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Should I Date My Blog?

datingblog.jpgI love my blog.

Whenever I have something on my mind, it listens. If I need to explore a business idea, it patiently let’s me fumble around until I get it. If I’m down, it picks me up. And if I’m feeling inflated, I know it will bring me back to earth.

I love my blog. It’s a life-long friend I can really trust. But should I date my blog? Won’t that mess everything up?

Some, like Rory Sullivan, Kevin Mulldoon, George Manty and Google’s Matt Cutts think dating your blog is a necessity. Rory’s opinion is that dating:

“…makes the material seem timeless.The problem is with the word “seem”. Removing the time stamp is a trick, a gimmick.”

Yet, there are some, like Steve Pavlina, Dan & Jennifer, and the folks at Freelance Switch, that feel it’s unnecessary to date your blog. Daniel Scocco quotes Darren Rowse, who recently stopped dating his Digital Photography School blog, as saying:

“If the content is timeless and not ‘newsy' in nature I think that removing the timestamp from a blog is a very worthwhile thing to do.”

And Maki, of DoshDosh fame, has also removed in the same post is quoted as saying:

“I don't really have a concrete reason why I removed the time stamp, except that it doesn't make the blog posts look dated. Going without dates also affects your marketing potential. For instance, it might make it easier to promote material on social voting/bookmarking websites.”

If you take a look at DoshDosh you’ll see that Maki had decided to date his posts on his homepage only. He doesn’t date his individual posts, however.

Personally, I like Maki’s approach. I just wonder – is it fair to my blog to only date it on the homepage?

What do you think?

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Comments

  1. Howard Oliver says:

    We have been using the term micro site to get away from the stigma and preconceived notions about blogging. On my blog prmeasure I’m going to bring up the idea of reducing the use of the term.

    Great micro site by the way……

  2. Howard Oliver says:

    Here is a recent example of a micro site that will not really use the daily entry format

    5wolves.blogware

    The central col will not change but we will add pages on the right side bar.

    H

  3. Howard Oliver says:

    the blog is

    http://5wolves.wordpress.com/

    my sugars must be low…..

  4. Howard Oliver says:

    What about recycling and updating material posted in the past. My blog is 3 years old and I have some excellent content that I have reposted.

  5. Howard Oliver says:

    I worked as a Senior Consultant for a long time for Robert Porter Lynch who was a thought leader in the Strategic Alliances field. He used to say: “Know when to abandon and maintain orthodoxies.”

    Quite frankly, I’m more interested in the intersection of SEO Marketing, Social Networking and PR. It resonates much more with the senior people I speak to. Blogging projects get to be only one part of an integrated program with broader sets of components.

  6. Maki – I’m familar with your site, I’m a subscriber :) I think you’ve wrote some great posts the last few months.

    I agree with you that some of your posts will stand the test of time but I don’t think thats true for all your posts.

    For example, check out this post. That post was your announcement of wordpress 2.1 being released. There is no date on the page.

    That post is a perfect example of a post which was relevant at the time but it is not now (ie. we are at wordpress 2.2.1 at the moment)

  7. I think that Maki is making a mistake doing that. A lot of his traffic will be from search engines and visitors will be reading about 6 month old topics that may not be relevant now. In my opinion its fine to remove the timestamp if every one of your posts are as relevant now as they were 6 months ago. For the majority of blogs this is not the case

  8. Personally, I think that removing dates from your blog is the second best way to change your blog from a blog to a website. The best way is to remove comments.

    In other words, I am not sure that blogs are really blogs without dates. Doesn’t the phrase web log infer some sort of timestamping?

  9. PS. Thanks for the mention!

  10. Kevin,
    Yeah, I hear you. I hope I get Maki to chime in on this one.

    Is there a circumstance where you see not having time stamps as really working?

    George, (you’re welcome)
    Boy, that brings up a whole new debate. I’ve been tell my clients for months to stop calling it a blog in the first place. It’s a website. Just this website offers a whole range of functionality that a static website doesn’t – like allow the conversation through comments.

    Do you think blogs can evolve a bit past the ‘web log’ idea by removing date stamp? Or not?

  11. [quote comment="8435"]Personally, I think that removing dates from your blog is the second best way to change your blog from a blog to a website. The best way is to remove comments.

    In other words, I am not sure that blogs are really blogs without dates. Doesn’t the phrase web log infer some sort of timestamping?[/quote]

    Thats a different argument in my opinion. If you are using a blog script simply as a content management system then removing the datestamp is definately up to you.

    We are talking about blogs here and blogging topics quite often lose their relevance over time. Much the same as news sites (they date their articles too).

  12. Kevin,
    I agree, I think it is a different issue altogether.

    I can definitely see your point about blog posts losing relevance over time. Huh? Makes me think a bit more about it.

    So, then, is there really such a thing as timeless content?

    Howard,
    Ooh, I like, the term. Though does micro site make the ‘blog’ feel less relevant or important to clients?

  13. Thanks for the mention, Dawud.

    Like what Darren mentioned, your decision to go dateless or not depends on the type of content you have. Kevin might not be familiar with my blog but the bulk of my content is oriented towards detailed tutorials and articles instead of topical posts on current events or news.

