The Sisyphean Labor of Link Love

I woke up this morning to a Twitter exchange between Alan Levine and Ken Bauer about creating a plugin that points dead links on a blog to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine:

I do believe my career as a plugin developer is under-rated, never built a bad one 🙂 That said, I did dabble with the plugin Amber, as Tim reminded me, for archiving links both on my site as well as on the Internet Archive, but it was a lot of database overhead and was seemingly inconsistent on WordPress Multisite—so it fell by the wayside.

I’m sure Alan will blog the wonders of how he is augmenting the WordPress Broken Link Checker plugin to point folks at the Internet Archive and I, for one, would immediately install any fork he created. Alan blogged an early example of this plugin modification on his Secret Revolution blog, which in turn linked to this blog post on the bava that then sent me down a rabbit hole of link rot maintenance—a task that will never end until I die, but is oddly comforting in the meantime.

Turns out the article Brian Lamb and I published with the Open University of Catalonia in 2009, “The un-education of a technologist,” was no longer available resulting in a dead link. No problem, I thought, we created a site for the article with all the content at http://unartist.wpmued.org, but when I went there this morning it was throwing a cPanel error. Oh noes!

My Advancing Web Years: Issues with Trading my WPMS Mansion for a Florida Condo

I immediately knew what the issue was, I had started dismantling my WordPress Multisite instance (http://wpmued.org) several years ago to pull out bavatuesdays, my personal site jimgroom.net, and a few others, but forgot this one. I still had the database and all the files, so I pulled it out of the multisite and stood it up again, and will probably site sucker it up into straight HTML for the most reliable long-term archive. And that, dear reader, is the Sisyphean labor of maintaining the integrity of your blog over the long haul. It’s work I deeply enjoy, but can understand it being overhead for many. So making it easier and better is important and I’m glad Alan is always mindful of the long history of the web we inhabit.

Digital Structures: Institutions Abandon / Individuals Preserve

The detour this morning also made me aware that one of my favorite ds106 videos from back in the day, “News on the March,” I’d linked to in that post from 2015 was now private. I had asked the student on several occasions to make it public again, and he always obliges but that can get annoying. So I finally uploaded my version to bava.tv, and embedded that across my blog so it is available apart from Youtube, which makes me very happy.

While searching for that video I noticed that many videos I had linked to for ds106 were no longer working because Youtube had changed their link/iframe structure, so I had a ton of dead links I needed to update, so I then started work on that, and will soon do a database find and replace. Which reminded me how happy I am to have my own little Youtube clone through Peertube that allows me to store and archive all the videos I watch and create. It’s been a game-changer for me, and I quickly archived those ds106 videos on my Peertube instance cause you can never have enough copies.

In fact, as much as I love the Internet Archive, and I do, I like even better the idea we each have some kind of spider tool for the links on our site, like the Amber plugin mentioned earlier, so that there are copies and backups beyond the Internet Archive. Depending too much on one site may prove problematic in the long run, or just unevenly distributed in terms of what you did or didn’t want as part of your personal archive.

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4 Responses to The Sisyphean Labor of Link Love

  1. Your title says it all. The hill grows taller and the rock wider every day. But put no faith in institutions or companies or organizations to push along side, it’s always going to be an individual. The Internet Archive is an organization but its really the stamp of Brewster Kahle that makes it an exception.

    Yes, full owning and arching everything is an ideal. I am comfortable with people being on a spectrum of actions, from doing nothing (most) to being super reclaimers. I find myself in the middle, but the biggest value/reward is maintaining my own stuff first. Tend my own garden. And it has plenty of weeds of my own making.

    This worked out brilliantly from an off the cuff rant, then Ken reminding me of seeing the crossed off links at the Bava (which I had caught on before). Once I found the plugin, it clicked that maybe with a little fiddling, I could use all of its features to crawl and parse and test links, to just behave its behavior when it found them. I maybe modified 4 lines of code to make this happen.

    I will post it asap- the big question is what happens when I let it loose on my giant pile of posts. And for you, Jim, since you are already using Broke Link Checker, I am fairly sure it will work as a replacement. The plugin crawls and keeps track of bad links in its own tables. Then on viewing content, it checks for any links in it that are marked bad, and adjusts them on the display. Thus it does no edits to the original. I would thinking caching helps the performance a great deal.

    This was maybe the best thing I worked on all week!

    • Reverend says:

      Hahah, I was blown away you only have 36 broken links of the 30K or so it scanned through, I am like 3K out of 40K, and it seems like progress. This plugin will be amazing, so thanks for this—it really is brilliant.

      https://twitter.com/cogdog/status/1438619757272571904

      I get regular emails about which links are broken from that plugin, and I try and be a good steward, but sometimes it is a bit depressing, but this plugin will help me rest assured that those 3K links have something for my 2 readers to go to 🙂

  2. Pingback: The Sisyphean Labor of Link Love – Skate Curated Best of the Web

  3. Pingback: A Duct Tape WordPress Plugin for Redirecting Broken Links – CogDogBlog

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