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Server Edition

Code on Github

This edition is for researchers looking to implement a customized version of the Web Historian extension for their project. The interface is a step-by-step informed consent process, rather than the more exploratory approach in the Education Edition. This version requires the researchers to set up a server to receive the data donation to make it as easy as possible for participants to contribute. If you need help setting this up for your project, please contact EMT LLC.

Not all research requires the server edition. If you do not need to collect data from participants’ browsers, just their responses to their visualizations in an interview for example, you can use the Education Edition. If you are doing a project that does require the browsing data with relatively tech-savvy participants that trust you, you could ask them to review their data in the Educational Edition and send you the json file they download after they have redacted what they do not want to share.

Here is an example of a consent form for a Web Historian project for a US based institution where browsing data and survey data were collected.

Please cite the paper below if you use the tool in your work.

Menchen-Trevino, E. (2016). Web Historian: Enabling multi-method and independent research with real-world web browsing history data. iConference, Philadelphia.

 title={Web Historian: Enabling multi-method and independent research with real-world web browsing history data}, 
 url={}, DOI={}, 
 author={Menchen-Trevino, Ericka}, 
 year={2016} }

Below are some papers that used Web Historian Server Edition to collect data (first in plain text, then in BibTex):

Casas, A., Menchen-Trevino, E., & Wojcieszak, M. (2022). Exposure to Extremely Partisan News from the Other Political Side Shows Scarce Boomerang Effects. Political Behavior.

Weeks, B. E., Menchen-Trevino, E., Calabrese, C., Casas, A., & Wojcieszak, M. (2021). Partisan media, untrustworthy news sites, and political misperceptions. New Media & Society,

Wojcieszak, M., Menchen-Trevino, E., Goncalves, J. F. F., & Weeks, B. (2021). Avenues to News and Diverse News Exposure Online: Comparing Direct Navigation, Social Media, News Aggregators, Search Queries, and Article Hyperlinks: The International Journal of Press/Politics.

Wojcieszak, M., de Leeuw, S., Menchen-Trevino, E., Lee, S., Huang-Isherwood, K. M., & Weeks, B. (2021). No Polarization From Partisan News: Over-Time Evidence From Trace Data. The International Journal of Press/Politics.

        title={Exposure to Extremely Partisan News from the Other Political Side Shows Scarce Boomerang Effects}, 
        abstractNote={A narrow information diet may be partly to blame for the growing political divides in the United States, suggesting exposure to dissimilar views as a remedy. These efforts, however, could be counterproductive, exacerbating attitude and affective polarization. Yet findings on whether such boomerang effect exists are mixed and the consequences of dissimilar exposure on other important outcomes remain unexplored. To contribute to this debate, we rely on a preregistered longitudinal experimental design combining participants’ survey self-reports and their behavioral browsing data, in which one should observe boomerang effects. We incentivized liberals to read political articles on extreme conservative outlets (Breitbart, The American Spectator, and The Blaze) and conservatives to read extreme left-leaning sites (Mother Jones, Democracy Now, and The Nation). We maximize ecological validity by embedding the treatment in a larger project that tracks over time changes in online exposure and attitudes. We explored the effects on attitude and affective polarization, as well as on perceptions of the political system, support for democratic principles, and personal well-being. Overall we find little evidence of boomerang effects.}, journal={Political Behavior}, author={Casas, Andreu and Menchen-Trevino, Ericka and Wojcieszak, Magdalena}, 
        language={en} }
     title={Partisan media, untrustworthy news sites, and political misperceptions}, 
     ISSN={1461-4448}, url={}, 
     abstractNote={This study investigates the potential role both untrustworthy and partisan websites play in misinforming audiences by testing whether actual exposure to these sites is associated with political misperceptions. Using a sample of American adult social media users, we match data from individuals’ Internet browser histories with a survey measuring the accuracy of political beliefs. We find that visits to partisan websites are at times related to misperceptions consistent with the political bias of the site. However, we do not find strong evidence that untrustworthy websites consistently relate to false beliefs. There is also little evidence that visits to less partisan, centrist news sites are associated with more accurate political beliefs about these issues, suggesting that exposure to politically neutral news is not necessarily the antidote to misinformation. Results suggest that focusing on partisan news sites—rather than untrustworthy sites—may be fruitful to understanding how media contribute to political misperceptions.}, journal={New Media & Society}, publisher={SAGE Publications}, author={Weeks, Brian E and Menchen-Trevino, Ericka and Calabrese, Christopher and Casas, Andreu and Wojcieszak, Magdalena}, 
     language={en} }
     title={Avenues to News and Diverse News Exposure Online: Comparing Direct Navigation, Social Media, News Aggregators, Search Queries, and Article Hyperlinks:}, 
     rights={© The Author(s) 2021}, 
     archiveLocation={Sage CA: Los Angeles, CA}, 
     abstractNote={The online environment dramatically expands the number of ways people can encounter news but there remain questions of whether these abundant opportunities faci...}, journal={The International Journal of Press/Politics}, publisher={SAGE PublicationsSage CA: Los Angeles, CA}, author={Wojcieszak, Magdalena and Menchen-Trevino, Ericka and Goncalves, Joao F. F. and Weeks, Brian}, 
     language={en} }
     title={No Polarization From Partisan News: Over-Time Evidence From Trace Data}, 
     abstractNote={Many blame partisan news media for polarization in America. This paper examines the effects of liberal, conservative, and centrist news on affective and attitude polarization. To this end, we rely on two studies that combine two-wave panel surveys (N1 = 303, N2 = 904) with twelve months worth of web browsing data submitted by the same participants comprising roughly thirty-eight million visits. We identify news exposure using an extensive list of news domains and develop a machine learning classifier to identify exposure to political news within these domains. The results offer a robust pattern of null findings. Exposure to partisan and centrist news websites—no matter if it is congenial or crosscutting—does not enhance polarization. These null effects also emerge among strong and weak partisans as well as Democrats and Republicans alike. We argue that these null results accurately portray the reality of limited effects of news in the “real world.” Politics and partisan news account for a small fraction of citizens’ online activities, less than 2 percent in our trace data, and are nearly unnoticeable in the overall information and communication ecology of most individuals.}, journal={The International Journal of Press/Politics}, publisher={SAGE Publications Inc}, author={Wojcieszak, Magdalena and de Leeuw, Sjifra and Menchen-Trevino, Ericka and Lee, Seungsu and Huang-Isherwood, Ke M. and Weeks, Brian}, 
     language={en} }