Updating Your Blog Posts

Filed as Features, Guides on December 10, 2007 11:54 am

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Imagine you just published a new post and only a few hours later you receive important new information. Do you write a new blog post or do you update your old blog post?

A blog is an evolving object which changes regularly. Not only is the blog itself a dynamic object, a blog post is too. People may leave a comment or send a trackback or a pingback. These interactions add to the blog post and in some cases might change the context of a blog post. Once a blog post is published doesn’t mean it shall never be touched again.

A recent discussion in the 9rules community showed that post-publishing editing is very common. In the discussion nearly everyone made changes in the spelling or grammar but “nothing that alters the context of the post though.” But what if you do want to change the context of your post or correct your statement?

It is a matter of personal preference whether you write a new blog post or edit your old one. A blog is not a wiki where you can see all the major and minor edits that have lead to the current post.

It is a common courtesy to show your readers what has changed. Of course you can change things in your blog post without informing your readers but this might hurt your reputation. On top of that your readers will probably know you have changed something. Your old post might still be in their feed reader and if they visit your blog they will notice changes.

There are several techniques to update your blog posts.

Strikethrough
Strikethrough can be achieved by using the deprecated <’strike’> element or the current <’del’> tag. The <’ins’> tag is sometimes used in combination with the <’del’> tag to specifically point out which parts have been deleted and which parts have been inserted. Some blog software will even add a timestap to your <’del’> tag that will display when the text has been deleted in Page Source view.

Strikethrough is usually meant to indicate a mistake or error when writing on paper. The piece of text in strikethrough is not meant to be read or included in the document. The use of strikethrough has changed on screen as it now indicates recently-deleted or recently-corrected information. Instead of deleting the old text strikethrough is used to show the reader what has been edited.

Instead of pointing to a correction, strikethrough may also indicate a joke or sarcasm.

Editor’s note
Place an editor’s note at the beginning or end of your post in either plain text, or in bold or italic to make it stand out. You can either point out your changes or point to the old context the post was written in.

Update
Write a new post on the topic and indicate that is an update of a previous post. You can do this by either stating Update in the blog post title or in the introduction of the post. Or just play with all the existing conventions and place your text in a non existing <’update’> tag.
Comment
Add a comment to your own blog post with the recent updates. Use it to reflect on your post and expand on it. By writing a comment you immediately engage in the conversation and you may even spice it up a little bit.

New Post
Write a new post and reference your old post with a trackback or pingback. This is a great way to deal with subjects that constantly change. You can build a whole series on the topic and connect them with the Inseries plugin (for WordPress).

Do you update your blog posts? Do you use one of the described methods or have you come up with a completely different solution?

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  1. By Sue posted on December 10, 2007 at 7:44 pm
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    I’d always wondered which way to go when doing an update. If there’s enough information that has changed, I’ll do a whole new post on the subject. If it’s just a little addendum, I’ll write at the bottom of the post) in bold, Edit: and add what is updated. I rarely leave a comment to update, as that way, those reading in feed readers or via email will not get the benefit of the updated information.
    I also use a sideblog, for updates and corrections. That works well in most cases. It’s just the right size for a mini-post.
    I think the use of strikethrough is rarely justified. That tactic is more for legal documents, and it strikes me as improper usage and is kind of irritating when I see it overdone.

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  2. By ia posted on December 10, 2007 at 7:57 pm
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    <strike> is a purely decorative element and has no semantic value, while <del> is preferred. It’s even available in the WP editor toolbar (along with <ins>), so it’s a better choice whether it’s indicating deleted text or sarcasm. :)

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  3. By Quandary posted on December 10, 2007 at 8:14 pm
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    I tend to prefer a combination of <del>, <ins>, and <em>. I’ll generally use the former two for minor updates/corrections, and reserve <em> for use with a paragraph at the start of the post, to indicate huge situation changes that void the post’s original content. I generally use In Series only ongoing sagas, not really “updates” — but I do appreciate the mention in any case. :)

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  4. By Candice posted on December 10, 2007 at 9:15 pm
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    I never edit posts for anything other than spelling, grammar, or awkward phrases. And I never would. I wouldn’t say that a blog evolves, I’d say that it grows. The contents generally don’t change much — they are added to. If I wanted something else out of my website, I wouldn’t organize it primarily chronologically.

    Most likely, I would add a new entry, and if I was feeling helpful, add a link to it from the old one.

    Plus, it irritates me when people make significant changes to their posts, for several reasons. One of the main ones being that if they add anything of interest, I most likely will never see it, since I do most of my reading through RSS. The only edits I usually see are those that happen to be made before Google pulls the feed.

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  5. By Anne Helmond posted on December 10, 2007 at 9:24 pm
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    @Sue Thank you for sharing your insights. Your remark regarding using the comment section for updates is really valuable. I sometimes write a comment so it won’t interfere with the original post, but the fact that most readers will not be informed of this update is a really important issue to keep in mind.

    @ia Yes indeed, that’s why I mentioned <strike> is deprecated. Maybe I should have explicitly stated that <strike> is not a structural element and that <del> is the preferred option but I’m not going to use <ins> in my post because it would simply be too confusing ;)

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  6. By Rupert posted on December 10, 2007 at 10:56 pm
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    I am constantly doing this, sometimes I may write something in the morning with a “This post will grow” statement for my readers to come back later on to see what I have updated, often at times three or four times during the day – once I actually had a fellow Blogger comment that she had been sitting, checking back every fifteen minutes or so as I updated.

    Rupert

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  7. By Zach posted on December 11, 2007 at 8:21 am
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    My blog is built all around breaking news and the like. It just makes more sense for me to make a new post.

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  8. By Angel posted on December 11, 2007 at 4:33 pm
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    For me, and I am nowhere near being a prominent blogger, it depends. A small detail usually means I just do an “update note” at the end of the post. I bold the “Update Note” text and put in parenthesis a date (and time if it is in the same day), then type whatever the new information is. For something more substantial, I would likely write a new post and link to the previous one.

    Best, and keep on blogging.

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  9. By Marco posted on December 11, 2007 at 4:43 pm
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    I update posts quite a lot. I tend to put UPDATE: within a strong tag to indicate this.

    When new insights come in I feel it would be stupid to not reflect those in the post. I know RSS people might not see it but the post will last for a long time so I think it’s still worth it.

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  10. By Anne Helmond posted on December 13, 2007 at 6:11 am
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    Thank you all for sharing updating insights. I think the preferred method depends on the context and the type of blog. As a news blog thrives on news and thus constantly receives new insights, a new post would make most sense. But for a personal blog an update in the ‘old’ post might be preferred, taking into account that readers might not be aware of these updates.

    It’s great to hear everyone’s different methods and reasons for updating a post. It actually made me reconsider my own method. If it was a minor update I would post a comment to my old post and if it was a major update I would write a new post.

    I think that from now on I will use a new post for every kind of update because, as Candice pointed out, a blog evolves. And a small update notice in bold at the end of the old post because not everyone will notice the pingback to the new post.

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  11. By ajay posted on October 17, 2009 at 4:38 am
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    hi i wold like to do edit and update the post with strike through features how will possible this can any one help meeeeeeee?

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