link rot
n. The gradual obsolescence of the links on a web page as the sites they point to become unavailable.
Stopping "link rot," the process by which links to other Web sites slowly go bad, is one of the chief jobs of each Webmaster.
—“Globe Online 2.0,” The Boston Globe, June 05, 1997
The Web has also presented us with a whole new concept of what "out of print" means. Web pages are notorious for suffering from "link rot." A reference that was cited yesterday may be moved or disappear entirely tomorrow without notice, making maintenance of these resources another headache.
—Carolyn Kotlas, “Observations of a "Webliographer,” Information Outlook, February 01, 1997
1996 (earliest)
Link Rot
The process by which links on a Web page become obsolete as the sites they're connected to change location or die.
—Gareth Branwyn, “Jargon Watch,” Wired, July 01, 1996
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