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   OrderSomeWhereChaos

A Web Site Trash Can

A new web site management technique that I've developed recently is a trash can.

A problem I've struggled with in the past is what to do with old files that I'm no longer keeping updated and have fallen out of use. I want to keep my directories free of excess baggage just for my own 'detail-oriented sake, but on the other hand, I want to prevent the dreaded link-rot situation, so frowned upon by some. http://www.useit.com

So what I'm doing is creating a trash directory that will hold these old files. The only way to get to the trash directory is through a link on the 404 error page (More information about 404 Error pages) that lists this trash directory as an option for finding information that may have moved.

On my site at work, where a huge redevelopment is taking place I've put the actual trashed files in a further sub directory and in the main trash directory, set up a framed page. The top frame explains that the files shown are:

The files you are about to examine are left-overs: old files from previous revisions of this site. The information on these pages may not be accurate, links will probably not work, and things will not be well labeled.

This company is not responsible for any damage incurred by the user of the information contained in this directory. Use at your own risk.

Not the most stellar piece of writing, but it gets the message across.

Then in the larger, bottom frame, I have a link directly into the directory that has the discarded files. By renaming any files that are named 'index.html' (or similar), our web sever (as most do) provides a directory listing of the files in that directory. It's then easy for visitors to look through the directory and find those files that would have been otherwise removed completely.

Using robots.txt, I keep search engines from finding a reindexing the trashed pages.

If you'd like to see an example of this, feel free to drop me a line.

This technique satisfies two problems: directories that are bloated and hard to manage from the developer's side, and (to some, valuable) information still available to visitors to the web site.