Re: Broken links, are we ever going to address them?

Paul Phillips (psphilli@sdcc8.UCSD.EDU)
Mon, 23 Jan 1995 10:51:15 +0100

You seem to have hit all the salient points, but:

On Sun, 22 Jan 1995, Martijn Koster wrote:

> Idea 2: rather than the client implementing this, the server can do so
> instead; when finding a failed URL it can initiated the BROKEN method
> to the server found in the Referer (pity so many Referers lie). This
> also reduces the repeats if a server remembers it has flagged a
> particular error situation.

This isn't going to fly with the current Referer implementations. Too
many browsers lie, especially all the Mozillas which constitute over half
the web clients currently. Even if every version written from now on
were accurate, the sheer number of liars deployed will results in too
many false positives. I get dozens of the MCOM home URL in my Referer
logs on a daily basis.

There also needs to be a more reliable way of ascertaining the maintainer
of a page. There are a few machine heuristics and a few more human ones
that can work, but no reliable method. Even a ~user URL isn't
guaranteed to be able to receive mail at the same machine.

I don't know if there's an easy answer to this, but I do think it's
important that it be addressed. The web, like the Internet, has maintained
the cooperation model for a long time, but the influx of corporate users
is high. If a broken URL generates a noticeable number of errors to
such a server, they may not be inclined to just patiently wait for it to get

Paul Phillips       EMAIL:       PHONE: (619) 220-0850 
WWW:         FAX: (619) 220-0873