Pining for Meander Where you May (NYT books forums)
July 11, 2019 7:12 PM   Subscribe

Many years ago when the New York Times still had it's book forums, there was a thread called Meander Where you May. I have two questions!

I bitterly miss that forum, I didn't take part but I loved reading it. My first question, can anybody tell me if I can read the old posts online? I would also be willing to download them and read them offline. I tried but I'm not very good with it and didn't find anything, and google had one page that was the front page of the books forums where the forum name was listed.

My second question is this, I've never found an online book forum/book discussion group to take its place. Does anyone know of a book discussion group that chooses one book a month (MwyM did fiction one month and then nonfiction the next), and that is full of very well read people, that has insightful posts and humor too, and reads more of the fiction that's similar to some of the books I remember they were reading in MwyM, such as one of the W.G. Sebald's books, another was Alejo Carpentier's Explosion in a Cathedral. In other words it wasn't directed at popular fiction but "literary" fiction (I hate that term but can't think of another, all fiction is literary). I can't remember the nonfiction picks, but if I could read the forum archive that would still give me reading ideas. Thank you for reading this far, I hope you can help me!
posted by Rufous-headed Towhee heehee to Society & Culture (2 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
OK, so the bad news is that the NYT forum's URL structure in the 00s was godawful and make it hard to trawl the Internet Archive -- I found a few archived pages, but the coverage isn't great. If you call up all archive results on the forum URL* and then filter by the forum code 264b5b, you get 18 pages, all from February 9th, 2002 (and one later scan that's just a redirect). The earliest messages reference some kind of forum reset in late 2001, but I don't think there are any scans of the forums from before that date. Anyway, not counting duplicates, broken links, and redirects to login pages, there are a grand total of nine readable pages: Googling various phrases from those posts doesn't turn up anything, so there isn't a readily-available mirror or archive anywhere online.

The good news is that some remnant of the original community still exists on another forum called Escape From Elba, specifically the subforum Meander Where You May, whose sole thread contains a few references to the "olden days" at NYT and some sort of subsequent migration. I don't know what relation the rest of the forum has to the old board, if any, but parts of it are still active today (see their 1102-page Trump Administration megathread, lol), so you can register and ask around to see what's what.

Lastly, the archived posts from the original board includes some apologetic messages from Mick Sussman, an NYT employee who apparently had some back-end knowledge about the software. Here's his Twitter and personal site (with email link) if you want to try contacting him to see if he knows about any back-ups from the forum or a better way to search Wayback for more pages.

Hope that helps! It sucks seeing web history disappear like that.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:45 PM on July 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

Fantastic, thank you!! This gives me something to work with.
posted by Rufous-headed Towhee heehee at 7:41 PM on July 13, 2019

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