Don't forget the value of hyperlinking

Online journalism educators pay much appropriate attention to innovations such as wikis, blogs and crowdsourcing. But let’s not forget the journalism value of might have been the original Web innovation — the hyperlink.

Hyperlinks not only can help provide informative context to information within a story, they also can help keep a story alive long after its original publication.

Consider one example raised in Elizabeth Zwerling’s recent OJR story, Rewriting history: Should editor delete or alter online content?. Zwerling quoted Craig Whitney, standards editor for the New York Times, about reader requests for updates to old crime beat stories.

“A source will call saying the paper reported an arrest, then didn’t report the dismissal of the case,” Whitney said. “We can’t go re-report the who (sometimes 20-year-old) story and we can’t just take their word for it: ‘The judge threw out the case.’ ‘Where’s the judge?’ ‘He’s dead.’ ‘Where’s the record of the case?’ ‘In some archive in Fort Dix.’ We recognize it’s frustrating. We can’t do anything.

Hyperlinking provides journalists two new ways to help readers access the resolution of cases — ways that do not require altering old stories.

Why not assign the court’s case number as metadata to each article written about that case? Many online publishing systems build “related stories” links into each article, giving readers the ability to click to all other stories in publication’s archive with the same metadata tags. (We are doing that now on OJR — see the links at bottom of this article for an example.)

If reporters at your publication routinely assigned case numbers to crime or legal beat stories, then readers could click a link from that page and access all the publication’s other stories on that case. The publishing system, or your internal meta tagging procedure, might need to be modified to make the link reader-friendly. (Who’s going to know what’s behind a link that simply says “CA-192837465,” for example?) But such a system could help users follow the “thread” of a case far more easily.

Today, many jurisdictions post case files online, too. And that provides a way for readers to learn the resolution of cases that reporters might drop, as in the example cited above. Depending upon the jurisdiction, you might be able to “deep link” into your community’s court records for an individual case, using the case number. A savvy Web team might even be able to build that function into its Web story template, so that any story with a case number as metadata would automatically include a deep link into the court’s original documents for that case. (Again, to cite OJR as an example, this would be a similar process to how we deep link to Technorati and Google Blog Search on all OJR stories so that you can see who’s linking to them.)

Even if you can’t deep link into original court records, including the case number, or even just the case’s title, in your story empowers the readers to do that research on his or her own. The San Francisco Chronicle is one major news organization that’s now doing just that. Bob Egelko of the Chronicle wrote to me about his paper’s policy.

“Our policy, which is sort of a work in progress, has been to put case names and numbers at the end of stories on Supreme Court rulings, either state or federal… Lately, at my editor’s request, I’ve also been posting URLs for links to opinions of note, for state Court of Appeal decisions as well as Supreme Court rulings…. The legal papers, such as the Daily Journal and the Recorder, put the case information in the text of their stories, but I think they belong at the end of the text in a general-circulation newspaper, so the readers know where to find them.”

Sandy Johnson, Washington bureau chief for the Associated Press, told me that the AP began adding Supreme Court case citations in the mid-1980s, in response to the availability of commercial information databases, such as Lexis-Nexis. “The theory was that perhaps people would look up the case docs,” she wrote, via e-mail.

Today, with the Internet, readers have access to the largest database ever assembled. That access is undermining journalists’ traditional role as gatekeeper to community information. But if we are no longer to be the gatekeeper of the world’s information, we can become great guides to it. Why not serve our readers by showing them the connections from the data we collect to other, related useful information that exists on the Web?

Let’s not forget to hyperlink.

Rewriting history: Should editors delete or alter online content?

Elizabeth Zwerling is an associate professor of journalism at the University of La Verne in Los Angeles County.

By the time I got the e-mail from the spokeswomen for a major credit card company asking me to delete her quotes from an article we’d run almost a year before, I was skeptical. She had already contacted the reporter with various versions of her concern: she’d been speaking off the record, the reporter must have confused her with another source, the quotes were wrong. A man “representing” her had called the managing editor urging him to omit the quotes from the archive. “I think he was a lawyer,” the managing editor told me at the time. (He wasn’t.)

I’m faculty adviser for the Campus Times, a 2,000-circulation weekly newspaper of the University of La Verne in Los Angeles County. My staff of undergraduates occasionally gets things wrong and corrects them. But this was a solid story by a conscientious reporter, puzzled by the content, urgency and timing of the source request.

