The Lemures Files
  Guest Article: August 1st, 1998

A Path That Leads Nowhere

By: Melissa Farrell

Ah the wonders of technology! FTP has eased the task of the weary webmaster. All you do is write the code, upload it and your pictures, and there you go! Or do you? Due to the increased use of FTP, I suspect, and/or an increase in laziness in general (must be all this summer heat), there has been a steep increase in my number one pet peeve in Sailor Moon webpages.. broken links. And it's just been getting worse and worse! Now I know, everyone makes mistakes, and that's normal. What bothers me is going into a page, trying out a really cool looking link, then being brought to the lovely Geocities Oops page, the table-bedecked "file not here" warning of Fortunecity, error messages from most paid-for servers, and my personal *fave*.. the Tripod link that sends me to the main provider page (which takes me forever to load!) before I have time to hit my back button. Now, granted, some people may enjoy seeing these pages pop up with regularity, but I don't. It's like something taking my browser hostage and luring it into a trap from which it cannot escape. Not a very pleasurable experience.

The other thing related to this is seeing the infamous words on a webpage "We are aware of all broken links." This immediately tells me two things. One, the person doesn't care enough about their page to work out all the bugs before they produce it to the public; implying they're not serious about their page, and then why would I want to go to it? Some people get annoyed by constant e-mails telling them links are down, and they have that right, but the general Sailor Moon surfer doesn't reach out and contact a page unless it's something they absolutely love, or something that really gets on their nerves. If enough people e-mail a webmaster about links, that means people want to see what is there, and it's frustrating.. just like the poor donkey with a fresh carrot dangling just centimeters from the tip of its nose.

At the very least, all I ask for is a few words next to broken links saying "Down" or "Not up yet". This saves the surfer time, while intriguing them to come back later to see if that tantalizing link is up yet. It's not much.. you can even cut and paste the words.. but it's enough. People don't waste time, and you get more hits when they return. A fair exchange, don't you think? AND, if you know which links are all broken, why not share that knowledge with the others who come to your page? Visitors can't read your mind and go "oh, this must be one of those broken links he/she warned about". Unfortunately, you must tell us what is broken so that we don't put our virtual feet through a hole! (Think of a trapdoor.. with no warning, and no cover) That's what broken links expose people to, possibly causing damage to browsers, but more importantly, creating alot of soreness between the surfer and the webmaster.

If you do have the time, or care about your website enough, you can always *not* put the link up until the section it leads to is finished.. at least halfway. Yes, you'll have to go back and type it in, but that's part of building a webpage; constant work. Or, you can work on the section (if you're really serious), and after the frame work is built, check each link to make sure it goes where you'd like it to. That way you'll find broken links before the public ever sees it and be able to fix them. Thus, you'll have prevented all those helpful e-mails, and not have to worry about the section again! Once it's finished, then link it to the main page, and watch the stampede. Remember, it's human to make mistakes; but learning from the suggestions of others makes you an even better person. ^_^

Comments on this article can be sent to: Melissa Farrell.

Comments made on this page are opinions of the author. They are not necessarily shared by Tripod and the Amazoness Quartet.

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