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Websites, social media posts and other web based content is ephemeral, the average lifespan of a webpage is around 100 days. Yet more and more hyperlinks are appearing in scholarly literature as footnotes, references and citations. Using hyperlinks can connect the reader easily and freely to the cited materials. But broken links can appear sloppy and careless and one in five scholarly publications has been found to have broken links. So how can we reference the internet if the content is constantly shifting and changing?
The Wayback Machine is an initiative of the Internet Archive which allows people to visit archived versions of websites. The Internet Archive is a non-profit which is building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. Individual can use the Wayback Machine to archive webpages and get a persistent link to the archived page to use for referencing. The Wayback Machine is also a way of finding missing content or visiting earlier versions of a webpage if the original content has drifted.