Most likely the credit card spokeswoman – a woman a Google search revealed is widely quoted by Reuters and CNN, among others – had searched herself online and found our story about college students and credit card debt, in which she spoke openly, if off-message, about the age group’s unchecked spending habits.

Easy access to online news archives is one of the Web’s amazing benefits for journalists – or anyone wanting background on people or events. But the fact that last year’s or the last decade’s news stories are just a mouse-click away means that anything one says to a reporter – perhaps in a moment of vulnerability – can be entered into a very visible long-lasting record. The visibility of this record, its effects and what to do about those, if anything, is a contentious topic among editors and ethicists across the nation, as the sense – and the reality – of new media is that stories live long past their press dates.

The credit card spokeswoman scenario was fairly easy to resolve: The reporter had kept her notes, we reviewed them against the archived story and the now 2-year-old story remains unchanged in our archive. The spokeswoman’s discomfort with the story, particularly given her profession, I concluded, did not come close to a threshold for altering the permanent record.

A few months earlier a colleague shared a similar scenario, albeit with a more dramatic request. In late 2005 he was asked to alter the archive of a 1999 story about same-sex couples by one of the sources profiled in the La Verne Magazine. “She said she wasn’t gay anymore,” said George Keeler, journalism professor and magazine adviser. “It was a painful thing, but I wrote her back and said I wasn’t going to erase (her past),” The story, now eight years old, come up first when the source’s name is typed into Google and Yahoo!’s engines.

“It’s not like it used to be when clippings would just molder in the morgue of the newspaper office,” said Craig Whitney, standards editor for the New York Times, who said the Times frequently fields requests to alter archives.

“A source will call saying the paper reported an arrest, then didn’t report the dismissal of the case,” Whitney said. “We can’t go re-report the who (sometimes 20-year-old) story and we can’t just take their word for it: ‘The judge threw out the case.’ ‘Where’s the judge?’ ‘He’s dead.’ ‘Where’s the record of the case?’ ‘In some archive in Fort Dix.’ We recognize it’s frustrating. We can’t do anything.

“Sometimes it’s a case where somebody is embarrassed about a part of their past that they don’t deny, which wasn’t so prominent (before online archives and Google),” Whitney said.

The New York Times has received requests from divorced couples to remove archived stories about their marriages, said Leonard Apcar, former editor-in-chief of

“We’ve always had a sense that the archive is historical,” Whitney said. “What’s changed is now anybody can consult it from home. We haven’t figured out what to do, if anything. We’ve had some meetings and we’ll have some more to… figure out something to do that’s ethically responsible, that doesn’t compromise the integrity of the archives, but addresses the need for clarification, elaboration,” Whitney said adding that the Times has never deleted anything from its online archives. “I doubt if we ever would. The question is, is there something else we can do that falls short of rewriting history?”

The answer to that question seems to depend on the story, the publication and a variety of circumstances, which like the medium, are still evolving.

Editors at the Pasadena (Calif.) Weekly felt they found a fair solution when in 2006, they decided to remove the name of an ex-con from an archived story, six months after it came out in print.

Joe Piasecki, the paper’s deputy editor who also reported the story, had covered a protest at San Quentin Prison a week before the execution of Crips co-founder Stanley Tookie Williams, where he interviewed a man who said he’d been in prison with Williams. Piasecki researched the man’s background through the Oakland Tribune’s (offline) coverage of the man’s 1998 trial and found the man had been charged with raping and sodomizing his former girlfriend, and convicted of assault. Piasecki included that information in the story along with the man’s claim that he was innocent. “I’d called the Tribune library (to make sure) he was who he said he was,” Piasecki said.

The story ran Dec. 8, 2005, in the Weekly, its sister paper the Ventura County Reporter, and on the Reporter’s Web site. At the time the story went up, the Pasadena Weekly didn’t have a functioning Web archive, so the source’s call went to the Ventura, Calif., newsroom first. Then Piasecki and Pasadena Weekly Editor Kevin Uhrich were consulted.

“Our first reaction was ‘no don’t change it’,” Piasecki said. “I tend to say that unless (the reporter) screwed up, don’t change it. What’s true is true.”

