Mark McHugh

Another Sad Day For Truth, Justice And The American Way

In Open Thread on Thursday, October 6, 2011 at 11:19 pm

Last week I was able to say with absolute certainty that General Electric has vaporized more than $400B in shareholder wealth since 2000.  I went to the internet archive (aka the Wayback Machine) and sifted through old yahoo finance pages until I found the historic market cap data.  It was easy.  The Wayback Machine has an incredibly robust collection of captures from yahoo finance (one of the web’s oldest and most popular financial sites) , or should I say had?  Tonight I got this:

Unless there has been some kind of mix-up, no historic pages from Yahoo can be  accessed via the wayback machine, so hold on to those memories.   A few weeks back I was looking at the September 12, 2001 Yahoo front page and I thought it would always be there.  As it stands now, that snapshot of American history (along with countless others) is gone forever.

I wonder how many people share my outrage over this.  Certainly no one at the New York Times, CNBC, Fox News or anyplace else where  journalism has degenerated into a sideshow.  Facts are enemies to them anyway.

As 2011 unfolds, we are witnessing the same people tell the same lies they told just three years ago.   It’s insulting.  Jim Cramer’s assertions that “Morgan Stanley is fine…” and “2011 is not 2008!” make him sound like a wifty used car salesman.  Had Cramer understood 2008 was “2008” it might be interesting to hear what he had to say, but he didn’t.   I agree with Cramer however; 2011 is not 2008, it’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.

So say hello to the memory hole.

Note: I’ve contacted the Wayback Machine for an explanation.  I’d at least like to know whose decision it was to remove yahoo from the Wayback.  I’ll let you know what I find out.

Fun fact:  The Wayback Machine is operated by Alexa Internet, a subsidiary of 



The pages are back.  The above screenshot is the only proof I have that they were ever gone.

 I think we should probably do something to insure that those pages never disappear.

  1. No doubt you read that there was some maintenance to be done on their servers, but did you happen to notice this post? Content owners have some retroactive control?

    merle says:

    October 10, 2011 at 4:22 pm
    Ugh… Apparently I have been living under a rock and I just discovered this site Friday evening. When I try it this morning, I get this message: “We were unable to get the robots.txt document to display this page.” What does that mean?

    travis says:

    October 11, 2011 at 12:29 am
    We check the robots.txt twice. Once when the site is crawled, and once when the crawled data is served. This gives content owners some retroactive control.

  2. I was aware of the maintenance, Z.

    The “excluded” message appeared Thursday night (24hrs before the maintenance window) and stayed through Monday morning. I did some poking around over the weekend on the wayback. There were “that server’s not available at this time” messages, and such, but I found no other sites with the “excluded” message.

    I did try to contact the wayback for clarification as to whose decision it was to exclude yahoo.

    No reply

  3. Hmmm… just thought the bit about content owners having some retroactive control was interesting. Does that mean Wayback can change?

  4. I don’t know. For me the wayback has always been a godsend. The records are far from comprehensive, but anything’s better than nothing.

    After this scare, I’m thinking that someone should be responsible for archiving anything that portrays itself as “news,” and those records should be available to the public at low, or no cost.

    I don’t know if such an endeavour should be public or private, but one of the downfalls of electronic info is how easy to erase or modify it is. You know that there’s a whole lot of people who would love to see their words and actions blasted into never-neverland. The thought that they may get their wish makes me very nervous….

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