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What Do You Do with Posts When You Change Your Opinion?

A few days ago, personal development blogger Alex Shalman sent me a question that I thought might be a good discussion starter. He asked:

I feel like after many years of blogging that my opinions have changed. That’s natural, and in most cases it’s okay to have that archive of articles as a track record.

On the other hand, now that I’m in dental school, I don’t necessarily want readers to arrive at an old post and think “this is advice from a doctor,” because I wasn’t at the time.

So here’s the question: what do you do with posts in your archives that you’ve changed your opinion on?

  • Do you go back and update posts with your new opinion?
  • Do you simply delete them?
  • Do you write new posts with your new opinions and link to them from the old posts?
  • Do you simply let them sit there as a record of what you used to think, unedited?

Interested to hear your thoughts on this one!

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Jagan Mangat says:

    Third option is what i use to do or may be choose here.

    • Tejut says:

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      Tejut

  2. Izzat Aziz says:

    I keep it old one, and continue to the post saying that you change your opinion and keep writing why you change and why the old one is wrong, so user can read both view can decide by themselves which one is better.

  3. Pete Carr says:

    Hi Darren,
    Not really a situation I have come across yet. However I am pretty sure I would write new posts and link to the old posts, explaining my new opinion, and why it now differs from the previous article. It is good to change your outlook and opinions. World would be a boring place. Also you get new content, if you never changed nor would your content.
    Pete

    • dotCOMreport says:

      I agree with Pete; this is not a situation I am familiar with but if I had to make a decision, I’ll have a disclaimer by the side bar (or in a page or something) then write new posts and link my old ones to them. I think having those former opinions make a person human and chronicle how far that person has come from where he began.

  4. Michael Sola says:

    What’s written is written, it’s part of what we wanted to record at that time of our lives. I always assumed that people grow and change with time, reflecting on various timelines of a persons life adds to the character of that person. Besides, we all can’t be George Lucas and keep modifying the entertainment of our past!

  5. Deb Lee says:

    I wouldn’t delete them. They are a part of you even though you now think it’s all hogwash or you’ve been enlightened. They’re a history of you and you can continue that history by writing new posts that explain your current position. So, I vote for #3: write new posts with your new opinions and link old and new together.

  6. Jay Dolan says:

    I change my mind all the time, and I just write a new post with a link to the old one. If my opinion changed significantly enough, I’d probably add a short note to the old post. I don’t like to delete things though, my stuff spreads too much that even if I delete something, it probably exists somewhere else, so I like to give it a home base.

  7. Great topic. I have not really come across this issue personally yet but the thought has crossed my mind. I know my opinion has changed on many things. I think if I had an old post that was very opinionated and aggressive, and I now have a new perspective, I would do a new post explaining myself and then link to the old one to show how I used to think.

    Nothing wrong with changing your mind and pointing that out to your readers. Shows you are being authentic.

  8. Tim says:

    This is something I’m dealing with right now. Recently while moving my site from one server to another, I had actually gotten a glimpse of many of the older articles. The more I read the more I became frustrated. I’ve learned so much over the last several months about my industries standards, methods and what-not. Knowing what I know now – if I was looking for someone in my field and I saw my website, I would not hire them.

    So, I’ve been struggling with how to fix that. I’ve considered removing them entirely. But, they deliver quite a bit of traffic so I do not want to lose that source. I’ve considered adding an editorial note that points to a revised edition – this I likely would do. I think that is the only safe option.

    • James C says:

      If your posts are intended to bring business, I would rewrite them with your current position especially if it deals with industry standards and what not. I would not give up the traffic from back links by deleting them. You might include a small note that the post has been updated to reflect current practices if you like.

  9. I TRY to go back and update the old post incorporating my new opinion. If it is a new opinion on an old topic it is likely going to be linked to somehow if you use the same tags, categories or a “related posts” plugins. I don’t feel comfortable contradicting myself without explanation if someone new stumbles onto one then clicks through to the other. I would be confused if I was the reader.

