Tim Berners-Lee is quite rightly worried about linkrot:
The disappearance of web material and the rotting of links is itself a major problem.
He brings up an interesting point that I hadn’t fully considered: as more and more sites migrate from HTTP to HTTPS (A Good Thing), and the W3C encourages this move, isn’t there a danger of creating even more linkrot?
…perhaps doing more damage to the web than any other change in its history.
I think that may be a bit overstated. As many others point out, almost all sites making the switch are conscientious about maintaining redirects with a 301 status code.
(There’s also a similar 308 status code that I hadn’t come across, but after a bit of investigating, that looks to be a bit of mess.)
Anyway, the discussion does bring up some interesting points. Transport Layer Security is something that’s handled between the browser and the server—does it really need to be visible in the protocol portion of the URL? Or is that visibility a positive attribute that makes it clear that the URL is “good”?
And as more sites move to HTTPS, should browsers change their default behaviour? Right now, typing “example.com” into a browser’s address bar will cause it to automatically expand to http://example.com …shouldn’t browsers look for https://example.com first?
All good food for thought.
There’s a Google Doc out there with some advice for migrating to HTTPS. Unfortunately, the trickiest part—getting and installing certificates—is currently an owl-drawing tutorial, but hopefully it will get expanded.
If you’re looking for even more reasons why enabling TLS for your site is a good idea, look no further than the latest shenanigans from ISPs in the UK (we lost the battle for net neutrality in this country some time ago).
BT just inserted a popup into someone’s site, encouraging me to switch on content filtering. That is Very Not Cool. pic.twitter.com/QMnLRawsNW— David Thompson (@fatbusinessman) December 30, 2014
They can’t do that to pages served over HTTPS.