Hello. You probably all know that I'm trying my best to find old versions of Minecraft, and that "archival communities" exist, that have one goal: To find lost versions of Minecraft. Here I will talk about the benefits of archiving, and even the problems in it.
First of all, what archiving?
Many minecraft archival communities exist for one reason: To make sure files aren't lost. Files meaning: Versions, server files, screenshots, music and other game-related files. Also saves, and even old mods. I'm mostly focusing on versions.
What exactly is lost?
I can say one thing: A LOT of stuff. Nearly, or even over 100 versions and almost as much server files.
What does an archivist do about this?
An archivist usually contacts people who have played during these early days. The range of completely lost versions that we know existed goes from the first classic (0.0.9a) to one of the last alphas (Alpha v.1.2.3_05). Most classics remain unfound (Such as 0.0.14a_08, out for 10 days) but half of indevs, one infdev and a few alphas are lost, too. More about why classics are so hard soon. Archivists also find proof of existance for versions. 2 years ago there was no proof of 0.0.14a_07 anywhere.
Why it is a good thing:
As in every game, the fanbase slowly grows up and they'll start trying to find the version they started in. They should be able to find it. Additionally, why wouldn't like to experience different development phases?
We encounter a lot of problems. Such include fake versions, people trying to troll us by telling they have a version we don't and running out of leads. This sounds weird, but also every person of the 12000 people who played during 0.0.18a_02 we have contacted (~10%) did not save jar files (naturally tjey were stored in %temp%). This is the largest problem, and to get help with it we would need more help for this project.
The most asked question ever, "is it legal to share jars?":
It is, by email etc, privately. I have proof from HelenAngel. Does mojang allow it? Well, to make it even clearer, you need a minecraft account and the launcher to play old versions. Sharing jars is not allowed on the forums, and it is not adviced unless it benefits the launcher and Mojang.
Some very important pieces of Minecraft's history missing:
Classic 0.0.9a. The first private, but still released, testing version.
Classic 0.0.14a_08: A version out for 10 days, that had different gravel, sand and leaf textures.
Classic 0.0.15a: The first multiplayer.
Classic 0.0.16a_02 to 0.0.18a_02: Very early multiplayer versions.
Classic 0.0.19a: A interesting version which in glass was added.
Classic 0.24 survivaltest: The first survival. Had creepers, zombies, pigs and skeletons
Classic 0.26 survivaltest: The first version with spiders.
Indev 9th of January: the first version with fire.
Early February indevs: development versions from when notch tested mobs.
Alpha 1.0.1: First version with redstone.
Alpha 1.0.8: Cows added, cows had unique sounds in this version, that sounded like kazoo sounds.
Alpha 1.0.17: A version where you get 64 fences when you spawn.
Alpha 1.1.1: Had a notorious gray screen bug that turned the screen gray.
Alpha 1.2.3_05: All the mobs spawning were creepers!
Feel interested? You can help us and Mojang in searching for these. With a little more help, we could find another one of these unique and rare versions.
The Meaning of Life, the Universe, and Everything.
Soliciting for versions is against forum rules even if the versions are years old and no longer available through legal channels. Expect the thread to be deleted, because the forum staff doesn't care about the fact these versions are old and cannot be obtained through any legal manner.
The idea of just sending Mojang lost versions is ridiculous, though; they didn't save it the first time. Why would they care? Easy answer. They don't. And they won't care.
Even though soliciting of versions is against the forum rules, there are many posts (made recently) about old versions. And for some reason, many of them have been deleted.
It would be interesting if we knew the reasoning behind why these threads are being deleted.
P.S. - It's just not on the forums, but on the Minecraft subreddit as well.
Mojang does not permit the distribution of its assets (including old Minecraft jar files) outside of its official channels, and as such, discussions of this type are not allowed anywhere on these forums. For the most part, the only jar files that can be linked to or referenced on these forums are the ones served by the official Mojang sources.
The reason why these threads aren't allowed at all is that even if the thread owner is not intending to link to jar files, inevitably someone will start posting to the thread with links to Mojang assets stored at third-party sites. As time goes on, the forum staff will have to continue dealing with people posting jar file links until the thread is ultimately locked.