I have just had to update two of my answers (Should I use #include in headers? and 'Self-sufficient header files in C and C++?) because the cross-referenced web site at GSFC no longer works. I wonder how many other questions have similar link-rot problems and (more particularly) what can be done about it.

I don't know what's feasible, especially given the size of the overall question and answer base, but it might be nice to have some periodic sweep process (maybe over a period of 3 months or so to keep the workload spread over time) that validates URLs and notifies the posters (questions, answers, comments) if the URL goes AWOL (404), or whatever.

I fear that otherwise good answers to questions become less relevant over time simply because the external resources to which they refer have changed.

  • @waiwai933: certainly, this is very closely related to the linked question. – Jonathan Leffler May 1 '11 at 21:44
  • Check also this question: Questions linking to external web sites instead of showing code – Aleadam May 1 '11 at 21:58
  • @Aleadam: yes, that is another aspect of the problem, though that particular one can largely be resolved by incorporating the code into the question. If the code is too big to fit in the question, then the question is probably too complex for StackOverflow to answer. It might be something for CodeReview.StackExchange.com or it may not fit anywhere until the material is trimmed down to something manageable. – Jonathan Leffler May 1 '11 at 22:40
  • For the questions referenced, the cross-referenced (and now 404) material is available in the Internet Archive Wayback Machine at web.archive.org/web/20090412090730/http://…; which leads one to wonder whether links gone 404 could be researched using the Wayback Machine and the time of posting? – Jonathan Leffler Dec 12 '12 at 18:17

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