W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-tag@w3.org > February 2009

broken links in W3C documents and recommendations

From: Larry Masinter <masinter@adobe.com>
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2009 16:00:22 -0800
To: "www-tag@w3.org WG" <www-tag@w3.org>
Message-ID: <8B62A039C620904E92F1233570534C9B0118C85ACAD7@nambx04.corp.adobe.com>
With respect to ACTION-222:

Here is my proposed note to W3C Staff as an operational policy for the W3C web site, and, in particular, for maintenance of W3C publications.

Subject: Dealing with broken links in W3C publications

The W3C recommends a practice where "cool URIs don't change"": http://www.w3.org/Provider/Style/URI

However, in some cases, unfortunately,  links *do* change. For example, the TAG Note:


contains two links which no longer point to the documents intended:

http://www.ietf.org/internet-drafts/draft-eastlake-cturi-03.txt and


In fact, this disappearance of documents at those URIs was not due to a clerical error on IETF's webmaster's part: it is IETF policy currently to remove documents which have expired from the official "Internet-drafts" repository.

I think the response should be two-fold:

a)      When publishing a document as a Note, Working Draft or any other permanent W3C publication,  the criteria for publication should examine any hyperlinks in the document and attempt to assure (from author or editor assertion or some other means) that there is a reasonable commitment that the referenced document will be available indefinitely. This policy might have prevented the current situation.

b)      In cases where current W3C permanent publications contain links that are broken (discovered either automatically or noted and reported by an individual), I suggest the W3C create a permanent "reference" page for the now-broken hyperlink, add to the "reference" page some possible alternative sources of the same document, and change the hyperlink in the W3C document to point to the "reference" page.

For example, one might create a web page:


which could contain:

                   A W3C document originally contained a pointer to
                That document is no longer available, but an alternate source for that document can be found at

The goal is to establish a general way of dealing with "broken links" by replacing them with "cool" URIs maintained under W3C control.

Received on Thursday, 12 February 2009 00:01:05 UTC

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