Lulu Poetry

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Lulu Poetry
Lulu Poetry logo
A screen shot of the Lulu Poetry home page
A screen shot of the Lulu Poetry home page
Status Offline May 4, 2011
Archiving status Lost
Archiving type Unknown
IRC channel #archiveteam-bs (on hackint)

Lulu Poetry or, announced on April 13, 2011 that they would close less than a month later on May 4, deleting all 14 million poems. Archive Team members amassed to find out how to help and aim their LOIC's at it. (By the way, I actually mean their crawlers, not DDoS cannons.)

May 4: As of midnight EST on May 4, the site appears unreachable (even from unblocked IPs). Looks like "available until May 4" was not inclusive. R.I.P. the work of millions. Now on to Google Cache!
May 2: We're getting IP-blocked all over. But it looks like something that's still successful is using proxies from a list on Wikipedia (the <!-- 8080 --> ones) and faking wget's user agent.
May 2: It looks like the battle has begun. They seem to have started blocking either our IPs or our wget user-agent strings. Current strategies include getting more IPs through proxies and donning our googlebot costumes.
May 1: For everyone who left wget running last night, we noticed that the site would go out periodically, serving pages that told of "site maintenance" instead of the poem page that wget was looking for. So we're having to find those files, delete them, then re-download them. See Tools for more info.

Site Structure

The urls appear to be flexible and sequential:
(12:13:09 AM) closure: , heh, look at that, you can just put in any number you like I think
(12:15:16 AM) closure: same for the users
There are apparently over 14 million poems. As of last night the numbers went up to, though interspersed are urls without poems (author deletions?).


  1. Claim a range of numbers below.
  2. Generate a hotlist of urls for wget to download by running this, editing in your start and end number: perl -le 'print "$_/" for 1000000..2000000' > hotlist
  3. Split the hotlist into 100 sublists: split hotlist
    • It splits a list into 1000-items chunks. If you choiced a list with 1M items, better use split -l10000 hotlist
  4. Run wget on each sublist, with logging, and timeout and "we're down" page avoidance: wget -T 8 --max-redirect=0 -o logfile.log -nv -nc -x -i xaa
  5. To avoid getting too many files in one directory, which some filesystems will choke on, recommend moving into a new subdirectory before running each wget on the sublist.
  6. For the daring, here's how to run all wgets on all the sublists in parallel, in subdirs, with logging, and avoidance of timeouts and the "site mainenance" problem: for x in ???; do mkdir $x.dir; cd $x.dir; wget -T 8 --max-redirect=0 -o $x.log -nv -nc -x -i ../$x & cd ..; done
  7. Once wget finishes, run it again! The -nc will make it download any files it missed the first time. Repeat until the logs don't show failures.
wget Options Translation (or see Manual)
short long version meaning
-E --adjust-extension adds ".html" to files that are html but didn't originally end in .html
-k --convert-links change links in html files to point to the local versions of the resources
-T --timeout= if it gets hung for this long (in seconds), it'll retry instead of sitting waiting
-o --output-file use the following filename as a log file instead of printing to screen
-nv --no-verbose don't write every little thing to the log file
-nc --no-clobber if a file is already present on disk, skip it instead of re-downloading it
-x --force-directories force it to create a hierarchy of directories mirroring the hierarchy in the url structure
-i --input-file use the following filename as a source of urls to download
-U --user-agent Give the following as your user agent string instead of ‘Wget/1.12’. Pretty much required at this point to keep from being blocked. One string you can use to look like a web browser:
-U 'Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv: Gecko/20070802 SeaMonkey/1.1.4'

Here's a useful page with some common user agents.


Note: this is going really slow right now so maybe just claim 100,000 or so at a time.

