Rewriting Old (Crappy) Content

One of the mildly annoying things about writing articles on the internet and blogging is coming across your old articles that are utter crap. 🙂

Something happened at work yesterday and I responded to the person in question with a few quickly typed notes and thought to myself it would make a reasonable “backfill” type article for the website. Nothing interesting and new, but a useful addition for myself, so I could answer the same question in the future with a link, rather than having to type stuff.

So this morning, before I launched into the “new” article, I did a quick search on my site and that was when I found it. I had already written an article on that functionality, but what I had written couldn’t have been more off the mark if I had tried. We are talking moronic levels of wrongness.

So a few hours later and all the evidence is now gone, except for Google’s cache and the Way Back Machine. I’m not going to tell you which article it was because you will compare them and a little piece of me will die. 🙂

I’ve written about my attitude to rewriting content in my writing tips series. I spend a lot of time rewriting old content. If something is factually incorrect you owe it to potential readers to correct it. It also stops you looking like an incredible Muppet! 🙂

Perhaps this afternoon I will get to do something new for a change. 🙂



Writing Tips : Should I go back and rewrite/revise/remove old posts?

writingThe answer to this is very much dependent on the content and context of the material. If you have said something really bad in a legal sense, then you should definitely consider deleting it, or deal with the consequences. Assuming we are not talking about those naked pictures of you at a stag/hen party, what do I think?

I do rewrite old articles if I’m sufficiently motivated by a drastic change in my understanding of the subject. The articles on my website are more fact-based, so if there is incorrect information, it should be revised. I tend to write version-specific articles, so I don’t usually add features to old articles, but write a new features article, then link the articles in a chain. That prevents an article becoming massive over time, while still clearly showing the progression of the feature set for those that care about more than the basics.

My blog posts are more opinion than fact, so I am less inclined to revise them. If my opinion alters, I prefer to write a new post discussing my current opinion and why I changed my mind, with forward and back links between the posts. I think this is much more informative for readers, as they can see how you’ve developed over time. There is little value in trying to rewrite history. 🙂

I remember having a conversation with Chris Muir about this a long time ago and he was very much of the opinion that a blog post is a point in time snapshot of your opinion and thoughts, so it shouldn’t be retrospectively changed. His words have obviously influenced my opinion in this matter. 🙂

Ultimately, the Way Back Machine will reveal that terrible secret (you thought Buffer Cache Hit Ratios were a great way to tune a database) and you will be exposed. 🙂