MZMcBride <z [at] mzmcbride> wrote:
> Daniel Zahn wrote:

>> In this case the request was for a complete thread to be removed.
>> Since many people reply with full quotes it usually repeats the
>> information in almost every message. ("TOFU"-posting). But you are
>> right, even in these cases we should, and will, just replace content
>> of every message with a "deleted" message.

> What is your plan to clean up the mess you made?


Rewrite the sucky archiver in Mailman?

One thing I would like to see is Google indexing of the WMF archive
enabled again. All the third-party archives not under our control are
in the search engines, there's not actually any sane reason not to
have the official archive indexed - unless it's just to reduce the
noise of complaints from people who erroneously think it's possible to
remove their own words from the Internet. (We used to substitute it
with ht://dig, which was so incredibly awful that nothing at all was a
reasonable alternative.)


- d.

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nemowiki at gmail

Aug 17, 2012, 3:38 AM

Post #8 of 29 (2934 views)
Permalink
Re: Mailman archives broken? [In reply to]

I doubt fixing this requires rewriting mailman. It only requires dummy
messages to be reinserted where they've been deleted and the archives to
be rebuilt after this, just as if the correct procedure had been
followed from the start.
This, by the way, is by some orders of magnitude easier and quicker than
fixing all the thousands of broken links across all the wikis.

While we're on it, maybe someone will understand why the August archive
is now full with "no subject" emails which seem to come from other eras
and have the most random ids.
http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikitech-l/2012-August/thread.html#1052

Nemo

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z at mzmcbride

Aug 17, 2012, 3:46 AM

Post #9 of 29 (2937 views)
Permalink
Re: Mailman archives broken? [In reply to]

David Gerard wrote:
> On 17 August 2012 02:23, MZMcBride <z [at] mzmcbride> wrote:
>> Daniel Zahn wrote:
>
>>> In this case the request was for a complete thread to be removed.
>>> Since many people reply with full quotes it usually repeats the
>>> information in almost every message. ("TOFU"-posting). But you are
>>> right, even in these cases we should, and will, just replace content
>>> of every message with a "deleted" message.
>
>> What is your plan to clean up the mess you made?
>
> Rewrite the sucky archiver in Mailman?

I always figured it was a "feature" of Mailman that it's so difficult to
modify the archives. They're really not supposed to be tampered with.

> One thing I would like to see is Google indexing of the WMF archive
> enabled again. All the third-party archives not under our control are
> in the search engines, there's not actually any sane reason not to
> have the official archive indexed - unless it's just to reduce the
> noise of complaints from people who erroneously think it's possible to
> remove their own words from the Internet. (We used to substitute it
> with ht://dig, which was so incredibly awful that nothing at all was a
> reasonable alternative.)

Yes, this probably makes sense. Bugzilla went the same route (excluded from
search engines, everyone relied on mirrors of the wikibugs-l mailing list,
finally allowed back in to search engine indices).

The situation is even more bleak for private lists. With those lists,
there's no way to search the lists at all, as they're excluded from external
search engines indices and the internal search has been disabled for years.
The relevant bug is <https://bugzilla.wikimedia.org/17390>.

As MaxSem commented, perhaps Mailman ought to be re-evaluated as the mailing
list software, though I've yet to come across (m)any software packages that
are better, unfortunately.

MZMcBride



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dgerard at gmail

Aug 17, 2012, 4:17 AM

Post #10 of 29 (2930 views)
Permalink
Re: Mailman archives broken? [In reply to]

On 17 August 2012 11:46, MZMcBride <z [at] mzmcbride> wrote:

> As MaxSem commented, perhaps Mailman ought to be re-evaluated as the mailing
> list software, though I've yet to come across (m)any software packages that
> are better, unfortunately.


There isn't really anything better. It's ridiculously better than any
of its precedessors, which I recall with a shudder.


- d.

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z at mzmcbride

Aug 17, 2012, 4:26 AM

Post #11 of 29 (2931 views)
Permalink
Re: Mailman archives broken? [In reply to]

Guillaume Paumier wrote:
> I was told yesterday that the mailman/pipermail archives were broken,
> in that permalinks were no longer linking to the messages they used to
> link to (therefore not being "permalinks" at all).

