I have withdrawn this from being a to just a (as recomended by @arjan).

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)

Original Post

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:

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>copyright</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.

  • 6
    ...what makes you think a zombie attack won't happen? Jul 23, 2012 at 3:34
  • 2
    @jadarnel27 cracked.com/…
    – bPratik
    Jul 23, 2012 at 5:21
  • 1
    For context, here is the revision history of the first answer. stackoverflow.com/posts/11030548/revisions. It was a link-only answer, and I edited it with some additional detail from the target site. Revision history is here so readers of this page can see where you were originally coming from.
    – jmort253
    Jul 23, 2012 at 6:06
  • As you accepted animuson's answer, I guess this is no longer a feature request? Please either retag to "discussion", or make the title summarize the feature request. Thanks.
    – Arjan
    Jul 23, 2012 at 8:26
  • @Arjan well, like I said, I'm not fully satisfied, but it seems like the way to go. I'm not sure how Feature-Requests work... Do I wait for it to be Declined without accepting an answer, or just leave it like it currently is? Do all requests get religiously moderated and changed to Declined/Completed/Etc.?
    – bPratik
    Jul 23, 2012 at 9:32
  • I don't see a need to accept anything you don't fully agree with, and surely not within 3 hours after posting your question: half of the globe is still asleep or at work. So, if you still want this, then at least change the title please. (I think the feature request has little chance, by the way: too much work to implement, too few will care to add the meta data.)
    – Arjan
    Jul 23, 2012 at 9:40
  • @Arjan ok now? :)
    – bPratik
    Jul 23, 2012 at 10:07

1 Answer 1


What about sites that forbade you to copy content across?

Don't copy it. Paraphrase it. If you're linking an article that you feel answers the question, you should be able to explain what the article says and how it answers the question. That's the kind of context we want to be included with links. Links aren't there as a "go here for the answer" catch-all, they're a way to provide a source of where you got the information you're now providing.

If it's a code example that you need to provide, make up your own. It's extremely difficult to copyright code snippets, since it's very possible for someone to write code which is almost exactly the same, especially when you get into simple code statements which are used all the time. Use snippets of the code which are relevant to the OP. In some cases, you can integrate the pieces the OP needs with the code they already have.

A feature to provide context about a link after it dies is not necessary, as the context should have already been provided a long time ago with the answer. Copyrighting is only a problem if you're, well, copying. Most sites will already allow you to copy content as long as you provide a link back. If you're ever not sure, take a visit to a chat room and ask someone.

  • thanks! I'll accept the answer to complete the ask-answer-accept cycle, although I still have reservations, which I'm not being able to paraphrase. don't get me wrong, for the moment at least, your answer is making perfect sense to me... :)
    – bPratik
    Jul 23, 2012 at 6:12

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