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Emailing links to CMS files is discouraged

Published: 27 September 2011

Recently we have noticed many emails come across the NDSU email distribution lists containing links directly to files in CMS. Those links look something like www.ndsu.edu/fileadmin/... 

This practice is strongly discouraged for a number of reasons.

  1. In CMS, there are no redirects. This means that if you change the file name, the link you emailed may be broken and you won't be able to fix it.
    Sometimes authors change file names because the file is updated (say, from 2010 data to 2011 data).
    Sometimes the link changes because the site changes names (say, from Department of Basketweaving www.ndsu.edu/basketweaving to Department of Deep-Sea Diving and Basketweaving www.ndsu.edu/ddb).
    In both cases, the link cannot be repaired and email recipients who go back to the received email to click the link will get a "page not found" error.
  2. If there is any error in the email/PDF, you have no means to communicate corrections to the email recipients. For example, imagine the email said "the basketweaving symposium will be on Tuesday, October 3. Download the symposium brochure for more details," you are bound to get lots of emails saying "But Tuesday is October 4th, so it is on Monday the 3rd or Tuesday the 4th??" If you link to a Web page, you can post a notice in the Web page indicating the email was wrong along with the unambiguous date.
  3. Links like www.ndsu.edu/fileadmin/... do not look very professional.
  4. Links like www.ndsu.edu/fileadmin/... are longer than they need to be. If you link directly to the file, the link might be www.ndsu.edu/fileadmin/basketweaving/2011_symposium/brochure.pdf when you could instead link to something more like www.ndsu.edu/basketweaving/symposium/. Some email recipients may type the Web address into their Internet browser (perhaps their email client doesn't support hyperlinks, or they are using their mobile phone to access the information instead of clicking the link on their desktop email) and short URLs make the process easier and faster for those visitors.

Additional information about linking to files in email (including a suggested work-around) is listed in the CMS FAQ.

 


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North Dakota State University
IT Help Desk: +1 (701) 231-8685
Physical address: IACC 206, 1320 Albrecht Blvd., Fargo, ND 58102
Mailing address: NDSU Dept. 4530 / PO Box 6050 / Fargo, ND 58108-6050
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Last Updated: Sunday, August 25, 2013