April 25th 2010 22:16
Research Is Serious Business
I don't know about you, but I do a lot of online research—and I mean a lot. And I consider my research serious business. When hunting down relevant information for a blog post, article, or other piece of writing, I want to know the date the content was published. Frankly, I don't have the time to institute a diligent search of the site in an attempt to uncover this critical piece of information only to find that it's been intentionally hidden from me. I don't believe it's unreasonable for a reader to expect a website or blog to provide this information if its owner expects to be quoted as an authoritative source and have his or her content linked to and relied upon as being accurate and up-to-date.
Mere Datelessness an Evergreen Post Does Not Make
The problem is that too many bloggers seem to believe that by leaving their posts undated, they somehow make their work more immediate…more timeless…more evergreen. I believe they're wrong about that. A piece of writing requires more than mere datelessness to qualify for the "evergreen" descriptor. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that a piece of writing that depends solely on this method for creating its sense of timelessness isn't really evergreen at all. Far from viewing an undated blog post as timeless or evergreen, I often feel somewhat irritated that I have no idea when it was written. That unknown creates a sense of uncertainty about the content that can encourage me to move on to a more citable source.
Granted, it's often possible to get a reasonable idea of when a post was published by looking at the date its first comments were left. But, should a reader really have to creatively search out a post's publication date or depend on comment dates as reliable time indicators? I'd say, "No."
Content—Not Date—Determines a Post's Longevity
In my view, a blogger whose content is truly timeless has nothing whatsoever to fear from dating his or her posts. If they are well-written and contain information or concepts that stand the test of time, people will continue to read them many years after they were published, since they'll continue to yield valuable information through the years. Even if their information should age a little less gracefully, finely crafted posts will maintain their historical value, which will ensure their continued usefulness despite their prominently displayed publication dates.
How Important Is this Issue?
I will admit that in many cases, undated blog posts are nothing more than a minor irritation. However, there are times (for example, when writing about technical topics) that responsible research practices require a writer to know whether the information he or she is relying on is up-to-date. Even certain historical events need to be placed on a timeline.
My view is, why make it harder for a writer to use your work (and in the process send a backlink your way) when all you have to do is place a date on your post to make it more "user friendly"? What could be simpler? What could make more sense?
Are You Willing to Take the Risk?
I can't help but wonder why a blogger would be willing to chance having a writer go elsewhere to complete her research and thus lose the opportunity to become an authoritative source. Even if your readers are simply reading your blog for their own enjoyment, why subject them to the uncertainty and irritation of wondering when the post was written? Why risk losing readers over a practice that offers minimal advantage at best? That's certainly not a risk I would want to take. How about you?
Here's to successful blogging practices,
What's your take on this issue? Are there any aspects you believe I'm missing? How has your own policy on dating blog posts developed or evolved over time?