Avoiding link rot

From Repair Wiki


Link rot is a phenomenon that occurs over time as online resources are moved, renamed or deleted, resulting in hyperlinks to their original URL ceasing to work. For instance, manufacturers may remove specifications or diagnostic information for 'obsolete' products from their websites, while individuals' personal websites and blogs often go offline once the author stops paying for web hosting. Link rot often results in well-researched online information becoming less useful over time, because links to supporting materials or references permanently break, and users are then unable to access the resources that were linked. Avoiding link rot is very important to ensure the information here remains maximally useful in perpetuity.

Finding permalinks on archive.org

To minimise the chance that references and resources on repair.wiki are eventually lost to link rot, we suggest that contributors use permalinks whenever linking to outside materials. The Internet Archive uses automated web crawlers to create permanent snapshots of websites which are hosted on its own servers, and will remain online even if the original content is moved or deleted. You can browse existing snapshots by pasting a URL into the Wayback Machine box on the front page of archive.org. To select a snapshot to view, choose a year from the top bar, then mouseover a date and click on a snapshot time in the pop-up box: (missing)

You should now see an independently hosted, permanently archived copy of the website as it appeared at the date and time of the snapshot. If the website does not load or displays badly, try a different snapshot date/time; sometimes temporary web elements (such as advertisements which were shown for only a few days or weeks) can make a difference to the display quality of the archived page.

Creating permalinks on archive.org

If the website you would like to link does not already have a snapshot on the Internet Archive, you will see this message:


Click the button to save the URL in the Wayback Machine; this is free and the snapshot is usually available within seconds.

You can also create a new snapshot of any web page at any time. The Internet Archive provides instructions here on how to do so. Creating a new snapshot of the resource you want to link is a good idea if it is likely to change frequently or quickly (for instance a forum thread, a news article with a relevant comments section, or a sales page that is updated with new products and prices every day.)

Finding resources using broken links

If you encounter broken links, it is often possible to find a copy of the original resource by pasting the URL into the Wayback Machine as described above. If the URL is not part of the original hyperlink, right-click the link and select 'Copy link' to save the original URL to your clipboard, then paste this into the Wayback Machine. Remember that multiple snapshots may be saved over a period of years, and the most recent snapshots may reflect the current broken state of the link (eg, a snapshot taken last month may show the host website's internal 404 error page, while snapshots taken 3 years ago show the resource you are trying to find.)

If the Internet Archive does not have a snapshot of the resource, try additional archival projects such as:

WebCite (not accepting new archival requests as of October 2021, but significant existing archive)

archive.today (also known as archive.is; list of mirrors available on the Wikipedia page)