Parachan was an anonymous paranormal imageboard-wiki which used the Kusaba X PHP imageboard library and a modified version of MediaWiki 1.23.2 to allow for anonymous editing. It was founded, programmed, and administrated by ConsciousCode. This unique combination allowed for users to collectively edit a body of articles detailing information about typically obscure and hard to research paranormal topics, as well as discuss these topics in-depth with more structure than is provided by MediaWiki's Discussion feature.
Parachan was created on May 8, 2014 and eventually closed in September of 2016. Its name was conceived as a portmanteau of paranormal and chan, a suffix usually ascribed to anonymous imageboards in the style of Futaba Channel.
One of the most unique features of Parachan was its forced quasi-anonymity in its wiki. Other wikis typically allow pseudo-anonymous edits in which all edits performed by a user who isn't logged in are registered under their IP, though these users are typically more restricted than normal users. Instead, various modifications to the MediaWiki core were made to make all users appear anonymous (with the name "Anonymous" and no links to user pages) to any user without the permission to see other users. This modification was made both as a callback to anonymous imageboards as well as a way to allow users to make controversial edits (which are practically guaranteed with a topic like the paranormal) without any personal consequence.
Despite para.wiki being a direct descendent of Parachan, this anonymity system was decided against inclusion due to the difficulty of maintenance. The MediaWiki modding API wasn't sufficient for this feature, and so the source had to be modified directly. Any time the wiki was updated, these edits had to be made again to a slightly different code base.
Parachan had 4 visible boards and 1 hidden board:
- /gen/ General Paranormal, used for discussion about the paranormal.
- /off/ Off Topic, used for discussion about anything other than the paranormal (making it similar to what other imageboards call /b/)
- /site/ Site Discussion, used for testing site features and general questions about management.
- /wiki/ Wiki, this wiki as a "board".
- Originally, the Discussion tab was going to be an integrated imageboard, but this was determined to be too much work for little benefit.
- /keet/ Parakeet, a humorous hidden board made by request for the thread that gave Parachan its mascot.
Other boards were suggested, but the policy seemed to be to keep board count to a minimum to avoid stretching what little community there is too thin.
Despite para.wiki being a direct descendent of Parachan, the imageboard integration was decided against because of a lack of use and the expanded moderation which would be required to prevent spam. Imageboards are naturally very free-speech oriented, making spam difficult to auto-detect whereas MediaWiki has been battle-hardened against innumerable spam attack vectors and many of these can be avoided with a simple regex filter.
Usage of the wiki declined during its run until there was only a single edit per month, if that. In addition, spam became impossible to control, particularly on the imageboard. The final straw was the discovery of a massive security hole in the code of Kusaba X which couldn't be effectively patched, as well as a lack of funds from the admin. The site shut down in September 2016 with a small utility for downloading the database until the domain expired in May 2017.
ConsciousCode had a renewed interest in supporting a paranormal wiki, and eventually found an archive of his old Parachan database at archive.org. The domain para.wiki was chosen, but it was already occupied by another wiki. After an email exchange with the owner, it was decided that the domain would be transferred free of charge because what was there was already dead and the owner no longer wished to support it. It was officially transferred on December 9, 2018.
A copy of the database of SourceryForge made by superemelurker was rediscovered, cleaned up, and imported into para.wiki's database on December 22, 2018. There were already a couple hundred articles from this database, but they were manually entered during the Parachan era - the total number of new articles was over 1000.