Forum:Keepers of the keys

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So I am moving forward with backup plans. And while a backup for the site and the database are important another backup is needed as well. The backup for the information in my own head. So I am setting up a repository of information needed to keep RationalWiki going, access the backup, emergency contact information, etc. This is highly sensitive information that only a couple of people need, and only that in case I get hit in the head by a meteorite.

The "keepers of the keys" will be handed the location of this information which I will keep updated, and will only ever need to take action in the event that something happens. It is important to know who these individuals are, and it is not only me entrusting information to them but the whole community. I would like two people to be selected for this. There are some requirements/recommendations on this selection: that they volunteer for, or are perfectly happy to have the information, that they have a strong loyalty to the site and are planning on sticking around for the foreseeable future, that they are trustworthy long term members of the community, and that they would be willing to expel the energy that might be needed to keep the site going. tmtoulouse 21:19, 17 May 2010 (UTC)

I would be happy to do so though I do not think I have enough experience with the maintenance angle. I think Pi would be a good person for this. And maybe Kels too. Acei9 21:29, 17 May 2010 (UTC)
I'd recommend they be someone comfortable with servers and the back-end of mediawiki. BobM would be a good choice imho. ħumanUser talk:Human 21:30, 17 May 2010 (UTC)
I agree BobM would be a good choice also. Acei9 21:31, 17 May 2010 (UTC)
The idea is not to require the person who holds the information to do the actual work of setting up the site. The information can be shared/passed on to whoever is available, willing and able at the time it should become necessary. So there is no requirement for technical skills, rather just loyalty/trust/plans to stick around. tmtoulouse 21:32, 17 May 2010 (UTC)
In that case you can add me to the list of volunteers to store the Ark of the Covenant. I take it that it will just be a bunch of text in a simple file accessible to all platforms? ħumanUser talk:Human 02:50, 18 May 2010 (UTC)
Yes. tmtoulouse 02:54, 18 May 2010 (UTC)
It it's loyalty, trust, and commitment that matter most, then I nominate Human. Provided he promise not to get drunk and break something, he makes a perfect choice for this. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 21:36, 17 May 2010 (UTC)
I promise on my mother's virginity to never get drunk and email it to TK. Ever. Not even twice. ħumanUser talk:Human 03:20, 18 May 2010 (UTC)
Only you can make that call, Trent. DeltaStarSenior SysopSpeciationspeed! 21:38, 17 May 2010 (UTC)
I certainly reserve the right to include/exclude people by virtue that some of the information needed is "personal" in nature. But otherwise most of it is information of where to find our DNS or how to keep the domain registered, etc. Since these things belong to the "site" and the "community" I think it is important for the community to have a say. tmtoulouse 21:41, 17 May 2010 (UTC)
I also agree that Bob M would be good, trustworthy candidate, and Pi as well. Incidentally we should let these nominees know why their ears are burning. Totnesmartin (talk) 21:46, 17 May 2010 (UTC)
You're fairly spoilt for choice; Nx, Pi, Bob and Human off the top of my head, but easily some others as well, such as Armondikov. EddyP (talk) 21:50, 17 May 2010 (UTC)
I'd be willing to volunteer, so long as it doesn't involve much knowledge of how things work. Very little brain, etc. --Kels (talk) 22:43, 17 May 2010 (UTC)
I'd be happy to help out, but I should point out that my available time and commitment fluctuates wildly.--BobSpring is sprung! 05:56, 18 May 2010 (UTC)
Maybe. I'd be happy to, however, I'd like to make one point first. If this is just "to keep RW going if Trent gets smacked on the head by a meteor" then I suggest he find someone fairly close by. This means you can swap physical data and equipment if necessary rather than doing it all online, which might be slightly unreliable or problematic (it also comes down to the "don't underestimate the bandwidth of an 18-wheeler down the highway" sort of thing). I mean, I love you Trent, darling, but a plane ticket across the pond at short notice is beyond me at the moment, while someone close by could do it easily. Scarlet A.pngd hominem 09:11, 18 May 2010 (UTC)
The more I think about it the more it seems that at least one of these people should be Human. The qualities would seem to be:
  • A commitment to the long-term survival of the site.
  • Trusted with sensitive information.
  • Prepared to put in a consistent effort.
All of which sounds like Human. I also think that Armondikov makes a good point above.--BobSpring is sprung! 09:22, 18 May 2010 (UTC)
I'll help out with this if required. CrundyTalk nerdy to me 10:23, 18 May 2010 (UTC)
Definitely Human. He has occasional wtf moments, but I think no-one understands the value of this place more than he. I'd also say Nx, since he has the techie side but also cares a lot about this site. Someone local could be useful, but if the backup system goes ahead then the most important thing will be for the keeepers to be able to maintain the DNS entry. The actual physical hosting is less important, so long as the site could be rebuilt. It's good that Trent is thinking about this kind of thing, but it may be asking too much that someone be able to gain physical access to his place. --ConcernedResident skull for the ladies 11:08, 18 May 2010 (UTC)

Physical access is not needed. All of "RW" is stored in an online backup, part of the the information I would send includes instructions on how to access that backup. That backup could be used to recreate RW anywhere in the world in a day. But there are a lot of other little things that need managing, such as our DNS, or our domain registration. There are multiple accounts strewn across the internet that allow the site to function. All of these would need to be under direct control of whoever would take over the site. They can also change over time, my plan is to have a repository of information that I can keep updated if we switch registrar agents, or if we change to a different DNS service, etc.