Piasecki said his publication made an exception here because the man wasn’t familiar with the Internet, and because his quotes toward the end of a story about someone else, were not critical to its “material essence.” The man had served two years at San Quentin and remembered seeing Williams there; his quotes added color to the story, Piasecki said. The quotes are still in the Ventura newspaper’s online archive, only the man’s name was removed.

“The guy said every time he applied for a job they Googled his name and this was the only hit,” Piasecki said. “We took his name out so he could move on with his life.”

“I didn’t see any harm,” Uhrich said, adding this is the only time the Weekly has edited an archived story beyond correcting specific factual errors and taking offline a guest editorial he learned after publication was largely plagiarized. (The paper’s own Web site hosts archives dating back to January 2006.)

At the New York Times, even plagiarized stories remain as part of the permanent record. Those by ex-Times reporter Jayson Blair still appear intact in the Times archives with editor’s notes appended to the articles.

“The Jayson Blair stories are going to (stay) in the archives,” Whitney said. “We can’t pretend he was never here.”

Because Internet databases do not discriminate in what they pick up and store, however, a ProQuest search of a Jayson Blair story with plagiarized sections called up the story without the editor’s notes.

Despite the timeless nature of online postings, laws that protect news outlets have not changed. No matter how emphatic or justified a source’s complaint may be, any threat to take legal action against the reporter or news organization after the one-to-two-year statute of limitations for libel law is an idle threat, said Roger Myers, general counsel for the California First Amendment Coalition.

Ethically, however, dealing with source requests to alter online archives is increasingly complicated, and as with just about every aspect of online journalism, still evolving.

When a story, column or even a reader response to a story is posted online then transferred to the publication’s archive, “it’s a matter of record,” said Robert Steele, a scholar of journalism ethics and values at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla. “To change it would change a piece of history.”

If editors start removing some stories or parts of stories from archives, readers will begin to wonder what else is missing, Steele said.

And yet Steele, who advises newsroom leaders on a variety of ethical issues, acknowledges that in the rapidly changing media landscape, there are no absolutes.

“If it can be proven that the material did not come from the person whose name is attached, that would be a reason to take something down,” he said. “If it is substantially inaccurate, that would be a reason to correct it and in a rare case take it down.”

Or, Steele added, if a source could make a convincing argument that the story’s accessibility online poses a “profound and immanent threat to their well-being,” that might be a case to consider altering or deleting it from the record. Though he emphasized that these would be rare exceptions.

In the rare case when an editor does change or delete a story from the archive, there is no guarantee the original version of the story won’t come up in a Google search. As Paul McAfee, director of interactive operations at the Press Enterprise newspaper in Riverside, Calif., explained: “The major search engines crawl the news Web sites on a regular basis. They could pull up an erroneous story and ‘cache’ it in their archives. “Hopefully they will pick up the correction,” he said. Though he added that it’s likely that both the original and the updated version of the story will come up in a search.

There are formal request processes to have items removed from Google and the other search engines, but there is no guarantee their decision-makers will honor the request. Under federal law, “Internet entities that host other people’s content are not liable for that content.” Myers said.

While McAfee said policy at the Press Enterprise is to not alter any accurate news archive, he recently helped a reader who’d posted offensive comments on‘s message board, then wanted the comments deleted.

“Someone wrote a comment that sounded really racist, then a few months later they saw the light and changed their opinion,” McAfee said. When the poster asked McAfee to remove the comments from the message board, he agreed to. Unlike its editorial content, postings on the publication’s electronic message board are eventually purged automatically, he said. Because they are generated by the public and not by the newspaper’s editorial department, these message boards are not subject the publication’s editorial policies, McAfee said.

“I wrote (the poster) back, ‘It’s off our site.’ They wrote back ‘yes but it’s still cashed in Google.’ The Google spiders picked it up, it was stuck in Google’s cache. The person asked me to intercede with Google. I sent them the Web address and a form for Google. I didn’t do it for them,” McAfee said. “We disclaim any responsibility for anything on our message boards.”

Letters to the editor, on the other hand, are different from message board postings when it comes to online archives, editors say.

“We’ve had many experiences where letter writers, who espouse some wild or provocative opinion, want the letter taken off the Web years later,” said Clint Brewer, executive editor of the City Paper in Nashville, Tenn., and the Society of Professional Journalists national president-elect. But letters are also part of the historical record, he said.

