The GDPR, archives and e-mail list...
Why have the Forums closed?
The way data is handled and processed in Europe is changing, the new GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) come into force on the 25th of May 2018. Whilst the terms of the GDPR are intended to allow people to take back the rights to their data the new regulations have had one negative effect for us, the closure of the VirtualAcorn forums.
In order to keep the phpBB forums running we needed permission from every single user (past and present) so the system could keep processing their data to assemble pages and provide search results. Some of the accounts were created over 15 years ago and the contact details we have for many accounts are out of date. We sent a test group of e-mails to a random selection of registered forum e-mail addresses and only received one reply. Most of the addresses bounced, in many cases because the ISP used by a number of RISC OS users in the early 2000's has since ceased operations. So we had no alternative but to shutter the Forum systems and then delete the database.
The Forum archives
Although the Forum had to be closed and the database deleted we didn't want to throw away 15 years of technical support. So we came up with a plan to archive all the posts and make them available through plain text. That proved unworkable as the connections between topics is almost as important as the information so we changed tack and decided to reproduce the entire VirtualAcorn Forums in plain HTML. It would look like the phpBB Forums, it would have the same categories, but it would be 'dumb' with no facility to post new topics or change existing topics. All of the registered users data, apart from the username they used on the Forums, could be safely deleted without losing the important support resources.
This archive has taken longer to complete than we had hoped but the process is completed. If you contributed anything to the Forum and would like to have your username removed from any posts please do let us know and we will be happy to oblige.
Updating your bookmarks
It's not been possible to trap all potential bookmarks that registered users may have created in their browser(s). Each user would have their own links to pages as all content was delivered from the database via php and displayed according to the registered users preferences. In addition the original forum system ran in php and the new system is 'just' thousands of HTML pages.
The new archived forum pages are included in the VirtualAcorn website search box. If you have any links to old forum pages which no longer work firstly remove any text that appears after the '.php' in the link. Then replace the '.php' extension in the link with '.html'. Most bookmarked links will then work correctly. If the bookmark still doesn't work don't worry, the page content has been preserved but some part of the link you have doesn't translate into HTML. Try searching for the topic using the Search form on any page of the VirtualAcorn website and you should find it. Once you have located it don't forget to update your bookmark.
The VirtualAcorn mailing list
It's worth mentioning that there is an alternative to the forums, the VirtualAcorn mailing list. It's independent (not operated by us) and was set up by one of our VirtualAcorn users. It's members can provide a lot of help and support for other VirtualAcorn users so it's well worth a look if you cannot find the answer you need in the VirtualAcorn support website or in the Forum archives.
VirtualAcorn support (updated 21/07/18)