Note: You can skip the whole backstory and go get the plugin here (or install it from within WordPress).
I was scrolling through Twitter yesterday, and saw there was a bit of buzz about a pretty clever idea going on at NotFound.org. They’re asking people who run websites (like me) to turn their standard 404 error page into a special 404 page that helps find missing children.
You know, the classic “milk carton” stuff. So instead of seeing the websites plain ol’ 404, you see a page that says “Page Not Found, Neither Is .. [name of missing child]” with some other info.
It’s such a great idea, and it really isn’t much to ask. According to Pingdom’s unofficial research, the HTTP 404 is the second most common error you’ll see on the internet. Think about all those eyes that would be helping in the search for a missing kid if everyone implemented it.
Well anyway, I was thinking “I should put this on GetSparks.org and my blog.” But the only way to implement it provided by the site was by dropping in an Apache .htaccess file, or embedding an iframe in their current 404 page. There was also an IIS option, but I don’t know anything about IIS.
There are an awful lot of people on WordPress. Non-technical people, probably. In fact, WordPress accounts for something like 57 million websites — nearly 17% of the internet’s 1 million most trafficked sites.
It only made sense that there was a NotFound.org plugin for WordPress. You know, install it, and it just turns all your 404s into the NotFound.org 404. I put one together quickly last night, and hopefully it’ll be approved by WordPress soon.
What if one of your “Not Found” pages helped someone recover their missing child? That’s crazy. What an impact!
Getting The Plugin
See it in action here, or check out the code here. And if you don’t feel like waiting for it to show up in the WordPress repository, you can download the zip file here, and upload to your WordPress instance.
The focus of the NotFound.org page is on European children, something I’d hope they’d eventually expand (or provide an option for) to missing kids around the world.