You might not think about 404 "Page Not Found" very much, but I've been thinking a lot about it recently.
Vine Type was designed to issue soft 404s since its inception -- meaning if your url requests an article or section that doesn't exist, a blank page will be shown. This is mainly because I really didn't think about 404s as a "feature."
However, I've been looking at my server logs and the various webmaster tools and noticing that they are indexing more pages than my site has. Some folks would say that's great, but by digging into the situation, I found that some of the urls that they've indexed were pages that have been removed. Consider this scenario:
- Blogger Z creates a link to my site at url=Q.
- I delete or move article Q
Google will follow the link from the blogger's site to mine and Vine Type will show a blank template page and issue a status code of 200 OK.
That's wrong. Some folks of questionable character create entire dynamic sites based on the principle that they will show you a page of information no matter what url you ask for -- all with the intent of boosting their own presence in search engine indexes. So if the search engine followed a link to http://unscrupulous.com/?keyword=popcorn, the site would generate a page of "great popcorn sales" "buttered popcorn" "great popcorn" "the best popcorn" and so on.
I certainly don't want my CMS to be associated with those characters.
I should be issuing a 404 Page Not Found when someone navigates to an article that doesn't exist or has moved. That situation will be remedied in the upcoming v2.2 release of Vine Type. In the beta I released tonight v188.8.131.52711282248 Vine Type will send the correct server response status to the browser that requested the page and show a simple 404. I'll be enhancing this to allow greater user control.
vine type - content management with standards in mind - vinetype.com