Brewer said that while the landscape has changed dramatically, at this point newsroom leaders have a long-standing set of standard for accuracy and preserving the historical record based on the print journalism model. “It’s not apples to apples (but) that’s a logical place to start,” he said.

McAfee said he hopes the visibility and permanence of the online record – and the fact that even stories subsequently edited for accuracy may live online alongside the uncorrected versions – will make journalists take their job of getting it right more seriously than ever.

Whitney believes such visibility and permanence will affect sources: “I think that the arrival of YouTube and Internet and the fact that images and text last forever means that actions have lasting consequences. It’s more important than it ever has been for people before they do something (to consider the) consequences.”

When Web print stories disappear, the meaning of 'archives' fades

“So let us drudge on about our inescapably impossible task of providing every week a first rough draft of a history that will never be completed about a world we can never understand.” — Philip Graham, publisher of the Washington Post, 1946-63

If Graham thought it was impossible to do a first draft of history in the newspaper, imagine how much more impossible he would consider our present time, when newspaper stories are examined, prodded and picked over on newspaper sites and in online archives.

Now, the struggle over writing and editing the first draft of history includes a little birdie on the shoulders of journalists telling them that their work might live on forever on the global Web — and not just in a musty morgue or library. While most editors and ethicists believe that every single story that appears in a newspaper should also appear on the paper’s Web site and archive, there have been exceptions to the rule.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer didn’t post a recent story on teen suicides on its Web site for two days, the Missoulian (Mont.) took a story about competitor New West off its Web site after a few days, and the San Francisco Chronicle spiked a 1999 story about the Columbine shootings due to complaints about a videogame angle. Plus, after a high-profile lawsuit from freelance writers, many online publications and databases had to pull their stories due to lack of compensation.

In the case of the Post-Intelligencer, reporter Claudia Rowe wrote a sensitive story about three teens who had recently committed suicide in succession over a number of weeks. When Rowe first approached suicide experts in her reporting, they were wary of the possibility that press sensationalism could in turn cause more teen suicides.

“Before the story was printed, we had experts who were nervous that we were even doing the story,” said Mark Matassa, city editor at the P-I. “Some of the feedback we were getting was that anytime you write about this, there’s a danger of provoking more suicides, which obviously wasn’t our intention. But it’s also not our intention to not do important journalism because somebody’s afraid that someone might take it wrong.”

Once the story ran on May 23, however, those same experts were relieved at Rowe’s sensitive handling of the material and were satisfied with wider Web distribution. However, the editors held off on posting the story online initially, with the twin concerns that teens were more likely to read it online and that the editors might lose control of where the story was posted and passed around online.

“The initial thinking was that because we were taking so much care with the presentation of the story in the newspaper, if we put it online, we don’t have the same control,” Matassa told me. “The story gets picked up and moves around the Internet really quickly. We were nervous about presenting the story in a way that allowed us to ensure that we were doing it properly.”

This passage, in particular, shows how technology itself played a part in the story: “Technology, it turns out, was central to the way their deaths unfolded,” Rowe wrote. “Each boy sent an electronic goodbye to his friends moments before pulling the trigger, and each has since become part of an ongoing cyber conversation among the network of teenagers left behind.”

But after two days of holding off on posting the story online, the editors had enough positive feedback to feel comfortable putting it on the Web — though they included an Editor’s Note explaining their thought process.

Editor’s Note: This story, published in print editions of the Post-Intelligencer on Monday, May 23, was not immediately posted online primarily because of the effect experts advised us it could have on suicidal teens. After seeing the story, suicide-prevention experts now believe it is responsible and constructive and deserves wider dissemination. For those reasons and after many requests from readers, we reconsidered and are posting Monday’s story.

While Matassa is not in charge of what goes online at the Post-Intelligencer’s site, he does have a deeper understanding of how the Web’s extension of a print story’s life affects the work done on the front end.

“Even more so, you better make darn sure your stories are right, that they’re smart, thoughtful stories, they quote people accurately, you get the facts right and aren’t making stuff up — all those things that you expect journalists to do,” he said. “Especially because they’re living online for eternity and beyond, that ought to doubly get your attention.”

Aiding and abetting the enemy in Montana?

