Quick Question for Experienced Bloggers

03 Nov

Are we supposed to do anything with dead/broken links?

My post from last fall on Medieval Movies has been receiving a lot of traffic lately so I went back and took a look at it. One of the links is to a site maintained by Tim O’Neil, History versus the DaVinci Code where Tim takes a look at the historical basis for many of the claims in the book. For some reason I decided to click on it and apparently the link had changed to a site (not a very good one – mostly blank) which promotes Dan Brown’s books.

Evidently the link had changed. I was able to go to Tim’s blog, Armarium Magnum and find the correct link and fix the post.

Is there a blog protocol for dealing with links? This isn’t the first dead/changed link I’ve come across though it’s one of the more important ones. I’ve sort of decided that people reading the blog would probably know enough about the internet to realize that links may die and/or change and have just lived with it. When I reference a link in a publication I include, “(last accessed on _____)” in the bibliography.

Are we supposed to do something similar with links in a blog post? Is there an assumption that the link is good as of the date the post was put up? Should I put a disclaimer, All links included in posts were righteous links at the time this was posted and the fact that they may lead the reader into evil is not the fault of Medieval History Geek and all of his friends, relatives, heirs and assigns?

This is not a big deal and I suppose I could Google this question but I’m curious what people think. I’m much less concerned about dead links than about links which may have changed and now take the reader somewhere I had no intention of sending him or her.


Posted by on November 3, 2011 in Blogology


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6 responses to “Quick Question for Experienced Bloggers

  1. Michelle Ziegler

    November 3, 2011 at 11:23 am

    I think from a practical point of view you can't go back and fix links. Obviously you can if you want to for popular posts, but I don't think its 'protocol'. I think its assumed that all links are/were good when the post went up.

  2. Curt Emanuel

    November 3, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    I've pretty much figured the same thing though I guess I never gave it much thought at all before.There are utilities/plug-ins for identifying dead links – ones which lead to a 404 code. In the past I've used those for websites. The links where the site content has changed? Different story – and more of a problem.

  3. Jonathan Jarrett

    November 5, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    I don't give last-modified dates in my blog-posts, because I assume that people will assume they were good at the post's date, but I do fix dead or broken ones when I come across them, if I have time. I haven't done an exhaustive test of my site because the nest of horrors it would likely reveal is too awful to contemplate… but I do fix those I notice for other reasons. This may be pedantry more than good practice, though, at least where those two are not the same thing :-)

  4. Curt Emanuel

    November 5, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    As many posts as you've made over the years, insanity would result if you reviewed all of it. Heck, I only caught this one because folks kept viewing that post (not sure why). I do think I need a disclaimer somewhere on this thing.

  5. John M.

    January 13, 2012 at 6:45 am

    If I encounter bad links on old posts it’s usually by chance and I always try to fix them, but I don’t go out of my way to check. For a link, it is far more likely that it will just go 404, less for it to refer to a new site, especially for permalinks and the like.

  6. Curt Emanuel

    January 13, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Thanks John. I’ve decided to officially not worry about it unless someone points it out or, as you say, I happen to run across something.


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