First published on March 5, 2015
I saw Val’s tweet in my timeline earlier today and couldn’t resist commenting.
Even just displaying a publishing date would be a huge help for this! I’ve run into so many tutorials that have nothing to indicate that they are years old and could easily be mistake as current practice if you brand new to the topic. https://t.co/FtK677Xw0d
— Val Head (@vlh) February 10, 2019
I agree with you, Val.
Blog posts without dates means the person reading your post has no idea when the post was written.
How current is the information? Is it worth reading?
If it’s a tutorial or news announcement, the date is critical. Knowing the date adds context to the content, allowing the reader to quickly assess the value of the information.
And if your blog post is about something technical, it’s crucial that you add the date. Along with the version of the technology you’re writing about.
Another bonus: including a date on the post adds trust.
You don’t notice a date until it’s not there. And when it’s missing, the reader may question why there’s no date, and you risk the reader leaving your site.
For my weekly resources roundup posts, I search the web for recent articles about web design and development. The date is essential for me to determine whether to include the article in my roundup.
It’s a vital piece of information that provides context to the post.
With no date on a great article about responsive web design, I have no idea if the content was written last week or four years ago.
Since the articles I include in my roundup share latest practices for coding and markup, any article without a date won’t be added to the roundup.
I use the same approach for the resources I share on social media. If there’s no date on the article, I rarely share it.
After I saw Val’s tweet and revisited this post, I was a bit surprised to discover I’ve been
complaining commenting about the lack of dates on posts for almost nine years.
Frustrating to read blog posts w/no date. How do I know when it was written? Is the info 1 week old or 1 year old? #addthedate
— Deborah Edwards-Onoro (@redcrew) July 11, 2010
I wrote the first version of this post in March 2015. At that time, I started a hashtag #addthedate, with the hope that others would embrace the idea.
When you're writing a blog about technical subjects, FFS please DATE it (even the comments). I have to know whether I can trust the info.
— Stephanie Rewis (@stefsull) May 17, 2013
(Side note: please don’t write hashtags like I did in my reply to Stef’s tweet. It’s best to capitalize the letters of each word in a multi-word hashtag to make them easy to read. Example: #AddTheDate)
Why Posts Aren’t Dated
In the past few years, I’ve noticed more posts without dates.
Many authors say they write
evergreen content, content that doesn’t age, and therefore the post doesn’t require a date.
I’ve also heard from authors who feel dates provide unnecessary information,
readers won’t read my content if they see it has an old date. Or that adding a date clutters the look of their site layout.
If the content is useful and provides good information, adding a date shouldn’t impact whether it’s read. What’s important is whether the topic is relevant and useful.
One of the most read posts on this blog was written in 2013. And it has a date.
When someone shares their article on Twitter, and I discover the article doesn’t have a date, I often ask about the missing date.
Did I miss the information?
No, we don’t add dates to our posts, has been the most common response. We don’t feel dates are necessary, the authors add.
You can get an idea of when the post was written by looking at the dates on the comments.
In a few rare cases, the blogger didn’t realize the date was no longer showing on their post.
What prompted this post to be published in 2015, was when I asked about a missing date on a blog post about CSS Shapes. The author quickly responded and corrected the missing date.
Easy-to-understand article on CSS Shapes: http://t.co/VcYViC9tE4 Why you should be excited.
— Stephanie Rewis (@stefsull) February 17, 2015
A Journalist’s View
My user experience colleague Josie Scott has another perspective about dates on blog posts. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and worked as a reporter as well as a public affairs information officer.
As a journalist, I would never publish a story without the date. It deprives the reader of vital information.
If I decided to rerun a story, I would feel obligated to publish the date the story first ran, as a journalistic best practice.
I wish I could point to research about dated posts, but unfortunately I didn’t find any. If you know of any research, let me know.
As I learned, adding dates to blog posts brings all kinds of opinions and debates.
My opinion is that adding the date gives context, and allows the reader to decide if the content is relevant.
It’s an important piece of information about the post, along with the title and author.
Why make your reader wonder when a post was published or if it contains up-to-date information?
What about you? How do you manage dates on your content? Do you add the date or have you removed them from your blog posts?
Do you think adding dates lends more trust to your blog?
And if you’ve removed dates, have any of your readers asked you to add them back?