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I just asked a question here on meta. I thought I a hit a dead link in the faq on SO. But the answer on that question states that it is because I do not have to reputation required to see that page.

The page I got this is for the moderator tools in the privileges, specifically these two URL's (perhaps there are others on lower privileges):

http://stackoverflow.com/tools/flagged

http://stackoverflow.com/tools?tab=delete

When trying to access these two pages I get a 404 Page Not Found

I think there are several options to prevent the 'dead' links.

  1. notice the user it might be possible that the link isn't accessible
  2. remove the links for users with not enough rep
  3. change the page to which is linked for users with not enough rep stating so
  4. something else?
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Note that this happens for all not-enough-rep items, e.g. deleted questions. –  Kevin Jan 4 '12 at 20:48
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I think this is sort of by-design (displaying 404 when you don't have privileges to access whatever it is that you are trying to access). –  NullUserException อ_อ Jan 4 '12 at 20:52
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@NullUserExceptionอ_อ To be semantically correct, it should be returning 403 Forbidden. –  Robert Harvey Jan 4 '12 at 20:58
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@RobertHarvey I believe this is an example of security through obscurity. There are several tools that just give you a 404 if you try to access them without the privilege to do so. This way someone with insufficient privileges doesn't know if it's a privilege issue or they got the wrong URL altogether. –  NullUserException อ_อ Jan 4 '12 at 21:00
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@NullUserExceptionอ_อ and why shouldn't they be told it's because of their rep and not just a dead/mistyped link? Especially for e.g. deleted questions, which they might legitimately think is a dead link. –  Kevin Jan 4 '12 at 21:13
    
@Kevin For all intents and purposes, deleted content is gone. Very few people have the privilege to see it: less than 2k users out of 670k users + a large number of unregistered visitors (SO gets 12 million visitors/month). If less than 1% of visitors can see it, it's pretty much deleted. –  NullUserException อ_อ Jan 4 '12 at 21:31
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@Kevin Deleted questions show a meaningful message. For example, this one says "This question was removed from Stack Overflow for reasons of moderation." (plus links to explanations, related searches, etc.) –  Anna Lear Jan 4 '12 at 21:49

1 Answer 1

up vote 7 down vote accepted

As you'll notice if you visit the links again (logged out, if you're allowed to see them otherwise), these pages (and a few other ones that previously just returned a 404) now return a 403 with an explanation of what's needed to be allowed to see them.

The page you're trying to visit requires the privilege “access to moderator tools.”

You receive additional privileges on Stack Overflow by earning more reputation through participation on the site. When you have earned at least 10000 reputation, you will receive the “access to moderator tools” privilege and will be allowed to view this page.

Visit the privileges page to learn more about the privileges you can earn.

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The actual moderator tools (for diamonds, is what I mean) still return 404, I believe. –  lunboks Jan 6 '12 at 20:30
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Yeah, why not? They're not linked anywhere (at least officially), and nobody gains anything from knowing "you may see this page when you get elected." As the RFC says, If the server does not wish to make this information available to the client, the status code 404 (Not Found) can be used instead. –  balpha Jan 6 '12 at 20:38

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