Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Avoid link rot, use Permalinks

Using Permalinks is essential to having an ongoing link with a blog post or other type of transient Web page that could end up in an archive and links to the page could disappear. This rotting links also occur when an item is retrieved from a catalog listing and then loses contact with the Web when the page is closed and returned to the catalog. A Permalink is is a URL that points to a specific blog or forum entry after it has passed from the front page to the archive. This means that, for as long as the website is online, the link will always point to that content and can be referenced externally by users of the website and internally within the site itself, without a concern that the link will disappear. Permalinks can then be used when referencing a post or page on that website since you can always rely on the link to lead to the specific content.

Hmm, you are saying, where do I find these useful creatures? Well, that is the problem. The website creator has to provide a way for you to use the permalink. For linking to a blog post, such as your own blog post using Google's Blogger, the Post Settings menu on the blog post creation page has a specific entry for a permalink to the post being created. For example, here is a permalink to this blog post:

Now, the question is where else can you find a permalink. Well, for one, you can find them in websites such as in the FamilySearch Catalog (formerly the Family History Library Catalog). If you look for an item in the catalog, (if you can still find the catalog that is) such as a book, you can use the websites permalink to create a link to the item. For example, this book has a digital copy in the library catalog, as indicated by the arrow:

When you download the digital copy, such as this screenshot, you can see a link to the "Copy Link" which is almost invisible in the upper right hand corner of the screen with the downloaded file:

Now, unless you could read the collective minds of the website engineers, you would never know that this was a permalink to this particular catalog item. Here is a screenshot of all the information you can find by clicking on the almost-invisible link. I have added a red box so you can see the new information:

The permalink is in the shaded area almost at the top of the information column. So why have such a feature and then hide it away? Beats me. But it seems to be common among web designers to downplay the permalinks.

Interestingly, you can also get a link from a "Copy" command in the Historical Record Collections. Here is a link to an Alabama, Civil War Service RecordL
Name: J T Smith
Event Type: Military Service
Event Date: 1864
Age (Original): 49
Military Unit Note: Twenty-first Infantry
Affiliate Publication Title: Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Alabama
Affiliate Publication Number: M311
Affiliate Film Number: 289
Collection: J T Smith, "Alabama, Civil War Service Records of Confederate Soldiers, 1861-1865"

You can see the link at the top of the entry. Here is where I clicked to get this information:

This is the entry for J T Smith. Again, there is no indication that when you click on the copy link, you are going to get all this information as a result. But I do like surprises. 

1 comment:

  1. James,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!