When I started using WordPress, I embraced the idea of permalinks. They appeared to be a reliable way to create long-lasting links. I believed that these permanent links would provide eternal access to all my pages.
However, not everyone shares my commitment to preserving permalinks. When I recently rebuilt my site, I realized that many of the websites I had previously linked to no longer existed.
Consequently, I decided to delete approximately 40% of the posts on my site. Although it was a tough choice, most of these posts became irrelevant due to broken or disabled websites.
Permalinks may give a sense of permanence, but you cannot guarantee that the linked content will always be available. Websites get abandoned, domains expire, and hosting services shut down. A single broken link or site closure can render your content irrelevant, leading to a series of dead ends.
So, what’s the solution? Should we abandon permalinks altogether? No.
I still appreciate the concept of permalinks, and my site’s most important content has remained in the same place for the past 18 years (or so). However, I intend to shift my focus towards creating opinionated articles that link to more permanent sources or platforms.
By referencing reputable websites or utilizing long-term archiving platforms like archive.org, I can ensure that even if the original sources disappear, readers will still have access to valuable information and context through alternative means.
All this reminds me of the Million Dollar Homepage from 2005. The creator, Alex Tew, sold 1 million pixels for $1 each to fund his university education. The site was a huge success, but it’s now a shadow of its former self. Nearly every single one of the original pixels links to a dead website. Back in 2017 I remade the Million Dollar Homepage linking to the archive.org versions of all the different websites.
In theory, digital content can be stored indefinitely, but in reality, it’s not possible. Online content is impermanent. Businesses close, websites change, and things evolve. Although I wish things would stay the same, I’m learning to adapt. I can’t expect my content to remain relevant forever, but I can strive to preserve it for as long as possible.