Broken FAQ links
If you need to find a missing FAQ link, here are a few of alternatives:
- Look up the URL at a web-archive site such as "The Web Archive"
- The Australian Pandora Archive (same kind of thing, but maintained by the National Library of Australia)
- Search Google's cache
The catch with either option is that they don't archive everything ever put online. So if you can't find it there, then there's not much else you can do :?(
Broken links - a little perspective
Since 1999 the FAQ has accumulated over 2100 links, with more than 900 being external. Since the intra-FAQ links work fine, the breakage is confined to material hosted on external servers — over which I obviously have no control.
I can keep an eye on major websites or online discussion threads (LUG, photo.net etc.), but links to material on far-off servers will eventually go out of date. Domain names change; pages get moved around or deleted; CGI's are re-done; directory structures get rationalized. Even worse, material hosted on freebie-servers such as "Geocities" or "Earthlink" are notoriously ephemeral, with sites disappearing as quickly as fashionable Sydney restaurants.
What to do?
Send me a polite note. Better still, check to see if the link has been updated with a new URL, and then send me the new address.
To send a message is pretty easy — just click on the "Feedback" button at the top of this (or any) FAQ page.
Why don't I fix the links and keep them up to date?
Too much time and effort.
I maintain the FAQ as an unpaid hobby in my spare time. Doing a full site scan, checking the results, looking up alternative URLs or if necessary deleting links and rewriting text — would require at least a three full days of my time every month.
Why not lend a hand?
As I said, I don't have unlimited amounts of time to hunt down every broken link. If on the other hand you do, and a broadband connection as well, then why not give The Man a hand?…
How to check external links
- Open one of the following online-validaters in your browser:
(a) W3C Link Checker
(b) LinkScan / QuickCheck
- When prompted to enter a URL to check — use the following:
http://leica.nemeng.com/srcs/extlinks.php(This is actually a script which extracts all the links from the thirty most popular FAQ topics, and then bundles them together into a single page.)
- Run the checker. The Linkscan version is fastest (a couple of minutes to complete a scan), but the W3C Checker is much more thorough (at a cost of being six times slower).
- Now comes the hard part. Scroll through the results, note all the "404" (red) broken links and… check every single one. Click on an address to see if the error is due to the page being merely renamed or moved to a different directory. If so, then sleuth around to find the new address. In some cases the entire domain will no longer exist, in which case the link is kaput and becomes yet another candidate for deletion.
As you can imagine, these one-at-a-time error-checks can take hours to do!