    I’m quite aware that people arrive to my blog through search engines and I do optimize my single post pages for that. All flagship and newsy articles are updated with new information and links to newer posts whenever possible. I do this not only to keep the articles fresh or up to date but also to practice internal linking for key phrases as well.

    Going dateless from day one hasn’t affected my site growth at all. My traffic and subscribers have been increasing rapidly over the past few months and I’ve not gotten a single comment or email (out of the thousands I’ve received so far) about why I don’t use the timestamp. I just don’t see how this is a mistake of any sort.

    In fact, there is still a timestamp on my single posts page but it is left in the comment section. This is easily noticeable once the visitor finishes the article and wants to check out the comments.

    Rory calls this a gimmick but these ‘illusions’ DO affect anyone’s initial impression of a webpage. In his case, it was an irritant but I’m sure some others might find the article more appealing as well.

    I’m looking at the Timestamp issue from the point of optimization: my goal is to get more conversions (links etc.) from visitors hitting those pages and I believe that going dateless achieves that aim better.

    I’m not particularly concerned with conventions: how a blog should or should not be structured, what is a blog/what’s not a blog etc.

  14. Hi, I’m reading via the Bumpzee No Nofollow | I Follow | DoFollow Community RSS feed. :)

    This might just be because I’m not a business or professional-oriented blogger, but I would rather have the dates on my posts as to me, they are a shot of myself how I was on a certain day. However, I can see where the argument can be made to stop dating your site, most especially the one where if you don’t have dates, it will not seem so much like a blog.

    However, like I said I’ll keep the dates on my blog as it is really a personal blog, and the posts are snapshots.

    Sephyroth
    http://www.sephyroth.net

  15. To me, not dating your blog posts seems somewhat dishonest. Other than misleading readers into thinking that they are reading a post that is more recent than it really is, how does your blog benefit by removing the posts’ dates?

    I agree with Kevin that the majority of post topics lose their relevance over time. Considering this, I don’t see why you wouldn’t want to date your posts.

  16. @Dawud,

    I think it depends on whether you want to have a blog or website. Some of the old school bloggers (like me) have a slightly harder time thinking of renaming my blogs as websites. However, wordpress is really just a CMS. You can use it to set up a blog or website, it’s your choice.

    As far as, timeless information… can anyone show me an example of a timeless tutorial or even a timeless review? I guess every now and then someone might write a “timeless” article, but I would be really interested in seeing a timeless tutorial that will be relevant in ten-twenty years.

  17. Maki,
    Thanks for come over.

    I’m someone, too, who isn’t all that concerned about blogging conventions. I’m much more interested in utilizing my blog to create conversation and build business relationships. SO I see the blog as a means not an end in itself.

    I think, in general, you make a nice argument toward not using dates. Has it been difficult to keep content updated?

    Howard,
    Interesting idea. I made your link live but get an error trying to view it. Could you update the link so I can see what you’re talking about?

    Sephyroth,
    So you see a difference between dating a business blog and dating a personal blog?

    Brandon,
    Maki did a good job, I think, speaking to why (see his comments). And yet, I agree with you and Kevin about content becoming outdated. Seems like no biggie if your blog is 12 months old and you have a few hundred posts. But what about when your blog is three years old and you have a couple of thousand posts? How then might someone manage older content – Darren Rowse, definitely comes to mind.

    George,
    WordPress is an amazing CMS if you ask me. I’ve begun building all mysites in WordPress – even the ‘static’ ones.

    The only articles I can personally think of that are timeless have little to do with computers or the internet. They’re mostly ‘meaning of life’-type discussions, philosophy, art – things that have traditionally been timeless.

    Any other content you can think of?

  18. Kevin,

    Agree to disagree is fine with me. :)

    Dawud,

    I just noticed that the comments are piling up rather quickly for this post. Great work managing the discussion and encouraging more thoughts from the commenters. I seldom see bloggers actively doing this so its quite refreshing.

    The question is, how many of those sort of posts do you put up? And, how much traffic to you see from them once the subject had gotten old enough. In other words, if we’re on to WordPress 2.1.1, how many visits do you get week for someone looking for WordPress 2.1.0?

    How much traffic you see depends on the particular keyword you target, the length of your post and the number of links which point to it(thus helping it rank).

    The WordPress 2.1.1 post ranks poorly because its a fairly competitive term and many others have written about it, with some in greater depth.

    I don’t get any search traffic to that particular page at all so I’ve left it alone. It doesn’t really matter if I update it or not because the only way anyone is going to access it is through my categories or homepage (where the timestamp is visible).

    I’m not too uptight about keeping newsy posts current even though I do make an effort whenever I can. I focus mostly on the posts that receive regular search traffic.

    If a post receives over 100 search visitors a day that’s one post you need to keep an eye on. The traffic can be redirected to other internal pages of your site and updated links to new posts can achieve that effect.

  19. Dawud,
    You use a lot of links. How can you guarantee they’ll still be valid in 6 months? If you can’t, you’re doing future readers a disservice by not keeping the dates.

