Gather 'round kids, and let me tell you a story. Oh, it's a good one.
Part I: Prelude
It all began on a cold winter's eve. Unlike the rustling foliage outside my bedroom, torn asunder by typically loud gusts of wind, I lay warm and snug amidst the mountainous pile of sheets upon my bed, in a damp corner lit only by Giant Bomb's colors beaming out of a half-bright monitor.
I had begun editing this one special wiki page on Giant Bomb, the SimCity page. You all know that game, the new one people couldn't actually play for several days? "But why is that wiki page special Mr. Snail?", I hear you ask. First off all that's rude, shut up while I'm talking - but worry not, for it shall be made clear in time. Aherm.
I spent a few minutes doing some minor edits to it, adding information, removing usage of second-person, the usual. Just your bread and butter of wiki editing. However, when I went to submit this new information, I got this unusual error, one I wasn't getting on any other page on Giant Bomb I had been editing.
"Whoops!", said the website. "Something went wrong".
Part II: Bugs and Errors
I found it rather unusual. Most times, when Giant Bomb claims that "something went wrong", the website also assures me peace of mind by letting me know that "Monkeys have been dispatched". But this time there were no helpful primates in sight. Having seen many wiki bugs of the kind since the new design launched, I shrugged and refreshed the page hoping to see my edits where I put them.
But it was not so! My edits were gone! Gone! How could this be?
Frustrated, I rapidly added the edits again, this time copying them onto my computer's clipboard to make sure I didn't lose any progress. Sadly, the same thing happened again. And again, and again, and again.
Eventually I noticed something rather odd. I was among the top contributors for the page, having racked in over 100 points. How could this be then, if none of my edits had gone through, and if I hadn't received notifications of the website's "robot math" giving me any points at all?
I checked the page's history and it appeared all my submissions had registered, and I had indeed been accordingly attributed points for them. But still my edits weren't showing up! Angrily, I created a thread on the Bug Reporting board about this issue, hoping, in vain, to get some feedback. When I checked my profile, I noticed that one of the edits had showed up in my stream. I clicked the link to the SimCity page, and there they were - my edits. So it seemed that the only problem was a delay of several minutes between the submission of new data and it appearing on the page.
"Alright, I can deal with this", I thought - and carried on editing.
Over the course of several days I added paragraphs of text to that wiki page, moved around images to improve readability, created new sections and sub-sections, generally cleaned it up, added some images, removed others, etc.
Then the incident happened.
Part III: The Incident
By the time the incident came about I had garnered roughly 600 wiki points on this wiki page. The 100 undeserved points I got for submitting the same edits over and over notwithstanding, I had contributed 500-points worth of content to that page. That's quite a bit of work - many hours of work, even.
It had been an unusually warm afternoon for this time of year. The day was nearing an end as the clear blue sky began to darken, and the world faded to dusk. That short-lived twilight in between day and night shrouded my bedroom with some sort of drowsy melancholy - a pale, undefined myst of light - and I was surfing the Giant Bomb. I had been reading about further developments regarding the SimCity post-release brewhaha, and figured I'd extend the "Reception" section in that game's page, and just keep working on it in general. I clicked my way back to what had, at this point, become such a familiar sight.
But it was gone. It was all gone.
My progress had been wiped clean. The page now looked just as it was before I submitted the first edit I described at the beginning of this blog post. All the images I added, all the images I kept but moved, all the inadequate usage of biased language and second-person pronouns I had removed, and, most frustratingly, all the paragraphs of text I had contributed to that page were all gone. The page was again a pitiful sight I remembered from days past.
GONE KIDS. VANISHED. DESAPARECIDO. SWOOSHED AWAY BY SOME UNSEEN INTERNET GHOUL.
