Making Links on Your Web Pages Last Longer Than You


Ayush Goel, Jingyuan Zhu, Harsha V. Madhyastha. 21st ACM Workshop on Hot Topics in Networks. HotNets 2022


It is common for the authors of a web page to include links to related pages on other sites. However, when users visit a page several years after it was last updated, they often find that some of the external links either do not work or point to unrelated content. To combat these problems of link rot and content drift, the solution used today is to capture a copy of the linked page when a link is created and serve this copy to users who choose to visit the link.

We argue that this status quo ignores the reality that one does not always link to a page in order to point visitors to the content that existed on that page when the link was created. The utility of linking to a web page by simply directing users to that page’s URL is that they can benefit from any updates to the page’s content (e.g., corrections to news articles and new comments on a blog post) or access rich app-like functionality on the page (e.g., search). In this paper, we present a sketch of what it would take to make web links resilient while accounting for the dynamism of web pages.