Robert_Charlton - 6:11 pm on Jun 24, 2011 (gmt 0)
...then you have complete control over what is served and what status code is served with it.
Thanks for various clarifications, in spite of which I had assumed .htaccess behavior.
I'm still adjusting my thoughts to what feels like an inconsistency in the approach of continuing to display the page... though I now understand why you're wanting to do it that way. The approach does seem inconsistent with the section I'm highlighting in the first part of the w3c 410 specs below... [w3.org...] ... but at the same time, it appears to be in line with the intention of the spec in the second part, which I'm also quoting....
10.4.11 410 Gone
The requested resource is no longer available at the server and no forwarding address is known....
...The 410 response is primarily intended to assist the task of web maintenance by notifying the recipient that the resource is intentionally unavailable and that the server owners desire that remote links to that resource be removed. Such an event is common for limited-time, promotional services and for resources belonging to individuals no longer working at the server's site. It is not necessary to mark all permanently unavailable resources as "gone" or to keep the mark for any length of time -- that is left to the discretion of the server owner.
Onders - I assume your CMS will remove all internal navigation to these pages when the 410 is served. Ditto with regard to XML sitemaps. Is this to be done in discrete intervals on an ongoing basis? It seems to me it would be almost impossible to do continuously.
It's hard to be specific about our situation without just saying our domain, but the content we are 410'ing is generated by clients, who want it removed after a certain date anyway.
This also clarifies a bunch of things. It sounds like these may be classified ads or real estate listings, as opposed to, say, more traditional ecommerce (which is what I've been assuming) where you might control inventory or be able to offer similar or replacement products (and would thus have a user-based reason for forwarding inbound links, apart from just the link juice). In this case, it does sound like the 410 with the page displayed for a while would best for the user.
If these are classified ads or something analogous, btw, and you have input form fields for contact information, removing that contact info when you serve the 410s might be helpful to your clients who posted the content.