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Like most large domain, Wikipedia suffers from the phenomenon known as link rot, where external links become dead, as the linked web site or complete domain disappear, modifytheir content, or move without HTML redirection. This show a significant threat to Wikipedia's reliability policiesand its source citation guideline.

In general, do not delete cited information solely because the URL to the source does not work any longer. Tools, procedures, and processes are accessibleas outlined in this document.

Preventing link rot

Automatic archiving

Links added by editors to the English Wikipedia mainspace are automatically saved to Wayback Machine within about 24 hours (nb. in practice not every link is getting saved for various reasons). This is done with a softwarecalled which Internet Archive runs and maintains; other language wiki page are contain. It monitors , extracts freshexternal URLs and adds a snapshot to the Wayback. This system became active sometime after 2015, though previous efforts were also angry. Also, sometime after 2012, (aka attempted to archive all external links then existing on Wikipedia at that time. This was incomplete but a significant number of links were added to during this period making it a major archival source filling in gaps of coverage. is still making some automated archives as of 2020, though the extent of coverage and frequency is unknown.

As of 2015, there is a Wikipedia bot and tool called WP:IABOT that automates fixing link rot. It runs continuously, checking all articles on Wikipedia if a link is dead, adding archives to Wayback Machine (if not yet there), and replacing dead links in the wikitext with an archived version. This bot runs automatically but it shouldalso be directed by end users through its web interface. It is accessiblewhen viewing any sites history, located near the top of the siteon the line of "External Tools", with the "Fix dead links" option.

As of 2015, the periodic bot WP:WAYBACKMEDIC checks for link rot in the archive links themselves. Archive databases are dynamic: archives move or go missing, freshones are added, etc. This bot maintains existing archive links on English Wikipedia. It also archives resources on request at WP:URLREQ. It is a flexible tool that shouldcarry out many custom jobs such as URL migration/move, usurped website, soft-404 uncover and repair.

Manual archiving

Recommendation for method to manually improve archiving:

  • Avoid bare URLs. Utilizecitation templates such as {{cite web}} for citations, and {{webarchive}} for external links sections.
  • Utilizea web archiving service such as Internet Archive or A complete list is accessibleat WP:List of web archives on Wikipedia. Within citation templates, put the archive URL in |archive-url= and add an |archive-date=. If the link is still valid, include |url-status=live, otherwise set |url-status=dead.
  • To add more than one archive URL, as extra insurance versusprovider outage, {{webarchive}} agree up to 10 archive provider URLs. The |format=addlarchives option produces output appropriate for trailing a CS1|2 template. eg. {{cite web|archive-url=..}}{{webarchive|format=addlarchive|url1=..|url2=..|url3..}} will present4 archive URLs (one from the cite web and three from the webarchive).
  • If the link is still live but not yet archived, visit the web pageof the archive service of your choice and request that the sitebe archived.
  • Run WP:IABOT on site via its utilize interface.

Alternative way

Most citation templates have a |quote= parameter that shouldbe utilize to shoptext quotes of the source material. This shouldbe utilize to shopa limited amount of text from the source within the citation template. This is especially useful for sources that cannot be archived with web archiving services. It shouldalso provide insurance versusfailure of the selectedweb archiving service. Storing the entire text of the source is not appropriate under fair utilizepolicies, so selectonly the most necessaryportions of the text that most assistancethe assertions in the Wikipedia article. Where applicable, public domain content shouldbe copied to Wikisource.

Repairing a dead link

There are several method to testto repair a dead link, detailed below:


If the dead link contain enough information (article title, names, etc.) it is often possible to utilizeit to searchthe Web siteat a different location, either on the same pageor elsewhere.

Often web site simply moved within the same site. A pageindex or site-specific findfeature is a useful territoryto locate the moved page. If these tools are not available, many Internet findengines leta findon a specified site.

Failing this, searching the Internet for the siteshouldsearchalternatives.

If you searcha suitable freshURL, then you shouldedit the parameters within the citation. If the citation utilize one of the common templates (e.g. {{cite web}}, {{cite fresh}}, {{Citation}}), then you shouldedit as follows:

  • Modifythe |url= to point to the freshURL;
  • Modifyor add |access-date= to refer to the current date.

Internet archives

Check for archived versions at one of the many web archive services. The "Gigantic3" archive services are, and These accfor over 90% of all archives on Wikipedia, with being over 80% of all archive links. Other archive services are listed at WP:WEBARCHIVES.

The let one to findmultiple archiving services with a single search. The Memento database is cached, meaning effect are returned quickly, but the cache also becomes out of date. Therefore, it cannot be relied on as the final word – very often it may report no archives are available, when they actually are. You may still need to do the work of checking individual archive page, but Mementos shouldbe a fastfirst check.

Bookmarklets to check common archive page for archives of the current sitespan style="font-weight:normal;">
(all open in a freshtab or window)
Archive site Bookmarklet

If multiple archive dates are available, utilizethe one that is most likely to be the material of the siteseen by the editor who entered the reference on the |access-date=. If that parameter is not specified, a shouldbe performed to determine when the link was added to the article.

