A few weeks ago I went through all of the online resources in ShipIndex.org, to see if they all worked. It’s not uncommon for interfaces and search structures to change, and the result is that URLs slightly change. Any change to a URL, however slight, will likely cause the link to break, however, so I wanted to review all of them, and fix the ones that I could.
In one instance, I thought that the resource had disappeared completely, but I got a very helpful reply from the folks running the site, I learned of the new URL structure, and was easily able to update those links. In another instance, I thought a different resource was gone for good, but after a bunch of searching was able to find it, and figure out an update. Some still need attention, and I’m still working on those.
Yesterday, however, I learned that some of the oldest links in the database, to Ship Registers and other resources at Mystic Seaport, no longer work. These worked when I checked two or three weeks ago, and have worked since they were loaded into the ShipIndex.org database in 2009, but not today.
The Research collection at Mystic Seaport has gotten an online overhaul, and the new online resources are in a different interface. While some like the new interface, and the old one certainly did need an update, it appears that we can no longer link directly to an entry for a ship. I’m checking with the staff at the library to see if that is, in fact, the case, but if so, I’ll have to take out about a million direct links to these ships. I’ll keep the ships in the ShipIndex database, because I can still say with certainty that these ships are mentioned in the resources at Mystic, but I won’t be able to take a user directly to the entries any more.
This has happened with other resources in the past, most notably (in my mind) the Ellis Island Ship Database. I find it frustrating, because I like providing direct links, and I think they’re easier for people to use and cite, but I guess it was done for a reason. In the past, one could save a URL, and use that to link directly to the resource. Now, you’ll need to repeat the search every time you want to get to that specific resource, and your citation will need to describe how to do the search, rather than just include the link to the page in question.
If I’m able to update these links to direct links at some point, I’ll certainly do so, but I doubt that’ll be possible.