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Staff Handbook: Tasks : Checking for Broken Links

Over time, links between resources become outdated and are no longer usable. We use a link-checking robot called Linbot to traverse all of our ejournal pages and try and follow all the links. It will report on all of the broken or outdated links. You can start using this page at:

http://lumiere.lib.vt.edu/linbot/

The page you're most interested in is the "Bad Links" report. This report contains a list of all of the links that linbot was not able to follow, and a more detailed code regarding the failures.

Linbot is a good tool, but has problems with certain sites.Even if Linbot reports a link as being bad, your first step is to check the link manually.

If the link is truly broken, there are a few strategies for finding a replacement URL. If the URL looks like it might be malformed (there appear to be missing characters, etc.), simply try entering what you think the URL might be. This works for cases where the URL was recorded incorrectly.

The next strategy is to work backwards from the broken URL until you find a URL that is not broken. For example, if the link http://myserver.com/journals/JLA/fall98/intro.html doesn't work, the first thing you'd do is take off the filename, and try to connect to http://myserver.com/journals/JLA/fall98/. If the shortened URL doesn't work, keep removing directory names until you get a directory that works. Once you're on a valid page on that site, see what you can do to locate the resource again. Often times this involves reading the text associated with the link on a given page, Linbot will also list the pages a broken link was found on.

If you can't find the link that way, try searching one or more internet search engines. Often this is a great way to find home pages for an organization.

If you still can't find a valid link to replace the broken link, insert an editorial note like the following next to the link in the original texts:

[note -- this link is no longer valid]

DO NOT remove the original text, it is important to preserve the last known location of the resource. DO make sure the URL is no longer a link (see example below).

If you find a replacement link, insert an editorial note like the following next to the broken link in the original texts:

[note -- this link has moved to http://amazon.com/ ]

The important thing to remember is that the printed text of the URL should remain as it was when the journal was published, but should no longer be a link. The updated URL should also be a link to the new resource.

Wrong Sites such as http://badurl.com/bogus_page.html [note -- this link has moved to http://www.superbad.com/] often use....
Right Sites such as http://badurl.com/bogus_page.html [note -- this link has moved to http://www.superbad.com/] often use....

The point of the previous example is that you want the original content to be there, but you want to remove the ability for users (and Linbot) to easily follow the broken link.

 
 

http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/staff/handbook/tasks/link_checking.html
Last updated on: Tuesday, 31-Jul-2001 09:53:09 EDT

 

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