😲 YIKES !
You can imagine I had so many questions (and wasn't in a good mood at all)
HOW did that happen? WHERE did they go? WHAT could be done to get them back?
At first, I thought it might be something screwy in Blogger (it's happened before) and that maybe all would be well in time. I powered my devices off and on again as doing so has been known to resolve an issue.
It didn't😟and online searches for similar issues proved useless, so I posted a support question to the Blogger Help Community.
YES, I received a reply from Platinum Product Expert, Irsah, who asked several questions: was I was using any of the Blogger default themes, my blog platform (Windows or Mac) and he asked me to include a blog URL so that others could possibly assist.
After complying, I remembered that after seeing the sidebar gone, I'd noticed that the bottom screen had stalled at loading LinkWithin, a widget that was on my blog.
(A widget is an element of a graphical user interface (GUI) that shows information or provides a specific way for a user to interact with an operating system or application. Widgets can include icons, pull-down menus, buttons, selection boxes, scroll bars, toggle buttons, checkmarks and other devices.)
By using the free LinkWithin widget in Blogger, a user can add related posts with images. The widget shows under each post and links to related posts from a blog archive so that readers can find other stories published within the blog. I'd been using this widget for a couple of years, and added it it after a fellow blogger's suggestion.
Could this widget have caused the issue?
Since I remembered that LinkWithin had stalled when the blog was loading, I looked further into the blog layout and not only found it, but was given the option to remove it — which I did.
YEAH 🤗 the right sidebars were back and LinkWithin was not — good riddance.
Returning to the blogger help community, I posted to advise Irsah that I had resolved my issue and he replied: Thanks and glad you found a fix. In your case, the web browser stalled 'painting' your sidebar because it was waiting for the Linkwithin gadget to resolve the connections, but that never happened.
Shortly afterward, another blogger, Georgiana, responded to my help community post: Thank you so much. Exactly the same thing happened to me. I've deleted the linkwithin "thingy" which only worked for a couple of months anyway. Now, back to normal.
SO if you have a similar blog issue, the easy fix could be to remove LinkWithin (it's located under Design and then Layout). Curiously, the LinkWithin website also wasn't working when I searched for it online and it would not load — and also seemed stalled (????).
Hope this helps someone else avoid a possible blogger meltdown.
Thanks for all your comments. I'm far from being a "techie" person, but when something isn't working or frustrates the ##$$!! out of me, (like blogger issues), I'll try to resolve the issue and this time got very lucky. I'm thankful to have remembered seeing that stalled linkwithin message was the culprit (this time).