  10. Chris Crum says:

    Great topic of discussion Darren. I tend to think it would come down to a case-by-case scenario. There are probably a lot of factors to consider. Is there an active discussion happening around the post? Even if the discussion isn’t active, is there value in the comments at all? If so, I would lean toward updating the post explaining the change of mind, and either linking to a new post, or simply adding the new content to the post. It it’s got no comments and no valuable links, I would probably lean toward deletion to spare possible reputation damage. I think audience and related discussion are two big things to consider before taking action.

  11. Raul Sim says:

    A good thing is to have the date of when the post was published somewhere visible. This way, the readers will see if it’s an old one. Also, as you said in the third option, a good solution is to post the link to the new post in the top of the old post.

  12. Ambariish says:

    I would go with option three. Let the reader know why you changed your opinion.

  13. It’s a difficult question, if the post has high traffic, I’ll go with #3, but in other situations I prefer to delete the old one and write something new or to edit the old one if the changes are minor.

    I keep a record offline just for myself, but I try to update what is public.

  14. Well I would not mess with it if its place good in the search engine..but if not then i will say tweet them a little.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  15. I’ve found that it helps me to write a new blog post with updated information, and then link to it from the top of the outdated article.

    This not only lets readers immediately know that the information below is outdated or not quite in the same context, but also gives you the opportunity to develop new content off of the idea.

    It’s like fuel for new content.

  16. dinhquanghuy says:

    I choose the third option . Write a new post and link to old post . I don’t want to delete the old post and create one more dead link in my blog .

  17. Brian Ellis says:

    One of the great things about a blog is that is shows our progression in life. No need to delete the older posts. Disagreeing with opinions we once held is natural. At most link the old posts while discussing new opinions. Who knows, it may open a great discussion in the comment section.

  18. Antriksh Y says:

    I have a tech blog, called Right Now In Tech. I usually post an ‘UPDATE’ in bold lettering, as I have learned from other tech blogs, like Lifehacker.

  19. Tanya says:

    I say blog your new opinion, update your old post with a link to the new opinion and why you’ve changed your mind.

    I just saw a similar situation on a blog where the blogger was a staunch vegan & activist but because of health reasons, she had to start including meat in her diet. She wrote a long, very detailed post about it all (and received hate comments, threats, weird emails + support though).

  20. Things change. That’s life. If you aren’t updating your opinions with the new information you have learned then you have some serious issues.

    If someone calls me on a change. I just say “At the time that was my best advise, but knowing what I now know, this is what I would do now.”

  21. If your old opinion is harmless, leave it. People will see how you have developed over the years. But if the opinion is damaging to you in some way, edit or delete the post.

  22. Any of the above, depending on the topic of the post.

    My blog originally was a catchall for any thoughts. When I decided to make it a blog exclusively on one topic, some of those earlier, irrelevant posts had to be taken out of “published” mode and returned to “draft” mode. I rarely delete because I often have information in the post that I want to keep for reference purposes.

    If a post becomes outdated – which is rare given my subject matter is already about old stuff – I will put a caveat at the beginning of the post discussing what has changed, and will likely link to an updated post on the topic. I keep the old one in case someone has bookmarked it.

    The rare occasions I’ve had for deleting are usually when an impromptu post, in retrospect, takes the blog away from my blogging goals. Since I usually catch this kind of thing before publishing, most times I have no reason to delete.

  23. Alex Shalman says:

    Darren, thank you for featuring my question, and giving me the opportunity to listen to all the amazing readers put in their 2 cents. In general I’m seeing that most people are leaning towards updating an old post, and linking to a new one.

    One of the concerns I mentioned to Darren when asking the question was what would happen to the SEO of the site if I just straight up deleted a post. Wouldn’t that produce 404 links, and show up in google webmaster as broken links? Was just curious about all these affects moving forward.

    It’s also interesting that for most people this problem hasn’t actually come up. I guess I’m in a unique situation in this case, but as more people start to blog, there will people hundreds of people with this same question.

