Rust Never Sleeps at CNN.com
CNN.com is a vast, sprawling supersite, and it's likely that most people bouncing off links from its home page don't find themselves knee-deep in bitrotten HTML.
Users coming in from search engines, however, won't be so lucky. Take this link to a truly ancient Daily Almanac that seems to have been abandoned in January of 2001:
Here we learn that Fed chairman Alan Greenspan is calling a recession "unlikely" (good job, Alan), President Bush is launching his pre-Gulf War II faith-based initiative, and that the World Economic Forum will soon meet in Davos. Following the link to CNN's Almanac Archive gives us years 1996 through 1998, but nothing from 1999 or 2000 - it's as if those years plunged into a big black hole.
People sometimes criticize me when I go after small Web site operators who let their pages rot, and it's a valid point - these people don't have unlimited time and resources to keep things up to date. But when a big media company like CNN does this, it's a different thing. This company has tons of people, tons of money, and one would think a ton of interest in maintaining a well-trimmed, first-class, up to date site. The only thing that it seems to lack is even a casual interest in following through on its projects. Frankly, this undermaintained area flips a big bird to the entire Web. "You want an updated Almanac?," it says, "well go buy one!"
If big media is too clueless to make the most of its hits, how about taking these pages down, so they won't lure more people into these Ghost areas? Better yet, make a tax-decuctable donation of their neglected, blighted pages to the Web, and we'll run the damned thing. It would be far better PR than letting your own site become a widely-shared joke.
Labels: Old Media