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Q: Posting dates of web pages ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   6 Comments )
Subject: Posting dates of web pages
Category: Computers > Internet
Asked by: boomering-ga
List Price: $3.00
Posted: 03 Mar 2003 08:00 PST
Expires: 02 Apr 2003 08:00 PST
Question ID: 169999
Frequently when searching the web I'll find a statistic or other piece
of information which would be made much more valuable to me if I knew
when the information was posted. So here's my question: is there an
easy way to derive the posting date of any given web page?
Subject: Re: Posting dates of web pages
Answered By: read2live-ga on 03 Mar 2003 09:23 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello, boomering,

As with so many simple questions, there is no quick, simple answer.

There are ways, but they may not always give you what you need.  But
then, don't always believe what the author claims, either!

When there is no date of posting or last revision shown, in Netscape
(version 4.7, if not others) you can click on View, Page Info (or
Ctrl+I) and you may see the date the page was last modified in the
lower half of the screen.

You could also try looking up the URL in the Way Back Machine
<>.  Dates when the page was altered are
shown with an asterisk.  This can be very accurate indeed - and
possiby more accurate than any information shown on the actual page
you are looking at.

However: some pages are altered automatically, kept apparently
up-to-date by software.  An example can be found at Shakespeare Online
: <>.  Open the page and hey, the
page was last updated just seconds ago.  Give it a couple of minutes
and click on shift+reload and hey, the page was last updated just
seconds ago...  et cetera  (This feature does not appear to work in
Netscape, but just try Internet Explorer!

Some online journals do this too.  Although the page you are looking
at was published weeks or months or even years ago, the date shown is
today's.  Sometimes in fact theoriginal date of posting is there, but
not as prominent as today's date.  Sometimes it is not there at all. 
Be Wary!

We are taught at school and college that when we evaluate the value of
a web site, one of the criteria may be currency, or contemporaneity,
or similar date-worthiness.  We are also asked to find the date of
posting for use in any citation or bibliography.  Ironically, a number
of web pages on evaluating web pages fail themselves to state the date
when they were posted, but that is by the way.  As important as date
of posting is, I suggest it is just as imporant to state the date when
you found the page, and the standard style guides stress this too. 
You might also make a habit of printing out at least the first page of
any web page you use or might use - if you make sure the settings are
set to give the URL and the date, you will be well on the way to being
able to give full bibliographic information.

One other tip: try looking for sites which mention or even link to the
page whose date you cannot find.  Sometimes the linking page makes
mention of a date, sometimes the link page may have its own posting
date which will help narrow down the date of posting of the page you
are tracking down.

If all else fails and you need this for your citation, you just have
to resort to (n.d.), to show no date.

Hope that helps track down those missing details, read2live

Clarification of Answer by read2live-ga on 03 Mar 2003 10:08 PST
Hello again,

Another tip I have just come across which seems to work in Internet
type into the address/ location bar of the web page you are trying to

You get a pop up box showing date and time.  Now that IS simple.

The caveat stands:  because the Shakespeare Online page is constantly
updating itself, the javascript popup box shows the date and time you
downloaded/ reloaded the page and not the date & time it was last
modified without the update software.

But it's closer to the simple answer you seek.

Best, read2live

Request for Answer Clarification by boomering-ga on 03 Mar 2003 10:27 PST
Hey Read2live,

I enjoyed your answer, but I'm disappointed: if I read you right,
their is no set place to access the date of posting. Is that right?
BTW, I use IE 6. It just seems like such a huge
this a shortcoming of the browser, i.e. the information exists, but
because of browser inadequecies, can't be accessed? Or is it that the
Web doesn't automatically associate a date with a posting, and
therefore, there is not necessarily a date of posting in existence? I
mean i always assumed one could go to File/Properties or something
like that and find a date.

Regardless, thanks for your answer.


Clarification of Answer by read2live-ga on 03 Mar 2003 12:32 PST
Hello yet again,

I had not realized this was so comnplicated.  Yes I did: my opening
comment was that there is no simple answer.  I thought I had found it
after all with that piece of javascript, but perhaps not.

I did try the MyIE2 option - but found no download available for the
LastModified plug-in, there's no link as there is under most other
files.  MyIE2 does have a number of good-loking features, though I am
laready irritated by the way I move from browser page to browser page
when I click on Ctrl+left arrow (or + right arrow) when in a text
editor - I am too used to moving to the previous word/ next word.  But
that is beside the point.

