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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Anne is a New Media Lecturer at the University of Amsterdam. She participates as a blog researcher in the newly found Digital Methods Initiative of the University of Amsterdam. Anne also writes about blogging and academics on her personal blog and the collaborative Masters of Media blog.