I wrote this terse piece for CIS 461, Spring 1998.
The problem: Internet addresses (both email and URL) are unstable.
People change from one ISP to another, change schools or employers
E.g., I have had these addresses since 1992:
Providers of email reorganize (e.g., CCSU
student email addresses have changed twice in 1996-98)
Webmasters reorganize their sites
Entire sites disappear as ISPs and companies go
out of business, reorganize, etc.
Costs of the problem
Increased time/money needed for Internet research
Difficulty of keeping in touch with acquaintances known only
through the Net
Solutions to the problem
Always stick with the same ISP. Not a solution
for everyone. Finances or geography may force one to
Email forwarding - Commercial providers:
Pobox, my provider, offers
three email IDs @pobox.com and one URL
redirection for $15/year, slightly more for junk mail filtering
and other services.
free, advertising-supported; it offers a wide variety of
staid, exotic, and silly email address domains (e.g. cryogen.com,
TheOffice.net, etc.) The address I got with them while researching
this paper didn't work too reliably, however.
Never reorganize one's Web site. Not a good long-term solution.
URNs - Uniform Resource Names
URN is a protocol still under discussion by the Internet Engineering Task
Force (IETF). It would allow resource providers to specify stable names for
resources (e.g., Web pages, but potentially offline materials as well) which
would be converted to the resource's current URL (or other transient address) by
a URN Resolver.
Services: either free (with
advertisements, either by placing their
banner on one's site or letting them pop up
an advert page temporarily before sending
one on to the main page), or $1.50/month
(which also includes email forwarding).
The drawback is that they encapsulate your site
in an invisible frameset, so surfers with
older browsers may have trouble with't and
no one can bookmark individual pages within
Conclusion: Transience of URLs is not a major problem if one
makes plans in advance to minimize it.