Quality problems with WWW and Gopher

Jacob Palme DSV (jpalme@dsv.su.se)
Thu, 14 Apr 1994 14:48:00 +0200 (MET DST)

During a recent course on Internet, we made demonstrations of WWW and
Gopher. Although the course participants liked the idea of the services,
their appreciation would have been higher if so many things which looked
to them like errors in the data bases occurred.

What happended was that when I tried to follow a link, instead of getting
the linked document, I got either nothing, or some kind of error message
saying for example that "this file has been moved to tape" or something
like that.

Because the person who puts in a link in WWW or Gopher, and the person
who is responsible for the linked document, sometimes are not actively
cooperating, this can happen. Especially when users use services like
Veronica, links to non-existing documents can easily occur and make
people feel that Veronica is not a good service.

My suggestion for a solution to this problem is the following:
Change the format of WWW and Gopher documents, so that there is a bit
somewhere in the document saying that "this is a dummy document,
the real document is not available any more". Also, always store
in WWW and Gopher documents the e-mail address of the person responsible
for the document. By document I mean also Gopher menus.

Then create a program which runs through the whole worldwide Gopher and
WWW data bases, in much the same way as is done when accumulating data
for the Veronica data bases. This program should note every case where a
Gopher menu or a WWW document contains a link to a non-existent or dummy
document. The program should then automatically write an e-mail message
to the person responsible for the WWW document or Gopher menu, telling
him/her that his document/menu contains links to a certain non-
existent or dummy document. Hopefully, the person will then remove the
non-working link, or change it to refer to an existing document instead.

(I am not a subscriber to www-talk or gopher-news, so if you write an
answer to this message, please post a copy to my e-mail address also.)

Jacob Palme E-mail: jpalme@dsv.su.se
Phone: +46-8-664 77 48 or +46-8-16 16 67
Department of Computer and Fax: +46-8-703 90 25 _not very fast_
Systems Sciences (DSV) Postal address: Skeppargatan 73,
Stockholm University S-11530 Stockholm, Sweden