NotFound organization uses 404 error pages to profile missing children

By on September 27, 2012, 6:00 PM

A European organization known as NotFound is encouraging website owners to install an application that displays the profile of a missing child on each 404 error page that visitors encounter. The group, recently formed in collaboration with Child Focus, Famous and Missing Children Europe, sees these error pages as an untapped resource that could be put to use for a meaningful purpose.

It’s not uncommon for site owners to create custom error pages to limit the frustration level web surfers encounter when they land on a bad page. The Verge notes there have been similar initiatives in the past to put a broken link to good use although none really gained much media attention or traction.

Maryse Roland from Child Focus said the aim of this project is to encourage as many people and businesses as possible to join the initiative. As Roland describes it, profiles will be shown at random on participating websites’ 404 pages: it could be a recently reported disappearance or perhaps visitors would see the profile of a child that hadn’t been heard from for many years.

The organization points out that there’s no cost involved to participate, just good will. Installation reportedly only takes a few minutes at which point all of your 404 pages will automatically be filled with missing child content.

The initiative just went live a couple of days ago and there’s already 480 participating sites according to NotFound’s website. The road ahead is long and windy but it’s a step in the right direction and it’s certainly not impossible. After all, it was only 30 years or so ago that something as unlikely as the milk carton was synonymous with missing children. What's stopping modern technology from accomplishing the same thing?




User Comments: 12

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spydercanopus spydercanopus said:

Very good idea. Hopefully they can find this, too: [link]

Guest said:

Very good initiative. Thanks

ReederOnTheRun ReederOnTheRun said:

That's actually a pretty awesome idea

Guest said:

Really? Isn't this just going to be like those 'feed the starving' ads that run at dinner time and we learn to ignore? Further, I hope they can make this geographically relevant or I will be seeing missing kids from China on my screen here in Oz. Yuck.

1 person liked this | SalaSSin said:

As a Belgian (Child Focus is a Belgian organization) I'm proud this gets the attention it needs/merits.

Even if only ONE person watches the custom 404 pages and can help find a kid, it's already a win!

NTAPRO NTAPRO said:

Could probably

Really? Isn't this just going to be like those 'feed the starving' ads that run at dinner time and we learn to ignore? Further, I hope they can make this geographically relevant or I will be seeing missing kids from China on my screen here in Oz. Yuck.

Just learn to ignore it and you'll be fine. :p

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Not a good idea!

Good intentions and a nice sentiment but will open the door for more broken links just to promote what ever is being advertised on these error pages. I could only support such a concept if there was measures put in place to keep the ads on a non-profit level.

Can you imagine sites creating broken links just to advertise? People would think less about a broken link than they would a redirect link taking them to this page. Error pages maybe an untapped resource and can also be exploited. We should be trying to fix these errors not feel at home with them.

VitalyT VitalyT said:

That'll be freaky, seeing some kid's face on 404 page. First instinct will tell regular internet users that it's a form of spam... and to professional IT people that it is a form of scam.

SCJake said:

Yea it'll be freaky, but this is actually a really good idea (as long as it doesnt turn into an add network) as long as it stays what it is meant to be - o there I go making assumptions again. ill just stop here

3DCGMODELER 3DCGMODELER said:

Thats totally cool Idea...

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Yeah, why not...

Gives a little more attention to them.

Timonius Timonius said:

Interesting idea, but considering the actual number of 404 pages I see I guess I won't be of much help

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