Sunday, November 06, 2005

Risks of old web pages -- linking to a wife swapping site

I have a lot of old web pages. I'm not quite sure what to do with them. They're still read and still apparently useful -- today's computing world is a much more diverse mixture of old and new than most people realize. There are a lot of Windows 98 machines still running, and web pages written in response to problems of years ago still get read. (I don't track readership, but I get 'thank you' emails on pages I'd have thought were of purely historic interest.)

There's a catch to these old pages however. They contains links to reference materials, and the linked sites change. For example, my old Wireless Home Local Area Network linked to the "HomeRF site". Except as a kind person tells me, the HomeRF site has ummm ... changed ....
Thanks for writing and advising about your experience setting up a complicated home lan.

... I just wanted to advise you your ... to "Home RF Working Group" points to a wife swapping site...
Sorry, the link is gone now.

Why do these old domain names get reused? There are two reasons, one obvious and one a bit more subtle. The obvious one is errant links. Good way to get hits. The subtle one is the Google effect. Many of my old pages have reasonable Google rankings. So the things they point to inherit those rankings. The wife swapping site that inherited the HomeRF link will rank more highly than its competition because I (unwittingly) linked to it. So the site wins two ways: by unintended referral and by increasing its rankings.

At the very least I need to remove most of the links on those old pages that are outside of my own control.

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