Who is handling which chunks of urls?
IRC name starting number ending number Progress notes
closure 0 999,999 complete
closure 1,00,000 14,715,000 All IP space banned random sampling (got 100 thousand aka ~ 0.7%)
jag 1,000,000 2,000,000 in progress
notakp 2,000,000 3,000,000 Uploaded feel free to take upper 2M(2.5M-2.99M)
no2pencil 3,000,000 3,999,999 in progress
[free] 4,000,000 4,399,999 still free If you're taking this, you should grab what I've done in this block and skip the ids from this list
mel 4,400,000 4,499,999 IP banned 80k done, now banned
Qwerty01 4,500,000 4,699,999 IP-banned about 3,500 done in the 4,5xx,xxx range
warthurton 4,700,000 4,799,999 in progress
greyjjd 4,800,000 4,804,999 IP banned 2763 of the 5k.
DFJustin 4,805,000 4,899,999 stalled got 4,746 but seems to be down now
beardicus 4,900,000 4,999,999 in progress
underscor ??? ??? in progress? active last night but never said their range
BlueMax ??? ??? in progress? active last night but never said their range
Coderjoe 5,000,000 5,099,999 in progress
[free] 5,100,000 5,675,999 available
Coderjoe 5,676,000 5,695,999 in progress
[free] 5,696,000 6,351,999 available
Coderjoe 6,352,000 6,418,999 in progress
[free] 6,419,000 8,999,999 available
alard 9,000,000 9,999,999 IP-banned have 149,438 list of ids I've done, feel free to do the rest
nuintari 9,000,000 9,099,999 IP Blocked (yes, all of them) here is what I did get
perfinion 9,100,000 9,199,999
nuintari 9,200,000 9,299,999 IP Blocked here is what I did get
nuintari 9,300,000 9,399,999 IP Blocked here is what I did get
[free] 9,400,000 9,999,999
Teaspoon 10,000,000 10,999,999 in progress 16%
DoubleJ 11,000,000 11,099,999 complete Suspicious number of 404s starting evening of the 3rd
flashmanbahadur 11,100,000 11,199,999 in progress
jch 12,000,000 12,999,999 site offline, incomplete get my shit here
jaybird11 13,000,000 13,009,999 completed has these, plus others scattered throughout the 13 million block.
emijrp 14,000,000 14,099,999 in progress running this 100k urls into 10 chunks,
10k urls per chunk, it is better (not collapse the server)
zappy 14,200,000 14,206,470 some 404s here
oli 11,200,000 11,999,999 IP(s) blocked here's what I got
yipdw 14,300,000 14,399,999 in progress got ~1,000 so far; downloading on hold
ersi 14,400,000 14,715,000 in progress Currently haxing on the first 1000 of this range


Thoughts from IRC

(8:16:42 PM) Qwerty01: warthurt: i think the first thing that would help after you've set up a proxy and changed user agent is to pace yourself
(8:16:50 PM) Qwerty01: to not show up on their radar as much
(8:17:15 PM) Qwerty01: you can set a wait time (--wait=3)
(8:17:40 PM) Qwerty01: maybe if you can set it up, run through a couple proxies at once, slowly on each one
(8:17:54 PM) Qwerty01: so that you still get a good rate but there's no single IP that stands out as hitting their server a lot
(8:18:48 PM) Qwerty01: in fact there's a host of wget options that can basically make you indistinguishable from a normal browser: --limit-rate=100k --wait=3 --random-wait
(8:20:52 PM) DoubleJ: Qwerty01: Yep, that's my strategy: A different proxy for each screen session.

(8:18:45 PM) no2penci1: proxy=`head -${n} ${file} | tail -1`
(8:19:00 PM) no2penci1: I stuffed a bunch of proxies into a text file, & then just read one line of that file
(8:19:04 PM) no2penci1: looping on n


Site Maintenance

When the site is under "site maintenance," instead of the poem page, it gives wget a page that says "site maintenance." So worse than a complete failure, it gives a complete html file that's incorrect. This is done through a 302 redirect to

The updated wget commands above should avoid this problem. If you ran old wget commands, you need to find and remove the bad files.

You can find these files using this command: find [yourdirname] -type f -print0 | xargs --null grep -l "performing site maintenance"

Or to nuke all such files: grep "currently performing site maintenance" -r . | cut -d: -f1 | xargs rm -v (then just re-run your wgets with -nc to re-download what was missed).

For detecting server maintenance issues, no2pencil created the following correction script:

flist=`grep "currently performing site maintenance" *.html | cut -d: -f1`

for file in ${flist};
 if [ -f ${file} ];
    echo correcting ${file}
    html=`echo ${file} | cut -c5-11`
    wget -E${html}/ -O poem${html}.html 2>/dev/null
    echo done...
    x=`expr ${x} + 1`

if [ ${x} -eq 0 ]; 
  echo Directory clean
  echo ${x} files corrected

Google Cache

  2. click Cache
  3. ???

Exit Strategy

We haven't yet decided what we'll keep out of all the html in those files. After all, we really just want the poems. This would save tons of space, too. Already, underscor has created a script that extracts the poems and metadata from the site. It could be re-purposed to extract the same from our downloaded files:

Closing announcement


Attention to Our Lulu Poetry Community

Lulu Poetry Closing Its Doors May 4, 2011

Dear Poets,

On May 4, 2011, Lulu Poetry will be closing its doors. Please be sure to copy and paste your poems onto your computer and connect with any fellow poets offsite, as we will be unable to save any customer information or poetry as of this date.

Over the past two years, we have been proud to provide a community where poetry writers can come together to share their remarkable works, learn from each other, and truly benefit themselves and anyone else interested in the craft. It has been a privilege to witness the creativity and effort that has sprung forth from this strong community of over 7 million poets and we have been thrilled to award over $35,000 in prizes in this time.

At Lulu, it makes us happy to see people do what they love and we’d still like to help you publish your poetry at You can login using your Lulu Poetry username and password and start creating your own poetry book right away – absolutely free.

Thank you for your support and contribution to Lulu Poetry’s over 14 million poems. We look forward to your continued success on Lulu, where we’re committed to empowering authors to sell more books and reach more readers more easily than ever before.

Lulu Poetry