  20. I totally understand using wordpress or typepad to set up a website. In fact, one of the first things I was interested in doing with a blog was using it like a website, but then I got involved in the blogging culture…

    From a marketing standpoint, if you make more money/get more traffic from leaving dates off the articles then I guess it’s worthwhile if you don’t mind ticking off/losing some readers. You can’t please all the people all the time, anyway…

  21. This is another interesting conversation!

    I’ve been thinking about this quite a lot recently. What I would like to do on my micro site is not have the article dated, but have the comments timestamped. As a reader, I like to know how late I am in coming into the conversation (but then if I’m too late, maybe I won’t comment! That’s something to think about…)

    I am aiming to have “timeless” content on my micro site, like a graphic design book in extremely short chapters, almost one page a day. If it will still be relevant content in 20 years, what’s the point in timestamping it? I think your articles are like this, Dawud. You are writing a “book” on the intersection of relationships and business. If you took off the date, I don’t think it would matter. Maki made a great case for removing the timestamp and he obviously put a lot of thought into it.

    Brandon posed the question, “How does your blog benefit by removing the posts’ dates?” But what about the opposite? How does a blog benefit by having a date?

  22. Ah, one more thing (you need the edit comments plugin, Dawud!):

    The nature of “blogs” is changing. We saw that back in about January 2006 when small businesses started using blogs as a marketing tool. Why then should we keep the old definition of a blog being a chronological journal?

  23. Jean,
    That’s the thing…you can’t.

    George,
    True, you can’t please everyone. And as a business owner, should we? Or should we be focused on our specific niche?

    Howard,
    Interesting. I certainly think it’s possible. What do you write about?

    LaurenMarie,
    I hear you on comments being dated. Something I’ve always planned to keep.

    I think your second comment says a lot. Blogging is still quite immature. I’m interested in how it evolves. And the most beautiful part of that is that every one of us is part of that evolution.

    So how do you think having dates helps the blog?

    Howard,
    Exactly! Blogging is only a part of the equation. To be successful, it’s important to take a wholistic (all-inclusive) approach. And it’s important to know what the audience you target expects.

    With you background, Howard, how do you see the SEO, social networking and PR coming together?

    Kevin,
    This is the crux, if you ask me. For content to truly be timeless, it has to be as relevant today as it is in, say, 5 years. Basically, this means not reporting news at all, right? Or is there a way to write about news? Your thoughts?

  24. This is very interesting. I had seen some undated blogs and my “that’s not the way it’s supposed to be done” mind convinced me that I needed to look around to find the date. “There’s got to be a date here…It’s a blog!”

    But this conversation opens up a whole new possibility for me. As a personal development writer, the vast majority of my posts are timeless. So removing the dates could be a great idea.

    My only concern about losing the dates is that I sometimes search my own blog as well as others by date. I’ll often visit a blog looking for a post that was “a couple days/weeks/months ago” and scan back through the dates looking for it.

    The other potential advantage to dating your entries, is that if your blog has been around for a while the dates may add some credibility when a new visitor comes to your site.

  25. [quote comment="8450"]Sephyroth,
    So you see a difference between dating a business blog and dating a personal blog?[/quote]

    Not really; I think that blogs should be dated, but if a business (or anyone) feels that they will better serve their readers by taking the dates off their posts, then they should do it. I still think that blogs should be dated, because that that I personally think of a blog – it’s a chronicle of a person’s or business’s journey or experience.

    Sephyroth
    http://www.sephyroth.net

  26. Edward, you make a great point about the benefits to having a timestamp: credibility and I suppose the other could be like search-by-hand (instead of the search box). I hadn’t thought of those. But wouldn’t having 50 articles in several categories also lend to credibility?

    I suppose it depends on how you view your blog. I like the analogy of it being a book, with each article being a page. Reading one page per day is easier to digest than being overwhelmed with a 500 page book. If that’s the case, which it sounds like yours is, why stamp it? Do we not read books because they were written 50, 100 or 1,000 years ago?

  27. Ed,
    In my opinion it’s topics like yours that would be perfect for not displaying dates. Since you write about personal development, personal growth, law of attraction, and spirituality, your content can stand the test of time.

    What do you think?

    Everyone,
    Take a look at Edward’s site and see if you agree.

    Sephyroth,
    I would agree. I think it is a personal/professional choice. One that needs to be made in guise of your business needs.

    What do you think of blogs evolving into something beyond a chronicle?

    LaurenMarie,
    I think so. Not only the number of posts, but the content of them as well. I always try to remember that I’m only an expert in the eyes of someone else.

    I think I see the blog similar to you. And, I know that I recently discarded of a number of outdated books around the internet, web design and computers. So I think the topic becomes important when we consider timelessness.

  28. Dawud,

    I agree that keeping content updated can be quite tiresome when you have a lot of material. The more non-topical posts you write, the less work you have to do in the future.

    Like LaurenMarie, I also don’t think timestamps are necessary for your blog.

    Kevin,

    I should have known you were the type that’ll go through my archives just to find a weak point :)

    That particular post along with one or two others are rare occasions when I dabble in topical posts. The bulk of my content isn’t like that and I’m basing my overall actions on that.

    As I’ve mentioned.. my focus here is on marketing optimization. For me, reaching new readers via social media is more important then minor reader usability concerns, which by the way are really just blind assumptions on our part. (i.e we have no factual data to confirm that visitors do prefer to have timestamps on articles).

    Every site is different and no blanket solution is going to work for everyone. The easiest way to do this is to run tests on your website or perhaps even a long term poll (although that will only provide a sample size).

