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3.2 Content Hyperlinking

3.2.1

Since Government websites often receive queries and requests from owners of other websites who might want to provide a hyperlink to their web pages, every Indian Government website MUST have a comprehensive and clear-cut hyper linking policy defined and spelt out for those who wish to hyperlink content from any of its sections. The basic hyper linking practices and rules should ideally be common across the websites of a State/Ministry.

3.2.2

The hyperlinking policy enumerating the criteria and guidelines with respect to hyperlinks with other sites may be made available under the common heading of ‘Hyperlinking Policy’ and displayed at a common point on the Homepage of all sites under the ownership of a State/Ministry.

3.2.3

In case the concerned Department has no objection to anyone providing a hyperlink to their website, the policy statement may be worded as:

Sample Hyperlinking Policy

“We do not object to you linking directly to the information that is hosted on our site and no prior permission is required for the same. However, we would like you to inform us about any links provided to our site so that you can be informed of any changes or updations therein. Also, we do not permit our pages to be loaded into frames on your site. Our Department’s pages must load into a newly opened browser window of the user”.

3.2.4

In case Prior permission is required by anyone who wishes to provide a link to a Government website, the policy statement may be worded as follows:

Sample of alternate Hyperlinking Policy

“Prior permission is required before hyperlinks are directed from any website to this site. Permission for the same, stating the nature of the content on the pages from where the link has to be given and the exact language of the Hyperlink should be obtained by sending a request at (Email address of the Department)”.

3.2.5

Many a times, cross linkages between different websites can cause ambiguity in the mind of the visitors about the owner of a particular portion of content and whom to be contacted in case of any query. Also, many a times, there could be a difference in the security domains of two linked websites. Hence, it is important to notify the visitors when they are leaving a particular website through a hyperlink and entering another one. Clear indications MUST be given when leaving the Government website for an external website.

Sample of indication of leaving the Government Website

“This link shall take you to a page outside the (website URL). For any query regarding the contents of the linked page, please contact the webmaster of the concerned website”.

3.2.6

To create a visual distinction for links that lead offsite, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) controls or some such similar mechanism should be used. In case the link takes the user to another website of the same Department/Ministry/State, a seamless transition should be used through appropriate CSS controls.

3.2.7

Third party content should only be linked when consideration about the copyright, terms of use, permissions, content authenticity and other legal and ethical aspects of the concerned content have been taken into account.

3.2.8

The overall quality of a website’s content is also dependent, among other things on the authenticity and relevance of the ‘linked’ information it provides. This fact is all the more significant in the context of a Government website since there is a lot of credibility attached with an official website. Terefore, all Indian Government websites should make sure that the external hyperlinks, wherever present on the site, MUST be verified and checked on a regular basis to ensure that the information being provided ‘through’ them is up-to-date, accurate and relevant.

3.2.9

Further, it MUST be ensured that ‘broken links’ or those leading to ‘Page Not Found’ errors are checked on a regular basis and are rectified or removed from the site immediately upon discovery. A number of technology tools are available for convenient discovery of broken links.