At first I staggered. My eyes bolted wide open, and in the same simultaneous emotional burst a few veins in several locations of my body popped. Then, without realizing it, I was convulsively nodding trying to find a way around this situation. Eventually I got a grip, decidedly brought myself to a halt, gathered all the spewing inner-poison of hatred and frustration into one bulging, burning core of loathing in the very middle of my chest, which let out with a loud unabashed "FUCK".
As you've probably figured out by now, I had saved no back-up of the page. Giant Bomb's wiki editing portion of the site had been showing no signs of, you know, fatally not working and I had even been editing several other wiki pages throughout the very same days I had been editing the SimCity one. So why would I? I just wasn't expecting this. There wasn't even a PSA about the wiki not working. And how can I blame the mods/staff? It was the SimCity page. That's what's so fucking odd. But I'll get to that later.
So there I was: mad, very very mad, furiously and desperately typing a thread into existence, trying to keep a level-headed, cool attitude about the whole thing when I suddenly remembered. Lazarus: Form Recovery.
Part IV: A New Hope
This Firefox add-on/Chrome extension is pretty much a godsend. What it does is that it consistently saves back-ups of forms and texts you type in, even across sessions. I don't use it all that often. I recall making use of it to recover short text I don't really mind retyping - stuff like distractedly closing a tab before I posted a status update or something. So no, I didn't really heavily use the add-on and I guess that's why it didn't instantly come to mind when I became aware of the incident.
So I went to the wiki-page, clicked the "Edit Article" button, right-clicked the text-field and searched the lazarus drop-downs for the text I was trying to recuperate. You see, Lazarus has a limited cache. As you type new texts into new textfields you add to the backlog, and eventually it fills up and tosses out the last one in queue. When I checked the add-on's list of recorded texts, the SimCity article was second from bottom. Jesus Christ. I am saved. It was there. It was second from bottom but it was there.
Since I had been posting in the forums and editing other wikis, and typing elsewhere on the interwebs, I had nearly lost the back-up for the SimCity page's article. Putting a lot of thought into that, or what would have happened if I didn't have that add-on, will probably just make me very nervous. So let's not do that.
Part V: The Curious Case of the SimCity Page
I clicked it and everything was back as I had left it. Images, formatting and everything. A huge sense of relief took over, and I breathed out relaxedly. From that event onward the page worked as any other normal wiki page: you type in the edits, you submit the edits, and they show up (provided you have more than 1000 wiki points). It's as if the page had some bug caught in its virtual cogs that it eventually sputtered out, after undergoing a hard-reset which restored it to the day the bug started happening.
But I mean, what happened? Why was only this page not working? No really. Are you getting this?
THE ONLY PAGE ON THE SITE HAVING CONNECTIVITY ISSUES WAS THE SIMCITY PAGE. IS THIS SOME META-JOKE MADE BY THE INTERNET GODS? WAS EVERYTHING REGARDING THIS GAME ON FIRE DURING THE LAUNCH WEEK?
Like, really, let me walk you through this.
- I was having connectivity errors with the wiki, and my edits were getting stuck on a queue;
- I lost a bunch of saved progress out of the blue due to these connectivity issues;
- At least I was never kicked out of the editor;
- I wasn't able to replicate this in .
Why did this page break? And how did the page get fixed? Magic? Did the Giant Bomb engineers see my thread in the Bug Reporting board, then did something to fix it but in the process deleted all the edits I had performed on it since that thread was made?
I don't know. And I wish I did.
So kids, remember. Never trust seaserpents. When you go about editing and adding to Giant Bomb, helping this website become a bigger, better and happier home for video-game knowledge ALWAYS SAVE A BACK-UP, because with this new highly-stable version of the website you just never know.
I love Giant Bomb, and always will. Just, Top Men, if you're reading, make the website break less pleeeeeeaase. :(
I'm publishing this blog post in tandem with another one, which is coming soon and aims to give an in-depth analysis of faults that Giant Bomb gained with its new design, and that shouldn't be here one month after launch. I'd be much appreciated if you checked it out and provided feedback!