I do prefer robertskelton's response: "Ordinarily, one cannot find the
date a page was updated, just by using a browser" - this is my
experience.   So I hope your disappointment is with the browser, and
not with my answer.

There are ways of getting around IE's shortcomings, not perfect and,
per clouseau's response, not accurate either - apart possibly from
MyIE2, and as I said I cannot verify this myself, I cannot download
the plug-in.

If you remain disappointed with the answer, then I will withdraw it -
we don't like having dis-satisfied customers on Google Answers, don't
want you paying out for unsatisfactory answers.  Give clouseau's
suggestion a try, see if you have more success than I did!

best, read2live
boomering-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $2.00
Answer and comments to this deceptively complex question were exceptional.

Subject: Re: Posting dates of web pages
From: clouseau-ga on 03 Mar 2003 10:36 PST
Hello boomering,

The javascript suggestion above does not seem to work for me.It gives
inaccurate information on many pages I tested.  But here is what does
work accurately for me:

There are alternative browsers and some use the IE engine, but add
functionaility to it. The best of the best, and I have tried them ALL
is MyIE2. You can find it here free:

If you like this browser, you will find a plugin called last modified.
Simply clicking this on any page gives an accurate time and date. You
can add this to the toolbar as well, in MyIE2, using the MyIE Options
dialog and Plug-ins..

There is so much flexibility and options in MyIE2 that I can not run
you through the process to install and put this on the toolbar, but
they have a wonderful and helpful forum if you run into any

I hope you find this useful.


GA Researcher
Subject: Re: Posting dates of web pages
From: robertskelton-ga on 03 Mar 2003 11:12 PST
Ordinarily, one cannot find the date a page was updated, just by using
a browser. I installed a piece of Javascript on my web site that does
give the date of the most recent update, as a way of getting around
the problem.

Web pages have an optional META tag for the date when it was last
modified. Some HTML authoring programs will update this automatically,
others (like Dreamweaver) won't. Any tool that shows you the date will
rely on the META tag being there.
Subject: Re: Posting dates of web pages
From: denco-ga on 03 Mar 2003 13:28 PST
Kepp in mind what read2live stated about "automatic updates"
though; there is software out there that can make a page be
"updated" everytime someone accesses it, or will "update" it
on a daily basis, etc. so you possibly will get a website that
will have a current "update" date on it, while there was no
substantive change.
Subject: Re: Posting dates of web pages
From: carnegie-ga on 03 Mar 2003 17:48 PST
Dear Boomering,

The "automatic update" problem is probably deeper than has been
represented above.  It is very common (and will presumably become more
so) for web pages to be created dynamically, or on-the-fly.  An
obvious example is the result of a web search: the listing returned by
the search engine is a web document but it has been generated
especially for you from a database of information that has been
generated over some period.  The date of the search listing is
current, but the information from which it is derived will be older
and may have various dates.

It is indeed sometimes possible to find the date of the document
itself, but the only way to know the currency of the information from
which it is derived is to trust (or otherwise) any date supplied as
part of the web service - within the page itself, that is.

I hope this helps.

Subject: Re: Posting dates of web pages
From: read2live-ga on 03 Mar 2003 22:02 PST
Hi, Boomering - and fellow researchers and commenters,

I am very pleased by the five star rating and the additional tip, many

Can only say, that you just don't know what you don't know, especially
when you think you do know!  An object lesson there for us all.

An additional thought for us to ponder: many magazines are published
ahead of the official date of publication.  Time and Newsweek come to
mind: I often receive my copy through the mail, and they are often
delivered ahead of the official publication date.  Online periodicals
databases may likewise update ahead of the official publication date. 
How to cite these, how reliable the apparent dates of publication?

Thanks again, read2live
Subject: Re: Posting dates of web pages
From: drwho-ga on 04 Mar 2003 03:54 PST
Hi Boomering,

I also faced the same problem. Tried the Javascript code and all that.
After much searching online, I came across a good solution (better
than the javascript code above). Ironically, this also relies on
javascript. :-).

I am thoroughly satisfied with it and hope it solves your problem as
well. Its called Bookmarklets and you can find the same here:

The site also has a lot of other similar tools such as search, web
page tools, and lots more that I find very useful in my journey
online. And most of all, you dont download anything, just add links to
the browser favorites/bookmarks.

Hope you like it.

Thank you.

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