Not all mementos are created equal: measuring the impact of missing resources


Web archives do not always capture every resource on every page that they attempt to archive. This results in archived pages missing a portion of their embedded resources. These embedded resources have varying historic, utility, and importance values. The proportion of missing embedded resources does not provide an accurate measure of their impact on the Web page; some embedded resources are more important to the utility of a page than others. We propose a method to measure the relative value of embedded resources and assign a damage rating to archived pages as a way to evaluate archival success. In this paper, we show that Web users’ perceptions of damage are not accurately estimated by the proportion of missing embedded resources. In fact, the proportion of missing embedded resources is a less accurate estimate of resource damage than a random selection. We propose a damage rating algorithm that provides closer alignment to Web user perception, providing an overall improved agreement with users on memento damage by 17 % and an improvement by 51 % if the mementos have a damage rating delta \(>\)0.30. We use our algorithm to measure damage in the Internet Archive, showing that it is getting better at mitigating damage over time (going from a damage rating of 0.16 in 1998 to 0.13 in 2013). However, we show that a greater number of important embedded resources (2.05 per memento on average) are missing over time. Alternatively, the damage in WebCite is increasing over time (going from 0.375 in 2007 to 0.475 in 2014), while the missing embedded resources remain constant (13 % of the resources are missing on average). Finally, we investigate the impact of JavaScript on the damage of the archives, showing that a crawler that can archive JavaScript-dependent representations will reduce memento damage by 13.5 %.

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    According to the text at at the time of authoring.

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    We executed the wget command with parameters as follows: wget -E -H -k -K -p

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    Live Web resources may have missing embedded resources, and this results in a calculated \(D_{m_0} >\) 0.

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    The Internet Archive performs URI canonicalization very well and is assumed to not be a source of missing resources.

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    The Internet Archive has recently added an on-demand archiving utility at under the heading “Save Page Now” [33].

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    “Undamaged” mementos are mementos without purposefully removed embedded resources. Note that some live Web resources may have damage because they are missing embedded resources, and this damage is reflected in our undamaged and subsequently intentionally damaged mementos.


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This work was supported in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF) (IIS 1009392), the Library of Congress, and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Digital Humanities Implementation Grant (DHIG) (HK-50181-14).

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Correspondence to Justin F. Brunelle.

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Brunelle, J.F., Kelly, M., SalahEldeen, H. et al. Not all mementos are created equal: measuring the impact of missing resources. Int J Digit Libr 16, 283–301 (2015).

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  • Web architecture
  • Web archiving
  • Digital preservation
  • Memento damage