What I would like to propose is more awareness of the fact that Links Rot, and so should only preferably be used as sources (as pointed out by @jmort253)
Link Rot, unlike a zombie attack, will happen! So why not prepare for it?
Allow user's to add meta (read rot-friendly) information to links. It is like a cache of a subset of that links' content which will probably come in handy when the link rots.
Over the last couple of occasions I have tried to add as much meaningful information to a link as possible, thus creating an automatic fall back lest the link ceased to exist.
I have used the following 3 ways:
- Linking the complete link text: http://stackoverflow.com/a/11030548/476786
- Providing a meaningful/keyword handle: http://stackoverflow.com/a/10377355/476786
- Including a relevant snippet from the linked page in the answer with a disclaimer: http://stackoverflow.com/a/11379888/476786 and http://stackoverflow.com/a/11605402/476786
Now, the first 2 approaches are acceptable when either the link text and/or the keywords are small enough in length while still providing enough info to fuel/guide a search.
But the 3rd approach got me thinking about
</die>. What about sites that forbade you to copy content across? I'm not legally knowledgeable enough, but clearly this would be a violation, yes?
Why not then have something like a
<rot /> markup, quite similar to
spoilers, but semantically more relevant. For the copyright part, this text should be kept hidden until the SO bots that check links flag it as unavailable. Once this threshold has been met, the text can be shown with whatever disclaimer you see fit. Let this be a reversible task for links that rise from the dead.
My visualization of the feature relies on the OP or the answerer making the effort. I of-course welcome a better or more unobtrusive way to do this, as long as something is done.