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Broken links

From: Jesper Tverskov <jesper.tverskov@mail.tele.dk>
Date: Thu, 13 Feb 2003 10:11:43 +0100
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <PMEDKJMNFKKCPMNLCCFIAEDNCCAA.jesper.tverskov@mail.tele.dk>


Broken links are probably more an issue for usability than accessibility, but at least they are very harmful to people with disabilities. I would like to hear what you think of the subject.

We all hate broken links, and 404-failures are very bad for users.

There should be no broken links on a homepage or in pages in first level of navigation, but on all other web pages, let us say in old articles, rapports, news, etc., and especially in archived material, broken links are only another word for progress or the natural way of life.

Fixing broken external links in such material is often contra-productive, because it makes a historically correct presentation of a web page impossible. When we fix a broken link, it will probably also be necessary to edit the text surrounding the link, and often to rewrite sections of the web page to reflect the story behind a new URL. On some websites we could probably use all our time fixing broken links and editing old pages doing more harm than good.

Of course it would be nice, if a link automatically change to just looking like a link and marked "broken", if the url no longer exists, but often it would probably be better just to accept the broken link, because interested users could use parts of the broken URL to get to the correct website anyway, and then search for the resource or a newer one.

Is it right, that users should expect and we should all accept broken links as a natural thing in old web pages and in archived material?

I would like to hear some opinions on this issue, since I have my doubts?

Cheers,
Jesper
Received on Thursday, 13 February 2003 04:05:54 GMT

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