Maintaining link integrity in the policy
Maintaining link integrity in the policy requires vigilance for the following reasons.
- Link text often fails to describe the link target. Often this happens when the link text describes a part of a website that is linked. We recommend in these cases to say: Refer to the [section name] section of the overall website, where overall website is linked.
- Links get outdated frequently
- Content gets removed from the web. This will normally show up as a 404.
- Content at link gets changed.
- Often this will not show up as an error, and requires a manual check.
- Link content can be extensively revised, so it doesn’t cover the topic of the link text from the source page any more.
- After a site migration or redesign, webmasters frequently redirect all content to the main page of the website.
- Accessibility requirements state that links to the same page should not be repeated. Fixing accessibility alerts, required removing successive links to same content. In addition, when we got these errors because statement and reason had the same link to the same Regents policy, the link in the reason section was left as is, and removed in the statement section.
Best Practices for Links when adding to policy
- Put in only essential links.
- If something is not central to the subject at hand and the information can be easily found with a simple Web search — institutional websites, well-known individuals, and so forth — there’s no point in linking. Doing so only increases your risk.
- Additionally, too many links can be distracting. Ideally, we want readers to read through the policy without being distracted by following links.
- To the extent possible, keep links to other pages housed in the Policy Library or that the policy owner has control over.
- If you are linking to another policy, procedure, etc. owned by a different University unit/department, consider putting that in the Related Information section with an explanation, rather than in the text itself.
- Accessibility requirements state that links to the same page should not be repeated. Fixing accessibility alerts required removing successive links to same content. In addition, when we got these errors because statement and reason had the same link to the same Regents policy, the link in the reason section was left as is, and removed in the statement section.
- If linking to a PDF or Word document add [PDF] or [Word] after title.
- If you are linking to a document hosted on a Google Drive somewhere, make sure it is a shared departmental account so that if the owner of the document leaves, access is not interrupted.
Maintaining Links in the Policy Library: Link Checking
- Automated link checks are the responsibility of the Policy Program. Policy Program staff conduct automatic link checks and notify policy owners and/or PAC members of the bad links. These link checks don’t retrieve all bad links; most commonly, a re-direct will not show up as a broken link, but it may no longer link to the original content. For this reason, a manual link check is required.
- Manual link checks are the responsibility of the Policy Owner. This has to be completed more often than at comprehensive review time. Ideally, the Policy Owner would validate links, and accuracy of contacts section, and the Responsible Individuals once a year. Policy owner should scan through policy, and related documents, and click through to every link in the document, and confirm that:
- Link text is consistent with link target.
- If link text is not consistent, work with Policy Program to either update the link, or remove the reference.