Thursday, June 2, 2011

Think (and do) before pasting a link

TL;DR Try to open the link in Private Mode in your browser before to make sure that others will see it when they click it.

There have been multiple instances I have seen broken links being posted on mailing lists, Google Groups, in e-mails and Twitter. And I am not talking about link rot. A tad bit too many times. Though usually these are innocuous, but once in a while they reach the scale of mild annoyance and sometimes (in case of  missing references) of sheer agony.

Moreover, these may creep in even if you have tried pasting the link in a separate tab of your browser and it has worked. The links may work on your computer because of persistent cookies.

The solution I can think of is opening a private browsing window/tab in your browser before you paste the link. The ease of doing this on different browsers:

  1. Firefox: Cumbersome to do. It forces a restart of the browser. 
  2. Chrome: Mildly annoying, have to open a different browser window to do it.
  3. Opera: Private tabs are just perfect for the purpose. 

Even better would be to have a browser plugin which does it every time I paste a link and show a warning in the notification box if it 404s in private mode. However, I do not know whether such an extension exists.


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