    • Daisy says:

      I’m with everyone who suggests writing from your new perspective and linking back to your old posts. It humanizes you, encourages conversation, gives you a wealth of new material for writing when you are otherwise facing writers’ block, and is the best choice from an SEO perspective. Make sure you have a strong “related posts” plugin so that people who stumble across your old posts will see that you now have more to say on the subject. I’m soon going to be posting about how my commenters have caused me to rethink a few positions, so you are surely not the only person facing what to do as we evolve. In fact, if you were ever put before a Senatorial committee accusing you for early opinions, you’d now have the perfect answer — yes, I was young, and as you can see I revised my thinking and clarified for my readers!

  24. I think people put too much weight on this. For me I know opinions will change. If mine have from previous posts then I just reference those previous post in my new post (where my opinion may have changed). That way people can see how my thoughts may have changed.

    For some, historical record can be important. So if you want to be consistent and go a step further you can (1) go back to the orginal post (2) put a link at the bottom and top of the post stating you have a new and altered opinion on the subject! But that is very tedious.

    Good luck
    http://ReThinkHR.org
    http://twitter.com/BenjaminMcCall

  25. herbhalstead says:

    I think it’s amazing when people are candid about their growth as a human being… I think a new post presenting the new position, while referencing the old post, would be a good way to handle it.

  26. For me my blog posts express my views at a particular point in time – and as such they stand – so I keep them on my blog. If I change my mind about something then I blog about how my mind has changed and way. Life is all about change – and that includes my views. Thanks for a thought provoking post.

  27. Chloe says:

    As a blog reader if i was looking for some information / opinions it would be good to know that the writer had changed their viewpoint since the post was written.

    I think a good way to do it would be to go back to the old post and at the top of the post (so everyone see’s it first, especially if it’s a long post and people might not make it all the way to the end) write something that says your opinions have changed and why – or a link to a more recent post with the change of opinions.

    I think it is important that the original old post has something on it that states the change.

    If you write a new post and link to the old post, there is no way of know from reading just the old post that it has been updated.

  28. Maria says:

    If I was concerned that people knew that they were reading an older post, I would make sure to use a theme that displayed the posting date at the top of the article somewhere. I think it improves usability – I know I get irritated when I’m reading a post with possibly time-sensitive information that doesn’t include a date (especially tech-related, though this would probably apply in medicine, too).

    Plus, if your About page includes dates like “started dental school in 2009″, that should be a pretty clear indication that older articles were not written by someone with a dental degree.

    Of course, it all depends on how extreme the older articles are and how concerned you are about someone following the advice!

  29. Thanks for the question Darren,

    I think it is important not to delete old post, but create new ones linking to old ones, in order to recall their own experience and history.

    The blogger’s personality is important.

  30. I write a new post, and also I put an update on the old post explaining that I used to do/think/say this but I’ve reviewed it and now I do/think/say something different, and link to the new post that has my new position.

    For example I wrote an article years ago on using tags, before WordPress incorporated tags in its core. I used tags differently then from the way I use them now, and the way I used them previously is outdated – and wrong!

    I didn’t want people taking incorrect information away from the article, hence the update that I wrote and placed right at the top of the article, linking to the new one.

    Cheers,

    Martin.

  31. Kai says:

    I will create a new POST and make a link to old posts. I think this way readers will came to know out old trends and new trends.

    What you have in mind?

  32. Joanna says:

    I would write a new post — update the old one without removing the old content so people have a full record of what you thought. and tag it similarly. Note in the old post that you have written again on the topic. Make the intellectual link as well as the hyperlink.

  33. IMHO it depends on whether you’re writing Fact or Opinion.

    The latter can stay, as a historical record. But my blog is about how to do things with Google’s Blogger tool. The last thing I want is for people to find out-of-date information.

    That said, I know I have some posts that need updating because things have changed. But they are the less popular ones. I make sure that the most popular ones are kept up to date, even if that means just putting a quick “Stop Press:” notice at the top until I can get time to update the contents.

