Opinion

Felix Salmon

Why is the NYT Breaking the Web?

By Felix Salmon
March 30, 2009

Websites get old, and need to be redesigned occasionally. That we understand. But the first rule of designing a website is that you make sure you can redesign it without breaking all the incoming links. And the first rule of redesigning a website is don’t break all the incoming links.

The Obama administration broke that rule on January 20, when all links to whitehouse.gov broke at the stroke of noon. And now the New York Times has broken that rule as well, with all links to iht.com now redirecting to a marketing stunt for what the NYT is rebranding as its "global edition".

So for instance if you’re reading my blog entry from May 2007 linking to an IHT op-ed by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, you won’t be able to follow that link and read the op-ed. What’s more, that op-ed doesn’t exist on nytimes.com, in any form. The NYT essentially did its best to erase it from the internet, for no good reason.

How did the NYT manage to perpetrate something so utterly boneheaded? And does this mean that those of us who care a lot about our links not dying should start linking instead to organizations which are less idiotic, like the Guardian and the BBC? I hope that the NYT rectifies this error sharpish. Because it’s losing a lot of webby goodwill by the hour.

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