August 16, 2010

Permalink

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A Permalink, or permanent link, is a URL that points to a specific blog or forum entry after it has passed from the front page to the archives. Because a permalink remains unchanged indefinitely, it is less susceptible to link rot. Most modern weblogging and content-syndication software systems support such links. Other types of websites use the term permanent links, but the term permalink is most common within the blogosphere. Permalink is a portmanteau word made from permanent link. Permalinks are often simply stated so as to be human-readable.

Purpose
Permanence in links is desirable when content items are likely to be linked to, from, or cited by a source outside the originating organization. Before the advent of large-scale dynamic websites built on database-backed content management systems, it was more common for URLs of specific pieces of content to be static and human readable, as URL structure and naming were dictated by the entity creating that content. Increased volume of content and difficulty of management led to the rise of database-driven systems, and the resulting unwieldy and often-changing URLs necessitated deliberate policies with regard to URL design and link permanence. For example, Wikipedia's internal cgi-based URLs, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Permalink, are re-written to a more human-readable form, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permalink (see Rewrite engine).

An entry in a blog with many entries is accessible from the site's front page for only a short time. Visitors who store the URL for a particular entry often find upon their return that the desired content has been replaced by something new. Prominently posting permalinks is a method employed by bloggers to encourage visitors to store a more long-lived URL (the permalink) for reference.

Permalinks frequently consist of a string of characters which represent the date and time of posting, and an identifier which denotes the author who initially authored the item or its subject. Crucially, if an item is changed, renamed, or moved within the internal database, its permalink remains unaltered, as it functions as a magic cookie which references an internal database identifier. If an item is deleted altogether, its permalink can frequently not be reused.

Permalinks have subsequently been exploited for a number of innovations, including link tracing and link trackback in weblogs, and referring to specific weblog entries in RSS or Atom syndication streams

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