[map]A Temporal Pattern from
Patterns for Personal Web Sites

Unchanging Urls

404: Not Found is a response seen all too often when trying to visit a Web page: the page no longer exists, or has moved. This is linkrot, and it makes the Web less useful. A site with broken inbound links appears untended and dead, rather than being a Living Site.

Since you can't control who links to your site, the only way to fight linkrot is to ensure that visitors never get a 404 response.

Therefore, do all that you can to prevent URLs from dying.

If a page is obsolete, don't remove it. Either mark the content as obsolete and leave it, or remove the content and put a notice to that effect. In either case, offer a link to the current version of the page or to related pages.

Use HTTP redirects if necessary, but avoid them if possible.

Last updated 8 July 2003
All contents ©2002-2003 Mark L. Irons