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Archiver > CyndisList > 2007-12 > 1198929119


From: Cyndi Howells <>
Subject: [CyndisList] A lesson in broken links
Date: Sat, 29 Dec 2007 03:51:59 -0800


Recently someone submitted several new links through the form on Cyndi's
List. There are several guidelines for submitting new links. Three of
the points read as follows:
--First verify the address before submitting it.
--Type the address carefully for complete accuracy.
--For error-free submissions, use the "copy & paste"
function on your computer to highlight and copy the
address from your web browser window and paste it
into the text box below.

That seems straight-forward to me. The links are automatically added to
a waiting area page on Cyndi's List (What's New) and they are sent to me
to be forwarded to the mailing list. So, if links are submitted I assume
the submitter is following the guidelines. I also assume the submitter
cares about the link(s) they are submitting, thus the reason they
submit. Well, you know that old saying about why I should never assume
anything.

Links are often submitted to my site without much care. Incorrect URLs
(addresses), no descriptions, poor descriptions, misspelled words, lack
of punctuation...you've heard some of this from me before. But, that
isn't what this message is about today. Today it is only about the
incorrect addresses that cause broken links.

I don't normally pick on specific people or instances, but this one is
still haunting me today, over a month and a half later, with dozens of
e-mails coming to me to report the failed links. On November 15th
someone submitted a link for each US state to a site called
iMortuary.com. 51 new links (don't forget DC). Of those 51 links, 43
links were submitted with bad addresses and are broken. Further, the
submitter didn't use consistent descriptions, so they obviously weren't
merely doing a copy and paste (if so, the description would probably
have been the same over and over again). 43 broken links, newly
submitted, means extra work for me to now fix them on my What's New page
for November (http://www.cyndislist.com/new1107.htm); 43 links are
forever broken in the mailing list archives
(http://archiver.rootsweb.com/th/read/CyndisList/2007-11/1196067888);
there are numerous wasted e-mails back and forth reporting the broken
links to me; and a bunch of wasted time for all of you who tried to use
those links. In the end, the broken links defeated the purpose of
submitting them to my site in the first place--to get visitors to that site.

Now to the lesson in broken links. If you encounter a broken link you
might be able to find the correct address yourself by looking carefully
at the URL. In this case, the broken links resulted because the
submitter put the first letter in the name of the state in uppercase
instead of all lowercase letters. For example, they submitted this:
http://www.imortuary.com/cemeteries/Ohio/
when it should have been this:
http://www.imortuary.com/cemeteries/ohio/

Another issue with the link for New York was easy to spot. It was
uppercase, but they also left off the hyphen used in the two-word names
for other links. For example, they submitted this:
http://www.imortuary.com/cemeteries/New York
when it should have been this:
http://www.imortuary.com/cemeteries/new-york/

Another thing you can do is break down the address and move up
directories to the main directory. In the examples above, just backtrack
through the address, removing first the state name:
http://www.imortuary.com/cemeteries/
In this example you are taken to a page which is an index of all of the
links to each state page. If this example hadn't worked we could just
backtrack more through the address and go to the main homepage at:
http://www.imortuary.com

If you haven't already learned these tricks, start looking at URLs for
web sites to see if you might figure out broken links that you happen
upon. I'm off to fix the links on the What's New page.

Successful surfing!
Cyndi


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