"Web Pages Ought to Have An Expiration Date Tag"

3 November 2008



I love the Internet, I really do. Such a resource of information that I use most everyday but more and more I have come to realize that web pages ought to have some sort of built-in expiration date such that it is automatically removed from the hosting website and all search engines in a timely manner.

How many times have I done a search to get a ton of outdated "hits?" I really do not care to read the product release statement for something one can no longer buy or is no longer used. Yes, perhaps the user manual or tech specs for a specific item ought to have a longer web life but not its product announcement. And how many web pages are dedicated to companies that no longer exist?

When I worked as a consultant to the US government and handled classified documents, if I created a document that contained sensitive information, it was up to me to decide the documents classification level, be it secret or top secret or other. Of course some people classified everything as top secret or some sort of reflection on their own importance but  seems to me there could be some tagging system for web pages that would allow the author to identify the longevity of the page. As an example of this sort of tagging possibility, a product announcement would age quickly whereas the technical specification or a user manual would have a longer web life tag. Of course, like the people who always slapped top secret on any scrap of paper they created, there would be abuses but at least some pages would get tagged properly and thus cut down on "junk" Internet pages.

Now, I have a web site and although I do not do it often, I do make a point of periodically reviewing all sections of the site and removing what I consider as aged pages. For example, I once had a page about the crappy service I received from a specific company. This page was on the web for almost 2 years but in difference to the company, everything changes and so there service performance could have improved and I do not have the right to continue to spread "ugly rumors." Same is true about technology. I have had web pages about such and such high tech gear but after several years, I reduce the web content to only manuals and the like.

I guess the point I am trying to make is that all data and thus data derived information has a finite useful life and there ought to be some search engine imposed "delete or archive" tag.