Missing link uncovered

Next month, the first such map should be completed by small UK start-up companyLinkGuard.

"It all started in November 1997, when I was stopped at a traffic light on a Sunday morning," says Franck Jeannin, LinkGuard's founder and head man.

"The same week, I'd been annoyed by some broken links I'd been finding and also by some automated emails I was getting. And I was thinking that if you sent an automatic email when a page moved, the broken links wouldn't happen. The first thing I did was to apply for a patent," Jeannin said.

The more his team analysed the broken links that give the familiar '404 not found' error message, the more they realised the size of the task and that a link map was needed.

Research by the Butler Group found that 'link rot' is a serious problem, with 10 per cent of links - presently around 10 billion - broken.

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