|FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is Old'aVista?
Old'aVista is a search engine focused on personal websites that used to be hosted on services like
Geocities, Angelfire, AOL, Xoom and so on. In no way it should compete with any of the famous search engines
as it's focused on finding historic personal websites. You can find more details on why I created this website in the Why page
How did you acquire the data for the search index?
The data was acquired by scraping pages from the Internet Archive. I basically
used a node application I built with some starting links and I saved all the links I found in a queue and the text from the pages in the index.
Old'aVista looks familiar, why is that?
Old'aVista's design is based on the 1999 version of the defunct Altavista search engine.
The name of the website itself is a wordplay on Altavista. My original idea as to get old search engines and make them functional again, but I decided to
make this website its own thing while maintaining the nostalgia factor.
Does Old'aVista compete with TheOldNet?
No, and it never will. Old'aVista is a search engine only and it's supposed to live alongside TheOldNet and other retro internet services.
Old'aVista is focused purely on helping people find old personal websites that are served via TheOldNet and the Internet Archive.
Does Old'aVista compete with FrogFind?
No, even though FrogFind is also a search engine, their goal is very different than Old'aVista.
FrogFind uses DuckDuckGo to search and serve modern web sites on VERY old computers.
Why is my search slow?
Unfortunately search queries in Old'aVista can take up to 1 minute to be fulfilled. The reason for that
is that this website is built and maintained by a single person and it's hosted on a VPS from A2 Hosting with 1 gb of ram.
The whole search index lives in a single Postgres table with more than 3 million records and growing. In practice that means that, if you have a query that returns a lot of results, it will take longer to be fulfilled.
This situation can definitely be improved but I don't have the means to make that happen at the moment as I have to pay for my hosting out of pocket.
Why do I get irrelevant search results?
Because of how Postgres full text searches work, words like "the", "who", "a", "is", "it", which are known as "stop-words", are eliminated from the search as they are used very frequently.
So if you search for "Doctor Who", you'll be searching for "Doctor", if you search for "The Sims", you'll be searching for "Sims" and if you search for "The Who", you'll be searching for nothing.
There are ways to improve this, probably on a case by case manner, and I'm looking into them. But for now you can try to add more words to narrow the search down a bit more. Like "Doctor Who Tardis", "The Sims Maxis", "The Who Roger Daltrey".
Why do you have the option to search the Internet Archive?
The reason I added that option is because the Internet Archive website doesn't really work on retro systems and if you type a partial url that is valid on their site, it goes directly to that website.
That doesn't happen if you search the Internet Archive here, but you also lose some of their features. Also, TheOldNet also uses the Internet Archive in their search feature, so you should get the
same results here that you would there if you choose that option.
What are Top Searches?
Those are the most searched queries on the website, the more people search for a term, the higher that term is gong to rank on that list.
What are Old'aVista Highlights?
Those are the most clicked search results, every time a search result is clicked, the service registers it in its database and the highest ranking ones are listed on the homepage.
What is Cool Places?
Those are websites that I think are cool and you should check out. I'll add more of them later on.
What are Directories?
Directories, in this context, refer to the archived Yahoo Directories that have been revived on Old'aVista. Although it's possible to explore the old Yahoo Directories using the Wayback Machine, that method often leads to stumbling upon broken links and restricts browsing to only one year's directory at a time. To address these issues, Old'aVista has extracted content from the Yahoo Directories spanning the years 1996 to 2003 and stored it in its database, while discarding any links that were no longer functional. This has resulted in a more streamlined and user-friendly navigation experience for those interested in perusing the original Yahoo Directories.
What are the Years next to the Directories names?
The years appended to the directory names denote the initial year when that specific directory was first discovered. This becomes particularly helpful when multiple sub-directories share the same name, as a result of their URLs changing over time. It essentially assists in distinguishing between different versions of the same-named directories based on the year of their first appearance while they were being scraped.
What is the @ symbol next to a Directory name?
The presence of an @ symbol next to a Directory name serves as an indicator that the said Directory also exists as a sub-directory within other Directories.
What is the meaning of the sunglasses symbol placed next to a website within a Directory?
Originally used by Yahoo, the sunglasses symbol signifies that a particular website possesses a design or content that distinguishes it from the rest. Old'aVista has decided to maintain this emblem to denote the same.
What do the [IA] and [Direct] links signify next to a website's title in a Directory?
When you select the link associated with a website's title, it takes you to the site through TheOldNet. However, clicking the [IA] link will load the webpage via the Internet Archive. The [Direct] link is provided to directly load the site, which is especially useful if you're utilizing a proxy service such as TheOldNet Proxy.
What does it mean when a favicon appears next to a website title within a Directory?
The presence of a favicon next to a website title within a Directory signifies that the website was hosted on a specific platform such as Geocities, Angelfire, AOL Hometown, Xoom, or FortuneCity. If the website was not hosted on any of these platforms, no favicon will be displayed.