  34. Billy Atwell says:

    For the sake of credibility and humility, I would write a new opinion and link to the old one. A good way to introduce the subject would be to mention that my opinion has changed and explain why. People would also, probably, be interested in understanding what sparked the change in opinion.

    This isn’t discrediting. Most people want to know that bloggers are just like everybody else. And since everybody else changes opinions over the years, ours will too. Readers appreciate humility and honesty. Deleting posts and such just makes it look as though we are just catering to, and afraid of, the audience. A true conversation is honest and open.

    I have, on occasion, added content to a post to better explain my opinion, after I realized that I wasn’t clear and my readers were misunderstanding or misinterpreting what I was trying to communicate. Those types of changes don’t need to be publicized, necessarily.

  35. Greg says:

    When I change my opinion, I would choose option 3 or 4: write a new post telling that I changed my opinion and why, or just let the post sit. If I’m serious enough about the topic, I’d definitely right a new post.

    If, however, it is a post giving objective information and that objective information changes, I will go back and update it, but say that I have updated it. In most cases, I will also leave the old information in there followed immediately by the update.

  36. Corrine says:

    Even when editing recent posts to add updated information, I think it is important to include an indication that the post has been updated/edited. The same would apply for a change in opinion, particularly if it is a significant change. For the benefit of readers finding the old post via search engines, it should include a note and link to the new opinion. SEO is not important compared to providing my readers with good information.

  37. seenu says:

    Deleting Old articles is not good enough
    Option 3 is better one

  38. Marci says:

    Alex, I think this is a great question. I have done the first, made slight changes to tile and editing after posting. I have rewritten old articles with a new perspective I’d gained. Yet, I’m a new blogger, so I haven’t changed my mind on the points I’ve written about. If I do, I like #3 too – link back and talk about why you change your mind- that sounds most authentic, useful, and clear to me.

  39. Deb Ng says:

    I have done all of the above. I’ve deleted posts that I just don’t feel represent me anymore (but that’s only in extreme cases.). I also explain why my point of view has changed. I think after a decade of blogging, or doing anything, it’s OK to form a different opinion.

  40. Pamela Grow says:

    They can always be prime fodder for new posts where you explain why you thought the way you did and what influenced your change of opinion. After all, true experts are always growing and enlarging upon their base of knowledge.

    While this wasn’t a blog posting, I had an interesting reaction (and change of viewpoint) to one of my newsletters awhile back and this is how I handled it: http://community.icontact.com/p/pamelagrow/newsletters/pg070809/posts/the-grow-report-another-take-on-donor-newsletters.

    “If you never change your mind, why have one?”

  41. I change my mind all the time on my site that reviews investment strategies and investment options. This is because companies that used to be excellent are no longer in that club (or vice versa). I simply state the reasons that things change in a new post. The logic of the change is almost as important as the current state.

  42. Jerrick says:

    start a new post !!! there are no right and wrong. Once have the problem , blog is always a place to share and discuss of it.

  43. Steve says:

    My blog is very centric on teaching, and it has grown in size/viewers/content in a very gray industry where quality instruction is hard to find. Some posts might inadvertently raise too many questions, so I have done both: deleted old and rewritten. Most of the time the only reason they raise questions is because they are simply not detailed enough.

    Without question, rewriting in a more comprehensive manner has payed off tenfold some of things I have tried in the past, but it could be due to the nature of what I write about. Readers appreciate it and it certainly bolsters more confidence in subsequent articles published.

  44. Manuel says:

    I dont think I have ever went back and corrected myself but then again I might not have been wrong either but if I had that issue then I wouldnt delete something that is old but probably write a new post and have both posts link to each other so that the readers knew what I meant. I would probably make sure my readers knew which one was which so they wouldnt get confused.

    Thanks for the great post!

    Semper Fidelis!

  45. Pankaj Gupta says:

    It is really hard to track old posts but when ever I get any old posts which is either outdated or need different opinion then I usually update the posts completely mentioning on the top that this post is now updated.