I updated my Archives page last week to reflect the twenty+ years I’ve been writing here and got to thinking that a lot of the outgoing links from the first decade or so of this site are probably dead; most major media sites have been through two or three content management systems since 2001 and there are a bajillion smaller sites I found and linked to Back In The Day that have long since been snuffed out by time and commerce. I did some sleuthing and found a WordPress plugin that goes through each and every post to hunt down bad links, and provides a dashboard to view and edit them in a list. I installed it, ran it, and waited for a report: 2300+ broken links spread out over pages and images.
The tool is pretty nice; within the dashboard it allows me to edit the link and provides a handy suggestion in the form of an Internet Archive link to a cached version of the site—basically the closest we can get to the page I linked to at the time I linked to it. So I’m going through the painstaking process of manually updating each link as best I can, and when there is no better alternative, killing the link entirely. It looks like WordPress is hiccuping on something internally because a full third of the problems so far are images I’ve uploaded and linked to that it can’t find or doesn’t see—but which pop up when I load the pages. Could be the way earlier versions of WordPress created links are functional but enough to trip the breaker. Also, it looks like a lot of the early links made internally to other pages within this site aren’t formed correctly; they point to pages where WordPress points to a directory. So I have to go back through and manually fix all of those.
I’m currently crashing on a big work project, but in my downtime it’s easy to go through and clean up 20 links at a time. It’s nice to make incremental progress on something that soothes my OCD.