Subtleties of the Google Date Search Operators

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Google has for some time permitted temporal filtering of search results, limiting what is presented to those before and/or after a specified date. This can help approximate what search results would have been presented to a user at specific points in time. The Internet Archive Wayback Machine (IAWM) can then fill in more of the hypothetical historical user journey by showing what those webpages might've looked like contemporaneously.

Temporal filtering has long been available via the Tools menu on the search results page as well as through the Google Advanced Search interface. More recently, explicit date operators — before: and after: — were implemented, that could be included in the search query itself.

While conceptually intuitive, in my experience, the application of temporal filtering to Google searches frequently yields counterintuitive results. It turns out that this has a lot to do with the challenges of determining the relevant date(s) of a webpage. Here I'll unpack what I've learned about temporal filtering of Google search results, with some examples using the date operators.

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Caveats on the Internet Archive Standard Affidavit

The Internet Archive (IA) standard affidavit has for some time functioned as a routine, reliable mechanism for the authentication and admission of Internet Archive Wayback Machine (IAWM) evidence in legal proceedings. While the prevailing acceptance of the IA standard affidavit for this purpose is probably reasonable, it is important to be mindful of IA's own stated qualifications on their attestation. The gap between authentic copies of IA's records and faithful re-presentations of historical webpages may be significant, and legally material.

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Web Archivability Guidance Refreshed and Republished

Starting in 2014, I authored and published an extensive set of web archivability guidelines in my role as the Service Manager for Stanford Libraries Web Archiving. Some time after I left in 2019, the staff who succeeded me apparently concluded that they no longer had the expertise to maintain the webpages and decided to unpublish them. This was an understandable though unfortunate decision, as it was one of few contemporary community resources on the topic

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