When URLs go bad


I remember talking with a guy in IT once.

I asked him what he did.  His response – “I ping routers”.  It was a simple answer but it was a particularly important job.  In a network with many routers to get the data to its ultimate destination, it’s important that you know when a router goes bad so that it can be rebooted or fixed.  Of course, he had a tool…

On this past weekend, we were away and dropped into a conservation area and considering going for a swim.  Now, as I’m sure that we all know, not all water and swimming areas are equal.  There are times when the water has problems – in particular with E.coli.

As we got to the beach, we were particularly pleased to see a sign that had a phone number where you could call and get the details.  We made the call only to find out that the phone was answered Monday to Friday, 8:30-4:30.  Well, that didn’t work out.

But there was something even better on the sign.  There was a website where you could check the water conditions.  Great.  A Plan B for potential swimmers.  Make a phone call and, if that doesn’t work, check out the website.  But, alas, the URL returned a 404 error.

Screenshot 2018-06-17 at 19.39.46

I think we all have experienced this.  Web page not found.  So, I backed off the URL to go to the root of the website and it turned out to be broken as well.  We’re impatient – can we go swimming or not?  Next step?

You got it.  Search for it.

And, it worked.  We found the new URL for the community and worked our way through a maze of webpages and found the report.  The beach was safe.  Boy, that was some hot searching!

I think that many of us keep collections of URLs.  There are utilities like this one that will check out your URLs and let you know which ones are broken.

But, in a big community organization, just like my friend the URL checker, there should be someone making sure that posted URLs are good and, if need be, signs are updated.  I think it’s particularly important when you’re trying to do a public service like letting you know if it’s safe to swim here.  A simple new URL printed on some tape placed over the old one would suffice until a new sign could be printed.

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OTR Links 06/18/2018


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.