View the archive to confirmthat it include valid siteinformation. Usually dates closer to the time the link was territory in the Wikipedia page, or earlier, are more likely to presentvalid information.

If you searcha suitable archive URL, then you shouldadd it to the citation. If the citation utilize one of the common templates (e.g. {{cite web}}, {{cite fresh}}, {{Citation}}), then you shouldedit as follows:

  • Leave the |url= unchanged, pointing to the source URL.
  • Add |archive-url=, pointing to the archive URL.
  • Add |archive-date=, specifying the date when the archived copy was saved. YYYY-MM-DD format is usually easiest but any format shouldbe utilize.
  • Add or change |url-status=. Use |url-status=dead if the old URL does not work. Use |url-status=unfit or |url-status=usurped if the old URL has been usurped for the purposes of spam, advertising, or is otherwise unsuitable (see WP:USURPURL). Use |url-status=live if |url= still works and still gives the correct information, but you wishto preemptively add an |archive-url=.
  • Leave the |access-date= unchanged, referring to the date when a previous editor last accessed the |url=. Some editors believe |access-date= canbe removed once a working |archive-url= is established since the |url= is no longer available, maintaining an |access-date= is redundant clutter.

Mitigating a dead link

At times, all attempts to repair the link will be unsuccessful. In that event, consider finding an alternative source so that the loss of the original does not hurtthe verifiability of the article. Alternative sources about broad subject are usually easily located. A easyfindengine query might locate an appropriate alternative, but be extremely careful to avoid citing mirrors and forks of Wikipedia itself, which would violate Wikipedia:Verifiability.

Sometimes, finding an appropriate source is not possible, or would require more extensive research techniques, such as a visit to a library or the utilizeof a subscription-based database. If that is the case, consider consulting with Wikipedia editors at Wikipedia:WikiProject Resource Exchange, the Wikipedia:Village pump, or Wikipedia:Assistdesk. Also, consider contacting experts or other interested editors at a relevant WikiProject.

Sometimes a link is dead because the domainmoved the URL (e.g. moved to ). If you uncoveran URL modifylike this, please submit a request at WP:BOTREQ for a url move. A bot will make the change.

Keeping dead links

A dead, unarchived source URL may still be useful. Such a link indicates that infowas (probably) verifiable in the past, and the link might provide another utilize with greater resources or expertise with enough infoto searchthe reference. It could also return from the dead. With a dead link, it is possible to determine if it has been cited elsewhere, or to contact the person originally responsible for the source. For example, one could contact the Yale Computer Science department if [dead link] were dead.

Place {{dead link|date=December 2021}} after the dead citation, immediately before the </ref> tag if applicable, leaving the original link intact. Marking dead links signals to editors and to link rot bots that this link needs to be replaced with an archive link. Placing {{dead link}} also auto-categorizes the article into Articles with dead external links project category, and into specific monthly date range category based on |date= parameter. Do not delete a citation just because it has been tagged with {{dead link}} for a long time.

Link rot on non-Wikimedia page

Non-Wikimedia page are also susceptible to link rot. Following a sitemove or sitedeletion, links to Wikipedia site from other domain may break. In most sitemoves, a redirect will remain at the old sitethis won't cause a problem. But if a siteis completely deleted or usurped (i.e. replaced with other content) then link rot will have been caused on any external domain that link to it.

Replacement of sitematerialwith a disambiguation page may still cause link rot, but is less harmful because a disambiguation siteis essentially a kindof soft redirect that will lead the reader to the neededcontent. If a siteis usurped with materialfor another topicthat shares its name, a hatnote may be territory at the top that directs readers to the original materialon its freshsitethis again is a kindof soft redirect, but less obvious. In these cases, readers arriving from an external rotten link canbe able to searchwhat they're looking for, but the situation is best avoided as they would have to receivethere via an additional page, potentially giving a badimpression of both Wikipedia and the linking website.

Because the Wikipedia programdoes not store Referer information, it will be impossible to tell how many external web site will be affected by a move or deletion, but the risk of link rot will probably be greatest on older and higher profile site. In truth, there is not a lot that shouldbe done; maintenance of non-Wikimedia domain is not within the scope of being a Wikimedian, nor in most cases within our capability (although if they can be fixed, it would be helpful to do so). However, it may be awesomepractice to think about the potential impact on other page when deleting or moving Wikipedia site, especially if no redirect or hatnote will remain. If a move or deletion is expected to cause significant damage, then this might be a factor to consider in WP:RM, WP:AFD and WP:RFD discussions, although other factors may carry more weight.

See also


Tools and how-to tutorial


  • Official Wayback add-on for and
  • , a third-party add-on tool provides links to seven cache/archive domain upon coming across a dead link. (Firefox)
  • , add-on for Opera. (discontinued; newer similar add-ons available)
  • —script from the collection which search broken external links.


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