No, this isn't some awful joke meant to ruin your day, Brickshelf is really back from the dead! The boys at Brickshelf had this to say:
"Notice: Brickshelf will not be shutting down!
We will be offering "featured" accounts for $5/month shortly. We have received hundreds of supportive emails in the past few days including many who said they would like to contribute financially but did not know how. This has had us rethink the practicality of charging for enhanced features.We plan to do this without reducing current functionality for free users. Thank you for your enormous show of support. IMPORTANT: do NOT try to download the entire site, it causes major problems, slows things down for normal users and you will be permanently blocked."
Link to Brickshelf Status post on Lugnet
Edit - Saturday, July 21
Here is a post from the Lugnet user group explaining some more information:
I have not posted until now because there was too much uncertainty about how (or if) this was going to work out.
Due to financial reasons, Brickshelf was no longer in a viable position to continue operating. As our costs are billed monthly, any shutdown would occur at the end of a calendar month. I decided that 15 days was enough time for everyone to copy their files. Turning it off completely for a few days was intended to send the message that this is serious and get everyones attention so they could use the remaining time wisely. It also gave everyone an opportunity to see what would break when it did finally shut down.
In hindsight I should have handled this differently but it's too late for that now.
I had long ago written off various ides for charging recurring fees because AFOLs and geeks in general expect everything on the web to be free. What turned this around is the totally unexpected volume of email I received from what appear to be regular people. Many of these people expressed an interest in paying some modest fee to keep the site running, if only there was a way to do that.
In addition, I had underestimated the extent to which things would break on other sites with Brickshelf gone. It was clear after the "test" shutdown that some long lasting solution would be needed to at least keep old content available in some way or I would not be able to sleep at night.
So we are going to try something new and see if it works. The site will continue to work as it does now for free users. Paying users will have the opportunity to have greater visibility of their folders (that pass moderation and are not junk/avatars). Of course paying users would also not see ads nor have ads on their folders.
To those wondering why maj.com was unaffected: It has a tiny fraction (< 10%) of the traffic that Brickshelf gets While many of you are aware of it, many more brickshelf users are not and it is possible for me to run that site out of pocket at it's current size. This is one reason there were no instructions posted to simply move over there. For those wondering if this was some elaborate stunt: I have a very full time job and this distraction is the last thing I needed to deal with right now. I did what I thought was necessary given the financial circumstances. I am still taking a risk in continuing this but the tremendous show of support has convinced me it is the right thing to do. Final note: It has come to my attention that some people have been impersonating me on various forums. LUGNET is the only LEGO related forum I have ever posted on (other than r.t.l in the old days) and it's user authentication system should give you reasonable assurance that it really is me.