Correct Practice for Follow-Up Entries?

By Deane Barker on June 25, 2003

Here’s a question on blogging practice: what do you do for follow-up posts or updates to an existing post? Do you make a new post? Update the original post? Post a comment? I have examples of all three options so far, and I have yet to figure out which one is the “correct” practice.



  1. Chris: but then you start getting a LOT of categories. And there are different “classes” of categories, really: open (those that will be added to in the future: content management, etc.) or closed (those that are for a time-specific incident: Oracle / PeopleSoft, the Apple G5 fracas, etc.; in other words, those for which it’s not certain you will have future entries).

    Should blogging platforms be adapted to this functionality? For all the concern about the structure of a blog post, no one has really paid much attention to the categorization of blog posts, which I think is just as important.

  2. Here’s another problem with solutions two and three: if you update the original post or post a comment, then people viewing the site through an RSS feed do not get the updates, since they only get new posts.

    If their aggregator handles updated posts, then perhaps they’ll see updates to the original, but what if the post is a bit old and has fallen off the RSS feed — then the updates are lost, essentially.

    Even people who actually visit the site will probably not see the updates since the original post has dropped way down on the front page (or dropped off completely), and they have no reason to go looking for it.

  3. Posting updates as comments is nice, but one thing that has bothered me is that if a new comment or update is made to an ‘older’ blog, it doesn’t rise to the top since they are listed by date.

    Also I don’t want to have to scroll through 7 related but disconnected blogs that could have been combined into one.

    Updates are posted as comments, as long as they relate directly to the original blog. They won’t rise to the top, all blogs are kept in chronological order, but the 5 most active or last 5 updated/commented on blogs are listed on the right hand side. I call this Chablogging.

  4. If you are simply adding information that you should have mentioned in the post, I say you add a comment. If you have changed your mind about a comment you made or new information has come to light since the post, I say you post a new article. Updating an existing article should be used sparingly.

    However, my opinion might change if the site in question is more of a ‘community’ and most articles generate significant comments. In these cases visitors often come back to the site numerous times to follow the comment threads. In this case updating an existing article works because the ongoing discussion is maintained.

  5. I like to think of it this way. In a messaging system, each entry is the start of a thread, and is a response to 0 or more threads.

    If each entry has a URI, you can imagine for each post, specifying all the URIs that the entry is in response to. A zero-or-more item list of, say, inResponseTo elements.

    This way the tools can do an intelligent threaded display of blog entries. It would also allow for scenarios where there’s a story on, say, cnn, and a few people in your aggregator say their latest entries are inResponseTo the original story. Now your aggregator can alternatively display the “thread” that was sort of implicitly created by all these unrelated people.

  6. It’s funny that you bring up the idea of “threads.” I’ve thought for a few days (ever since seeing the NewsMonster interface) that blogs are heading full circle back to Usenet.

    With the advent of RSS and the fact that eventually I think we’ll see threaded postings, having an RSS-capable blog will essentially be the same as having your own Usenet newsgroup — comments will just become another message (entry, post, whatever).

  7. I thought the same, too. I think that’s where blogs are heading. Much more decentralized.

    Regarding syndication in general, I think there are a lot more use cases. People are starting to think about watching thier stocks, doing system event notification, and software updates too. Interesting times.

  8. I’ve used all of these methods myself and I really think there doesn’t need to be any one way – each has their place.

    I would suggest, though, that when you update an article, unless you just add something within a few minutes of posting, that you clearly mark the added content with [update] or something. I believe this method works well when the article is still the “top” article. Once it slides down that method loses appeal to me.

    The comment approach works well especially if you have links to recent comments on your main page that are visibile or if you include comments in your RSS feed. That way if someone comments on an older article it will be somewhat visisble – downsides are if the article is off your RSS list then it doesn’t show, and if you don’t have a recent comment list.

  9. I personally use all three methods.

    I typically use new entries when I have a significant amount of additional material to contribute. I make sure to link back to the original entry; that way, you can follow a chain of thought right to the original source.

    I update the entry when I only have a little to add, or if I’m making an editorial change or correction of some kind. (I break the “no updates” rule pretty frequently – but these occasions are only to update spelling, grammar, or wording to improve clarity, and only right after I publish.) When I do updates like this, I date them.

    I typically reserve the use of comments for replying to the comments posted by others. If a comment presents a particularly good point, I’ll do an entry update to point it out.

  10. We’re trying something a little new with keywords. Our goal is to tie related entries together with the keywords of each entry.

    We’re working on a new search interface whereby entries where your search term appears in the keywords appear first, and the rest under that. Each entry will have keywords linked to the search page, so you can click a keyword and see other entries that possess the same keyword.

    We’re still working on it (we’ve been hampered by an old version on MySQL on this server — we may move because of it).

  11. I agree with your “new post” approach by 100%… editing old posts sucks because RSS-feeds will not get updated properly/noticed properly (except you change the post-date aswell, but hey…) or working with comments sucks because (at least in my case) various features will not work in there (Macros, etc..)

    I link and use the trackback-feature of MT for ping my own (older) articles, so the previous post gets a direct link (by the new one) and has a trackback (back-link) in the old one.

    Examples can be found here:

    NEW: OLDER with trackback:

    or here

    What of course helps me – if i forget about trackbacking – is the MT Related Entries feature I patched into my Movabletype installation… that you see in action for instance here:

    I just wonder what you think about my approach… comments warmly welcome!

    Cheers, Christoph

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