    Discussion does however offer insights into this issue although I feel we are still treading the same ground as the other commenters on Daniel’s original post.

  29. Maki,
    Thanks. Most of my posts aren’t based in time, I know that. And a few are. If I remove dates, I’ll have to find a way to handle those.

    The question is, how many of those sort of posts do you put up? And, how much traffic to you see from them once the subject had gotten old enough. In other words, if we’re on to WordPress 2.1.1, how many visits do you get week for someone looking for WordPress 2.1.0?

    And, I think you’re right in that your blog/site/microsite needs to serve the needs of the majority of your readers. It’s definitely not going to serve everyone. And I think if your content is solid, it won’t matter too much anyhow.

  30. Dawud, I think you can write about news in a “timeless” manner. Just as you are writing about and engaging us in a conversation about business and blogging in a timeless manner here. Obviously, there will always be blogs that write about news in a newsy way, and for those blogs a time stamp is important.

    But as you point out, Lauren,we don’t stop reading books that are months, years, or even centuries old. So why should we automatically write off old blog posts?

    So this may lead to the more important question of how to more effectively present our timeless material so that those who are interested can enjoy.

  31. Maki – haha. I actually found that post very quickly by looking at the wordpress category. I can see where your coming from, I just don’t see any real benefits from a site like yours dropping their datestamp. I think we will have to agree to disagree :)

    Dawud – I think that any news related content should have a date somewhere on the page :)

  32. Ed,
    What do you think? How do might we more effectively present our timeless materials – even if they’re dated?

    Anyone?

    Kevin,
    I can let Maki answer for himself. Yet, I know that when I Google something and find blog posts in the results, I may or may not read it depending on the date it was published. I almost always look for something fresh.

    Do you read content regardless of when it was published?

  33. Dawud – this is a very interesting conversation! In my opinion, it really comes down to the purpose of your blog and personal preference.

    Personally, I prefer the time stamp approach. Like Ed said, it gives credibility, but it also gives a sense of context and flow to the blog.

    That being said, I do have one site which is built on WordPress that probably would not be adversely affected if I removed the time stamp. The reason is that it is more of a resource site and not really a conversational site. Plus the content is timeless. (For those who care to check it out, it is Printables4Kids.com)

  34. [quote comment="8474"]
    So how do you think having dates helps the blog?[/quote]

    I would definitely agree with what Edward has said about it lending credibility (though as mentioned above, that’s only one way to do it).

    Again, with newsy articles, dates help so that readers know whether this is up-and-coming or so-last-week.

    There’s also this little voice inside us that is anxious to know when a post was written. Perhaps it is because I don’t want to look silly coming in late on an article and then commenting a year after it was written. But why not comment? If it moves me to take the time to write, I should submit it so that the author knows that previous posts are not necessarily old posts.

    Why do you think dates are beneficial, Dawud (and anyone else)?

  35. Char,
    Thanks for joining in. I understand both perspectives. What I am curious about, how do you think dating posts gives them more credibility?

    Ed & LaurenMarie (and everyone else),
    Since you’ve both mentioned it, I want to ask the same question as to Char – how do you think dating posts gives them more credibility?

    Maki,
    Thanks. I do what I can to help the conversation along. I’ve always felt like this isn’t just my blog. Rather, it’s a community blog where I welcome the conversation. I just happen to be the one who tries to get the conversation started.

    Also, thanks for sharing your strategy for choosing which posts to update or redirect. I know there’s little you do on DoshDosh without giving it some thought – so how did you come up with that strategy and how has it worked for you?

  36. [quote comment="8480"]Ed,
    What do you think? How do might we more effectively present our timeless materials – even if they’re dated?

    Anyone?

    [/quote]

    I think it starts with a strong foundation. Clear, concise categories and tags are a great place to start. (An area I definitely need to work on). But it also could be that we need better site search functionality. Being able to search using multiple criteria would be a great benefit for the more tech-savvy among our readers.

    But then, tying this in to a post you wrote a while ago (and this would be a great time to have advanced search functionality) on expanding our reach as bloggers beyond our typical blogging-savvy audience, how can we present our content in a manner that is intuitive and clear to non-bloggers?

    For some reason, LaurenMarie’s comment about the books keeps coming up. I wonder if it would be possible to organize and present categories as book chapters. Hmm.

  37. Dawud. I don’t think that the dates themselves create the credibility. Rather it’s having consistent posts over a long period. In other words, when someone looks in the archives of a blog and sees that it’s been around for a while, that adds instant credibility. I do agree with LaurenMarie that many posts in multiple categories does the same thing. But, like it or not, we live in a time-based society that uses longevity as a key indication of credibility.

  38. Maybe I am missing something but why is this a big deal, on either side of the fence?

    Drew

  39. All,

    Wow, this conversation is getting difficult to keep up with. I might wind out talking about this on my blog. I have actually seen this topic come up quite a few times recently. I think the very fact that it has come up so often, means that some people are disturbed by the idea of removing dates from blogs. I can’t speak for everyone else, but the reason it bothers me personally is that when I go to a blog or website I like to know when the article was written. Especially when it falls into one of the following categories:

    1. news
    2. tutorials/how to articles
    3. personal stories/recent events
    4. product/service/website reviews
    5. interviews

    There are probably other categories of articles that I would like to know the time they were written, but that’s all I could think of from the top of my head.

