Fighting link rot

We’ve all come across signs of link rot, the phenomenon by which material we link to on the distributed Web vanishes or changes beyond recognition over time. In all cases it’s annoying to follow a link to a page that no longer exists, but sometimes it really matters.

Jonathan Zittrain writes:

We found that half of the links in all Supreme Court opinions no longer work.  And more than 70% of the links in such journals as the Harvard Law Review (in that case measured from 1999 to 2012), currently don’t work.

That’s bad. But they’re doing something about it. The Harvard Law School Library, together with around 30 other libraries around the world, has started perma.cc, which will provide a facility for permanent archiving and links. It’s a great idea. I think it’s good that it’s curated: permanent links can only be created by authorised users, who are typically scholarly journals.

There are other efforts to fight link rot, too, with different priorities.

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