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It's been frequently noted that a lot of questions and answers seem to rely on a linked page for proper explanation of the content provided in the post.

However, with time the links tend to become dead and are of no use for future references. To prevent this the guidelines of StackExchange suggests to not rely on external links and make the post to be self-sufficient which might not be possible in some cases.

I thought of the following two things to address this problem and would like to have a discussion about the same :-

  1. A snippet of the page linked can be maintained on the StackExchange database.
  2. Instead of maintaining the snippets on the StackExchange database, they can be obtained from the WayBack Machine (http://web.archive.org/) which contains an archive of almost every web page from a particular point of time.

The second method can be used to replace already dead links from old posts. Let's take an example of the following post which has a dead link in it.

Implementation of the second method can either be by software (via APIs) or manually:

  1. An alternate forwarding link to web.archive.org can be arranged which the user visits instead of going to the dead link.
  2. The 2nd method can be listed on old posts in a small side box to guide the user through the steps required to obtain the link manually if they are facing trouble with dead links.

Would like to have your views on this topic :)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I think the idea is that your answer should stand alone, if you provide more information through a link that is fine. Links can also be edited and updated. If a change like this were to occur it would need to be implemented network wide. if you were to post a suggestion like this on the meta, you would also need a good reason (lots of links down, and no ability to edit them) \$\endgroup\$ – Voltage Spike Dec 10 '19 at 22:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ Upvoted because this is a useful discussion, although as someone who has fixed a fair few dead links I'm not sure anything with the Internet Archive can be automated. Assuming the page is archived at all quite often when I check the version before the post was made it was missing the referenced information and in the next version it's "post was deleted" or whatever. \$\endgroup\$ – PeterJ Dec 12 '19 at 10:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Technically there could be some community clean up to replace the dead links with the Wayback Machine links on that particular date... but who wants to do that? It would be pretty nice if it was automatically implemented when a user adds a link. ll you have to do is add two strings together for a variable to implement it. But if the string already has the Wayback Machine URL, then do nothing. Meta of SE hasn't really addressed a way to solve this issue other than encouraging users to not rely on URLs for answering questions so I believe this would be a good feature to implement to SE. \$\endgroup\$ – KingDuken Dec 14 '19 at 1:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KingDuken The programming comes from SE, they have to buy into a feature before it get's implemented. There are lots of things that would be nice to have, but since EE.SE isn't a large community we won't get attention from SE. \$\endgroup\$ – Voltage Spike Dec 23 '19 at 20:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ I guess if you really wanted a feature like this, you could do it in browser via a greasemonkey script or something like that. \$\endgroup\$ – Voltage Spike Dec 23 '19 at 20:07

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