In the years since Rapplinks shut down, I've held on to the domain. I've never been sure what to do with it, as it felt wrong to re-use it or to sell it, especially after Chris Salmon died.
I hadn't really thought of the site for years, but while I was doing a cleanup and archive of older code and databases I fell across an image from the site. The sunset picture used on the last edition of the site, which had not seen the light of day for almost eight years. The site code, data, and images had almost been lost several times over the years, only being preserved (imperfectly) on very old backups on disused servers.
Wondering what was left; I dug into the data, and fell across the "Farewell" article. Digging further, I found old images and even advertisements (how primitive they look now). On a whim, I decided I was going to put the home page and farewell article back up again. Funny enough, I started the work on Valentine's Day, 2013 - 14 years to the day from the original site of the launch.
The "Farewell" article does a better job than I ever could in giving credit where credit is due. I always felt I played a minor technical role in all of the work done to keep the site up and running - the hard work was really done by people like Chris, Pat, & Tim Salmon, Sharon Kilpatrick, David Yowell, Chris Warren, and a host of other people who pushed top notch content out to the site on a daily basis.
But in my mind Chris was the real hero of the venture - he was a man who had a vision how the internet could be used a community based content delivery system, and because of that vision the Rapplinks crew put out a product that was years ahead of its time. The content management systems you see today (Drupal, Wordpress, etc.) are modern examples of what we had running back in 1999.
For those of you who never had a chance to know him, Chris was one of the kindest men I ever had the opportunity to meet. Chris was a personal hero of mine - both for his service and his life after the service. He was a fellow Marine who earned the Silver Star and the air metal for his SAR work in Vietnam. However, Chris was one of the most soft spoken men I have ever met. You wouldn't have known from talking to him that he had been a soldier, or that he had spent combat time in one of the tougher jobs the Corps has to offer.
But none of this explains why the site is back up. So why? One reason was that I thought it was an excellent snapshot of a time long gone to all of us - a younger me, a younger you, a younger internet, a younger America. But more importantly, seeing the site for the first time in 9 years made me think of a lost friend. And I thought it would nice to visit him again, if only for a little while.