    Maki is correct in saying that without in depth studies we can’t really know the overall affect (good or bad) of removing dates from our blogs.

    So if we aren’t going to conduct the tests, then it’s really a matter of preference and/or our assumptions that other people think the way WE think they should think about timestamps. Rather than the way they actually think. It is really quite amazing how many discussions I see in the Internet marketing world that are based on nothing but personal opinions, rather than testing.

    PS. Despite my opinion on this topic, I do read Maki’s blog and consider him a friend. We are still friends, right :)

  40. Thank you so much for the link, Dawud.

    I thought Maki’s point was quite telling: I’m looking at the Timestamp issue from the point of optimization: my goal is to get more conversions (links etc.) from visitors hitting those pages and I believe that going dateless achieves that aim better.

    There is nothing inherently wrong with this approach, but strictly speaking it still amount to a bluff.

    Also, people are unlikely to write and complain about the timestamp being left off, and they are unlikely to stop reading a blog just because the timestamp has been left off. But, open up a conversation like this, and it soon becomes apparent that the timestamp is relevant to a lot of people, and there is some frustration when a blog is encountered that doesn’t have a timestamp on its articles.

    I noticed on Darren’s Digital Photography School that he has a post entitled This Week In The Digital Photography School Forum. Without a time stamp, what week is that exactly? At the end he has a reference to “July’s comp” – what year is that? If someone alighted on this post directly there might be some frantic searching going on for a relevant date. I would say there is a blog that demands a timestamp.

  41. Ed,
    I think it might be possible to organize your site like a book – in chapters. It would just take a bit of planning. And it would probably help if you were actually using your blog to write a book. But how would you maintain coherence between posts?

    Also, I get that longevity does create credibility. I’m just wondering if you, or anyone else, had other thoughts.

    Drew,
    For me, the big deal is in how readers interact with my site. Current readers – and especially bloggers – get it. But what about reaching out to people beyond the blogosphere?

    The other issue comes from dating content and having it show in search engine results. Do you read blog posts that are 3 years old if you find them in Google?

    George,
    Exactly. The importance of dating content can be studied and measured. I’d love to see the results if anyone was to take this on.

    Doing what I do for a living, I, too see that many – maybe most – website owners make decisions based on their opinions rather than on a business plan, usability or the needs and expectations of their audience. Yet, the web offers the perfect medium for testing these theories and opinions because just about everything can be measured.

    The question is…do you know of anyone who has done a study like this or is willing to do so? I wonder how Darren’s photography blog is doing?

  42. Interesting post!

    When I saw the picture and the title I had to laugh.

    I wish I could just “date” my blog, but I seemed to have married it! For better or for worse, ’til death do us part.

    Anyway, I don’t have much new to add to the discussion. When I see no date, I think: old. And, perhaps subconsciously, I think: And trying to hide it. If not dishonest, at least it seems coy and less than forthright. We all want to be seen as “fresh,” but the only thing that will truly say that to a reader is today’s date on the post. And you only have that for one day. After that, you have to hope it’s relevant.

    Great blog. Thanks.

  43. I’ve removed the date from one of my blogs, http://www.thetedrap.com. I post infrequently, and it’s not timely information.

    Quite simply it’s my blog, and I can do whatever I’d like. If anyone thinks removing the date is “unethical” or similar, they probably need some mental therapy and some perspective :)

    Most blogs probably should have dates, but dates, just like fonts and colors, are the bloggers choice.

  44. There are some conventions which are best left as they are. Tampering with them is discomfiting and only serves to upset the space-time continuum.

    I’m actually only half kidding. Time is time is time and it cannot be ignored. I think that is why I used terms like comfort and security in my article. A dated article positions us in time. We know where we stand.

    I thought Chris Cree’s comment nailed it. Removing the timestamp serves the purpose of the writer, not the reader, and in the world of blogging something feels uncomfortable about that. Phrases like it creates a “perception of freshness”, making articles “appear to be fresh and new”, aiming “to produce content that didn’t feel dated” seem to me to be a manipulation of the reader, and that doesn’t sit right either.

    As a further thought – having the date on the front page doesn’t amount to a hill o’ beans because it only lasts as long as the article is on the front page.

  45. Seems to me this decision is simply about who is the focus of the blog, the author or the readers.

    Removing the date is an author-centric decision because it is all about SEO and traffic. That means it is probably about more money coming into the blog author.

    Leaving the date prominently displayed is a more reader-centric choice because it gives them a significant piece of information related to the post.

    Google tends to give ranking to web pages that have longevity. It can be frustrating when researching a technical problem like say a challenge with WordPress.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought I’ve found the answer I was looking for on a WP challenge only to find the post is over a year old and is a solution for a previous version of WP that won’t work on the current version.

    Time stamps on posts help sort that sort of thing out much more quickly.

  46. One word: History.

    Historical relevance of most of what I am looking for when reading blogs is one of the things that bothers me about some web sites whose content clearly hasn’t been updated in awhile.

    Ok, “historical relevance” may sound overblown when talking about blogging, but when I am trying to analyze the latest opinions on a particular technique or subject, as compared with, say conventional thinking of several years ago, lack of dating just confounds.

    I vote for dates.

