Running Websites and The Second Law of Thermodynamics

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Those who run websites have two equally important responsibilities. First, Content Creation and second Content Maintenance, making certain that the content looks and functions the way it should, and that means dealing with a physical quantity called entropy, which measures the degree of disorder in a system.1 Entropy increases with the passage of time. So, at some point, any website will exhibit signs of disorder and dysfunction. Maintenance should be a continuous process.

The most common ways entropy manifests itself in websites are Dead Links and Link Rot.2 These terms describe the same thing in different ways. Links stop working for any one or a combination of four reasons.

  1. Websites go down
    1. Because of server failure or
    2. Non-payment As a result, links to those sites die.
  2. Sites and pages are moved, and no one puts a redirect into the .htaccess file either out of neglect or because their content management system does not allow them to do so, and those links die.
  3. Just as often syntax errors occur during creation, editing, and updating. For example, updating a site to responsive design, HTML 5, or routine maintenance such as checking for and replacing dead links.
  4. Weird stuff happens for no apparent reason.

Experience demonstrates the fourth reason happens most often. The second most common reason is that URLs change.3 Syntax errors, errors in coding, are third in frequency and are usually internal. The least frequent is neglecting to write a redirect into the .htaccess file.

The need for redirects suggests major changes in website architecture such as changing servers, adding or deleting directories, or changing content management systems. For example, some years ago I was hosting two WordPress instances as part of, but they required constant updating and I was unable to keep them up-to-date; so, my service provider would periodically shut them down. As a result, I purchased a new domain,, and moved both the Keegan Blog and the Keegan Podcast to While the content of both is much easier to maintain, and it is much easier to post on the go; weird stuff does happen. Recently, I was routinely checking the blog for link rot, and discovered numerous errors in one of my older posts Intelligent Design is a Social Theory4 Opening the editor to start correction, I found that in both editing views only a third of the content was present. However, all of the content was present when viewing the post in the browser. That did not make sense. Not wanting to risk the loss of two-thirds of my content, I copied the post from the browser and coded it again making corrections as I went, which solved the

Checking for link rot and other Content Maintenance should be continuous, but stuff happens and, at the very least, routine checks should happen about every three months. Dead links are the most common maintenance issue on websites. Each outgoing link on a website should be physically inspected and replaced if it does not function. On large sites, anything over 250 pages, some type of automatic link checker should be used. I was reluctant to use an automatic link checker because there is no substitute for physical inspection. However, and automatic link checker does give an author a place to start. Recently, I searched for an automatic link checker and found Free Broken Link Checker–Online Dead Link Checking Tool.5 It has two features which are useful. It lists the broken URLs in a table; providing a link to the originating page, and it allows the author to view the code. It does, however, have a major drawback. The checker does not recognize changes immediately. That is, if a check is run on a domain and dead links are found and changed, and the checker is run immediately it will return the same information because not enough time has passed for the changes made to be recognized.

Once a broken link is found, what happens next? If the link is important enough the link text should be searched for, and if the same information is found the link should be replaced. If the same information is not found, then the URL should be put into the Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive, and the most recent snapshot of the information should be used.6 There are instances, however, when the Wayback Machine has not archived a page or site. In that case, and if the page is a list of links, the dead link should be removed and replaced if possible. If the dead link is in a footnote, which is part of an article or academic paper and cannot be found it should not be removed that is why the access date is given in the footnote.

Content Maintenance is as important to a website as Content Creation, and a functioning server. Content Maintenance should be a continuous process for a website to maintain its usefulness. Entropy increases with time.


1 Stephen W. Hawking, A Brief History of Time (New York: Bantam, 1988), 102.

2 PCMag Encyclopedia, s. v. Dead Link accessed July 24, 2021, A hyperlink on a website that points to a Web page that has been deleted or moved. Also called an orphan link, it may also be a temporary condition if the Web server is down; PCMag Encyclopedia, s. v. Link Rot accessed July 24, 2021, Invalid hyperlinks on the Web. The more years go by, the more link rot because pages are moved to new locations or deleted.

3 PCMag Encyclopedia, s. v. URL accessed July 24, 2021, (Uniform Resource Locator) The address that defines the route to a file on an Internet server (Web server, mail server, etc.). URLs are typed into a Web browser to access Web pages and files, and URLs are embedded within the pages themselves as links….

