The Obscure Organization is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that promotes community and creativity through technology. We provide free resources and training to people and organizations hoping to advance their use of technology in non-commercial creative works and community-building efforts.

Recent News

Richard Bullington-McGuire's avatar

We're back—but we need your help

On Fri, Nov 16th, I restored service to Obscure. The disk volumes used for online operations of the main VM,, are now on redundant storage. Due to a compound error I accidentally knocked the server offline completely last Tuesday, so some mail may have bounced. There might be some minor data loss in the /var partition, though I think I got all the critical user files migrated, including mail and databases.

The hardware we are running on is 9 years old, and it's time for a major upgrade. Please consider donating to support our long-term stability and ability to serve the community.

Richard Bullington-McGuire's avatar

Hardware trouble

Obscure is having some hardware trouble. One of the disks that is not part of a redundant set is failing and one of the network ports on the main server has not been reliable for the past week. Expect intermittent downtime as I attempt repairs over the next few days. On Friday, a power surge and outage exacerbated the problems.

Richard Bullington-McGuire's avatar

Obscure adopts LetsEncrypt SSL certificates

We have switched to using LetsEncrypt SSL certificates for the Obscure web site and mail servers. These are free, and have been set up to renew automatically using EFF's CertBot software. Please let us know if you have trouble with the web site or SMTP / IMAP / POP certificates.

Richard Bullington-McGuire's avatar

User Home Page Directory Updated

I just updated the Obscure User Home Page Directory to add users that have non-trivial public home pages, and to remove home pages of users who have closed or removed their pages.

Curating these by hand every 5 to 10 years seems to be about the speed of updates we can manage. I am OK with that. This is an HTML page that has been lovingly updated by hand for more than 20 years.

Richard Bullington-McGuire's avatar

More DNS changes

The IP address for the server has changed to

This restores DNS redundancy which we had lost due to a compound failure of monitoring systems, and a provider who discontinued services without stopping billing for those services for over 6 months.

No action should be required on the part of people who host domains on

Richard Bullington-McGuire's avatar

DNS changes

The set of DNS servers for domains hosted on has just been updated to this set of servers:

If you host a domain on, and it is registered with Network Solutions, and Richard Bullington-McGuire is the technical contact, all changes have been made for you. If you use another registrar, please make sure that the set of domain servers assigned for your domain matches the above list exactly.

Many thanks to go Tripp Lilley, who for many years provided a third domain name server for free for domains as a service to the community.

Richard Bullington-McGuire's avatar

Mail greylisting

Recently we've added the ability to "greylist" mail, that is, delay mail delivery for unknown senders in order to reduce incoming spam volume. It may result in mail delivery being delayed by 15 minutes to an hour for legitimate mail from addresses that don't email Obscure users often.

I've applied this to every Obscure account that has its mail forwarded elsewhere, in order to reduce the amount of spam that we relay. If you are forwarding your mail and would like greylisting disabled for your account, please ask me.

Richard Bullington-McGuire's avatar

New Obscure Chat System - Slack

I'm pleased to announce that we have a new chat system for the Obscure community, provided by Slack.

You can sign up for it with your email address at:

This is one of the new breed of persistent, searchable chat systems with support for public and rivate groups, emoji, chat bots, and 3rd party integrations. It's tons of fun and several Obscure users have been kicking the tires for a while—please join us!. If you are part of our community and want an invite but don't have a current working email address, write me or better yet send me a text message at +1 571 236 0938 and I will add you to Slack.

Keep in mind that this system is hosted by a third party (Slack) and is not directly under our administrative control - it doesn't have the same level of privacy that the central Obscure systems offer.

News Archive

For older news, see our News Archive.

About Obscure

We give away free Obscure user accounts to anyone who asks politely. You can use an Obscure user account for email, web hosting, programming, and other non-commercial purposes. People have used their Obscure accounts to host web sites for non-profit organizations, to further their own education, to host their personal web sites, and to collaborate with other Obscure users on projects.

We try to help connect Obscure users with one another. People in the Obscure community often help each other, both by teaching each other effective uses of technology, and by providing constructive feedback on creative projects. This furthers learning both by those seeking help and by the informal mentors who provide help.


A visit to The Obscure Organization may cause you to think. Thinking has been known to cause severe pain in the heads of the close-minded.