This is pretty devastating. It's difficult to overstate the importance of
Mailman archives in documenting Wikimedia's history (or even history before
Wikimedia was a concept). I've come across links such as the one at
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Tim_Starling_Day> that I can't even
find anywhere in the Mailman archives any longer. :-(

MZMcBride



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morton.thomas at googlemail

Aug 17, 2012, 4:27 AM

Post #12 of 29 (2934 views)
Permalink
Re: Mailman archives broken? [In reply to]

On 17 August 2012 12:17, David Gerard <dgerard [at] gmail> wrote:

> On 17 August 2012 11:46, MZMcBride <z [at] mzmcbride> wrote:
>
> > As MaxSem commented, perhaps Mailman ought to be re-evaluated as the
> mailing
> > list software, though I've yet to come across (m)any software packages
> that
> > are better, unfortunately.
>
>
> There isn't really anything better. It's ridiculously better than any
> of its precedessors, which I recall with a shudder.
>
>
Lamson/Librelist is pretty good (and a LOT more recent - couple of years
old at most).

https://github.com/zedshaw/lamson/tree/master/examples/librelist

Tom
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gpaumier at wikimedia

Aug 17, 2012, 5:49 AM

Post #13 of 29 (2931 views)
Permalink
Re: Mailman archives broken? [In reply to]

Hi,

On Fri, Aug 17, 2012 at 12:38 PM, Federico Leva (Nemo)
<nemowiki [at] gmail> wrote:
> I doubt fixing this requires rewriting mailman. It only requires dummy
> messages to be reinserted where they've been deleted and the archives to be
> rebuilt after this

I've added your suggestion to a new RT ticket to "Attempt to fix
mailman/pipermail permalinks", and let the list know if it's not
possible.

--
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tbayer at wikimedia

Aug 17, 2012, 8:00 AM

Post #14 of 29 (2935 views)
Permalink
Re: Mailman archives broken? [In reply to]

On Fri, Aug 17, 2012 at 4:26 AM, MZMcBride <z [at] mzmcbride> wrote:
> Guillaume Paumier wrote:
>> I was told yesterday that the mailman/pipermail archives were broken,
>> in that permalinks were no longer linking to the messages they used to
>> link to (therefore not being "permalinks" at all).
>
> This is pretty devastating. It's difficult to overstate the importance of
> Mailman archives in documenting Wikimedia's history (or even history before
> Wikimedia was a concept). I've come across links such as the one at
> <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Tim_Starling_Day> that I can't even
> find anywhere in the Mailman archives any longer. :-(
>
> MZMcBride
>

Many historical Signpost articles are affected as well:
https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special%3ASearch&search=pipermail+wikitech+prefix%3AWikipedia%3AWikipedia+Signpost%2F2

BTW, here's Brion dreaming about a stable archiving system in 2007 ...
http://article.gmane.org/gmane.science.linguistics.wikipedia.technical/28993

In the same year, the lead developer of Mailman said that fixing this
problem of breaking URLs was "absolutely critical"
(http://mail.python.org/pipermail/mailman-developers/2007-July/019632.html
) and some ideas were thrown around
(http://wiki.list.org/display/DEV/Stable+URLs ), but apparently this
huge data integrity problem still hasn't been solved.

--
Tilman Bayer
Senior Operations Analyst (Movement Communications)
Wikimedia Foundation
IRC (Freenode): HaeB

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jeremy at tuxmachine

Aug 17, 2012, 8:46 AM

Post #15 of 29 (2931 views)
Permalink
Re: Mailman archives broken? [In reply to]

On Fri, Aug 17, 2012 at 7:17 AM, David Gerard <dgerard [at] gmail> wrote:
> On 17 August 2012 11:46, MZMcBride <z [at] mzmcbride> wrote:
>
>> As MaxSem commented, perhaps Mailman ought to be re-evaluated as the mailing
>> list software, though I've yet to come across (m)any software packages that
>> are better, unfortunately.
>
>
> There isn't really anything better. It's ridiculously better than any
> of its precedessors, which I recall with a shudder.

