Launched around 2012 by dycaite, it centers around cataloging movies, cartoons, TV shows, video games, specific filmed footage, notable works of fiction and other media that either have no known copies left, are otherwise impossible to find, or are just extremely rare. So in another way, it can also be seen as Missing Episode / Keep Circulating the Tapes, the website.
Each lost media is in one of six categories of "lost-ness": whether it is completely out of reach for a normal person (lost), not confirmed to be real (existence unconfirmed), has been partially found (partially found/partially lost), was lost for a long time but finally found (found), or revealed that no production was started (non-existence confirmed).
Although some media is considered hopeless to recover, there have been surprises in the history of the Lost Media community, with some efforts having come to fruition after either diligent research and negotiations or by the act of an Anonymous Benefactor. Many of such recovered works are often available for download or viewing on the website itself.
That being said, while the Lost Media Wiki itself is unlikely to become lost media soon, there have been various concerns around the aforementioned recovered media. Since recovered media is commonly hosted on private, for-profit hosts (mainly MediaFire) that could go down with its hosted files at any moment, web archiving initiatives such as Archive Team collect copies of recovered media and keep them on hold until a host goes down.
The website was originally based on Wikia, but has now moved on to its own domain.note
- Anonymous Benefactor: The Sesame Street animated short Cracks (at the time known as "Crack Master") was one of the most sought-after pieces of lost media on the website, even becoming sort of an icon for the site. Years passed until, on the morning of Christmas 2014, the founder/administrator dycaite received a copy of the short in an email from an anonymous person.
- April Fools' Day: On April 1, 2020, the LMW announced that they wouldn't update the current site anymore, as they'd be spending all of their time on a new wiki... the Albanian SpongeBob wiki, a reference to an absurd "lost dub" article that became a meme within the userbase (and just in case anybody didn't get the joke, said wiki is also in full Stylistic Suck form).
- Deleted Scene: Most of lost media is either deleted footage or other elements from existing works that have not been released to the public.
- Early Installment Weirdness: When articles for the LMW first started being written, the titles weren't in the standard format note and the titles would vary greatly until there was a rule of uniformity. This caused a lot of early pages to have tons of redirects.
- Grandfather Clause: The Wiki has rules against including films that weren't put into any production. Normally, this would mean that A Day with SpongeBob SquarePants wouldn't be allowed, but thanks to it bringing so much attention to the wiki (basically putting the site on the map), a decision was made to keep it.
- All articles about non-English dubs were deleted because the wiki was starting to become sick of the enormous amount of articles written by people who didn't even speak the dub's language. Only one article was grandfathered: Nickelodeon's Japanese feed.
- Hidden in Plain Sight: A few pieces of "lost" media have turned out to be this. For example, the infamous "Clockman" short that aired on Pinwheel was eventually found by a user named Nitrate Nerd on YouTube (albeit in the original Czech, though the English dub would turn up later) under the name "Sally".
- Keep Circulating the Tapes: Some of the listed "lost media" could be better categorized as this. While it's possible that some people might have a copy, it doesn't mean that it's widely available.
- Missing Episode: The entire concept of the website is listing notable recorded content that has gone missing, whether it be old silent movies, TV show pilots, syndicated animated series, or video game prototypes.
- Moe Anthropomorphism: LMW-tan, a girl in green and white (like the color scheme of the wiki) who was originally fanart, has now become its official mascot.
- Obvious Rule Patch: There used to be a massive amount of articles being written about foreign dubs of movies and cartoons, with most of them being authored by people who didn't even speak the dub's language (one especially infamous example was the article about the Albanian dub of SpongeBob SquarePants, which became the poster-child of pointless foreign dub articles). After the site got sick of them, a new rule appeared: lost dub articles will only be qualified if it's a form of English dub or the original language. Exceptions must be approved by an admin.
- What Could Have Been: Some of the articles list projects that are not confirmed, completed works. Others are about alternate versions of some creations that are unavailable to the public.
- You Keep Using That Word: Under the wiki's guidelines, the term "lost media" is applied to pretty much any form of media that is not easily accessible to the public, not actually "lost" as in "destroyed/vanished" without any copies available. So you have content that is confirmed to still be out there, but not made available due to issues such as copyright.
- A lot of cancelled projects are listed on the wiki, although it is not always specified what is lost, or if there was actually anything produced to be lost.