I am also including emergency contact information should I suddenly disappear and things appear dire. The retrieval of the physical hardware would likely wind up being mediated by my "next of kin" anyway. Anyway....the short version........everything need to transplant RW to anywhere on the planet is provided. Again the point is also not to make whoever is chosen have to personally do it, but rather having people available that can tell whoever is selected or volunteers to keep the place going what they need to know in order to do it. tmtoulouse 16:19, 18 May 2010 (UTC)

Yes, yes, yes...but who gets the potted plant? That's what I wanna know. Totnesmartin (talk) 17:11, 18 May 2010 (UTC)
It is on its last legs. tmtoulouse 17:15, 18 May 2010 (UTC)
One: Move it out of that dingy corner to near a window. Two: Water it once in a while, but not too much. ħumanUser talk:Human 02:44, 19 May 2010 (UTC)
The reason I brought up physical contact was that you're talking about such an extreme situation that it wouldn't be completely outrageous. And since the community has chipped in for some of the hardware, we'd damn well want it back! Tongue.gif Scarlet A.pngd hominem 17:22, 18 May 2010 (UTC)
Aye, which is why part of my multi-stage plan is the LLC which would become the "owner" of the property, and could entrust that property however it wanted. I have plans....just gotta get them all done before I die. This whole conversation has really exacerbated the ticking time bomb of mortality in my head. It is bad enough I am turning 30 in a few months, now I am working out all contingency plans for post-mortem legacy! tmtoulouse 17:28, 18 May 2010 (UTC)
If you are being driven by the proximity of the Grim Reaper then I feel that I should mention that his scythe is a hell of a lot closer to Human and me than it is to you!--BobSpring is sprung! 21:06, 18 May 2010 (UTC)
Yeah but you guys probably remember to look both ways before crossing the street and don't have to jay walk across a 6 lane highway on your way to work and back home everyday. tmtoulouse 21:07, 18 May 2010 (UTC)
Keep in mind less morbid scenarios, like Trent being arrested and thrown in irons for orchestrating internet terror attacks on Conservapedia. It's only a matter of time. Alternatively, he might get a life/wife, although I suppose in that case he could organize a smooth transition period. ħumanUser talk:Human 02:37, 19 May 2010 (UTC)
Hat in ring: I'm a working Unix sysadmin and can keep confidential information. (And when you have a site backup available, I want to maintain a static mirror of at least the article space.) I don't have my own server - I'm camped out on a mate's-rates server at mate's-rates reliability, and my sites cohabit with - but hey! server space is cheap. - David Gerard (talk) 10:16, 19 May 2010 (UTC)
(By the way: the problem is not just the public facing site, but confidential stuff like the user database. Here's a post I wrote about the issues that faced Wikimedia a few years ago, embarrassingly few of which have been fixed as yet. At least the WMF itself is a hell of a lot more stable than it was then.) - David Gerard (talk) 10:26, 19 May 2010 (UTC)

Decsions, Decisions[edit]

Okay a few key points:

  1. This is not like "sysops" or anything like that, there is strong reason to only exchange this information with an absolute minimum number of people, regardless of how many wonderfully qualified people we have.
  2. The people with access to this information in all probability will never be called upon to do anything with it, it is a "worst case scenario disaster recovery plan" so it is all but pointless except that it is a good idea to have it just in case.
  3. The people given access to this won't be called upon to directly recover the site if given disaster does strike, and all those who have technical knowledge, and resources to get the site back and running can be selected and given the information at any time. And this includes any future users who don't even know we exist yet.
  4. Given these points I have chosen the magic number of "2" people to have access to the information, that is in addition to myself and Nx who use it in a day to day fashion to keep the site running.
  5. There are many qualified people that I fully trust and appreciate immensely and not "choosing" them says nothing about them.

Okay that is out of the way, but a decision has to be made, based on my reading of the above the two names mentioned the most frequently were Bob and Human. Which works for me. Everyone mentioned would be a good choice but like I said, there is good reason to keep distribution of highly sensitive information to a bare minimum, and its information that is only of use under the most extreme situations.

So in the even of my death, coma, or sudden conversion to a radical right wing religious sect, Bob and Human will know have copies of of the all the keys to keep this place running. tmtoulouse 20:29, 20 May 2010 (UTC)

A somewhat daunting responsibility but - as it seems to almost certainly involve no actual "effort" - I am sure I shall carry it out in an exemplary fashion.--BobSpring is sprung! 20:39, 20 May 2010 (UTC)
I'd like to thank the Academy, and I'll be needing five copies for my mother. ħumanUser talk:Human 21:15, 20 May 2010 (UTC)
Good decisions Trent. God knows what'd happen to RationalWiki if you gave it to some people here. If it were me, I'd probably end up trying to crack open the server and eat the contents thinking they were oddly shaped candy. SJ Debaser 21:31, 20 May 2010 (UTC)
Thanks Human, Bob. Now Trent is free to pursue his love of Russian roulette, extreme ironing, base jumping, and buying second-hand electrical appliances. --ConcernedResident glycerin, for the ladies 22:18, 20 May 2010 (UTC)
What about splitting the responsibility? Take 4 people, split into two pairs (just in case), one person from each pair gives their PGP key, which the data is encrypted with, and the other person in each pair stores the encrypted document. Simple! No single person can arse around with the data unless there's an emergency. CrundyTalk nerdy to me 11:19, 21 May 2010 (UTC)
Why don't we just send them on a quest to give three dragons teeth to the wizard, who will then point them the way to the key? Scarlet A.pngd hominem 11:28, 21 May 2010 (UTC)
Does the key need to be taken back to Mordor to be destroyed in the fires? CrundyTalk nerdy to me 12:28, 21 May 2010 (UTC)