Save the Dates!

Information changes quickly, especially in the tech sector. So when I’m searching for how to work around a software bug, I need to be very cognizant of when that fix was published. If I’m not, odds are I’ll waste a lot of time trying to fix something with a solution that is no longer applicable. That’s why it’s so troubling to find what appears to be good information without anything to tell me how old it is. Blog posts without dates seems to be an increasing trend.

This is a problem, because it immediately makes what I’m looking at unusable. Some information is timeless, granted, but most isn’t. Even well established facts are occasionally turned on their heads. The trouble here seems to come from people who don’t want to shackle their posts with what they perceive as an expiration date, but that’s something we’re going to have to get over if we want to contribute meaningful content on the web.

Keep the dates on your blog posts

Your Blog Post Won’t Last Forever

Now don’t get me wrong, I understand the desire to remove dates from your writing. The idea is that getting rid of the data will instantly make your article appeal to people who might ordinarily dismiss it out of hand.  That’s a seductive idea, especially when you consider that people sometimes do ignore perfectly good information simply because it looks “too old”. Writing content, especially good content, takes a lot of work, so it’s natural to want to make that fruit of that labor last as long as possible.

Of course, there’s another way to look at things. While you want people to read your content (and buy your products/services), the reader has a different perspective. They are looking for a solution to some sort of problem. Maybe they need to know the capital of Iceland (Reykjavik), or perhaps they’re researching new HDTVs before they spend their hard-earned money. The details aren’t important, what matters is that they can find accurate information quickly and easily, and an important part of that is ensuring that the information they’re looking at is timely. Iceland isn’t likely to relocate their capital terrible often, but the best HDTV on the market changes constantly.

Work with Your Readers, Don’t Try to Trick Them

Reading that, it might seem like you’re at odds with your potential readership, but that’s an unhealthy way of looking at things. It’s not a zero sum game, nor is it a competition between you and your audience. Once you get over the idea that your blog post should last forever, you can be free to focus on working with your readers to more efficiently solve their problems. Being useful to your readers is going to keep them coming back and get them to regard you as an authority. Removing valuable information like the post’s publish date will do nothing but erode the good will you work so hard to build with good content.

Edits Are Free; Use Them

Before the blogs became so ubiquitous, publishing something was more stressful. Once it was out in the world, changing it was difficult and expensive, if it was possible at all. These days, it’s not an issue at all.

Updating a blog is incredible simple. Just go in, add the new content, and publish it. This lets you maintain the work you put into producing the original piece with minimal effort, and it ensures that your readers will get accurate and timely information. That’s a win-win.

And when you update a post, you can change the publish date because you have effectively ensured that the information is current to the date of your update. With that in mind, you might even consider changing “Published On” to “Last Update On” so it becomes clear that you will update your content over time.

But whatever you do, don’t delete the date from your posts.

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