Dates on articles…

Over the weekend, someone wrote to me asking about the lack of dates on my website articles. I tried to reply to them directly, but their mailbox bounced everything back, so I though I would write it here on the off chance they read my blog.

As the original poster correctly pointed out, there are no dates on my website articles. When I started the website many years ago it just never crossed my mind to put dates on the articles and I’ve seen no reason to include them since. Why not?

The articles on my site are divided into sections based on the database version (8i, 9i, 10g, 11g etc.). Within that grouping, there are subdivisions, based on the specific release or type of feature being discussed. If an article is not version-specific, it is put in the miscellaneous section. So when you are reading an article, you know the relevance of that article based on the version you are working on. If you are working on 11gR2 and following an 8i article, you should be questioning the relevance of that article. That’s not to say it has no relevance, but you have to question it.

As far as my own site goes, I often write new features articles and link to those from previous articles. For example, my Scheduler article was written against 10gR1, but it links to articles describing updates in 10gR2, 11gR1 and 11gR2 etc. I feel this is pretty clear.

The date of an article doesn’t have nearly as much significance as the version of the software it is written against. When I Google for an answer to something, I check the DB/OS/Software version being discussed. I can’t remember the last time I even looked at a date on a DB article. In the case of generic articles (not version-specific) on my site, they often contain a timeline internally, stating when a feature first became available and how it changed over DB versions, so once again, how relevant is the date here?

Now I’m not against dates on articles. If I were starting a site today I would probably use an open source CMS, which would no doubt put a date on every article, which would be fine. My point is that 11 years down the line, I don’t think adding (faking*) dates would add any value since the site is already divided by version.

If you are the person who emailed me and you are reading this, I hope that explains my position on this. :)

Cheers

Tim…

* I do actually store creation dates in my CMS, but only the articles written in the last 6-ish years were written using the CMS, so any articles prior to this point will have a fake date assigned to them, which is the date they were loaded into the CMS, not the date they were written.

I also track last updated dates, but articles get updated for typos etc all the time, so a last updated date is no indication of actual core content update, if you know what I mean. I can tell you now, almost every article on the site was updated between December 2011 and January 2012, so even very old articles that have no core content changes would have a very recent updated date.