Help:Fixing dead links


This is a page about how to fight against dead links, a phenomenon often known as link rot, whereby any large enough of a reference site (like this wiki) on the Internet will eventually have more links on it which lead nowhere or to an incorrect target than ones which are live. Dead links are a negative signal to search engines for page ranking, at the least waste readers' times or dash their expectations, frequently drive ad money to organizations unaffiliated with or even actively opposed to the content we cover, and at the worst, may expose users to malicious websites with automated malware downloads which have "squatted" the linked domain after its registration expired.

Marking a dead link[edit]

If you found a dead link that is not currently marked, and you do not have time or are unable to find any replacements for it, place the wikitext {{deadlink}} next to it; this will appear next to the link and will categorize the article into an Articles with dead external links maintenance category, for review by others.

Finding backups[edit]

When you find a dead link, the first thing to do is to check a search engine such as Bing, Duck Duck Go, Google, Yahoo!, etc., to see if the same content can be found elsewhere on a live webpage which appears relatively stable. When such is the case, you should simply change the URL of the link to point to that new location in lieu of the old one.

If the link is to an electronic version of a formerly print medium (newspaper, magazine, book, etc.), find out if the article occurred in one of the print editions and, if so, you may choose to cite it instead of the electronic version.

When these options fail, the next step to take is to search Internet archive sites. Two such prominent sites are the Internet Archive at and, at - if the content can be found on such sites, use one of the steps below to help fix it.

If a page recently disappeared from the Internet, it may still be possible to find cached copies of it on some search engines. If this is possible, consider initiating a more permanent backup of the content, either personally or through services like the site.

Archiving normal external links[edit]

Given an ordinary broken link that occurs in the text of a page directly, follow the below matrix to point it at an archival site by using the {{Archived link}} template.

Description Pattern How to archive it
Naked hyperlink {{archived link||||}}
Link with descriptive text [ Time's Digital Top 50] {{archived link||Time's Digital Top 50||}}

Archiving web citations[edit]

The {{Cite web}} template is used extensively on this wiki to create citations to online articles. If such an article disappears and its contents can be found in an archive, change the template invocation to use {{Cite web archived}}, and add two parameters to the end of the invocation: archiveurl points to the location at which the site is now archived, and archivedat optionally names the domain name of the archive site to provide the end user more information about the site they're about to visit.

Before {{cite web|author=CVG staff|title=Games that changed the World: Doom|url=|publication=Computer and Video Games|publishdate=11 June 2002|accessdate=1 February 2016}}
After {{cite web archived|author=CVG staff|title=Games that changed the World: Doom|url=|publication=Computer and Video Games|publishdate=11 June 2002|accessdate=1 February 2016|archiveurl=|}}

Archiving Wikipedia links[edit]

If a link to Wikipedia using the {{Wikipedia}} template is broken, but a version of the article containing referenced text can be found on the Internet Archive (, you can change it to use {{Wikipedia archived}}. Note down the timestamp from the URL (the numeric portion occurring directly after as it is needed for one of the arguments to this template. Note that {{Wikipedia archived}} only supports a named title argument, and does not support positional arguments, nor the various other little-used arguments to the normal Wikipedia template.

Before {{Wikipedia|Doom episodes and levels}} or {{Wikipedia|title=Doom episodes and levels}}
After {{Wikipedia archived|title=Doom episodes and levels|timestamp=20071112114036}}

Freezing external links[edit]

Through use of the {{frozenlink}} template, it is possible to maintain a hyperlink that is dead and has no archives without creating an active, clickable link. This is recommended for use in cases where the value of the link to the article is non-negligible. See the template page for additional documentation on how to use it.

Before [ Contoso, Ltd.]
After {{frozenlink||Contoso, Ltd.}}

When to remove a link[edit]

As per our editing guidelines, links being used as references should not simply be removed from an article because they are dead. Whenever possible, even if the above steps fail, preserve the link in some fashion. If the link is reaching a harmful or irrelevant site, you may surround its hyperlink with <nowiki> tags to stop it from becoming an active hyperlink, comment it out using HTML comment syntax and add explanatory text to the article which compensates, or other palliative actions. If the link is not a critical or reliable citation to begin with, however, then it may be removed at your discretion. When possible, try to find another better source to use instead.