  47. Crabby McSlacker,
    Now there’s a name to remember…

    Interesting points about people trying to hide something. Huh…I’ll have to give that some thought. And it does look like you had something to add. Thanks.

    Rory,
    I agree with you that either way isn’t inherently wrong. And it is interesting that no one really comments on blogs with or without dates yet a conversation like this creates such reactions.

    I think your point about Darren’s post is a valid one. Huh? I’d love to hear his response.

    Why do you think this is such a relevant topic? Is it really that important or is it more about leaving conventions?

    Ted,
    With everything I’ve added, I couldn’t agree with you more. Ultimately it is every blogger’s choice for what they do. And hopefully what stands the test of time is the content of a blog and not its small features. Thanks for adding that.

    By the way, where are you right now that you’d be commenting a 3:30am?

    Chris,
    Ooh, yeah. I love this point. I think this is a question that every website owner – blogger or not – needs to ask themselves…who is your blog for? Of course it can serve both the author and the audience. But to be successful long-term, it has to serve the readers.

    I’ve had similar experiences with needing up-to-date content and finding out-of-date content that doesn’t have a date to it. Great waster of time.

    Do you think there’s any legitimate reason not to post dates?

  48. Great comments all. I agree with the journalism analogies.

    When I read the New York Times archives, I don’t discredit an article just because it was written in 1985. I just read the article differently.

    My website is a self-published online magazine with semi-regular distribution. As such, all of my content needs to be dated.

    And ultimately, time stamps aren’t what make a post seem dated. Poor content is what makes it seem dated.

    As for SEO. I never worry about that. Maybe I should. But I figure churning out good content is the goal. Everything else will follow. (And for the record, I’m not interested in monetization, but I am interested in the power of “regular” bloggers. The kind that don’t understand SEO, for example…)

  49. Rory,
    I think Chris made a great point too. I feel it’s important to consider your readers in everything you choose on your blog – even, and maybe especially, monetizing. A blogger needs readers or they’re writing for themselves. But readers don’t necessarily need a blogger.

    Mark,
    You know, I think you’re right about poor content. I’d added that good content that’s out-of-date should be included. Your blog could have great Photoshop tutorials yet be completely outdated when a new version is released. That doesn’t mean the content was poor, just no longer relevant. And for that reason, dating can be highly beneficial.

  50. I had never really thought of the author centric vs. reader centric angle.

    I think it is fair to say that some readers would prefer to see dates on posts. Others don’t care about the date. I have yet to see anyone say, “I hate seeing dates on blog posts”, or “I won’t visit a blog that includes dates on their posts”. I think that fact alone says something, doesn’t it?

  51. I’m a little disturbed by how some feel that removing the timestamp means that one is ‘manipulating’ or ‘deceiving’ the reader. Isn’t this merely an assumption of the blogger’s motivations?

    He/She could have just removed it because they felt that it was unnecessary or an eyesore. Not everyone is out to game the visitor and deceive them. I don’t see the need to pull ethics into what is primarily a design/optimization issue.

    I’m also not talking about self-submitting or promoting your old posts on social websites, just because there isn’t a time-stamp.

    I’m talking about social media optimizing your website by increasing the chances of it being disseminated by site visitors through community channels. This is the passive side to social media marketing.

    How is this deceptive in anyway? You aren’t bribing or cajoling the reader into promoting your website, which they will only do when the actual content is appealing to them.

    Many of Dawud’s posts are not topical and it’ll be a shame if some social media user does not share it on a news site/forum because the timestamp makes him/her think that ‘because its old, therefore it’s less relevant.’

    Not using the timestamp can remove that almost instinctive discrimination which comes when one realizes the age of the document.

    The timestamp is a visual component of every webpage which affects the immediate opinion of anyone viewing it. It was never anything but an impression, an illusion or whatever you want to call it (Visitors can be ‘manipulated’ even if the timestamp in place, if the blogger uses forward or past dates for articles).

    Removing the date is an author-centric decision because it is all about SEO and traffic. That means it is probably about more money coming into the blog author.

    Not true. Timestamps are not related to search optimization. And time-stamp removal+social marketing has nothing to do with money unless you integrate it with a monetization strategy (I personally know politico-non profit bloggers who push sites on social websites for exposure and not ad revenue).

    It’s also all the things Dawud is talking about here: creating conversations and sharing them with a larger audience. Remember that you’re the one that ultimately decides what type of conversions to pursue for your website.

  52. Dawud,

    It was 3:30Am at home in New Hampshire (Boston USA area). Feel asleep with the kids accidentally :) Checked my email and went fishing — beautiful sunrise

  53. Do you think there’s any legitimate reason not to post dates?

    Sure there are. One legitimate reason might be to increase site traffic through social media site submissions of older content. If folks don’t realize that the post has been around for a few months they are more likely to Digg it, aren’t they?

    Seems a little deceptive to me. But if that fits in with the goals of the author, then it is probably legitimate.

  54. George,
    I think it does. And aren’t we all blogging so people will read our blog?

    Katie,
    I’m not so sure it’s overblown at all. What we put on the web will be there as a record for a long time – if not for as long as web exists. Do you think that having dates hurts the blog at all – beyond just being Dugg and the like?

    Ted,
    I can definitely relate. I actually love falling asleep with my kids. And I’ve had those early morning wake-ups.

    Catch anything?

