Versionista: Flip-flop tracker

New site that tracks changes made to Web pages can be used for gotcha games, and more.

Rafe Needleman Former Editor at Large
Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.
Rafe Needleman
2 min read

Versionista is a newish online utility that tracks changes to Web pages you're interested in. Used most recently, and famously, by the John McCain presidential campaign to highlight the changes in Barack Obama's written positions on issues like the Iraq war, it provides a wiki-like revision history of any page or site you feed into it.

An evolving position, or a flip-flop?

It's a great tool for trapping politicians, although of course it could backfire. Change in a platform can leave a politician open to justifiable attack, but some can be good. (See "Flip-Flop Flap" in the current New Yorker magazine.)

Beyond the gotcha value, there are other very useful applications for this service. You can use it to monitor prices on a product page. You can keep an eye on a competitor's site for changes relevant to your business, or for additions to their news page (although Google alerts can also work for that). Writers or commenters on blogs can use the service to see what changes publishers make to their stories after initial publication.

You can see a wiki-like revision history for any page you're tracking.

You can see changes in pages you're tracking in a wiki-like list, and you can display two versions of a page side-by-side, with the differences highlighted. The system can also track all the pages linked to from your target.

You can track two pages for free. Paid versions range from $16 to $499 a month and give you more URLs and storage space, and more control over filters.

The service will send you daily e-mails with updates. There's no RSS feed yet.

Versionista is reminiscent of Iterasi (review), an archival system for Web pages that will at some point add a feature to automatically capture pages into an archive. But if you're more interested in tracking changes than building a library, Versionista is a cleaner solution.

See also: The Internet Archive.

Found at Wired: McCain Campaign Uses Web Spider to Sting Obama.