Thomas Crampton

Social Media in China and across Asia

Wikipedia Grappling with Deletion of IHT.com

May 9, 2009

Alerted by my earlier posting about The New York Times deleting links to my (and all) IHT articles, the Wikipedia community has started grappling with the problem.

This was an angle that had not occurred to me until now.

The issue: Wikipedia – one of the highest traffic websites on the Internet – makes reference to a large number of IHT stories, but those links are now all dead. They need to delete them all and find new references or use another solution.

Wikipedia will quite possibly now look for references in rival publications, such as the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.

In fact, this presents a great opportunity for someone in the WSJ or Washington Post to build up the authority of their publication on Wikipedia: Find and replace the dead links to IHT articles with links to their own publication. (Would that be ethical within the Wikipedia world? On the one hand it is clearly self-interested, on the other hand you are fixing dead links.)

Why, oh, why did the NY Times delete all the links to the IHT stories instead of redirecting them to the same stories within the NY Times website?

Below is a snapshot of the discussions you can follow at the Wikipedia Village Pump page.

One interesting suggestion in the conversation:

The best solution for this is to also cite the source as if it were from the hard copy version — article title, page, date of the newspaper. The URL is just frosting on the cake. That way, if a bonehead webmaster (or more likely his pointy-haired boss) decides to erase the online archive, then the reader at least has a chance of finding the article in a physical archive of the newspaper. (Same goes for other periodicals.) — llywrch

How can we count the links to the IHT in Wikipedia?

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Discussion

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  • Nick Davies43

    Wikipedia Editors are going the same way as DMOZ editors, full of their own grandiose.

  • It's actually very easy to find all the links in Wikipedia that point to iht.com:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/inde...

  • speludner

    "How can we count the links to the IHT in Wikipedia?"

    Would a Google of "site:wikipedia.org link:iht.com" do the trick? For me it brings up about 4500 links.

  • they should just point those links at archive.org

  • kepero

    Wikipedia has that information, but you would have to ask someone with authority for the links. Their CMS keeps track of all external links added to articles, but as far as I know there's no public interface for this data.

  • No need to do that. It's all publicly available. Just go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S... and type in iht.com.

  • Wikipedia admin

    This has happened before, although admittedly not on such a large scale. There'll be a workaround somewhere though.

  • Perhaps this is a great reminder as to why many publications frown on online sources as citations. Not only can links be removed, but the content can be modified at any time. Of course, an online publication could make a commitment to permanent links and immutable content--and could even contract with a third party to maintain an archive, in the even that the online publisher goes under.

  • Facebook User

    IHT.Com appears on 7,291 pages, according to Domain Tools.

  • Yeah, I've grappled with this longer than Wikipedia. I've got stories I've cited in newspapers and magazines that stretch back over 13 years. Then they go poof as a publication dies or changes things all around. Similar to the advice above, I've found it's essential to cite the headline, date and publication name along with the URL. Then you have a shot at tracking down a copy elsewhere.

  • I can't believe I've been writing articles since 1995 about link breakage. I would have thought media sites would have actually seen inbound links as an intangible, valuable asset of the company. It's fiduciary misconduct in a public company to take an IT action that results in massive loss of inbound traffic, reputation, and ongoing authority.

    Back in 1995, I wrote a piece for Adobe Magazine's online site which was a very thinly veiled attack on Adobe itself having broken basically every link on the site by re-engineering with no forward path. In every site migration and redesign I've worked on nearly all links (all regular links and as many special ones as I can) work indefinitely.

  • Ah, wikipedia is all f***ed up to be honest, I created page for our site http://www.livecrunch.com few minutes later it was deleted with the reason of self promoting? Spam ? I followed the guide lines and everything. How some websites that are similar to ours kept theirs and ours isn't good enough for them? Thing is that if we probably would hit 5mil page views instead of 1mil they would say oh ok will let you post that LC page. I sometimes don't understand wikipedia admins.

    Anyway,

    Your story is more harsh to be honest and it's just ridiculous for them to just delete iht links.

    What do ppl in discussion say?

  • Some guy

    Wikipedia did not delete the links the NYT did

  • This is such bullshit. I don't want to be deleted by those haters at the New York Times.

  • Universities have started discouraging research students to cite references from Wikipedia. Wikipedia is so inconsistent.

  • Yeah, that's right. It's Wikipedia that's unreliable, not the mainstream press. Because it was obviously that dastardly Wikipedia that convinced the NYT to wipe out the IHT archive. Good sir, I bow to your superior logic.

  • This is a discussion about the NY times messing up IHT links wiping out history, not about Wikipedia.

    By the way, Wikipedia is not perfect, but that is the best we have.

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