The ASCL has 779 codes in it now, some of which date back to the 1990s. With the speed at which both the web and code authors (often grad students or post docs) move, links to some code sites are bound to go bad over time. We use a checker regularly to test links to ensure we’re not pointing to dead links; when we do find a broken link (defined as one we haven’t been able to reach for at least 2 weeks), we look for a new one and, if that doesn’t work, email the code author(s) to ask where the code has moved.
We can’t always find a good link, and code authors sometimes don’t reply to our emails. Currently, eight codes — 1% of our entries — have bad links. Of these, for half of them we either cannot find the code author or the code author has not replied to numerous emails.
What else can we do?
I assume that some code authors forget their codes. Having moved on perhaps to another institution and other work, they do not have time nor incentive to create a new web home for a code they wrote some years ago. That’s understandable, but then the code, a unique solution to a problem, an artifact of astrophysics research, a method used in research, is lost.
We’d like to save the codes (Save the Codes! I may have to put that on glow-in-the-dark pencils); here are a few ideas for authors who no longer want to maintain a site for their codes:
- Send an archive file of the code to the ASCL. We can house it, as we do for CHIWEI.
- Post the code in an online repostitory such as GitHub, SourceForge,
Code.Google, or Bitbucket if you would like the code to be open source and are open to others continuing its development, or on a site such as Figshare or Zenodo to simply make it available.
- Create a Research Compendium for your paper, data, and code on Research Compendia, or a companion website for your research on RunMyCode and load the code and data for your research there.
- Ask your institutional library to house it; many institutions have repositories for storing the digital artifacts of academia and research.
I don’t know about option 4, but options 1-3 should take 15 minutes or less. Surely a code is worth that little bit of extra time to make it available to others even if you don’t want to be bothered with it anymore.
Please save your code; don’t let it go bad!