Whether it’s between servers or content management systems, migrations can be the bane of many online editors. Inevitably, content gets corrupted or worse, lost.
At Patch, the sites have undergone two migrations of which I’m aware—the first when the company transitioned from its Patch Classic to the Patch 2.0 platform in spring 2013, and the second when the content was migrated from AOL’s servers to those belonging to the company’s new owner, Hale Global. During the first migration, all photo captions and credits were lost, in addition to many stories; surviving stories lost all italics, and some lost links and anchor text.
All articles housed under /breaking-news/ and /editors-picks/ were lost in the more recent migration.
Fortunately, I’ve had some success with retrieving lost articles through archive.org’s Wayback Machine. Here’s how I do it—note that these instructions can work for nearly any site, not Patch.
1. Find the URL of the article. As an example, this story I did relating to the crash of a Redondo Beach-based yacht disappeared between when I was laid off at the end of January and last week: http://redondobeach.patch.com/groups/editors-picks/p/registered-crewman-not-aboard-aegean.
2. Go to archive.org and enter the URL in the Wayback Machine. If the service doesn’t find an archived copy and the article was published before May 15, 2013, you can try searching the old Patch by replacing /groups/…/p/ with /articles/. For example, http://redondobeach.patch.com/groups/editors-picks/p/registered-crewman-not-aboard-aegean would become http://redondobeach.patch.com/articles/registered-crewman-not-aboard-aegean. This trick works for articles with shorter headlines.
3. If there are results, you’ll get a page with a calendar on it. Any date with a colored circle around it is an archived version. Click on one of those. You’ll see a page that looks like this: https://web.archive.org/web/20120513211615/http://redondobeach.patch.com/articles/registered-crewman-not-aboard-aegean.
4. Print the article from that page.