Saturday, January 3, 2009

My Clean Up For 2009 – What Was Yours?

Tēnā koutou katoa – Greetings to you all
Broken Links Signs
It’s a Scottish tradition to tidy the home before New Year comes in.
At the end of last year, I decided to follow this tradition on my blog. Come Hogmanay, otherwise known as Auld Year’s Nicht in Scotland, I’d tidied up

  • I brought all my post-labels up to date and created new ones that were relevant to topics covered in each post.

  • I updated the alt attributes on each image tag and removed the link-to-image that’s automatically added when it's uploaded into Blogger. Some months ago, I started taking these measures with all new postings.

    I’d learnt that this provision was courtesy to the visually impaired who may choose to use a speaking browser - otherwise known as a screen reader (incidentally, I also removed Odiogo last year for I found it did not provide a significant advantage).

  • I checked links on all posts dated after 1 June 2008 to ensure that they were still active and relevant. There were some webs that had actually changed (their content was no longer relevant).

    I found alternatives for the few that were in this group. There were others that simply didn’t work any more. I either found alternative sites to link to or I removed the offending links.

I’m used to using a link-checker on my work web at TCS. Incidentally, the entire TCS site is down at the time I write this post and has been since before the New Year. Consequently, none of the links on several of my resources posts work at the moment. Sooner or later someone will rectify this at TCS and all will come right – I hope.

No apparent luxury:

I do not have the luxury of a link-checker for my site in Blogger. I use the ‘check links’ facility in DreamWeaver on my development web site at work, but I can’t run my blog site through it. I’ve searched Google several times over the months and not found any quick link-checkers for blog sites. Latterly, I began to wonder how other bloggers checked the links in their archived posts.

I have 131 posts dated 2008 on my blog. Most have at least one link to another site. It may be to a blog site or a web page. In a few more months, I’m going to have a sizable lot of posts to look after, and a corresponding set of links to maintain.

It’s dead Jim:

There is nothing I find more disappointing, when following a link on someone’s post that looks like an interesting lead, than getting the dreaded ERROR 404 or other such ‘Web-site Not Found’ notice.

Web links have a half-life. They don’t necessarily last forever. Some break altogether, which means the unfortunate reader goes nowhere on click. It could be that the linked site doesn’t exist anymore, or that it’s been relocated, with no provision for redirection.

It could also be that the site has gone down, and that the fault may be rectified in the near future. I’ve found it pays to wait a bit before revising a dead link if it’s to a site that I can trust.

There’s life Jim, but not as we know it:

Sometimes the content on a site changes. As a result, the site may no longer be relevant to the context of the link in my post. While this rarely happens with links to blog posts, it is not an uncommon problem where links to web pages are used.

The need for vigilance in this regard is paramount when web links are used in elearning modules. Though the performance of the links
on my blog is not as critical as this, it can be regarded by visitors as a reflection of my blog.

What is good practice?

When I find that links are faulty on my blog posts or web pages, I fix them by finding alternative relevant sites or remove the offending links in courtesy to my readers.

Am I being too fastidious in bringing old posts up to date? Does it really matter if old links don’t work anymore?

How do you check for broken links on your blog posts?

Ngā mihi nui – Best wishes


Paul C said...

Hi Ken,
I like your blog for its look: colours, layout, information on your sidebar including your clock (it's 3:30 a.m. New Zealand time, 9:30 a.m. Ontario time while I write this).

I have been working on labels for my posts to help readers and myself retrieve what I have posted so far. I am also going to add invitations on the sidebar for readers to respond on certain ongoing issues such as Philanthropy in a Can...

Cobwebs build up quickly...

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Tēnā koe Paul

Thank you for alerting me to the deficiency of the clock that was on my blog. I have changed it for a 24 hour digital.

An analogue clock does not convey the 24 hr time, so AM and PM can be easily confused. In fact, Middle-earth is always ahead of the rest of the world with its time.

When you are enjoying a cup of coffee at 9:30 a.m. we are having a barbeque at 3:30 p.m. that same day. When you wrote your comment (9:30 a.m. Ontario) it was 3:30 p.m. here in Middle-earth. Check out World Clock.

I've only recently made use of labels on posts. I'm looking for a widget that permits a list of links to be created when a label is selected, rather than all the posts concatenated, which is the usual behaviour in Blogger.

I like the idea you have of displaying invitations to respond. I look forward to viewing that on your blog.

Catchya later

Anonymous said...

Great timing on this post Ken. I've actually just launched a new design for my blog (a bit buggy still) but I've been going back through my old posts and adding alt text, tags, excerpts, and other things to make them easier to find and process. I've only gone back over 30 of the 400 posts, but I'm hoping to get through them all in the next week or so.

Laurie said...

Hi Ken,

Ah, the Scotts must have understood that cleaning up/out for the New Year is similar to Spring cleaning. Whatever the reason, it feels good to do it – kind of like getting a brand new notebook to start the school year.

I've been thinking about how to revise my tags, with the goal of having fewer tags. The thought of redoing over 200 posts is a bit daunting, though, so it is likely to become a summer project (unless we have a bunch of snow days!)

As for the link issue, I periodically (and somewhat randomly) check links, and tend to delete them if they no longer work (or else I post a message that the link may not always be functional).

Thank you for your recent comments!

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Tēnā kōrua Sameer and Laurie.

Sameer, I've seen your new design and it looks good! Jobs like you describe don't take as long as one thinks at first - a good routine and slick use of browser tabs can help speed it up a lot.

Laurie, do it in Dashboard, rather than from posts. If you have a good idea of the content (and it's easy in Blogger to do a quick check) you can revise the labels a page-full of posts at a time. When I did mine I was amazed how rapidly I got through them all.

Catchya later