5

Web pages aren't designed to always be static and sometimes links will be removed.

For example,

This question refers to "P. 125 of these notes".

Unfortunately the link has been removed. Whilst in this case the question is still clear, it might not always be the case, and the link would add greater context to the question and might also provide further insight.

In order for a question to still be helpful and relevant, might it be worth Stack Exchange saving a copy of the links, perhaps similar to Google?

5

The Internet Archive has "save page now" functionality which can be used for this purpose. Wikipedia has started using it for all external links. Basically, new external links get saved at archive.org, and the link on Wikipedia is annotated with the archive link in addition to the live link. Then, if the live link eventually 404s or is otherwise ruined, the archive.org link is placed first.

I'd be happy to help explain the APIs involved!

4

While I agree with what you'd like to do, it's a lot of data. What I usually do if I come along a rotted link is

  1. Look when it was posted
  2. Go to the Wayback Machine Internet Archive.
  3. Find a page revision around the date the link was posted
  4. Change the link to the Wayback Machine's Link.
  5. Try to move relevant data into the answer, while leaving the new link
  • But many pages are not in Wayback Machine Internet Archive. – Franck Dernoncourt Mar 20 '17 at 15:34
  • ... that's why building a Wayback 'save page now' into Stack Exchange's code is the right way to change that for future answers. – Greg Lindahl Mar 25 '17 at 16:44
3

This is exactly why it's important that any links in posts not be essential to the answer/question being effective. Questions should be answerable even if links die; answers should answer the questions they are posted to even if the links die.

It's simply not practical (and often not desirable) for SE to clone every single site linked in a post. If there is information in the link that is essential to the post itself, that content should be copied over by the post's author when writing the post, specifically to handle cases where the links die.

  • "It's simply not practical (and often not desirable) for SE to clone every single site linked in a post." How about using the Wayback Machine API, or some other Web archiving initiatives? – Franck Dernoncourt Mar 20 '17 at 15:33

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