The Secret World of WDMA Sites

Disclaimer: This article was based on information which came from Internet blogs, message boards, and personal communications, so much of what is written is probably “Folklore,” and I cannot verify the accuracy. But it sure makes for a good story! ;) As per the Public Blog guidelines I am leaving out names and URLs which would identify these places.

About two years ago, I was browsing a popular torrent forum, when I saw a request for a tracker, where the requester asked for “S**** , a.k.a. P****, a.k.a. I****. No one had ever heard of this tracker before, and therefore there were lots of question asked about what this place is, and what it was about. The requester mysteriously wrote that the place was a “secret” place, and that he could not write the actual names, but a member of the place would be able to recognize it immediately.

Because this was the first time this place was ever mentioned on a torrent forum, threads quickly came up at other places, including TPS asking what it was, but no one knew what it was. Now a member sent me a PM saying he did not know what it was, but another forum posted the URL and he gave me the URL. So I went to the URL, and it looked like a website with comic strips of a kid wearing a skull mask. (weird) There was a place to log in, so I suppose this was the “fake” page. But what was inside? At TPS we have a section called “Ask Us Anything,” where members can ask questions to staff and tracker reps in private, and I asked about the place, and no one knew.

Another mysterious request popped up later. I had not heard of this place, and it was said to have “rare vinyl music rips.” I tried to do a quick Google search (as I did with the first place) and nothing popped up. Then recently at TPS, a member made a request for a General Tracker that I had also never heard of. What were these mysterious places that don’t show up on any lists of trackers or even on Google searches?

Well recently I finally found out, and am sharing it with you (without revealing specific names). The story begins in 1999, when a forum was created called “Something Awful.” This forum became popular for making Internet Memes and sayings, like “All your ___ belong to us.” Shortly after Bram Cohen created the BitTorrent Protocol, but before big trackers like The Pirate Bay were created, the forum made a filesharing section called the “BitTorrent Barnyard.” This section became enormously popular and the owners became concerned about the legality of what they were doing, and shut the section down. Now is where the folklore part comes in. Allegedly, members of the forum, also known as “The Goons,” created a separate torrent site, and called it “WDMA,” for “Where Da Movies At?” They got the idea for the name because new members to Something Awful would log in and ask that question, thinking the BitTorrent Barnyard was still there. Then as quickly as it came up, WDMA also shut down. I have read stories about drama that caused its closing, and some stories saying WDMA was just a myth.

After WDMA supposedly shut down, some of the members then created various filesharing sites that today are known as WDMA sites, or WDMA trackers. These were those mysterious places that sometimes come up in invite requests than no one knows anything about. It is not clear if these places are forums with DDL links, or if they have torrents, but they are more forum based and are designed differently than the private trackers I am used to using. (Which use versions of TBDev or Gazelle as platforms.) These places are so secret that nothing about what is inside is anywhere on the open internet. Anything I know about them have been told to me by PM, and much told to me is based on what was told by others. It is said that anyone who talks about them is immediately banned, and anyone requesting them anywhere will be found out and banned after acceptance, as will be the inviters. But the thing that I find fascinating is the level of secrecy that the places keep. Even the most “secret” of private trackers have some information somewhere out there, and these trackers do try to seek out new members or else they will stagnate and die. Honestly, some of these trackers are stagnating a bit already. So how do WDMA sites stay so secret, but still stay alive all these years? (They pre-date the beginning of the oldest private trackers.)

Perhaps the places may just be myths after all. ;)