    Chris,
    In that case, it does seem a bit deceptive. And I see it as a small thing. Not that I condone deception at all, but there have been a number of bloggers who have shown much larger ways to be deceptive – no?

    I do think being reader-centric is of grave importance. Thanks for being the one who said it.

  55. [quote comment="8476"]
    What do you think of blogs evolving into something beyond a chronicle?
    [/quote]

    It’s possible; I would think that the blogs that have been published into books could be considered as having evolved beyond a chronicle. I would also contend that a blog that’s about blogging techniques or is focused on how-tos probably would not be as much of a chronicle than the regular business or personal blog.

    Sephyroth
    http://www.sephyroth.net

  56. For what it’s worth…I just recommended a post by Steve Pavlina to a friend. I expected it to be an article, but it was a post dated January 16, 2005. It was still timeless. I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. Shouldn’t you be focusing on producing great content?

  57. Sephyroth,
    Yeah, I think that’s the case. And I think the blog is in a process of evolution. I look forward to seeing what develops.

    That’s why discussions/debates like this are useful, I think. Each of us will have some say on the evolution of the blog. Thoughts?

    Jean,
    Yeah, exactly. And I don’t think anyone here would disagree with you. And, Steve’s blog is different in that he’s writing mostly about issues that aren’t dated. Whereas some writing about the latest version of WordPress would be quite dated when the next version comes out.

    What I’m taking away from the this conversation is that there is no one way to use your blog.

  58. Maki,
    I have run into the bias against older content. I’ve done it myself. Would I read older posts – sure. But always, no! Often I’m going to look for more recent posts. So I’m uncertain how to rectify reader bias with older content.

    Yet, I do agree with you that bloggers shouldn’t be penalized for writing great content a couple of years ago. But how do you control reader’s decisions?

    And, I also think that dates have some relevance on blog posts. I think they’re valuable to some readers.

    So what’s a blogger to do?

  59. Late to the party (which even future generations will know, thanks to timestamp…and how many comments are ahead of mine.)

    Chris nailed it for me, too. The date is a significant piece of info which, when removed, mainly benefits the site owner. It’s a personal choice, of course, but on a blog (or microsite, if we’re dancing), I think it’s fair.

    On an old-school, formal site, no date is fine. But I also expect those sites to be more formal: the writing, the topic seletion, etc.

    Truthfully, even when I read a static (less-changing, more formal) site–one with essays, or information about a long-dead personality, or whatever–I appreciate a date. Books have publishing dates, and they’re about as formal as it gets.

  60. Colleen,
    I’d much rather have you join the conversation late than never.

    I’m in agreement with Maki on how you can effectively not use dates on posts. Sleeping on it last night, however, I feel differently about dating in general.

    The reason we’ve been discussing for not dating centers around keeping content relevant to readers. Yet this morning I’ve been thinking that not only do I feel that blog content should be dated, but so should static website content. If I’m looking at a business site and they’re explaining their services to me, I want to know how long ago they’ve updated their copy. That gives me some indication about how they use their website.

    I don’t think all blogs should have dates. Though I tend to lean toward having dates rather than not. Yet, I understand why Maki or Darren might not. Thank God there’s enough room on the web/in the blogosphere to have it either way.

  61. Wow. You’ve started a good debate on the issue. I’m still firmly behind the issue of timeless content not needing a date. Dated content should.

    The only blog designs were built around the date, with the date the most prominent thing on the design. This worked as blogs were online diaries, but it doesn’t work in the real world.

    Honestly, does “Links for 07-14-07″ say anything to anyone? The date the links were made but it says nothing about what links are being listed. If I’m searching for information, that’s no help to me. Dates for dates sake are highly overrated.

    I have posts that still get comments even though they were written over ten years ago. The information is valid. If someone wants to check “when” it was written, it’s in the post data section as it isn’t title information. So that is dating the post, but it’s not important to the post content.

    Look at newspapers and magazines. Do they categorize their content by date? No. They categorize and display their content by title and grouped content. But the date is important to the issue, which is why it is on the cover and part of the header or footers, but it’s not that important to most publications.

    Dates are an accessory. Wear them to match your outfit.

  62. I understand that some people don’t think dates on post matter. However, I think we can all agree that some people do like to see dates on posts, otherwise we would not be having this conversation. So we have two facts:

    1. Having dates on posts is not important to some people who read blogs.
    2. Having dates on posts is important to some people who read blogs.

    Given these two facts, can you as a blogger make both of these groups of people happy or not? Will you lose some of your regular readers if you remove dates from your blog? Will you lose some of your regular readers if you keep dates on your blog? Do your visitors even care about timestamps? How many readers will you lose vs. how many will you gain by dropping dates from your posts?

    I think that it would be a good idea to determine answers to questions like these through testing or some other means to determine what your readers really want. Otherwise, you are breaking 2 major rules of marketing, “The customer is always right.” and “Know your market.”

    If your don’t care what your visitors want, then none of this really matters anyway.

  63. Has anyone looked at Tim Ferriss’ website and blog? I have no desire to have the lifestyle he’s advocating, but he’s a great example of a powerful site. Try the link on outsourcing your life. It’s a riot.

    It’s a great example of putting the timeless stuff on your website, the dated stuff on your blog.

