I was composing an unpublished blog post in WordPress.com. I clicked on the “Save Draft” button. WordPress confronted me with an ominous dialog:
Are you sure you want to do this?
The “Please try again” part was linked text. I could have clicked on it. Later, in a discussion within a WordPress forum, when I was trying to figure out what had hit me, someone suggested that I should have used that link instead of clicking on the Back button. Oh, well. The Back button took me back to my blog post — more precisely, to the condition it had occupied before I had just spent five hours adding to it. Five hours of work had vanished.
We weren’t done. As I began exploring my options to recover that lost work, it seemed I was in the middle of a perfect storm. First of all, apparently I had not saved my work even once during those five hours. That seemed unlikely, but that was what I was getting from the computer. Second, there was no autosave. There is always an autosave! But for some reason, there just wasn’t. So I hadn’t saved my work, it seems, and neither had WordPress. As I pointed out in that forum discussion, this was a longstanding problem at WordPress, and they still hadn’t fixed it. Much to my regret.
Third, there was nothing in the browser cache. I don’t mean there was nothing that would help me. I mean there was nothing. A separate post in an Opera forum (for Opera was the browser I was editing in) led to the advice to use Nirsoft’s ChromeCacheView, tweaked to view the Opera cache rather than the Chrome cache. Perusal of the Opera cache with ChromeCacheView yielded the discoveries that (a) what I wanted, for these purposes, was probably one of the files ending with .htm rather than .css or some other file extension, and (b) as just noted, there was nothing in the cache, chronologically rearranged, before the time when I got that “Are you sure you want to do this?” message. At least nothing in the previous 36 hours.
Somehow, it seemed, the act of clicking “Safe Draft” had completely freaked out the system. I say “the system” and not “the browser” because I had previously had this same problem with Firefox. It wasn’t just an Opera issue. But surely it wasn’t just WordPress because, after all, how could WordPress wipe out the browser cache?
What had triggered the “Are you sure you want to do this?” question was, I think, a recognition at WordPress that I was about to lose my work. Apparently the Back button took me to a different webpage than the WordPress-Opera team had in memory. They were possibly prepared to take me back to my edits, but I didn’t click the right thing. The question I was being asked was, are you sure you want to lose your work?
I think WordPress-Opera was sensing that I was about to lose my work because the tentative URL assigned to the draft post used the date of June 29, and now it was July 1. That is, by not saving my draft previously, I had apparently not given WordPress-Opera a chance to update the automatically assigned portion of the post’s URL to read 2014-07-01, or something like that. I had previously observed that WordPress was still easily confused if you were editing overnight and didn’t help it to get adjusted to the new date. I don’t know why WordPress would not have fixed this problem, but so far they hadn’t.
So there is, of course, the advice to save your work often, and preferably to copy it to something like Microsoft Word, so as to preserve links and so forth — balanced against the reality that sometimes people will get absorbed in their work, or for some other reason will rely on autosave and other aids. There is the option of using an offline editor, with the drawbacks that may entail. And there is the hope that WordPress will get its act together and fix this problem.