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United Nations Internet forum goes titsup

It's a dog's life online

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The website of the United Nations' Internet Governance Forum has been suspended and replaced with a cartoon dog pulling wires out of a PC.

The site at igf2006.info was taken down with 20 minutes left of the main speaking session after the hosts complained that demand from a collaborative website set up to elicit views from the wider Internet was overwhelming its server. It also brought down the main information site at intgovforum.org which was held on the same server.

The hosts decided to shift the site to a bigger machine but attendees - not to mention the dozens of people interacting in the chatrooms - were surprised when the site not only apruptly disappeared but was also replaced with the cartoon dog. (Screen grab)

Having made it through three days of high-pressure discussions in a largely experimental international meeting though, the IGF staff were bizarrely relaxed about the whole affair. "Well, they do say you don't know if it's a dog online," quipped Adam Peake, one of the meeting's main volunteers.

Head of the IGF Secretariat, Markus Kummer, was equally sanguine: "Yes. It is down. It was too popular." The site is expected to be up again in a few hours.

The real story

The truth behind the story is that it was this author, Reg reporter and United Nations saboteur, that brought the site - and with it a number of other UN websites - by, well, letting the Internet hordes get direct input into the rarefied world of governments, big business and Internet specialists.

The website allowed anyone that registered to add blog posts, pages, events, chat in real time as well as send email questions direct to the people putting questions to each session's moderator. On Sunday, the demand was such that yours truly persuaded the UN to let me shift it onto the UN server.

Following direct input from the site's chatrooms to the IGF meeting, however, word got out online and demand increased exponentially. The site started falling over, the IGF staff were rebuked by email by the UN for not warning them about the spike, and then appeared the cartoon dog.

Yes people, The Register has brought down the United Nations. And now we're off the quaff their booze in celebration. ®

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