One of the problems in our beloved blogosphere is that bloggers indiscriminately refer to a huge number of URLs on a TOPICAL basis. For readers, on the other hand, their posts may remain interesting or at least valid for a longer time. The problem is that the URLs which were active at the time of writing need to remain valid through the life of the post, which may be even months on end. The solution could lie in some sort of a third party service a la Gravatar which WordPress can support and which provides the necessary redirection.
Here's how such a service (let's call it SmartDirect) may work.
Let's say that I, as a blogger, need to refer to
In the WordPress dashboard, there is a SmartDirect widget which monitors when I save any external links in posts or pages or blogrolls. Today when I saved
in my post at 11:24:37 am on June 22, 2008, SmartDirect checked that the URL does indeed exist, took a full page backup of it on its own site and then renamed the URL in my post to
Now when a reader clicks on
he or she is taken to
but only if the contents have not changed. If the contents have indeed changed, he or she is taken to a menu page on SmartDirect, which offers 4 options like so:
The contents of the page you wish to view have changed. Please select what you would like to do:
(1) View a cached version of the page saved at 11:24:37 am on June 22, 2008
(2) View the current version of the page.
(3) View the differences between the cached and the current page.
(4) View the new location for the cached page.
Option (4) requires coordination between the webmaster of blah-blah and SmartDirect. Because this is extra work for both blah-blah and SmartDirect, readers may find it to be greyed out on most instances. On the other hand, if such coordination HAS taken place, blah-blah's webmaster would have guided SmartDirect to the new URL
which is where the readers would be taken to when they select option (4).