Monday, February 14, 2011

Administrative Note on Dead Links

While transcribing these older posts, I have discovered a problem. Despite the fact that storage grows ever cheaper, and web access does the same, sites still continue to come and go, and those that do persist often either redesign their layout, or just erase old content. As a result, many of my old links to external articles end up being invalid.

What I wonder is whether or not I should try to correct those links. It is likely I could find the same content elsewhere, either under a different URL on the same site, or at least on the internet archive. However, in several cases, I also included the URL on the page, at least on the older posts. So, should I change that URL? Or just change the underlying link to point to the new found replacement?

At the moment, I am inclined to find all external links, excluding perhaps wikipedia, and linking them to the internet archive page for the closest date I can find. Even if the links are still valid, it seems best to do this to avoid future problems. Wikipedia I am not doing as, though it changes, the old content is available, so if my citation refers to something no longer visible, it can still be seen via the history page. For everything else I plan to use the internet archive.

Of course this adds yet more work to my plans, but it will definitely make my blog easier to read, especially for older articles. And so, despite the time it will take, expect to see all external links point to either archive.org or wikipedia, as any other destination is insufficiently reliable. (I may make exceptions for sites which are both stable and not prone to redesigns, such as apache.org or google.com, but as few such sites exist, do not expect to see many exceptions.)

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