The Internet Archive's new Wayback Machine
has been launched ahead of its fun evening
tomorrow night. Whatever other alterations have been made, the instant archiving feature is both the most noticeable and is likely to be the most useful, not necessarily for the archiver, but for later visitors.
Like other robots, the Wayback Machine crawls the Web remorselessly, archiving all in its path except pages that have been explicitly excluded by the robots.txt protocol. There was or at least appeared to be no rhyme nor reason with the indexing of pages; some would be visited frequently, some extremely infrequently; a surprising number would not be indexed at all. For news sites, this can mean pages are lost, perhaps forever. On some sites, news articles are moved to new links, or even deleted, probably for a variety of reasons. Adding a page to the old Wayback Machine was exactly the same as the new version, but whereas before it may have taken a whole day for a page to be added, now it is fairly instantaneous. If the page is not already archived, you will receive a message:
"Wayback Machine doesn't have that page archived.
This page is available on the web!...
Add this Page to the Wayback Machine"
Simply click on the last line - which is linked - and a message will pop up to the effect that the page is now being archived. When this has been completed, you will be redirected to the new page. The process takes only a few seconds. If more people archived pages routinely, link rot would be greatly reduced.
The old Wayback Machine used to archive non-existent pages; the new one doesn't. If you entered a url manually and managed to misspell it, the old version would create a page for that url, which was of course blank. With the new version, you will receive a regular 404 error.