analytical Q May-Aug 2000 Sept-Dec 2000 Contact Discussion

The Diary
Anne Ku

22 December 2000 Friday






LINKROT: a site is as weak as its weakest link

Broken links, broken hearts. It takes only a few broken links to drive an impatient visitor away. It takes only a few broken hearts to abandon hopes of love forever. Broken links send the message that the site is not updated on a regular basis. No one running the show, and in the worst case, loss of credibility.

So how do you prevent broken links?

  1. Don't have any links at all
  2. Check your links systematically: manually, via an automatic link checker tool, or outsource this
  3. Rely on visitors to report broken links

EContent (Oct/Nov 2000) reported that at least 5 to 10% of all links on the World Wide Web are broken. The usability guru Jakob Nielsen wrote "Even worse, linkrot contributes to dissolving the very fabric of the Web: there is a looming danger that the Web will stop being an interconnected universal hypertext and turn into a set of isolated info-islands."

Is linkrot equivalent to incorrect citations? Let's investigate when a broken link occurs. An incorrect link is an incorrect citation, that is, incorrectly specified. This happened to me when I specified links with www instead of http://www or when I mistyped or misspelled. However, when the page itself moves or disappears, which sometimes happen, all the links to it are broken. What should have happened is that a meta-tag refresh page be used in place of the previous page. For example, if I moved this page elsewhere, I should keep the file, but have a meta-tag refresh statement to automatically redirect to the new location. So it's not all the linker's fault.

The good news is that there are many software out there that will check your links for you. There are even free link checkers that you can submit your page to. They will email you back with the results. I like that. I've used Netscape's Webgarage for this.


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