Does removing the date make you a cheater?

Is it cheating to hide the date?Have you ever noticed this? You’re digging around the web, collecting advice or thoughts on a particular topic. You find interesting content, but when you try to check how current it is, you can’t find the date it was published. Sometimes, you only find a clue to the post’s birth when you scroll down to the comments.

Then you find that the comments, and therefore the post, were made years before.

When this happens, I feel cheated, or misled, maybe even lied to. Why not say upfront, “this was written in [YEAR] but still has value”?

My friend and fellow independent Donna Papacosta does this. She updates and republishes popular content, as she did this week with a Canada Day post on Canadian terms like toques and toonies. But she clearly states when the post was originally published and that she has updated it.

In a post for Hubspot, Pamela Vaughan talks about “updating and resurfacing some of your older yet high-performing evergreen posts” to extend the life of your best blog content. So that’s a good reason for recycling old posts. She does suggest that “It’s a great idea to add a little editor’s note at the bottom of your updated post — if for no other reason, then for transparency’s sake.”

Yet some bloggers seem to be hiding the original publication date. One I found says that since 2012, she deliberately removes the date to keep the posts “evergreen” even if she has updated the content. She explains, “This way, Google won’t show a publish date in search results, and Twitter and blog followers won’t feel they’re reading dated material.”

I don’t know. That just doesn’t seem honest to me.

What do you think? Do you feel misled when an older post is disguised as new? Or do you think disguising the date is a legitimate way to share posts readers might have missed? Let me know in the comments.

Image: Lying businessman by “jesadaphorn” and FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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4 Comments

  1. Posted July 3, 2015 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the mention, Sue. I abhor posts without dates. Even those that the authors consider evergreen should have dates, ESPECIALLY if they relate to social media. Things change. Don’t make us search the comments (as we do) to discover when a post was actually published.

  2. Posted July 3, 2015 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    And we do search the comments! Thanks for weighing in.

  3. Posted July 5, 2015 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for raising awareness about one of my pet peeves, Sue! Not having a publish date drives me nuts; I used to think it was an oversight, but I’ve seen it on “big name” blogs, too.

    Good content is good content; it matters little when it was actually published. I typically only care about the date if I’m trying to source information and if I can’t find a date, I don’t use the reference. Plus, as Donna points out, for so many topics it’s a waste of time to read something from 2009 when you need to know what’s happening now.

  4. Posted July 5, 2015 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for commenting, Amy! I am glad to know others feel the same way I do. You’re right, good content is good content; if still valid, the date doesn’t matter.

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