Not all cases of spiked stories online involve sensitive social issues or court-ordered removals, however. In Missoula, Montana, the daily Missoulian newspaper rules supreme. When the upstart New West grassroots media Web site came to town, the reigning daily refused to sell classified job ads to the startup.

Then Missoulian business reporter Robert Struckman did an in-depth story on New West in March and interviewed its founder and editor in chief, Jonathan Weber. The story was approved by Missoulian publisher John VanStrydonck and appeared in print and on the newspaper’s Web site. However, a few days later, the story inexplicably disappeared from the site and searches for keywords brought up nothing.

Weber suspects the publisher was upset with positive coverage of a competing outlet and had it pulled online.

“It’s sort of like trying to pretend that it was never there, some kind of rewriting of history,” Weber told me. “It’s kind of peculiar and not an appropriate thing to do. We had a story about something a guy had written on his personal Weblog, and we did a story about this, and when the guy realized we were doing a story, he took his Web site down. But we found the site in the Google cache so he wasn’t actually able to expunge his Web site. So you can’t really fully expunge something from the Internet.”

In fact, the story is far from expunged from the Net. Weber had e-mailed a copy of the Missoulian article to a friend and had that copy to post on New West. He then used the whole embarrassing episode as the basis of a second-person screed about VanStrydonck’s thinking.

“It’s harder to control the pesky journalists in your own newsroom,” Weber wrote. “They actually go out and do a story about one of those new competing publications, granting it far more publicity and business advantage than it ever could have gotten from the advertisement that you so shamelessly refused to run. But God forbid you try to tell them what they can and can’t run. It’s not like the old days, when the Missoulian was a wholly-owned mouthpiece of Montana’s copper magnates. Now you have to appear editorially upright. Reporters and editors can piss and moan and run stories that undermine your business strategy. At least you can order the offending story expunged from the archives!”

Despite repeated phone calls and e-mails, VanStrydonck and Struckman refused to comment for my story, leaving Weber’s screed and posting of the Missoulian story as the last word on it. However, there’s one interesting aspect of the Case of the Disappearing Business Profile: The Missoulian Web site itself is far from comprehensive when it comes to posting print stories online. Due to cutbacks or lack of interest, the site is not a complete archive of print material, undercutting the newspaper’s own online authority on its reporting.

When complaints spiked a story

There was a time not that long ago when newspaper Web sites were almost completely off the radar for newspaper executives. At the old San Francisco Chronicle — pre-Hearst buyout — the SFGate online arm was run completely separately with almost no input from print editors.

It was in those days, in April 1999, that the newspaper ran a story about the Columbine High (Colorado) shooters that combined wire services with a staff byline, Jaxon Vanderbeken. Vanderbeken’s reporting included quotes from a police expert on Goths, Sergeant Dave Williams from the Dayton, Ohio, police department. One particular passage relating to Williams raised the hackles of videogamers:

“Sergeant Williams says some Goths act out a bizarre and elaborate role-playing game, ‘Vampire: The Masquerade.’ He said one particularly dark aspect of the Gothic is when role playing is carried to extreme. ‘The game — Vampire: The Masquerade — I call it Dungeons and Dragons on steroids,’ he said, adding that players assume the persona of vampires and act out attacks. ‘There are people who I have seen who lose touch, who think the gaming system and mythos are real. They have gone off and done some very strange things. Basing things on my experience, is there a propensity for this? It’s possible.'”

The publisher of the “Vampire” game, White Wolf, lashed out at the Chronicle’s coverage with a press release. The Chronicle itself ran a longer, more thoughtful story which included interviews with teens who consider themselves to be Goths and who play the game “Vampire” but don’t make the connection to violence.

But even after all those moves, the SFGate continued to get complaints about its first story on the subject. The paper finally pulled the story from its archives and left a note up on the original URL saying, “This story was removed by the San Francisco Chronicle. A subsequent story on the same subject can be found at the following URL [pointing to the later story].”

“[After White Wolf] linked to the story, we heard impassioned complaints from HUNDREDS of kids — even after we corrected the story and said there was no evidence that [the shooters] ever played those games,” said SFGate editor Vlae Kershner via e-mail. “After a few weeks, we got tired of taking the heat and took down the story. I should add that under our current corrections policy, if the same thing occurred again we’d correct the mistake online and annotate the article as corrected, but we would not delete it.”

