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Best-before dates

Paola Kathuria

Why don't people date the informational content on their web sites?

When researching a subject, especially when it's to do with technology, you need to know how current an article is to figure out if it's still relevant and worth your time to read.

An archived magazine article at a publisher's site links to the Colour Selector.

The page footer tells me that it "originally appeared in Issue Three of Internet Monthly" but I have no idea what month or year the article was published.

Un-dated content is just one of the many ways that developers of online content are ignoring decades of experience in print publishing.

Pick up any magazine and you're very likely find the following information in each page's header and footer:

  • article title
  • publication name & issue number
  • issue month & date

Such information reinforces brand and reminds the reader of content ownership. However, it also means that, when I clip an article from a magazine or the newspaper, I will always know when it was written (later answering: does this still apply?) and where I found it (answering: is the content trustworthy?).

An online article is more likely to be seen out of context and web visitors routinely print web content. It's very easy to add a date to articles and results in relatively greater usefulness for your visitors.