The Bizarre Story of Tetris Concept's Hijacking

I occasionally get asked "what's the deal with multiple Tetris Concepts?" and "why are there so many Tetris wikis?" This is this story of a very strange event that happened ten years ago.

Back in the early days, I can remember combing through AltaVista search results for any Tetris website I could find. I was obsessed with Tetris, and wanted to squeeze every last detail I could find out of the web. The official tetris.com had a forum, which consisted mostly of spam. There was a quirky little site that's still up today called Tetris Taxonomy. There was also Tetris Lovers, which featured a couple of articles written by expert players of their day. During the early years, I would rank Tetris Lovers along with the Hellfire team site as two of the best places to find Tetris-related strategy articles on the web.

By the early 2000s, Blue Planet Software was steering the game toward a new, standardized, and some would view as a controversial direction. Tetris Worlds was the first major product of it. I was starting to mess around with web design. The first site I made documented intuitive spin moves for Tetris DX, along with other odds and ends.

By May of 2005, I had saved up some money and bought a year's worth of web hosting along with this domain, www.tetrisconcept.com. I'm not sure exactly why I picked that name. I think it had to do with how, while there may be a myriad of implementations, there exists some general and timeless concept of Tetris. The purpose of the website was to share my articles and thoughts about the game. Having been part of some other game forums in the past, and seeing how the few other Tetris forums were defunct, I decided to host a forum too. Here's a snapshot of what it looked like.

The forum was hilariously vacant for most of 2005. A couple of random visitors would trickle in here and there. Each month, new threads would become more regular. A community slowly formed.

One of Tetris Concept's earliest members, colour_thief had suggested hosting a Tetris wiki. We set it up and started filling it with information. Others joined in. When Tetris DS came out in 2006, people began googling "what's a T-Spin?" More users flooded in.

The community went from a handful of enthusiasts to an only somewhat small, but still respectably-sized group of fans and eager-to- learn newcomers. New and interesting posts were fairly regular, and the wiki kept growing with more information. I was, and still am, surprised by how well the forum worked out from 2005 to 2009. Information, insight, and many high scores were shared. There was very little drama and little need for moderation.

By the summer of 2009, I was out of college, beginning my career, and in the process of moving houses. It's not much work to maintain a forum and wiki, but there is still some upkeep. I wanted to downsize a bit, so I decided the time had come to close up the forum.

The original plan was to pass the wiki content (which was under a nearly public domain CC license) onto Wikia, who had requested at an earlier time to host it. I didn't know it then, but Wikia would later gain a poor reputation for things such as gratuitous ads. I later tried to reverse this decision with Wikia in order to address at least part of the fragmentation, but to no avail.

As for the forum, I was proud of the open, Laissez-faire, Tetris-devoted atmosphere it had enjoyed over the years. I didn't see a way to ensure it would uphold those principles while still no longer being personally tied to it. I had seen game forum power struggles in the past and wanted to avoid that mess (how naive to think I could). I had also wanted to avoid seeing it become neglected and filled with spam, like so many other game forums.

I was not so much worried about disrupting the community, since I had seen gaming communities jump from forum to forum without trouble. We were a small group, and it's easy to start a new forum. In my mind, someone would quickly throw up a new Tetris forum. I would link to it from the main page, and things would only grow from there. In fact, this did happened: a member went on to create harddrop.com, and most of the community continued on from there. Nowadays, Tetris discussion mainly happens on Discord. Game forums altogether are going out of vogue in favor of it, or centralized platforms such as Reddit.

I posted a thread saying that Tetris Concept would be coming to a close and let the community know that the Wiki's hosting was secure. I offered to link to any new Tetris forums from the main page after closing. It was also okay if anyone wanted to host an archival version of the forum.

What followed was a long and ugly falling-out. A handful of members were extremely displeased with this. I wish I could've seen that reaction coming, so I could've found a gentler way to transition the site through this period.

A member by the name of Muf quickly scooped up domain names that were similar to tetrisconcept.com. That member and a handful of others made a plan to what amounted to copying the entire forum and pasting it onto a similar domain. In so many words, this was starting to get weird.

I'd argued that these members ought to start their own original project. In response, they justified their "copy-paste" plan by saying that the search term "Tetris Concept" was already more visible on Google, so it would be easier for them by using that name. I was told that after I let tetrisconcept.com expire (they had assumed), then they would then obtain the domain--as though nothing had ever happened.

I believe this small group within the community felt entitled to do this because they were part of the community, and I was shutting down the forum anyway. The main problem here was that "Tetris Concept" was more than just a forum. It's been a landing pad for most of my content since its inception, and to this day continues to be. The objective was not to receive as many hits as possible or even to have as large a community as possible. The objective was to learn more about the game and share that knowledge. I got the feeling that their objective was different, that they wanted to be in charge of a successful Tetris site--that this made them feel important in some way.

The hijacked version would go on to obtain social media presence on places such as Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit. They actually market it as though it is some company brand. I wonder if they plan to sell merchandise, too. To sum up the whole experience in one word: bizarre. It's not something I would've ever predicted.

I guess it sounds like it shouldn't have been that big a deal, but truthfully I felt betrayed by those I had seen as friends. This felt like the right way to close the forums, and now a small group within the community wanted to take advantage of that in an underhanded way.

As I'd mentioned, a member went on to create harddrop.com, and I'd linked to it from the main page. The wiki would go on to be hosted there, aside the Wikia version. At least one other site would host yet another version of it as well. That is why there are now multiple wikis, as well as why now when someone mentions "Tetris Concept", it may be unclear as to which site they are referring.