4 John Keegan, Intelligent Design is a Social Theory, The Keegan Blog, accessed August 3, 2021,

5 Free Broken Link Checker–Online Dead Link Checking Tool, accessed July 24, 2021,

6 Wayback Machine, Internet Archive, accessed July 24, 2021, The Wayback Machine provides access to snapshots of billions of websites that exist and have existed on the Internet.

Change Log December 16, 2020-June 29, 2021

Create a new directory resources. Moved Documenting Sources for a Research Paper page to resources directory, and created index page for the directory as well as a CSS file.

Completed updating navigation with link to Research page to all pages. Additionally, updated copyright year on all pages. Also, continued work on Evaluating Web Sources page.

Updating the navigation menu with a long process because I use Visual Studio code, which does not recognize dynamic web templates. So, each page has to be updated individually. I use Visual Studio code because it ‘s free and dynamic web templates are the only feature it lacks.

Created new source page McCarthy Executive Sessions. Additionally, created lecture page for Evaluating Web Sources. Furthermore, replaced embedded video with image and link on Civil War page.

I add source pages because URLs change, sites go down, and in the case of public documents; it’s easier to host them on a site I control. Additionally, most URLs are too long to place in a footnote on small screen devices; not to mention a PDF or a Word document. As I demonstrated in an earlier post. Furthermore, a website that cites source material has more credibility.

Created source page for article Internet Platforms, User Rights, and Section 230.

Completed page for lecture: thenLost Cause and Modern Memory. Additionally, added links to the page on the Civil War page and the lectures index page.

Added How a Bill Becomes a Law lecture page. Additionally, added a link to the lecture on lecture index page.

Added Amending The Constitution lecture page. Additionally, add links and embedded video on the Constitution page for How a Bill Becomes a Law and Amending The Constitution.

Fixed typo in link to Duck and Cover essay. Additionally, added margins and display block to cite tag in CSS.

Fix typos in navigation links on Duck and Cover page.

Created lecture page explaining Presidential Veto Power. Additionally, added link to the lecture to lecture index page and imbedded Youtube video and added links to lecture page and questions to the Constitution page.

Changed color of hyperlink text on Word War II page.

Change Log August 29, 2020-November 6, 2020 Document Archive has grown more than I thought it would in the six years since I created it. Hopefully, I will not run out of ideas and it will continue to do so.

Having problem with lecture link displaying properly in some of the navigation menus. I do not know why nor do I understand how to fix it.

I still do not understand why the link displayed incorrectly and the only way I can fix it was to insert a line break tag in some of the places where it wasn’t displaying properly and in the others have decided to live with it for the time being.

Added a link to the Watergate Lecture on YouTube. Additionally, deleted unneeded file in the CSS folder

Corrected minor typo in title of 1950s Video Page.

Created new video directory. Additionally, updated the menu of all three site templates. Added the following pages: Industrial Revolution, Northern Renaissance and Scientific Revolution, and Watergate Lecture.

Completed lectures index page and lecture pages. Additionally, updated Watergate presentation link and updated Watergate navigation menu with lecture link. Finally, updated all pages in 1950s unit with link to lectures in the navigation menu.

All site navigation menus have been updated with lecture link.

Change Log July 2019-August 2020

It has been some time since I updated the Change Log for Here are updates from July 2019-August 2020.

Added link to blog post about Nixon impeachment coverage to Watergate page.

Completed update of Copyright of all pages that make up the site.
I have to do for each individual page because I’m using free editors and the update feature in the templates for Dreamweaver and other editors never really work that well.

Put site files and folders on GitHub as backup.
The Repository is private.

Added Dred Scott book chapter to Antebellum America page. Additionally, corrected mistake in CSS added missing UL tag.

Added Hitler’s Legions in America article link to World War II page. Additionally, I updated link to Stalag 17 web page in both the lesson plan and the web activity.

Background is now visible on United States vs. Burr page. There was an extra bracket on the style sheet before the body style, which kept the background from this displaying.

I have begun the construction of web pages for the unit on the 1950s. All the webpages will go in the 1950s directory.

Need to put main image in figure tag as a background so I can have 1 image size for phone and 1 image size for desktop. Check Ella Baker CSS.

(1) Updated Copyright year on all templates. (2) Added Office Icon 2018 to images folder. (3) Added 1950s unit folder to site. It contains project files except for CSS.

(1) Completed the design and layout of the 1950s index page. (2) Moved DuckandCover.css to a folder inside the 1950s directory. (3) Create a new image for viewing on mobile screens.

