FIGHT LINKROT!….Thanks to a comment from Lisa Williams (here), I learned today how to create permanent links to New York Times stories that don’t disappear behind their archive wall after a few days. It’s a bit klunky, but since we bloggers link to the Times frequently I thought I’d pass it along. Here’s how to do it:

  1. The Times provides an RSS feed for all their stories in conjunction with Dave Winer’s Userland. The various feeds are all listed here. You’ll need to subscribe to all or some of these feeds in your news aggregator (for example, I subscribe to National, International, Opinion, and Politics).

  2. The RSS feed provides a URL for each story that has some additional stuff tacked onto the normal Times URL. For example, here is the normal URL for the Thomas Friedman column I linked to last night along with the expanded link from the Userland RSS feed:

  3. The expanded URL indicates that the link comes from a blog, and according to Dave the Times has agreed that “now and in the future this link will work without a fee to access the archive.”

And what if you read the Times the semi-old fashioned way, by just scanning their website? There’s no way to generate the permanent URL yourself, so if you want to link to something you’ve found you’ll have to keep a couple of keywords in mind and then search through the appropriate RSS feed in your aggregator and look for the story there. That’s a bit of a pain, but it might help wean you off your non-RSS ways and begin reading news the 21st century way. There’s a silver lining to every cloud, isn’t there?

If you want to know more, Dave explains the whole thing here and has a bit of discussion about it here.

And while we’re on the topic, here’s a ranking of the most archive-friendly major news organizations:

  1. Tier 1: CNN, the Guardian, and the BBC all have permanent archives that never disappear.

  2. Tier 2: The Washington Post places old articles behind an archive wall, but previously existing links to the articles work forever. The New York Times makes permanent links possible, even if they’re a bit of a pain.

  3. Tier 3: The LA Times places all its content behind an archive wall after a few days and breaks any existing links.

  4. Purgatory: The Wall Street Journal is in a class by itself, since their content is never accessible free of charge on the Web.

This post is dedicated to Brad DeLong.

UPDATE: Corrected the information about the Washington Post. Once you link, the link seems to work forever. However, if you search for an article on their site, you can’t get free access to it after about two weeks.