Citability – Help Solve Link Rot…

We have lamented here about the headaches that link rot causes…Who doesn’t get annoyed by the web link that no longer works?

But, the folks at are trying to do something about it.

Their basic goal is very simple and compelling: to have the government create advanced permalinks on a paragraph level to all public government documents.

The beauty of a permalink is quite obvious; and, any fan of public-domain, vendor neutral citation should be pleased by the paragraph level specificity of these links.

Here is an example and explanation  from their site:

“Permalinks are human-readable URLs with timestamps, document ID, and an an anchor to the section/paragraph:
Example:  The example would point to section 1, subsection b, chapter 1, paragraph B, clause ii in SB 1234 on May 2, 2009 at 8:26:16 am UTC”

If you are interested in lending your support, visit their site.  Also, visit if you would like to help promote or give feedback on some of the standards that they are suggesting.

The Next Generation of Legal Citations Survey, and Authentication and Link Rot Issues

Link rot is a pet peeve of mine.  A posting I made on June 11, 2008, “Law School Laptop Bans,” already has a broken link to a news story and the posting isn’t even a year old yet.  And I can’t count the number of times I have found a terrific-sounding right-on-point resource in a law review footnote, only to find its URL leads to the dreaded “404 Not Found.”  But it’s more than a pet peeve issue, as this survey makes clear:

“The Next Generation of Legal Citations: A Survey of Internet Citations in the Opinions of the Washington Supreme Court and Washington Appellate Courts, 1999-2005”

Journal of Appellate Practice and Process, Vol. 9, No. 2, Fall 2007

TINA CHING, Seattle University School of Law

As more legal research is conducted online, it is reasonable to conclude that there will be a corresponding increase in citations to the Internet by judges in their opinions. With the widespread public use of the Internet to access information along with the constant changes and impermanence of websites, citing to the Internet should be an issue of increasing concern to the legal community across the country. This paper surveys the types of Internet sources the Washington state Supreme Court and Appellate Court justices are citing. It discusses the interrelated issues of link rot and the impermanence of web pages, citation format, authentication and preservation of online electronic legal information.


Source:  LSN Legal Information & Technology Vol. 1 No. 11,  04/29/2009