Though the story isn’t in SFGate’s archives, you can find a full copy of it on an Italian gaming site. So even the best efforts of expunging the past run into trouble online, where so many people can cut and paste text elsewhere and the Wayback Machine can archive it all.

An eternal life for plagiarism

While these examples deal with controversial subjects either with the public at large or within the newspaper’s management, what about all those plagiarized and problematic stories penned by Jayson Blair at the New York Times and Jack Kelley at USA Today? You might be surprised to learn that all those stories remain intact in those newspapers’ archives as well as databases such as LexisNexis — but with large editor’s notes at the top of them. (Perhaps most bizarrely you have to pay to read an archived version of Blair’s fabricated stories at

USA Today, the New York Times and Washington Post all adhere to a pretty simple guideline to online posting of print stories: If it ran in print, it’s part of the public record and must run online. vice president and editor in chief Kinsey Wilson said that even a made-up story by Kelley about vigilantes among Israeli settlers is still available online with a detailed correction at the top.

“In that case, as well as in other less egregious cases where stories are found to contain inadvertent factual errors, our practice is to append an editor’s note or a correction rather than purge the story from our online archive,” Kinsey said via e-mail. “I can’t rule out the possibility that we might remove a story from our servers under certain circumstances — a finding of libel, for example, or a simple production error that led to content being published in error. But as a rule we do not think the public or our readers are served by ‘disappearing’ stories that have been vetted, published and then later found to be problematic.”

Online research databases also strive to keep the public record complete. Judy Schultz, spokeswoman for LexisNexis, says that it’s a very rare occurrence when stories are pulled and mainly under court orders such as for the freelance writers who sued.

“I think [pulling stories] is something that would be negotiated,” Schultz told me. “One of our aims is to create an archive of publications. Once something’s in print, you can’t really take it back. I’m trying to leave you with the impression that we would not normally do that. The only time that I know we have removed anything from our service was when the freelance writers sued the New York Times and us and other sources…In the normal course of business, we would leave the original story in with the correction.”

The Post-Intelligencer’s Matassa doesn’t believe in that blanket rule, however, and thinks of the Web as more than just an online archive for static copy.

“I don’t think you need to leave the wrong version on there for a historical record,” Matassa said. “I think you want to have the right story living on. If you do a story that you determine is false or the source cannot be verified, the wise thing to do is take them off. I think of online as more than microfiche. It’s a publishing venue that continues publishing. That’s different than something you check out of a library to look up and see what ran on a given day.”

But ethicists believe that appended corrections are appropriate — in most cases. Stephen Ward, associate professor of journalism ethics at the School of Journalism at University of British Columbia, told me that online is indeed a different animal than microfiche but that archives should be just what they mean: the original record preserved. Ward thinks that a correction would even lessen a libel threat. He points to one example in Canada of how spiked online stories could hurt the public at large.

“In 2004, the National Post carried a small correction saying a medical reporter had been dismissed for a series of fabricated quotes and sources in a number of stories,” Ward said via e-mail. “The newspaper assured the readers that no false ‘medical’ information had been provided. But questions arose later as to whether, in fact, questionable medical information had been provided via the fabricated stories. When an ethics researcher tried to research these stories and these claims, he found that many of the stories had been removed entirely from the paper’s archives, making it more difficult to identify and obtain the original stories.”

Kelly McBride, ethics group leader at the Poynter Institute, agrees with the general principle of running all print stories online with corrections noted. But she does see some gray areas.

“A story that causes obvious harm to an individual should probably come down,” McBride said via e-mail. “For instance, if you wrote a story that accused me of child neglect, and then you discover that you got it wrong, it wouldn’t be enough to just put an editor’s note at the top of the story that said: This story is erroneous. Because the accusation would be very harmful to me. That said, it makes me nervous when stories just disappear. I think the most responsible way to handle that is allow a site search engine to search the copy as if it was there. But then when the user calls up the story, he gets an editor’s note which explains why the story is not there but does not repeat the harm that was caused by the original erroneous report.”

But Ward’s point still stands. If you were the subject of such a harmful story, would you want the story expunged with a vague note about what happened, or would you want the original copy there to clarify exactly what was written? These are the types of things that drive editors nuts, keep ethicists up at night and ultimately mean less and less on the Net where a page posted for a few hours can live on for eternity.