Monday 5 November 2012

The recovery of 5,000 comments

For the past few weeks I’ve been downloading old comments onto this new template and it’s been quite a job. So let’s go back to the beginning of Freedom and Whisky.

I started F&W back in April 2002 using the original system developed by Back in those days blogs didn’t have comments. Then a company by the name of Haloscan came up with some software that could be placed onto the Blogger template and this enabled commenting on Freedom and Whisky.

After a while Google acquired Blogger but the only difference was having to log on using a Google password instead of a Blogger one. Haloscan was also acquired by another company – in this case Echo.

Google gradually introduced various new template styles and the later ones included built-in commenting facilities. I resisted upgrading the template because of various reports that I may lose old comments. That was probably a mistake.

On 1st April (Ha! Ha!) this year Echo (formerly Haloscan) announced that all comments would disappear on 1st October. Not to worry though, I could download something called an “XML file” and use it to upload the historical comments to another commenting provider.

I then decided that it really was time to use an up-to-date Google template.

Many web searches indicated that the Disqus system would best be able to cope with this, but, alas, that was not to be. To cut a very long story short, Disqus managed to "download" around 160 out of 5,000-odd comments from the XML file to the new template, but without any of them actually being readable on the blog!

Back to the drawing board.

I went back to the original template. By an amazing stroke of good luck I discovered that I could change the Haloscan/Echo system's controls to show the comments directly onto the face of the blog rather than it being necessary to click through to read each post's comments. That meant that I could copy and save all of the monthly archives, including comments, into around 120 files instead of perhaps 5,000!

I did that during August and September.

Then I switched back to the new template and started the process of copying and pasting the old comments onto the new template, with each post's comments being transferred as a batch. The job was finished earlier today. Here's the control document:

Almost all comments ever written have been transferred, although quite a few in 2003 seem to have completely disappeared from the commenting history. And since then only the last 25 comments from each post have been recovered. The vast majority of posts attracted less than 25 comments but some did go up to 57 comments!

Nevertheless, I reckon that around eighty to ninety percent of all comments now appear on the new template.

If any aggrieved commenter has records of any missing comments please get in touch...

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