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external links policy

Page history last edited by Andrew Alder 12 years ago

we check our stuff, not theirs


In a nutshell

  • We love external links. We put them everywhere!
  • We have no control over where they lead.
  • Most often we don't even comment on whether the content of other sites is reliable. There's no implicit recommendation in our linking to them. What that means is that they're worth a look, and that's all.
  • For Wikipedia articles, we often use permalinks to particular versions.


A few principles...

We prefer low-bandwidth pages. When we link to anything that will load more than a few kB before your browser comes back to life, we try to warn you. In particular, any link to a PDF should be labelled that it is a PDF, and how big the PDF is. Broadband users may have no idea why we do this, and that's fine, but we try to cater for all users.


Many pages have a section at the bottom labelled External links. All the links in this section will be to other websites, but other external links may be anywhere in the text, and on any page except an index page. Anywhere we thought would be useful. Index pages (see site structure for exactly what these are) are long enough without them, and their whole purpose is to list internal links, so we don't have any external links on index pages.


Most links, external or internal, show the target explicitly, but not all of them. It's an author's judgement as to what's most helpful.


  • In the External links section, the link is almost always best just the whole URL, which the wiki software here recognises and links. That way, everyone can see exactly where they are going. The main exception is if the URL is too long to fit onto one line, in which case the link text may be edited so that it does, or we may use TinyURL.
  • In running text, often the link is edited so the text and target don't match at all, to provide a good hypertext which both reads well and links well.


Any page which has provided information reproduced here should be linked to, either from the relevant information or from the External links section of our page, or both. But that's not the only reason for linking. Any website that seems of interest is a possible target.


But, we don't have any regular program of checking these links once they're established. If you find a dud, tell us, or even fix it yourself (that's what a wiki is for).


Duds may have several causes:

  • The page may have been changed or deleted by the author. They may not tell us! They probably don't even know we exist.
  • The website may have changed ownership. There have even been a couple of cases where sites with impressive Google rankings have been sold to porno merchants. None we link to AFAIK, but there's nothing to stop that happening.
  • Maybe we got it wrong in the first place.


And even if the link hasn't changed, it's not the purpose of this site to check the accuracy of others, or to comment either way, except in the case of sites that are so good that we don't bother repeating their stuff here. And we'll make those recommendations pretty explicit.




When linking to Wikipedia, often we link to a particular version of a page rather than to the page itself. The page can change. A particular version can't. See permalinks for details.


See also





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