Yes, I reread my old posts

Do you reread your old posts? I do. I don’t do it with any plan or forethought, but curiosity leads me to do it all the time. I’ll see in my stats that somebody clicked on some old post and I won’t remember what it was about. Or I’ll get curious about what I said about something. So I go back and read it. Or, as noted in a recent post, I’ll discover via my stat browsing that a link is broken, and in the course of fixing it, will end up reading the post.

Seeing a post with fresh eyes, after not reading it for a number of months or years can be revealing. It’s almost like reading someone else’s writing. Inevitably I find mistakes. Misspellings, grammatical errors, accidental omissions, sentences so poorly cast that even I, the author, can’t figure out what I meant. I correct the little things. Nothing major. After all, some famous author might have quoted me and linked to the post, and I don’t want to make him or her look wrong or foolish. (Hey, don’t laugh; it could happen.) Besides, I just think it’s good practice to not go around breaking links or changing history, so to speak.

Sometimes I’ll discover an image is missing. I don’t know why they disappear or where they go, but I dig them up again and fix everything. I’ve yet to discover a missing one that I didn’t still have on file somewhere. Other times I’ll discover a broken link. Not because I systematically check all the links, but because a particular link sounds like something interesting that I want to see again. Too often, especially on older posts, the linked-to post or article will be gone. I understand that people delete blogs, or that sites archive or delete old stories. But if it’s something I really wanted to save, it bothers me. I could have just copied the entire story into my post, but that would be copyright infringement. So I link to the item and perhaps include a brief quote. But if the item disappears, the meat of my post may gone; the whole point of the post may be gone. (I’ve told myself many times to write as though the links didn’t exist; write so the post can stand alone if the linked-to item disappears.)

For example, in a post on atheism, I included a quote and a link to the source as a way to credit the author but also to authenticate my source and provide the rest of an interesting discussion. The item I linked to is now gone. For all my readers know, I made up the whole thing. I came across another, very brief post that consisted of little more than “Hey, look at this fascinating article on the history of desktop publishing” and a link. Turns out the fascinating article is no longer available so the post is useless and my access to an article I really wanted to save is gone. There have been many such occurrences and they leave me frustrated and disheartened. I suppose my only option is to copy articles for my own files and personal reference. It won’t do my readers any good, but at least I’d still have that desktop publishing article.

Sometimes I’ll see things in my old posts that ought to have links but don’t. So I’ll add them. Links are good for SEO but more importantly, they are a convenience to my readers. If I wanted to know more about that thing I mentioned, so might they. And more than once I’ve discovered some time after publishing that a link I thought I’d put in isn’t there. They can get broken or deleted in the course of subsequent editing and rewriting.

One of the things I discover most often is videos that have been taken down. Usually it’s because of a copyright dispute or violation, and although I understand that, it’s frustrating. It’s particularly distressing if I had something specific to say about the video. A controversial dance video (down for a long time but now available again), for example, or a particularly tasteless commercial. Without the videos, my remarks are meaningless. Maybe in the future I should grab some relevant screenshots in case a video is later taken down. Vodpod videos are a particular problem. Lockerz took over Vodpod a few years ago and now those videos don’t seem to work anymore. In many cases I can’t remember what was in the original video so I’ve no hope of replacing it.

As another example of a video that was taken down, I was going to cite one from the Beatles. But in going back to get a link for this post, I discovered the video was back up again. I probably never would have known if I hadn’t been looking at old posts.

Old habits die hard, it seems. And an old editor just can’t help rereading and editing, especially when it’s her own stuff. One more read with fresh eyes never hurts.

… and of course there’s always one more misteak to find.

27 thoughts on “Yes, I reread my old posts

  1. I shivered when going back to a real old one and kinda went wtf was I thinking 🙂 and can’t blame it on being young and foolish since its only 5 years ago but still fun though to see what the previous me thought.

    1. My earliest post is from 12 years ago … and I wasn’t young and foolish then either. A bit more judgmental, perhaps. But nobody’s perfect. Not even me. 😉

    1. One need only check my oldest posts to see how I’ve embraced blogging. Of course, the platforms have changed too, giving us so much more to work with. A lot of my older posts don’t even have any pictures.

  2. I often go back and look at old posts, usually for a couple of primary reasons. One is to check if I have talked about something before and the other is to go back and find out how I posted something in particular that may have been a bit tricky, code wise or otherwise. And like you am always finding a grammatical error here and there. If you use a lot of YouTube videos you always have to stay on top of the link situation because YouTube may pull something due to copyright issues or the account owner my pull the video. I try to avoid video and graphic links as much as possible because it puts you at the mercy of someone else’s whims.

    As far as the posting of videos and audio files, I use a plugin that allows me to put my own personal cover graphic over the posted file, a cover page if you will. I usually create my own just because I enjoy doing such but if by chance the link does go bad, at least it looks like it’s still there. With WordPress and the “Media Library” it seems like there would be a way for them to indicate in the library that a file had been pulled. On the other hand, that might be too user friendly for them to waste their time. 🙂

    1. Yes, I often check to see if I’ve written about something before because I don’t want to repeat myself, and I sometimes check to see how I did the code on something. Forgot to mention those.

