Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Broken Videos

Inktomi CorporationImage via WikipediaI remember when Google was new. One of the things I first noticed about Google compared to the old Inktomi fed engines was that it didn't have dead pages in it.

One of the most frustrating things of the early web search experience was clicking on a result link which then took you to a dead page. This is why Google had the cache link so early on in their lifespan, I think.

We don't have a problem with dead links in search any more. I wonder if we have a new problem though. A growing problem.

I'm getting frustrated with broken videos; mainly YouTube videos.

The scenario is easy. A search leads to a blog. The blog might have a thoughtful post or discussion in the comment section but a key piece of the page is a YouTube embed. Clicking on the play button results only in a message to say the video has been removed.

Frustrating.

It's also frustrating as a blogger to know that videos you share via your blog might die or go away. You've no way of knowing until someone leaves a comment to say it's happened.

I'm reminded of the Broken Link Checker plugin by Janis Elsts. It's ace. It'll alert Wordpress bloggers if links (or images) break. It makes the clean up job easy too.

Is there such a thing for videos? I think there should be.

I doubt YouTube would (or could) have a mini opt-in email alert for each video they host. If they did then webmasters could get a prompt if there was a change in the video status. Email, though, is a crude tool these days. I spend more time in Google Reader than Gmail.

An alternative might be an extra node in YouTube's API. A script could then detect embed codes on the blog, check the video key via the API and react once YouTube returned the "yanked" code.

This solution still relies on webmasters. Mind you; if there's even a suspension that embedding a yanked video might be a negative quality signal for your SEO and webmasters may care a lot more.

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