Brad DeLong quotes Kevin Drum (“What a mess. A combination of host problems and Movable Type fragility wiped out my site for the entire day. I’d bore you with all the details, but I’m too pissed off right now to write about it. … Also, all my permalinks changed during the reconstruction process, so if you have ever linked to anything at all here, your links now point to the wrong post. It’s not quite the classic version of linkrot, but it’s close.”), and notes that he has “about 185” references to Kevin Drum or Calpundit, all 185 of which are now pointing to the wrong place.
I clearly need to either (a) resign myself to having nearly tenscore dead or misleading links, or (b) learn enough perl to write a filter to rewrite all those links to an intermediate “apology” page and then link them forward to http://www.calpundit.com/.
In any event, thank God I have been good at quoting enough context to make much of the discussion and commentary still intelligible even with the hyperlink gone beyond repair.
But as this goes on – and it will, with individual websites popping up and dying off, with rogue programs trashing databases, and with large corporations deciding to reorganize and break every link – I need to become much better at stuffing more of the context of everything into the “extended entry” page.
That or we need something like the wayback machine to establish a truly persistent and permanent internet archive that we can link to with confidence. And perhaps a version of movable type that makes it trivially easy to export backups with postid numbers attached, so that the exact file structure can be recovered with trivial ease after a database collapse?
I beseeched Lazyweb for a nice linkrot-prevention/automatic-reversion-to-the-Wayback-machine solution a while back myself. MT users should also back up their databases from time to time, in case of the need for a restore. Finally, every MT user should future-proof their MT permalinks. One minimal step is removing the post id from the URL, so that a change of database doesn’t inherently corrupt the old permalink structure. Mark Pilgrim has some suggestions for cruft-free MT permalinks, too.