  64. Lorelle,
    Yeah, but isn’t it nice to know when ‘timeless’ content was last updated? Yet I agree with you that the date is an accessory. It doesn’t need to be prominent, like you see on a lot of designs even today.

    Any website should be categorized by topic – including static, traditional sites. And the method for organization should meet the needs of the audience much more than the website owner.

    Sorry, that’s a lot of ‘shoulds.’ Thought?

    George,
    Interestingly enough the blog I’ve seen try to make both sides happy has been DoshDosh. And yet Maki is the one taking a lot of the heat. Interesting, huh?

    I agree with you that any decision on any website needs to be made with the audience in the front of your mind. After all, you really don’t need your website – your audience does. You know what you know – your audience doesn’t.

    Jean,
    Yet, I think consistency is important. If you ask the majority of web users, a small minority will be able to tell a blog apart from a traditional website. And then when you combine the two, as I have, the lines get even more blurry. That’s why my thought is to choose one path and be consistent on that path. And like Lorelle, I have no problem with putting the date somewhere small, almost inconsequential somewhere on the post.

  65. Dawud, your point is good, and on my full version blogs, where appropriate, I’ve added a WordPress Plugin that shows the date the post has been updated in the post meta data section, because it is important to the post.

    However, when I transfered years of content into WordPress, I had to make a decision on the dates, since I had no dates on my static website. It wasn’t important in “those days” unless you were a news website.

    Where I could, I put a date in manually, approximating when it was originally published, but dealing with over a thousand posts, it got boring and tedious. So many of them just have a blanket date, or the date when they were imported, not published.

    And what does it mean “updated” if all I did was change a “form” to “from”, a minor spelling error fixed, and bingo, the post is “updated”. So what. Does that make the content “updated”?

    Again, I say, that if it is critical to have the date prominently featured within the blog’s design, be it on the front page, single post view, or multi-post views, then date it prominently.

    If it isn’t, include it in the post meta data, with an updated or modified WordPress Plugin to show if it has indeed been “updated”, and let the content shine and not the date.

    Never give your readers a chance to dismiss your content out of hand just because they see the date and think it’s old before they even read it. They might be missing the answer to the question they’ve been seeking desperately.

  66. Lorelle,
    It seems like the ‘issue’ comes in how attached we are to the blog structure. For a while, blogs were dated journals. Now, however, they’re certainly evolving beyond that.

    I think the best approach with dating your blog is to do what you feel is right for your reader’s needs as well as your own. Maki isn’t wrong for not using dates. And Chris isn’t right for using them. It’s got to be up to each individual to decide. That’s why I think this has been a great conversation – because we’re hearing from all sides.

    I’m totally for dating posts as this point with still one sticking point. As you so clearly wrote:

    Never give your readers a chance to dismiss your content out of hand just because they see the date and think it’s old before they even read it. They might be missing the answer to the question they’ve been seeking desperately.

    For me, I need to think this out a little bit more. Much of my content isn’t date-dependent so I’d certainly love readers to gain from it as it ages. Yet I want to date my posts that are new and fresh. Perhaps there’s a plugin that removes post dates after a time???

  67. I really think you should keep the date on your blogposts.

    I did some research lately for an article about Lego Bionicle masks, and I found a few blogposts. They were posted in 2001.

    If there were no dates on them, I might have thought that they were brand new (or maybe not). They only thing I relate to a date of a blogpost is information about when the post was published.

  68. I’m kinda lost on this…But I’ll read it over again and then figure it out. :D

  69. I think that it all depends on the topic – if you’re writing about SEO which I see you’ve mentioned here, then the dates should remain – things change too fast in the world of tech and those dates matter. Would you want to get advice from a blogger writing about WordPress and not realize you’re reading something that is about WP 5 versions back or is 2 years old?

    One thing I’m confused about though, is I just read a post with a quote from Matt Cutts saying that he thinks the dates should be removed From the URL – http://hackwordpress.com/how-to-setting-up-your-wordpress-permalink-structure/

    This post was written 4/2008 but Matt’s quote is from 7/2007…..and the post you linked to from Matt himself sounds like he’s talking about date stamping the post but he’s not talking about the URL structure.

    Maybe I’m missing something here but what I’m mainly concerned about is the URL because Google is concerned with it, and I’m getting that Matt says to leave the date out of the URL but to put a date stamp on your posts.

    That would be a viable option for time sensitive blogs, what do you think?

  70. P.S. LOL, isn’t this the perfect example…I found your post through SU and now I see that it was written 7/2007! I didn’t notice the date on it when I first came to the page and thought it was a current post. I’d still like to hear your thoughts though, and what is the current stance on permalinks.

  71. JoLynn,
    I try to make all my content timeless now, so the date doesn’t matter so much. Yet I continue to date my content because I want people to have that as a reference point when they read a post.

  72. Hi Dawd, so you’re leaving the date out of the url but putting in on your post, right? I’ll have to see if that would work for me, too. And then you set up 301 redirects for your previously dated urls? Did that affect your traffic at all or did all go smoothly?

    Thanks very much!

  73. JoLynn,
    I removed the date in the URL from the beginning so there was no issue from the URL point of view.

    Since you’re using WordPress, try this redirection plugin to manage your URL redirects.

  74. Why not trying to publish it undated while keeping the date hidden for yourself.

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