How do we temporarily or permanently remove some Linked Data from the web?


It is sometimes necessary to remove a Linked Data set from the web, either in whole or in part. A dataset might be published by an organisation who can no longer commit to its long term availability. Or a dataset might be transferred to a new authority. This applies to scenarios where a third-party has done a proof-of-concept conversion of a dataset that is later replaced by an official version.

In practical terms a dataset might also be temporarily unavailable for any number of technical reasons.

How can the temporary or permanent removal of some data be communicated? And, in cases where it has been replaced or superceded, how can the new authoritative copy be referenced.


Use an appropriate HTTP status code to indicate the temporary or permanent removal of a resource, or its migration to a new location.

Where a resource has moved to a new location, publish Equivalence Links between the old and the new resources.


A dataset has been published by a developer illustrating the benefits of a Linked Data approach to data publishing. The developer has used URIs based on a domain of http://demo.example.net. At a later date the original owner of the data decides to embrace Linked Data publishing. The new dataset will be published at http://authority.example.org.

The developer therefore reconfigures his web server to redirect all URIs for http://demo.example.net to return a 301 redirect to the new domain. Consuming applications are then able to determine that the data has been permanently moved to a new location.

The developer also creates a data dump that contains a series of RDF statements that indicate that all of the resources originally available from http://demo.example.net are owl:sameAs the new official URIs.


Movement or removal of web resources is not specific to Linked Data, and so HTTP offers several status codes that are applicable to the circumstances described in this pattern. Using the correct HTTP status code is important to ensure that clients can differentiate between the different scenarios. An HTTP status code of 503 indicates that a resource is temporarily unavailable; 410 that a resource has been deleted; and 301 that a resource has been moved to a new location. Returning 404 for a resource that is only temporarily unavailable, or has been moved or deleted is bad practice.

Where data has been replaced, e.g. new URIs have been minted either at the same authority or a new one, then publishing RDF assertions that relate the two URIs together is also useful. An owl:sameAs statement will communicate that two URIs are equivalent and will ensure that any historical annotations associated with the URI can be united with any newly published data.

Lastly, in case of complete removal of a dataset, it is important to consider archiving scenarios. If licensing permits, then data publishers should provide a data dump of a complete dataset. Doing so will mean that consumers, or intermediary services, can host local caches of the data to support continued URI resolution (e.g. via a URI Resolver). This mitigates impacts on downstream consumers.