Should you edit old blog posts?

by @edent | , , ,

The fifth anniversary of my blog went by without me noticing. I don't know if I'm a narcissist, but I quite often find myself re-reading old entries. Sometimes it's because I've Googled for the solution to a problem, only to find I helpfully blogged about it yonks ago - other times I'll read an article and think "Hmmm, I wrote on that subject a while ago," and go off to find what I used to think.

With over 560 entries - ranging from single images to thousand word screeds - it's tempting to leave everything which I've written preserved in aspic. But I can't do that. I'm an inveterate tinkerer.

One of the big challenges of any webmaster is preventing "link rot". Old sites die, change their structure, or edit their content - which means links from this blog get broken or point to things which they shouldn't. To help counter this, I use the WordPress Broken Link Checker Plugin. Every so often it emails me to say a link is down. I'm then faced with the decision of whether to leave it pointing where it was, redirecting it to a cache, or finding a new source of information.

I have to admit, most of the time I just leave the link marked as broken. This isn't just laziness - some sites (especially personal ones) have no duplicate.

As I fiddle with old posts, I notice other things wrong with them. I fix spelling errors or grammer what is clumsy. I fix issues caused with blogging plugins which I've long since deleted.

But I never change my opinion. I already feel that I'm playing too close to the memory hole. Although WordPress tracks the changes I make, the post doesn't reflect past versions unless I explicitly call attention to a change.

Is this odd? Film-makers go back to re-edit their works, musicians remix their tracks, books are reprinted free of errata, newspapers publish corrections, and software writers publish updates.

But in all those instances, the original remains. You can listen to your mono-mix of The Beatles without ever having to even know about the surround-sound remix. But with this blog only exists here on this server, and it is only read when you dial up a specific page, and then - if I have willed it - it may all be Newspeak.

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