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Sometimes when entering an old post, links are dead. Stack Exchange should add some quick button to mark a link as dead in old posts so that authors gets notified and can modify the post.

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    If you notice a dead link, you can leave a comment to the author, or edit the post and change to the current link location. btw, dead inks are the reason that images should be loaded up to our (partner) site.
    – Johannes_B
    Apr 20, 2015 at 8:49
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    This is exactly why links should be avoided (especially to transient sites like dropbox/pastebin etc) and instead references should as far as possible be copied inline. (not that that helps correct old posts) Apr 21, 2015 at 9:43
  • I think you would better to ask for help about this on the main site's Meta. Is there any specific reason you are posting this question here?
    – enthu
    Apr 23, 2015 at 9:16

1 Answer 1

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This problem - aptly labelled link rot - is a problem on Stack Exchange which cannot be solved easily in general. As such, it's best handled on a case-by-case basis.

The best would be to comment on the post (thereby notifying the author) and request an update of the information. Such an update should - in the very least - separate the content from the link, making the post self-contained.

Prevention is better than the cure though. Therefore, rather than posting

... See, for example, http://link/that/has/rotted. ...

without mentioning the details contained in http://link/that/has/rotted, it would be far better to use

... from this reference on something, we have

stuff from the original reference.

In the above case, when the link grown stale, an edit to remove the reference still leaves the post relevant.

A really round-about way of correcting the problem after-the-fact is to attempt finding the lost content on the Internet Archive (known as Wayback Machine). If the rotted content was somehow archived, one could hopefully find some relevant content and restore the post to a usable state.

One way of avoiding link rot for images is to use the dedicated image-upload dialog. This will ensure that images reside with SE's account on IMGUR, where they remain indefinitely.

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  • Another advantage of adding relevant excerpts is that these can be used to find back moved content (through search engines). Deleted content is a bigger problem of course.
    – T. Verron
    Apr 22, 2015 at 11:51
  • In theory, we should also try to link to an unchanging version of webpages on sites where it is applicable (wikipedia, the stackexchange network), but it requires some effort (in particular, I don't think the share feature of SX supports this). And the consequences are usually minor differences in content, rather than a bitter 404.
    – T. Verron
    Apr 22, 2015 at 11:54
  • @T.Verron: What does "the share feature" not support?
    – Werner Mod
    Apr 22, 2015 at 13:04
  • Easily linking to the current revision of a post?
    – T. Verron
    Apr 22, 2015 at 14:38

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