Many human endeavors can be understood as an urge to conquer death by creating something that will live on after we’re gone, and blogging is no exception. We put things up and hope they will last. But despite the internet’s ubiquity and massive storage capacity, it has an ephemeral, ever-changing quality. Things die on the web.
I thought about that last week while subjecting this blog to a couple tools to check for dead links. What sort of things had died here on Mars? Many were links to (and pingbacks from) pages I have taken down due to the evolving nature of my artistic concerns. Some were links to other sites whose owners no longer have them hosted, or pages they took down. Some were links to products and product searches at retailers which, for some reason, were no longer generating valid results. And at least one was just a dumb typo I made in a URL!
It took the better part of a morning to scrub 3000 pages here and repair or delete between 100 and 300 dead links. Hopefully the efforts will keep this site fresh and vibrant for search-engine indexing, and reward people discovering it for the first time with links that actually go somewhere, rather than into the dreaded 404 Error dead zone. I sacrificed a few pages that were so problematic it seemed easier to burn them clean instead of re-doing them. They weren’t getting hits anyway, and the dead links were probably part of their problem.
Mars has always been my little garden of inspirations, and I hope clearing out the dead wood will help it remain a thriving one. Do you have a favorite tool for checking broken links? Drop a line in the comments section here and let me know!