Completed first lecture page. Could not embed presentation because that requires people to sign in the SharePoint, which defeats the purpose of the entire website. I will use the main image from each section and link to the presentation.

Completed design and content for Politics, the Cold War, and Korea page.

Completed construction of the Politics, the Cold War, and Korea page. Moving on to Section 2 the Second Red Scare and McCarthyism. I am making just about as much progress as I expected. It seems that hyperlinks cannot be pasted as blocks of code in Visual Studio code. Each link must be individually constructed.

I have yet to figure out why the above occasionally happens. It is not consistent, which is why I have a total of three code editors on my machine.

Completed Section 2 page. Additionally, made changes to the link styles hyperlinks are now more consistent looking.

I completed all the content for all the video pages, but I still have to create the pages themselves.

I completed the content for the third section of the lecture.

Added link to lecture in the navigation menu of United States vs Burr page.

Added link to lecture to the navigation menu on the Watergate page. Completed Duck and Cover video page. Started Section 3 Consumer Culture page.

Completed Section 3 Consumer Culture page. Added two sizes of the main image for this section.

Completed Section 4 Civil Rights page. Now I have to move on to the main video page and the three other video pages that need to be completed.

Completed Point of Order page.

Duck, Cover, and Conform America in the 1950s is complete.

Added lecture link to the navigation menu of all pages.

Recent office 365 update is causing me problems


January 13, 2016:

Apparently, all the broken links to the documents and presentations that I maintain in OneDrive for Business are now functioning. However, if you have problems accessing any of them, please email me.

At some point in the last few weeks Microsoft updated OneDrive for Business, which is where I store all the files that are linked to from my websites. Because of the update any link that is more than a month old is broken and does not function. The only fix for this problem is to update each link. That is,  create a new link for each Word Document and PowerPoint Presentation  and Excel spreadsheet on all my sites, which is going to take a great deal of time. How much? Who knows.

If you have trouble accessing a Word Document, PowerPoint Presentation, or Excel spreadsheet please email me and let me know. I will send a working link as soon as possible.

Thank you for your understanding and patience.




List of Instructional Materials Available at the Document Archive

In earlier post I explained the reasoning behind the Document Archive not having a traditional HTML navigational structure. The purpose is to provide students and teachers a distraction free experience, so students can focus on the assignment they have been given. Nevertheless, teachers need a complete list of resources that are available at | Document Archive . Below is a Word Document containing a complete list of links to instructional materials available at the archive. I hope teachers will find it useful.

View Word Document


A New Home for my Document Archive

Since Microsoft Office365 announced that it will discontinue the public facing website feature, I have been working on an alternative. I described the first part of that alternative in an earlier post. Once I moved all my Word Documents, and PowerPoint presentations to OneDrive for Business, I had to find a place to put the webpages. Until recently, I used, which pointed to the public facing website, as my Document Archive. That is to say I put any webpages there I want to share publicly, but I do not feel belong on my personal website In the main, the pages stored there were for the presentation of teaching resources on a variety of history/social studies topics.

The United States Constitution |


I could not move the domain that pointed to the public facing website because I use that for email. So I registered another domain I have just completed creating public links for all my documents in OneDrive for Business and rewriting all the webpages in HTML5 for the new domain. The Document Archive is live. I should note the archive does not have a traditional HTML navigation structure, while the site has an index page it does not link to any other page apart from the copyright statement. Each page stands on its own and is linked to from my Teaching Resources page, the Topics page, or from a page about a specific topic. Additionally, each page is  designed for use in an academic, professional environment where laptops, desktops, and iPads are readily available. Its minimum optimal screen size is the iPad mini 7.9 inches diagonal. Use of this site on any screen smaller than 7.9 inches diagonal is not recommended. This allows teachers, the target audience, to use a specific resource page without any distractions such as links to other pages within or outside the site. Except for a link to the copyright statement in the footer, students are presented with a webpage that has a finite set of links related to a specific assignment.

My hope is that teachers across the United States will find the resources in this document archive useful.

Declaration of Independence Worksheet

I finally finished a worksheet for the Declaration of Independence. It’s been on the back burner so long that I forget when I started it. My goal is to provide a portfolio of quality social studies teaching resources for school districts, teachers, and those that are homeschooling students.

The Declaration of Independence worksheet is in two formats. A classroom format that students can fill-in by hand, and a lab format that students can fill-in using Microsoft Word. The lab or form version does not work in Word on-line, if anyone is interested in that copy email me a request and I will provide the file.