Hi, everybody. Teresa here. You may have already read earlier, incomplete versions of this post, which I published prematurely in order to get the THINGS TO DO RIGHT NOW part out fast. I said in them that you’d know you’d seen the complete version when the last word in it was dinosaur. That word is there now.
First: apologies if you’ve written to us and haven’t heard back. We’ve been wrestling with the task of getting the pre-March 2008 part of Making Light back online. For a bit there, it looked like we might have lost the whole thing, not just March and April. That was exciting. Fortunately, Patrick found his alternate backup of the MySQL database that’s the difference between losing two months and losing seven years. As Erik Olson said at that point,
Good. We’re now at “this really sucks.”
Not “well, fuck, Maude, better sell the cattle.”
Thanks to many people who shall receive fulsome thanks once this settles down, we’ve reconstituted all the front-page entries, plus Sidelights and Particles. What we don’t have all of are the comments.
THIS IS IMPORTANT: collect your own comments NOW from Google or other search engines, then help collect others. Do it as soon as you can, because Google has already overwritten some caches with versions that end at 01 March. If you find this has happened to the Google cache of your own comments–for instance, Xopher, Niall McAuley, CHip, and NC Hanger have already gotten nailed–try the caches at Yahoo, MSN Live Search, or other search engines.
If you’ve been reading the comments at Making Light via RSS feed, please check and see what you have cached. It’s possible you have the only surviving version of some of our missing comments. We’re particularly on the prowl for new comments that got posted to old threads. We know to look for complete runs of comments from (f.i.) “All come singing” or “The rather difficult font game”; what’s far less obvious is the need to collect recent runs of comments in old threads like “Introduction to New Magics“.
Abi’s chart of what we do and don’t have isn’t up to date. That’s because Abi went to sleep (she’s six time zones east of Plymouth Rock), and Patrick and I are still figuring out exactly what we have on hand. She’ll be gone all day tomorrow, but we figure we’ll have the chart updated by tomorrow morning EST. If you’re doing intensive work salvaging comments and need more up-to-date information, send us your email address and we’ll try to reset the permissions so you can see our working spreadsheet in Google docs.
I’ve finally gotten in touch with Jim Macdonald. He’d been away most of today, and had no idea what was going on. The bits of Making Light’s database we have least hope of recovering are unfinished articles the editors had saved as draft posts in Movable Type. We’ve all lost some, but Jim had been working on the big final post in his Trauma and You series. He took the news very calmly, though it’s possible he was simply too tired to get upset. He says he’ll just have to rewrite the article from memory:
I’d gotten through traumatic amputations, degloving, and avulsions, and was about to start on incisions and lacerations.
When last seen, Jim was running searches on other people’s names. His suggested search string is “Comments posted to Making Light by [name of poster]”. If that doesn’t work, try something else. If that works, come back and tell us what it was.
(UPDATE: Jim has done as much comment-salvaging as he can do tonight. In the comment thread for this entry you’ll find his list of people he knows to have posted comments during the lost months, but whose body of comments he hasn’t salvaged. If you have time, please consider running some of those searches. If you know of other names, post a list of your own–Jim’s list is by no means complete. While you may wind up duplicating someone else’s efforts, you may also save the comments of people who haven’t gotten the word in time to do it themselves. Also, read the whole thread. There’s useful information in it. End of update: tnh, 0300 EDT.)
Salvaging the data is only the first part of the project. Once we’ve collected it, it’ll have to be reprocessed into proper MySQL format and grafted back onto the main database. We’ve had several offers of help, but if you want to add to them, please feel free.
In the midst of all this effort to salvage the missing months, we’re feeling awed and humble about the amount of help we’re getting. We’ve said all along that its readers are the best thing about Making Light, but that’s never seemed more true than it does right now.
(“Hey, look! It’s a dinosaur!”)