Link Rot Destroying Our Culture

from the there-it-goes... dept

Yet another article praising the work of the Internet Archive, but pointing out the unfortunate problem that as people rely increasingly on the internet to do research, sources which people credit are often disappearing before articles even have a chance to get published. As the article says, the web “is proving far more ephemeral than archival.” The nice thing about links, rather than standard footnotes, is that it’s easy for anyone to go there right away. The problem is that they might simply disappear. Sometimes it’s because whoever is providing the original content goes away completely. Other times, however, the content itself is moved or just taken offline. We face this all the time here with links we post on Techdirt (though, of course, it’s not as serious as in research papers). The worst, though, are sites that reuse URLs. There’s one famous publication in particular that I’ve had a running argument with. They will replace certain articles, that look like they have a unique URL, with a completely different article every few hours. We had linked to an article they had, and before the post was even off the page at Techdirt, it looked as though we had posted the wrong link, because it had changed to something completely different. If sites absolutely must ditch content, they should at least know better than to recycle URLs.

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