[Patrick here, not Abi.]
As luck would have it, I had to run off to band practice very shortly after the crisis began. I’m back. And I’ve had a life-giving, brain-restoring sandwich. As soon as I post this I’m going to start reading the email, and comments below, from our incredibly generous and helpful readers.
As mentioned previously, we do have a complete backup, downloaded with wget, of the site as of March 1, 2008. Hosting Matters has now set up new server space for us, and presently I’ll be trying to upload the backup; if everything works, Making-Light-as-of-March-1 will appear at the usual URL. Much more likely, however, is that I’ll have a zillion finicky permission problems that I’ll need someone’s help with before we get to that point.
At this point we have HTML of all the missing posts, and quite a lot of the missing comments, but many more comments remain to be excavated. Please, if you have been using an RSS reader to follow ML comments–generally or in specific threads–consider that you may actually have copies of comments from the last two months in your reader’s cache folders. Please take a look.
More to come. My actual suspicion is that once we get the March 1 version of ML restored, the best way to re-attach the missing material is going to be by editing and manipulating the MySQL database in the guts of the site. I know very little about this, and the small amount that’s been explained to me by helpful readers is pretty much worn away by time, but it seems to me that in principle it should be possible to automate, or at least semi-automate, the processes of:
(1) stripping away extraneous cruft from various saves of ML content in HTML and XML form, and–
(2) –wedging it all into the appropriate fields and tables in the MySQL database, so that–
(3) –all of ML reappears, right up to the present, along with all the–
[…]books we bought in college and sold for half-price unread
And sacks and sacks of earring backs lost under someone’s bed
And baseball cards and army men and model planes galore
And every tiny plastic high-heel Barbie ever wore
(Thank you, Austin Lounge Lizards. Music here, if you’re willing to sign up for a free trial of Rhapsody.)
Of course, knowing that something is theoretically possible doesn’t mean it’s practical, but I bring it up for discussion nonetheless.