Every week I check the links on my other website. And every single week a handful are broken and need fixing or just plain gone.
Link rot - where links no longer point to their original target - is real.
At one point there were 1500 individual web pages on my site and around 6000 links. Today there are around 1000 pages and ~2800 links.
That number drops by a handful each week. This week’s check was exceptionally bad because hundreds of Twitter links stopped working and there is a problem with the web archive.
Integrity, an excellent linking checking program for the Mac, found 493 bad links.
Not every link flagged by Integrity is broken… some were missing temporarily when the bot visited. In other cases the page took too long to load.
While some flagged links are redirects. This week’s 493 bad links only included a single redirect.
It’s good practice to recheck any links Integrity flags… and then manually check before removing a terminally broken link with no obvious alternative.
The web archive is a good source of alternative links. Often a publisher will remove a link, but there’s an archive of the page. Where possible I will link to these.
In recent months, more and more archived pages have been missing in action.
Twitter’s meltdown probably won’t won’t be the last mass-extinction event for web links, but it is a reminder that online history is constantly rewritten, revised and in many cases, deleted.