If the snow ever goes away, there’s quite a bit of maintenance that needs to be done around here. Things that get broken over time just scream for maintenance. If you leave it alone, it just goes from bad to worse. Once it hits worse, then it’s next to useless.
Now, I could be talking about the branches from the trees out back or I could be talking about websites. Let’s focus on websites. (You know how to pick up broken branches…)
The impetus for this post came from a conversation with a friend of mine. He was looking for something on a big website and couldn’t find it. He did, however, find a broken link. Between the two of us, we started digging and found all kinds of broken links. In fact, it was a school district website with teacher webpages that were created by a facility that the school district decided that they wouldn’t use any longer. But, the links remain just appearing to be dry rot needing to be pruned and cleaned up.
It happens all the time. You know that. You create a webpage or a directory of the “Best things to do this” and it’s terrific the moment that you publish it. All the links work and you point people to that page. They use it and send their friends who send their friends. Then, a link will get broken. The visitor to YOUR webpage gets frustrated because there’s just nothing worse or frustrating than a “Page not found” error. We get used to one or two odd ones but a big collection? Surely, some maintenance is in order.
There are a couple of ways to fix this – you could get a cup of coffee and warm up your clicking finger and go to it. Or, a technique that I used to use when I managed a bunch of directories was to encourage people to report errors.
That works well when I had access to do the updates. Now that I don’t have, I have no idea how it’s maintained.
But that can be a slow, painful process. Surely, in this day of automation, there’s a better way.
Of course, there is.
I use a wonderful program called Xenu Link Sleuth. It’s so simple to use. Once installed on your computer, run the program, and provide the URL to Xenu and say go!
Xenu then faithfully does its best to check every link from the URL you submitted on down. It’s comforting to watch the green URLs go by. See a red one and you know that you’ve got some work to do.
Xenu runs great under Windows or using Wine in Ubuntu.
Got a Macintosh?
Then, you probably want to check out Integrity.
It’s the same concept. Give a starting URL and a shove to get started and let Integrity do its thing.
Could you imagine a web where everyone’s responsible for their webpages and checks them periodically? No more links that go nowhere?
Wouldn’t that be nice?