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Perma links: well intentioned link killer

1:36 am on Nov 6, 2017 (gmt 0)

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There is a new (origin 2013, rampant from 2016) carnivore active on the web that's gobbling up links 'with the very best of intentions'. The link builders' latest nightmare is Perma dot cc [perma.cc] developed and maintained by the Harvard Library Innovation Lab ... administered by a consortium of libraries.

First, the good intentions basis:

Websites change, go away, and get taken down. When linked citations lead to broken, blank, altered, or even malicious pages, thatís called link rot.

Link rot affects everyone who cites links
Over 50% of cited links in Supreme Court opinions no longer point to the intended page. Roughly 70% of cited links in academic legal journals and 20% of all science, technology and medicine articles suffer from link rot.

Second, the coming link killing apocalypse:
It's not simply an archive on demand, which could be valuable but also a breaking of the theory and power of web linkage, which is potentially devastating.

Users are not only encouraged to make a 'perma' copy of a desired linked resource aka web page but then to link to that copy rather than the original so as not suffer potential link rot. Granted, they do - singularly - mention that the Leagal Bluebook [legalbluebook.com], a systematic method by which members of the [legal] profession communicate important information to one another about the sources and legal authorities upon which they rely in their work recommends:

Rule 18.2.1(d) in the 20th Edition of The Bluebook says: "Archiving of Internet sources is encouraged, but only when a reliable archival tool is available. For citations to Internet sources, append the archive URL to the full citation in brackets."

Perma dot cc is a listed reliable archival tool.

Granted not every site garners any/many backlinks from academic/legal sites, however such links are typically considered a major accomplishment. And possibly worth more than SE typical link value. All that may gradually simply fade away as some of the most authoritative sites in a niche link to a facsimile rather than the original.

The damage is likely to be negligible for most sites unless this solution for link rot expands (not unknown in web history) as it is currently being recommended to journalists. This is one huge step past Google changing from a link list to sites to becoming an answer engine with a small afterthought site link for validation. This is entire pages being heisted with, possibly, a small afterthought site link for validation.

And whither the traffic? Down the facsimile dead end.

Interesting times ahead.
9:05 am on Nov 6, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Good info, thanks iamlost

Do you happen to know the user agent (from your logs.)

I'm seeing mentions of both: "perma_web" and just "perma"
9:11 pm on Nov 16, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Perma respects robots.txt so to block

User-agent: Perma
Disallow: /
5:56 pm on Nov 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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This is very interesting, and at the same time concerning.
Link rot is part of life on the net, and is often undesirable. However, there are times when sites may want to lose certain content, and I need to get my head around this from a legal point of view. (IANAL).