I think none of our problems (that i've seen mentioned here so far at
least) will be fixed in Mailman 2 releases; OTOH, Mailman 3 isn't that
far away IIRC. (but I don't know the timeline exactly)

-Jeremy

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dzahn at wikimedia

Aug 17, 2012, 2:29 PM

Post #16 of 29 (2931 views)
Permalink
Re: Mailman archives broken? [In reply to]

On Fri, Aug 17, 2012 at 3:38 AM, Federico Leva (Nemo)
<nemowiki [at] gmail> wrote:
> I doubt fixing this requires rewriting mailman. It only requires dummy
> messages to be reinserted where they've been deleted and the archives to be
> rebuilt after this, just as if the correct procedure had been followed from
> the start.

7 messages have been deleted. 4 have been between the messages "Code
review backlog.." by Jeroen and "Daring to consider .." by Roan.
3 have been between "Code review backlog .." by Daniel Friesen and
"Save to userspace.." by PetrB.

I have inserted 7 fake messages in exactly these places, keeping the
original message IDs, "in-reply-to" and timestamps.

I am rebuilding the archives again right now but it takes a while. I
really hope this fixes it now.

--
Daniel Zahn <dzahn [at] wikimedia>
Operations Engineer

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dzahn at wikimedia

Aug 17, 2012, 2:39 PM

Post #17 of 29 (2934 views)
Permalink
Re: Mailman archives broken? [In reply to]

On Fri, Aug 17, 2012 at 8:00 AM, Tilman Bayer <tbayer [at] wikimedia> wrote:
> Many historical Signpost articles are affected as well:
> https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special%3ASearch&search=pipermail+wikitech+prefix%3AWikipedia%3AWikipedia+Signpost%2F2

All messages i removed on August 2nd have been posted in April 2012
(9th and 10th). Since the message numbering is just counting up by
date,
i don't see how this would have influenced historical posts before
that currently.

(see the date view vs. thread view
https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/private/wmfall/2012-April/date.html#start)

--
Daniel Zahn <dzahn [at] wikimedia>
Operations Engineer

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dzahn at wikimedia

Aug 17, 2012, 2:42 PM

Post #18 of 29 (2931 views)
Permalink
Re: Mailman archives broken? [In reply to]

Currently you will get "Private archive file not found" when trying to
look at the wikitech-l archives.
This is because the rebuilding process is running. Currently it is
working on the year 2010.. Also i made a backup of the .mbox file
before editing of course.

--
Daniel Zahn <dzahn [at] wikimedia>
Operations Engineer

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mtraceur at member

Aug 17, 2012, 2:55 PM

Post #19 of 29 (2930 views)
Permalink
Re: Mailman archives broken? [In reply to]

On 12-08-16 02:00 AM, Guillaume Paumier wrote:
> I was told yesterday that the mailman/pipermail archives were broken,
> in that permalinks were no longer linking to the messages they used to
> link to (therefore not being "permalinks" at all).

Is the current state of the archives related to these events? It appears
to be only text files, with no indices, and improper sorting....what's
going on!?

Maybe someone is rebuilding the archives? Could we have gotten notice
about that?

--
Mark Holmquist
Contractor, Wikimedia Foundation
mtraceur [at] member
http://marktraceur.info

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dzahn at wikimedia

Aug 17, 2012, 3:34 PM

Post #20 of 29 (2931 views)
Permalink
Re: Mailman archives broken? [In reply to]

On Fri, Aug 17, 2012 at 2:55 PM, Mark Holmquist <mtraceur [at] member> wrote:

> Maybe someone is rebuilding the archives? Could we have gotten notice about that?

Ohh.. yes, absolutely, i sent messages about it, yet they did not
arrive on the list until just now since the mailbox is locked during
the rebuilding process :/

The rebuilding is now done. I inserted 7 messages you can see as from
"mailman root at wikimedia.org", like here:

https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/private/wikitech-l/2012-April/059880.html

--
Daniel Zahn <dzahn [at] wikimedia>
Operations Engineer

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dzahn at wikimedia

Aug 17, 2012, 3:42 PM

Post #21 of 29 (2925 views)
Permalink
Re: Mailman archives broken? [In reply to]

Alright, so inserted the exact number of messages i deleted on Aug. 2
in the same places/dates, that should bring message numbering and
links
back to the same state before i deleted that thread. As others have
mentioned before there have been other inconsistencies in it before
though, so you can most likely still find other issues but to the best
of my knowledge they should be unrelated. Especially anything that is
older than April 2012 should not have been affected by my recent
change.