      I’ve struggled with the video problem. I have far too many posts to babysit all of them, so a video or other element could disappear at some point and I’d never know. I know of two posts right now that have big holes in them where videos used to be (no thanks to Vodpod and Lockerz), and undoubtedly there are others. About all I know about manipulating videos is how to keep the all the related videos from showing at the end (add &rel=0 to the end of the URL).

  3. Interesting, this about revisiting old blogs.

    In the 4 years I’ve been blogging (with less frequency these days), I’ve always thought of the older posts as quietly receding into oblivion, never to be visited again by anyone, much less me. Times change, as do references and links as you so well describe, not to mention me changing. (Hey, I used to be a Republican!) Plus, I recently cleaned out my photo library and in the process carelessly erased the photos on virtually every post I’d made. Oops.

    Your comments in this post are making me wonder if I should go back to some old ones now, not for my small readership so much as the notion that my descendants might find them in the cloud someday and marvel at their eccentric forebear. I could even add better pictures – I’ve learned some stuff from time to time. If Heinlein was right, it might revive me on Mars. 😉

    I assume that if you update (edit) a previous post, its original commenters get no notice of the change. Must be right, ’cause I never get such. Is this something WordPress ought to consider, our would it just be a distraction? I’m not sure.

    1. You raise an interesting point, one I wish WordPress would address. I often add updates to existing posts and wish I had a way to notify readers about the update. If you add the update as a comment, those who’ve subscribed to the comments will be notified, but no one else will be. (Plus new readers might read only the post, not the comments.) Logically you’d add updates at the beginning or end of a post, but that way no one at all is notified so only new readers of that post will see it. Sometimes I’ll do the update as a new post, so that all followers are notified. But such updates often don’t warrant being entirely new posts, and new readers reading the original post won’t see the update (I don’t count on anyone following the pingback). I’ve thought about notifications via Twitter, but most of my readers aren’t Twitter users (nor am I). I think the entire problem could be solved if WordPress would institute some sort of “Republish” or “Update” function that would do everything the original “Publish” did. (though I’m sure if I thought it through I’d see why such a thing isn’t possible).

  4. I’m almost embarrassed at how hoaky my pics were back when I started blogging. I’d like to go back and clean things up (not to mention making more room for future shots), but never seem to find the time. 🙁

  5. Yes I reread my posts and I fix broken links and add new information wherever I can find it. Sometimes I wish I had a magic wand that I could wave and have all of my posts update without my intervention. However, as that isn’t going to happen, I check all the earlier posts I backlink to in new posts, and I set aside a day or two every month to get as many done as I can. Now and then I delete older posts that received no attention or little attention and have negligible value.

  6. You are setting the bar waaaaay too high for me to keep up!
    Sometimes I have to reread if a comment on an old post comes in….and I see stuff…stuff that needs fiddling with…better is the enemy of good…Molly is trained to intervene as needed…

  7. I’m with you on this. Sighh – I do seem to say that on helluva lot, Susan ! Does this make me less than an independent thinker ?
    Naah; just one who’s a step or two behind YOU ! I must fix that ! [grin]

  8. Oh, yes I read the oldies. Usually it happens when I’m searching earlier posts for a statement or thought and wind up reading a half-dozen or so. Same thing happens with books–a search for one sentence can cause me to reread a chapter or more. And, dang it, I seem attracted to every bit of bad writing I’ve ever done. There’s no shortage of that.

    1. “Oldies.” Heh. That’s for sure. I do enjoy having the time to peruse things, browse, and linger when I please. That hasn’t always been the case.

  9. Oh I do feel your pain PT, especially when it comes to videos. I really wish I’d thought to include more info about them in the post, so I can at least search for a another copy when I find one missing.

    I actually added a request for people to report broken links to me in my sidebar, but I’ve yet to get a comment notifying me of one. Heck, it seems people rarely even click the links I’ve added to my posts anyway, even though most of them are intended to provide credit where credit is due…

    1. I know you post a lot of videos, so I can imagine what you’re dealing with. Something on the order of my problem x 10 or 20 or more. I know about the broken links request too; nobody ever reports them to me either. (Figures. I never take time to report broken links to other blog owners. 🙁 )

  10. I’ve been going through old posts too – fixing things, mostly, but sometimes adding more photos or information to make the post better.
    Who knows – Google might suddenly discover it… after all, I am a world authority on using Grandma’s old doilies and Induction Pots and Pans.

    1. I don’t go through the old stuff systematically, but whenever I do have occasion to look at an old post, I can’t help correcting any errors I see, replacing missing videos, etc. I don’t like encountering that stuff on other blogs and I assume no one likes encountering it on mine. And you’re right, an old page might suddenly become popular for some reason. One must be ready when/if fame knocks!

... and that's my two cents