A world of dead links

I’m reorganising the content on www.yorkstories.co.uk. It’s needed doing for a while.

It’s generally tedious – I expected that. Wasn’t quite prepared though for the amount of dead-ends I’ve found, where these pages link to other sites.

I’m sure that it used to be considered really bad form to leave dead links behind you when you redesigned a site. I’ve always tried, if I’ve had to move a page, to leave a redirecting page, so people can find what Google etc has sent them to. There are many ways of achieving this, mine is very basic. Proper ‘techie’ people have better ways of doing it.

Or so I thought. They used to. Now they don’t bother. Sites are redesigned with apparently no thought at all for the mass of dead ends left behind. I’m going through pages on my site, so carefully compiled … I’d added to them links I thought would be useful and helpful. Many of them now lead nowhere, and this is frustrating for me, and for visitors to the site.

I’ve been dealing with the effects of this a lot recently, and have to write something about it, as the alternative, with the cumulative effect of the mounting fury, would be to start banging my head against a wall, or perhaps into the glass screen of this computer monitor in front of me.

The worst thing about it? It’s all the big organisations leaving dead links.

The pages I compiled some years back of walks in Yorkshire are particularly affected by this ‘dead link syndrome’.

It’s not about me, and my wasted work gathering links to ‘useful info’. I care about the web in general, about its usefulness, about useful content.

This dead link problem goes against the whole basis of the web, which is about the ‘hyperlink’. That’s why it’s a web – because it links. If half those links no longer link, then it’s full of useless debris and traffic going nowhere. The ‘information superhighway’ is increasingly populated with cul-de-sacs.

The links I have to smaller, personal sites are still, in general, live links. Which suggests that it’s about the ’small’ people versus the big corporations/organisations/companies.

The ’small’ people don’t tend to leave dead links behind. They may have dated-looking sites, but the sites are still there, and the info you linked to is still there.

But these individuals – like me – engaged in making websites from sheer enthusiasm, and a wish to share useful information, have linked to the big organisations. And what do the big organisations do? Not give a damn, apparently.

They have massive budgets for redeveloping their sites, but can’t quite manage to set up redirects from the pages they’re redesigning.

For example:

Ordnance Survey
English Heritage
York Press (and its parent company)
Yorkshire Water
City of York Council

[etc]

I’m weeding out the many links to the above. I’m not going to chase their content to wherever they’ve relocated it. This website is a labour of love, and my ‘love’ is running out.

Seems no point in linking to anything on their sites, if you’re wanting it to be useful to future readers, researchers, walkers, explorers. There will be another redesign in a few years and they’ll no doubt do the same again. And we web users will increasingly find ourselves at ’sorry, the page you requested has not been found’.

It’s all about tweets and ‘likes’ I guess. Maybe now links only need to last a day or two.

  By Lisa @YorkStories 7 January 2012 , To link to this page's proper location please use the > permalink.

About Lisa @YorkStories

Lisa @YorkStories is the creator, administrator, and writer of content on www.yorkstories.co.uk. She can be contacted on this link or via Twitter, @YorkStories

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