New research shows how many important links on the web get lost to time


Illustration by William Joel / The Verge

A quarter of the deep links in The New York Times’ articles are now rotten, leading to completely inaccessible pages, according to a team of researchers from Harvard Law School, who worked with the Times’ digital team. They found that this problem affected over half of the articles containing links in the NYT’s catalog going back to 1996, illustrating the problem of link rot and how difficult it is for context to survive on the web.

The study looked at over 550,000 articles, which contained over 2.2 million links to external websites. It found that 72 percent of those links were “deep,” or pointing to a specific page rather than a general website. Predictably, it found that, as time went on, links were more likely to be dead: 6 percent…

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