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Taking out the trash


© December 2005 Tony Lawrence

We had new carpet put down in four rooms last week, so there is a large pile of old carpet and padding out at the curb. It's raining this morning, so the pile is even more unattractive. Today is our trash pickup day; I'll be glad to see it gone.

Our web sites accumulate junk too. Some of it is real junk that just needs to be deleted: back up copies, old temporary files, old logs and so on. But when it comes to actual pages, you need to tread more carefully.

I have the general opinion that you should not delete or modify any web page after it is written except to correct spelling errors or confusing phrasing. If something is out of date or has been found to be inaccurate, I'd rather add to the page with a footnote or comment. However flawed the page is, it may have been indexed by search engines or linked to by someone else, so you should leave it as is.

I think it's fine to do that in-line, or even move the old content somewhere else: "Back in 1998, I said here that I'd never use a mouse. That original article can be found at .." and then go on to describe why and how you changed your mind. Generally I'd prefer do do that the other way by adding a pointer to a new article that explains why my opinion changed. Don't be afraid to leave your mistakes: it's being human that makes blogs intertesting. Learning from mistakes is interesting to your readers and far better than trying to appear omniscient by erasing the past. Admit, correct, and move on.


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