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Should You Edit or Delete Old Posts?

Posted by on 2nd Nov 2007 | 11 comments

When you look back in your archives, do you smile or cringe? Have you ever deleted or edited an old post? Do you think it is ok to go back and edit posts or should you do a new post and relate to the older one?

It’s an issue that I can see both sides on, on the one hand you might see some posts as clutter or even bad for the blogs image, on the other hand I don’t think I would ever want to delete a post.

If you do delete a post, at least make sure you leave a redirect so you are not creating broken links for people who linked to you.

One of my blogs was all about me learning Photography. I made lots of mistakes, got corrected (thankfully) by my readers, but never deleted a post. Part of the charm for me is people could learn by seeing me get things wrong and get corrected.  For example I got confused by the difference between a wide lens and a macro. I laugh now but having the difference explained was valuable for me and allowed others to find out without being shamed in public like I was :)

On occasion I will edit a post, particularly if there was a great comment or some news came in after publishing. There have been a few circumstances where I have found an article in a search engine and I wish people would have edited the post to reflect most recent news.

What do you think? Should archives be left alone, set in stone or are old posts more flexible and fluid, yours to change at will?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments …


A professional blogger and internet marketing consultant.

11 comments - Leave a reply
  • Posted by Guillermo on 2nd Nov 2007

    No! Archives must remain archives in our case! They are a very valuable source of information to my readers.

  • Posted by Chris Garrett on 2nd Nov 2007

    So you wouldn't delete an old post, but would you edit one or should you link to an old post from a new one to say you have new information?

  • Posted by Jamie Harrop on 2nd Nov 2007

    Interesting post, Chris.

    I can't say I've ever thought about it, to be honest.

    I moderate on a lot of forums. On all those forums we have rules in place that mean crucial details cannot be removed from posts, and posts cannot be deleted (unless they break a rule) We'll edit out contact details or surnames if needed, but that's all.

    The reason for this is simple. Once posted, it's in the public domain and other authors around the Internet may have responded to your post or points in your post. Once that post is edited, everything surrounding it no longer makes sense. Authors are referencing points that no longer exist. There are other reasons why we don't edit the post, but that's the one that applies here.

    Don't take that the wrong way. I would certainly edit a spelling error or grammatical error on a 12 month old post if I found one, or I would re-write a sentence so it makes more sense. What I wouldn't do is change the context of the post. Everything I said when I first posted it must remain, although I might edit the post to change how I say it in a bid to make the post easier to digest for my readers.

  • Posted by BeachBum on 2nd Nov 2007

    I think archives should remain untouched unless there is a very good reason to change them. ie you report that someone is going to jail but later find out they were innocent. In that example I would edit the post with an "Update" text to mention the new important info.

    Michael

  • Posted by Chris Garrett on 2nd Nov 2007

    @Jamie – The forum example is a good one, it is kind of the same thing in the blogosphere when a conversation follows what is referenced in a post you need to be able to get back to the original. What happens when what is said changes?

    @BeachBum – An update: is good way to do it, but the article would still rank in the search engines showing a snippet saying they were guilty?

  • Posted by Frank C on 2nd Nov 2007

    I'll go back and fix "dyslexic moments" I have from time to time. A couple of times I've "revised and extended" a post so that it made better sense. I wouldn't delete or massively edit a post unless there was something really wrong about it though.

    Does WordPress re-ping if you edit?

  • Posted by Chris Garrett on 2nd Nov 2007

    Good question, I know on a drupal site I worked on people would see the post in RSS multiple times for each edit :o

  • Posted by Kevin on 2nd Nov 2007

    I never usually go back and edit or delete any older posts however I wouldn't rule out ever doing so.

    There may be a good reason to delete an old post in the future and I'm sure there will be a good reason to update posts in the future too.

    If there are a lot of edits to the post though I would probably put 'UPDATE' or whatever in the post and explain what was being updated and why.

  • Posted by daniel on 2nd Nov 2007

    i never delete the old post,because the post not only owned of you,but also owned of every one,

    sometimes,i will edit the old post,because i have to notice the readers some informations

  • Posted by Wayne Liew on 3rd Nov 2007

    I don't delete my old posts because apart from causing broken links to all those sites that linked me, I will need to exclude it in Google Webmaster Tools which is quite troublesome.

    I don't delete but I do edit them to add in some links that point forward to later posts. Revisiting my archives does not only allows me to update the information there, it sometimes provide me with inspiration of what to write.

  • Posted by planktons on 23rd Feb 2008

    deleting the old post doesn't make sense to me. instead either edit it or keep adding onto it. :smile: