In a far-flung quiet corner of the internet a secretive forum exists on which users play parts in an on-going alternative reality game (ARG) based on the world of Douglas Adams' Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

The Starship Titanic is a gargantuan space ship first dreamt up by Adams for the third book in his Hitch Hiker "trilogy in five parts," which hit bookshelves in 1982. Its fate – name a ship Titanic and you're really asking for trouble – was met when it vanished from existence in an event known as the Spontaneous Massive Existence Failure (or SMEF).

The half-page joke evolved into an adventure game developed and eventually released in 1998, which was also released alongside a book written by Monty Python member Terry Jones and a web forum built for fans.

Yoz Grahame built the site, which was full of details about the game, the Starship Titanic's history, and a "Starlight Lines employee forum" for the people who worked for the Titanic's owners.

"The idea was to present a read-only Senior Management forum in which you'd see some of the key backstory characters getting on each others' nerves," Grahame told Kotaku. "But we figured there should probably be a writeable forum for the lower-level employees, so I spent half a day hacking up a stupidly basic forum system."

After signing up for a mailing list, users were soon added to a basic forum – which required a password to enter. Grahame turned his attention elsewhere, only to return to the forum some time later and find ten thousand posts from fans who had created their own characters and storylines.

Characters like The Infomage, two-headed alien Koenig & Lamar Gwah de Loop (now separated) and married couple Goblin the tea-boy and Unidentified Girl in Pigtails (who had a baby boy called PiGPiG).

The site has endured for 17 years, and now has a new home with a message for newcomers.

Kotaku's full and fascinating article about the forum can be read here.