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Platonides at gmail

Aug 17, 2012, 5:19 PM

Post #22 of 29 (2931 views)
Permalink
Re: Mailman archives broken? [In reply to]

On 18/08/12 00:42, Daniel Zahn wrote:
> Alright, so inserted the exact number of messages i deleted on Aug. 2
> in the same places/dates, that should bring message numbering and
> links
> back to the same state before i deleted that thread. As others have
> mentioned before there have been other inconsistencies in it before
> though, so you can most likely still find other issues but to the best
> of my knowledge they should be unrelated. Especially anything that is
> older than April 2012 should not have been affected by my recent
> change.

Thanks Daniel,
I hope the original sender, as well as people sending those mails,
handle them more carefully in the future, to avoid this.
I don't see anything "obviously bad" there, but if it was to the
claiming person, all's good to me.

Regards


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gpaumier at wikimedia

Aug 18, 2012, 1:19 AM

Post #23 of 29 (2932 views)
Permalink
Re: Mailman archives broken? [In reply to]

Hi,

On Sat, Aug 18, 2012 at 12:42 AM, Daniel Zahn <dzahn [at] wikimedia> wrote:
> Alright, so inserted the exact number of messages i deleted on Aug. 2
> in the same places/dates, that should bring message numbering and
> links
> back to the same state before i deleted that thread. As others have
> mentioned before there have been other inconsistencies in it before
> though, so you can most likely still find other issues but to the best
> of my knowledge they should be unrelated. Especially anything that is
> older than April 2012 should not have been affected by my recent
> change.

Thanks for your efforts, Daniel.

It doesn't appear that they've been entirely successful from what I
can see (details below), but I appreciate that you've gone out of your
way to try to fix this.

== Examples ==

After April 2012: The link
http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikitech-l/2012-July/061691.html
was posted on meta to reference a message of mine from July 2012. That
ID (061691) had to be changed to 061614 after the rebuild from 2 weeks
ago (i.e. a translation of -77). After yesterday's rebuild, it's now
at ID 061621 (a translation of +7 consistent with the 7 empty messages
you've reinserted).

Before April 2012: The link
http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikitech-l/2004-February/008418.html
was posted recently on wiki to reference the 2004 server move from San
Diego to Tampa. That link now points to an unrelated message. I've
tried a translation of -77 but I don't think that's the original
message either (there are several messages from Feb. 2004 about the
server move).

So, it appears that the archives have been corrupted inconsistently
besides the simple translations of -77 or -7. Someone can probably
verify that with other links (e.g. from the Signpost pages).

This is also consistent with the fact, pointed out by MZMcBride, that
the August 2012 archive page contains several "No subject" messages
that clearly don't belong there They've had their headers removed, and
they have IDs like 001363 or 004210 (that would roughly put them
around November 2002 and May 2003 respectively).

The conclusion is that the archives have probably been irrevocably
corrupted and that we'll have to fix all links manually (we can't use
a bot since there is no consistent translation of IDs).

--
Guillaume Paumier

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Platonides at gmail

Aug 18, 2012, 11:35 AM

Post #24 of 29 (2909 views)
Permalink
Re: Mailman archives broken? [In reply to]

If I remember right, the issue of deleting old mails was not just that
the ids moved the number of deleted mails, but that when rebuilding the
archive, new versions rebuilt it differently. Thus the changed numeration.

Can we restore the old files from backups?


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dgerard at gmail

Aug 18, 2012, 11:46 AM

Post #25 of 29 (2904 views)
Permalink
Re: Mailman archives broken? [In reply to]

On 18 August 2012 19:35, Platonides <Platonides [at] gmail> wrote:

> Can we restore the old files from backups?


How far back do we have backups? Is there any automated way to detect
corruption in the archives?


- d.

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