So if you change a blog entry do you have to do it in a obvious way? Can you do it at all? Does it matter what the changes are? Is there a blogger ethics website?
Here’s my personal philosophy on it, which is closely related to how I post. If I make changes for typos, broken links, or other mistakes, I don’t note it. If I add content I will generally put UPDATE: in front of the new content.
I normally write a post in an offline program named Kung-Log so I get spell checking and other connivences. But since I’m looking at HTML it is hard to read and discover errors. So I will do what I think is a good draft and post. Then I’ll open it in my browser and read it, with the original post open in Kung-Log for edits. Occasionally I’ll add content while doing this. At this time I don’t consider the post finished, but you wouldn’t know that if you were to read it then. When all is done I post the changed entry to the site again.
I just discovered Kung-log’s preview feature, which allows me to see the post as it will be without posting, so now I don’t post drafts, which is good.
Guess the grey area is if I majorly reword a post. Normally rewording doesn’t get an indication. Why not? I’m not sure. Maybe because I’m lazy. Is it ethical? I’d always thought it was. But when I was recently reading Tim Lambert’s website he criticizes another website for changing the content of an entry without making it obvious. So is this wrong?
I think it depends on how you look at a blog posting. If you look at it as a moment in time, then changing the past seems wrong. If you look at it as a short essay on a particular subject, then correcting it isn’t wrong, and not pointing out that change is not unethical IMO. Of course you don’t know an individual blogger’s philosophy when you read a blog.
Now you run into the problem of no absolute right and wrong. Hypocrisy becomes the only crime and the highest of crime. If there is no right and wrong, if everyone decided what is right and wrong for themselves, then all you can accuse someone of is violating their own stated rules. Most people who have a sense of an absolute right and wrong realize they are to some extent hypocrites. The higher your standard, the more of a hypocrite you are. It is not that you always follow your code, it is how hard you try, or how important it is to you.
(I need to point out I learned the above paragraph from Neil Stephenson’s book The Diamond Age, an SF novel.)
So is there an absolute right and wrong in the changing of posts? To me there is definitely a communication effectiveness issue. If people are confused or miss something you want them to know, you aren’t communicating well. If you didn’t want to communicate well why did you post in the first place?
So I’m going to have to say, if you change the content, its actual meaning, of a post you need to let the user know.