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Why don't the normal URL links keep working when pages are moved?

ThomasW Mar 13, 2016

This question is in reference to Atlassian Documentation: Links

Why don't normal URL links keep working when pages are moved? This is just a basic requirement for documentation to be both maintainable & externally linkable.

No, my users don't want to use a special URL to link to, and there's no way I could consistently & reliably get them to do so.

As it is, moving & renaming pages (which are necessary to maintain the quality & – very importantly – the searchability of information) seem to result in broken links for users. This is just not remotely good enough.


6 answers

2 votes
Giles Brunning Atlassian Team Mar 13, 2016

Hi Thomas,

If you're adding links as 'Web links' in the dialog, Confluence treats it as an absolute link and won't update those links for any reason. If you use SearchRecently viewed, or just paste in the URL of another page in your Confluence site, Confluence will add it as a relative link and will update the link when you rename the linked page.

ThomasW Mar 14, 2016

No, I'm talking about linking from the rest of the world to Confluence. These turn into "Page Not Found" when pages are renamed in the process of maintaining content.

Giles Brunning Atlassian Team Mar 14, 2016

Then, unfortunately, I'd say using the tiny URL is the only way to make sure they don't break.

2 votes
Fred Bunting Mar 14, 2016

A "normal" URL must change if you move the page to a different space – just as it must change if you rename the page.  That's because the URL includes both the spacekey and title of the page.  

E.g. if a page in SPACE1 is titled Welcome Folks, then the URL would be http:://confluencesite/display/SPACE1/Welcome+Folks.  

But if you move the page to DIFFERENTSPACE, then the URL must change to  http:://confluencesite/display/DIFFERENTSPACE/Welcome+Folks.

That said, (1) no change of URL occurs if you are just moving the page to a different parent in the same space, and (2) this is only a problem when linking to Confluence pages from outside of Confluence.

Within Confluence, moving or renaming a page should not break links to it from other Confluence pages.  The exception is if you add a link to a page as a "Web Link" ... which users should not be doing.  Doing so only defeats a key feature of Confluence.

Nic Brough [Adaptavist] Community Leader Mar 14, 2016

And, if you move a page and someone lands on it because they have an old url, Confluence does the right thing and says "this page was moved to <new location>"

That more than answers the "basic requirement" because your obsolete urls still get you to the right page

ThomasW Mar 14, 2016

Hi Nic: They get you to a "Page Not Found" page. Which, in the fine print, claims it may possibly be a renamed page.

I just want it to take users to the page, not tell them in the headline (which is all they will likely read) that it can't be found.

ThomasW Mar 14, 2016

Thanks Fred for your answer. We wish to undertake maintenance – in all three regards of:

  1. re-titling Pages to improve searchability (a big deficit here)
  2. moving Pages within the heirarchy
  3. also considering moving Pages/ Spaces as possible large-scale restructuring.

Apparently both the first and the third can have a substantial to severe impact on user bookmarks, external references & links.

Really any documentation needs to be maintained, but we feel this may be highlighting a weakness of Confluence; in that external links into Confluence are not transparently maintained.

As an aside, we have also seen issues of Attachments being lost when moving content between spaces. Which our Admins were not able to recover.

So yes, there seem to be some issues here.

1 vote
Geof Edwards Jan 27, 2019

I am having the same issue as Thomas here.  I want to reorganize my confluence site which is littered with end points of links in jira stories. Annoyingly when I move a confluence age from space a to space b the link breaks but at the same time the 404 message does suggest to the user where to go. 


If it knows then why not just fix it? 

1 vote
Arien Huckeba I'm New Here Jun 11, 2019

The answers from Giles and Fred seem to miss the point.  This is a fundamental design flaw of Confluence.  The space name and page title should not be in the URL for exactly this reason - the URL should be like a hexadecimal, unique identifier for the page. No matter where you move the page or how you rename it, the URL should stay the same for the life of the page.  Putting the space name and page title in the URL is as backward as putting credit card number in the URL on a payment page.

Atlassian should fix this behavior, it is sub-par and it violates good web design principles.

Nic Brough [Adaptavist] Community Leader Saturday

Actually, it's completely the right behaviour to allow humans to use a system.

It's a fundamental design flaw when systems fail to use terms their target audience do not understand. 

Failing to put a human-readable id like the space and page name in a url is just as dumb as assuming that we can remember a 15-digit credit card number (i.e. we never will)

Atlassian have nothing to fix, they are following good web design principles by making it easy for people to understand where they are.

ThomasW yesterday

@Nic Brough [Adaptavist] -- human-readable and search-friendly URLs are good, lack of ability for Confluence to automatically follow renamed/ moved pages is not.

Showing a 'Page Not Found' headline severely discourages users. Even if the moved page is linked below, many users in our org have already given up. This is severely deficient, and makes a barrier to usefully organizing & maintaining the Wiki.

Some easily possible solutions:

  1. (At a minimum) Change the headline to 'Looks Like the Page Has Moved' and make the link to it a *lot* bigger to encourage users to proceed.
  2. Since Confluence already has some tracking on moves/ renames, it could be possible to just redirect to the proper page.
  3. (Best) If tracking information is not currently definitive, then add definitive tracking information. And get rid of the barrier page entirely.

Tracking information should be easily possible to make authoritative -- the only confounding factor would seem to be creating a new page of same name as a previously-deleted page. This could either be disambiguated numerically in the URL, or (as many Web properties do) a small unique identifier could be suffixed to all URLs.

We use Confluence as part of a significant software organization, and would like to consider expanding our use for in-depth product documentation.

However it would help if Atlassian took the needs of serious Wiki use seriously -- poor search and link rot when renaming pages are two of the key deficiencies.


Nic Brough [Adaptavist] Community Leader 3 hours ago

But it does follow to moved and renamed pages, it only displays page not found when a page is no longer visible, or has been deleted.

I'd absolutely agree that there should be a redirect on the "page has moved" response.   (Maybe a few seconds with an option to click to cancel the redirect so I can go change my bookmarks)

0 votes
Steven Behnke Community Leader Mar 13, 2016

What is a "normal" link, for reference?

0 votes
ThomasW Mar 14, 2016

Thanks Steven. I'm talking about a normal URL link from outside to Confluence pages/ content;  using the plain "address bar" URL, not some special method.

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