There's a great discussion on Cranky Geeks that rolled over to TWIT this week that's near and dear to me with my respect for journalists. Bloggers are not journalists in the traditional sense of the word but we are journalists when viewed from a consumer viewpoint.
Corrections are important and should be dealt with, but it depends on the mistake that's been made.
Old posts are still ‘alive' in search engine results and there are comments associated (often) with the information discussed. Dvorak thinks it's crazy to go back and make edits to old posts… he believes it's spilled milk and because no one usually reads it, it's over and done and the user should move on. Leo discusses that he's compelled to correct the post, especially if any comments may appear to be disassociated with the edit after it's made. I agree with Leo!
- Attribution – if I miss attributing an image, quote, article, etc. I will immediately make the necessary edits regardless of the age of the post. It's essential (if not legally compelling) that we ensure we provide credit where credit is due.
- Errors pointed out by Comments – when a reader of my blog finds an error in the post, I will usually correct the error and respond via comments that it's been both corrected and how much I appreciate the information they've provided. This provides a written record of the change as well as shows readers that I'm not only human, but I care about how accurate my information is.
- Errors I find – I will use the strike tag in HTML to indicate the error and the correction.
The strike tag is simple to use.
<strike>The words to strike</strike>
Again, this is regardless of the age of the post. I want my posts to be accurate, and want readers to see when I've made an error and corrected it. It's all about credibility – and admitting your mistakes has value.
- Grammar and Spelling – When I actually do figure out that I've made a grammatical error (usually someone else has to tell me), I will make the edit and I don't disclose it. Since this doesn't change the accuracy of a blog post, I don't feel the need to disclose how terrible I am at grammar and spelling. After all, my regular readers already realize this!
I correct every mistake that I find or that my readers point out to me. You should, too! Unlike a print journalist, we have advanced abilities in online editing that don't require us to ‘republish' a post.
I don't ever believe it's necessary to push a note in a later blog post describing the edit to a previous post (as John Markoff suggested in the Cranky Geeks show!), blogging is more of a conversational and streaming style of communication. Readers will accept mistakes… unless they go uncorrected altogether.
It's about credibility, authority, and accuracy that I make it a habit to correct my blog's errors. A blog doesn't have any power unless the readers believe the information that is there and reference it. I believe that if you ignore correcting your mistakes, your credibility will falter – as will the number of readers you have and the number of sites that reference yours.