Broken links suck II

Links are the lifeblood of the net. When webmasters move documents, links break and the web starts to die. If for some godforsaken reason this website reorganizes and moves files, we'll create invisible links so you are seamlessly transported to your destination. We promise.

We spend a ton of time trying to fix the links on this site to other pages, and it's not just us that's suffering. This quote from the Washington Post summarizes research into the longevity of URLs cited in scientific publications and the implications for the future:

In research described in the journal Science last month, the team looked at footnotes from scientific articles in three major journals -- the New England Journal of Medicine, Science and Nature -- at three months, 15 months and 27 months after publication. The prevalence of inactive Internet references grew during those intervals from 3.8 percent to 10 percent to 13 percent.

"I think of it like the library burning in Alexandria," [Researcher] Dellavalle said, referring to the 48 B.C. sacking of the ancient world's greatest repository of knowledge. "We've had all these hundreds of years of stuff available by interlibrary loan, but now things just a few years old are disappearing right under our noses really quickly."

Dellavalle's concerns reflect those of a growing number of scientists and scholars who are nervous about their increasing reliance on a medium that is proving far more ephemeral than archival. In one recent study, one-fifth of the Internet addresses used in a Web-based high school science curriculum disappeared over 12 months.

Another study, published in January, found that 40 percent to 50 percent of the URLs referenced in articles in two computing journals were inaccessible within four years.

"It's a huge problem," said Brewster Kahle, digital librarian at the Internet Archive in San Francisco. "The average lifespan of a Web page today is 100 days. This is no way to run a culture."

(Source: On the Web, Research Work Proves Ephemeral Electronic Archivists Are Playing Catch-Up in Trying to Keep Documents From Landing in History's Dustbin, By Rick Weiss, Washington Post Staff, November 24, 2003; Page A08)

This is no way to run a movement! If you have a website and if you have any respect for your own work at all do not move your documents around. Doing so is very close to throwing it away! See also an earlier rant that compares the process of running this website to the carnaval scam Wack-a-mole or read some well written articles by useability experts on the same subject as well as some technical tips on redirecting users to new files on our Website Design And Internet Activism page.