The Shock Of Revisiting Old Posts

Filed as Features on March 5, 2008 6:13 pm

Now on my second year of blogging, with well over a thousand posts published, I’ve gotten to a point where I can’t remember the majority of what I’ve written about.

Normally, the only time I revisit an old post is when I receive a comment on it. But even then, I don’t normally re-read said post. I merely skim it to jog my memory as to what it was about, so that I can respond to the commenter. I then reply to the reader’s comment – and that old post leaves my consciousness.

I very rarely take the time to “re-read” old posts.

But I recently had reason to revisit several. These were very old movie reviews, from my early blogging days. At that time, I didn’t understand the difference between “page” and “post” and had published them in “page” format. So I recently decided to republish them as proper posts, one a week, to get them out of the “page” hierarchy where they weren’t receiving any traffic.

While moving these reviews, I took a moment and read one. I was, frankly, rather shocked to find severe writing issues: spelling mistakes, sloppy grammar errors, and confusing verbiage. I could barely believe I had written these articles.

The thought “I’m a terrible writer, and should quit blogging,” crossed my mind, so I stepped away from the computer for several hours. If I found these posts from two years ago terrible, who’s to say what I’m writing today is any better? Maybe I’m a horrible writer.

But I later came to terms with my dismay. For starters, these posts were written when I was new to the blog writing style, namely how brevity is valued over wordplay. Second, I had the ability to fix these old posts, through the wonder of digital publishing. As long as it didn’t take an inordinate amount of time, I could be my own editor and clean up the writing before hitting “publish” a second time.

In conclusion, I think it’s a worthwhile exercise to revisit old posts – especially ones still generating traffic. The typical blog receives the vast majority of visitors from its “long tail” – old posts that appear in search results. It may be worth revisiting the most popular of these, as they can be the first page a web surfer views and generates an impression of said blog from. Obviously, not everyone begins reading a blog through its most recent posts.

So take a look as some of your old posts – like me, you may be surprised by what you find.

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  1. By Jeremy Steele posted on March 5, 2008 at 8:18 pm
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    I say revisit them and fix the errors or do a new updated post on the same topic. I’m probably going to start doing that more often now that I’m near the 600 post mark.

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  2. By Jason posted on March 5, 2008 at 8:26 pm
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    Agreed. I’ve now realized it can be worth the time and effort. Congrats on getting past 600 BTW!

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  3. By Andy Merrett posted on March 6, 2008 at 2:05 am
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    Hi Jason — no you’re definitely not a horrible writer.

    I’ve done exactly the same thing on a number of occasions, and not just with blogging.

    The other day, I found a MIDI file I’d recorded, and cringed at my level of piano playing.

    I’m embarrassed if anyone sees some of the web sites I designed 5-10 years ago. CSS? What’s that? Hopefully most of the those organisations have ordered a redesign by now.

    As to what I wrote three or four years ago when I first started blogging. Well, enough said.

    I’m a perfectionist, but I’m learning to let things go, so that I don’t come to a grinding halt (I’d never publish anything).

    While some people may not be forgiving of even the slightest flaw, most will forgive all sorts of styling issues in blog posts.

    Even so, there’s nothing wrong with reworking old posts if it will add value to them. I tend not to bother unless a post is still receiving traffic or comments.

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  4. By Anne Helmond posted on March 6, 2008 at 4:26 am
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    Revisiting my old posts has been on my to-do list for a while now. There are only 10 to 20 old posts I revisit now and then because I often write follow ups. However, there are a lot of posts gathering dust that deserve more than that. Thanks for reminding me.

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  5. By Jeffro2pt0 posted on March 6, 2008 at 6:31 am
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    You’re writing for the BlogHerald, how could you be a terrible writer? In any case, I think periodically, going into your blogging past is a good thing, especially when you consider what a reader might find by clicking on a link within a Related Posts plugin.

    Also, it’s been documented that a post you may have written 2 years ago will all of a sudden show up on Digg.com and net you a ton of traffic.

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  6. By Jason posted on March 6, 2008 at 11:22 am
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    Andy, thanks for sharing your experience with revisiting old websites and music. I can certainly relate. I agree that the happy medium is to revisit old posts that still get traffic / comments.

    Jeffro2pt0, writing for another blog in addition to my own certainly has me striving to write better :)

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  7. By Jessi posted on March 6, 2008 at 2:09 pm
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    In addition to being beneficial to your old posts, it can be benefit future posts, too. Sometimes when I’m going back through things, I stumble across something I’d long forgotten about and realize that a follow-up would be perfect. And it’s sometimes fun, too, hehe.

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  8. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on March 7, 2008 at 2:29 pm
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    I’ve written a lot about the benefits of “upgrading” your old posts as they are a gateway to your blog years after you’ve published them, and this is a common lesson many learn after they’ve been doing this a while. It can be painful, as you’ve learned.

    As others have said and you figured out, it helps to look at where you’ve been and how far you’ve come. And ain’t it a wonderful thing to know you can change the past. :D

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  9. By Seb posted on March 7, 2008 at 10:18 pm
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    Since I’ve only recently started blogging, all my posts are “old” posts. I’m sure I’ll look back in a year and wonder what I was thinking!

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