The tragedy that is the loss of What.CD

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I take drugs like a fucking champion!
Aug 9, 2009
Brisbane, Australia
6,883 15 84
After 8 years of membership I took for granted the enduring existence of What.CD, a tracker I viewed as a most stable pillar of the greater community.

Celebrated for countless reasons, be it as the music wing of the revered "holy trinity"; pioneering the Gazelle/Ocelot framework; or as a gateway for new members into private torrenting, What.CD comes with a near 10 year history - an entire generation of influence still felt everywhere throughout the community.

What.CD was not just the replacement to OiNK, it set a new standard to which virtually every other tracker would aspire. It seemed like it would go on forever.

Then in an instant, it was gone.

Personally I never really used What.CD. I had a ~100GB buffer and donated for immunity to inactivity pruning, and in the last several years I've perhaps downloaded 10 albums in total. (I have mainstream taste in music and with the advent of streaming I eventually found the old routine of downloading and filling up my devices with music to be a rather antiquated practice). Just knowing I had access to such an amazing resource was enough to satisfy me.

Yet when I heard of the seizure I literally felt sick in the stomach. Not for my loss, but for that of humanity.

As I mentioned on Reddit's r/trackers 6 months ago:
...and I never even use WCD. However, these trackers are the foremost archives in each of their respective fields. Access to such extraordinary repositories of knowledge is invaluable.

...I've said it before but I'll say it again: If it weren't for copyright protection, trackers such as PTP, WCD and BTN would be funded by the government as cultural heritage archives.
A cultural heritage repository a generation in the making, containing music that no longer exists anywhere else in the world, and will now undoubtedly be lost in time. What.CD contained what was as close to the sum-total of humanity's entire recorded musical works -- boasting extraordinary quality control and curation -- organized and catalogued to near perfection.

One ex-member typing in #what-refuge went as far as to compare the loss of What.CD to the destruction of the Library of Alexandria. An apt analogy.

Many have been quick to dismiss the true weight of the loss of this tracker, citing OiNK and making claim as to the greatness of What.CD's as yet unknown successor. I think this is a profoundly naive position that ignores many key factors as to the success of What.CD. Not least of which, knowing the rise of What.CD occurred at a time when private torrenting was in its infancy, the tracker was the beneficiary of the following boom period. Nowadays the community is in decline.

I'm not sure we'll ever see a tracker that comes close to the greatness of What.CD. I hope I'm wrong. Despite the apparent glee at their success, I believe the French authorities have just burned down a modern day library of Alexandria, and will one day be reviled for it.

With the loss of What.CD comes the loss of one of the greatest cultural heritage archives in all of human history, perhaps never to be replaced. And that, is a tragedy.