The web lives forever – put a date on it!

Dates are important!

Many things on the web live forever, or at least they can. I know some people have had an issue with this when various foibles from their past come back to haunt them when it’s time to get screened by a future employer or something, but I’m really speaking more on articles and references you place on the web. Many people in the tech world give freely of their time and knowledge, posting hints, answers, tutorials and all manner of resources on the ‘net so that others can learn.

Let me assure you, this is appreciated by many! I have over the years tried to pay this back in various ways, although I’m sure I haven’t been very successful.

There is also a growing trend toward minimalism on many web sites. That’s all well and good, and can make for some nice, easy to read displays. Regardless of the esthetic of the site, I implore you to do one thing:

DATE YOUR POST

Recently I have found more and more blog entries, tech postings or whatever with no obvious (or sometimes unobvious) way of finding when the posting was made. If it’s a comment about your like or dislike of hamburgers, it’s probably not that important when you posted it (although as your tastes change, you might find it of interest later), but for a technical article, it’s of great value to know if this is current best practice, or a fix that needed to be applied to the 2007 release of the software.

Marco Arment, of Instapaper fame, made a recent post regarding posts of lasting value. He didn’t explicitly mention dates, but rather how few of his posts were timeless and how technology items have a lifespan. If there is no date visible, how do I know if its current information or not?

Software often has a "version history" page with an outline of changes over time. Many of these, again, have no dates. Without dates, you don’t know how often a project is updated, or even if it is totally dead with no new development.