In an editorial entitled Moved URLs and the Maintenance of the Project (1997, March 13) the Editor referred to the problems associated with maintaining a large collection of links to websites when a significant number of changes occur over a single year.
In a later editorial entitled A Limit on Adding Websites Without Permanent URLs (1997, July 7) the Editor announced that, in order to keep maintenance costs of the Project reasonable, it was necessary to place a limit on the total number of websites in the Project WITHOUT a URL in standard domain-name format (that is, without a permanent URL). That maximum was set at 716.
It was hoped that, during regular checking of URLs in the Project, the number of sites changing their URLs to permanent form would be approximately equal to the number of new requests for inclusion of sites with non-permanent URLs. As it has happened, that has not been the case: there have many more requests of the latter sort than the number of sites that have been discovered changing their URLs to permanent form.
The Editor has therefore decided, with regret, that it is no longer practical to continue to add new sites without permanent URLs. Other projects similar to the Scholarly Societies Project, but with a considerably narrower subject scope, and therefore considerably fewer entries that need regular checking, will undoubtedly continue to include non-permanent URLs in their projects in the immediate future. This Project will point to as many of these other collections of links to websites of subject-specific scholarly societies as possible.
The Editor has begun the process of converting all subject-discipline pages to a new format that provides (for each site) the URL-Stability Rank, which is a graphical representation of the URL-Stability Index for that site. This new format serves two purposes. Firstly, the URL-stability rank will help make clear to users what permanent URLs look like. Secondly, the URL-stability rank tells users which URLs are absolutely reliable; with these URLs, any failure to connect is a transient failure only.
At the time of writing, about half of the subject pages have been converted, including the following: Anthropology | Archaeology | Astronomy | Bibliography & History of Book | Biology | Business | Civil Engineering | Classical Studies | Computer Science | Drama | Earth Sciences | Fine Arts | Geography | History | Language & Linguistics | Literature | Music | Philosophy | Political Science | Psychology | Religious Studies | Sociology. The other subject-specific pages in this Project will be converted as time permits.
From now on, the history of URL changes for each site already in the Project will be tracked. If the total volume of URL changes within the Project from one non-permanent form to another non-permanent form continues to be high, it will be necessary to impose some form of sanction on sites with a history of frequent URL changes. This sanction may take the form of labelling such sites as "unstable", or even of completely removing the site from the Scholarly Societies Project.
At present, permanent URLs are no longer a novelty. One has only to spend an evening watching television to see several URLs that are in permanent form. The time has come for all managers of scholarly sites to take their share of the responsibility in rectifying the present chaotic situation caused by URL changes.
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last modified: 2009, December 27
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