For some information, this isn’t an issue, but for a lot of information, the lack of a date is a real problem as it makes the content hard to verify and can lead to assumptions that may not be true. You read on a blog somewhere ‘Last week, was flooded’, but there’s no date reference.You might assume that the flood was only a few days ago and go into panic mode, whereas the flood may have been a few years ago. Much of the world — except the US and Canada — uses the day/month/year format, so 03/04/09 is 3 April, 2009 (or is it 1909?
I’m talking about dating blog posts, articles, magazine/journal issues etc. I’m a great believer in Steve Krug’s mantra: “Don’t make me think!
” so I try as hard as possible to make sure that I don’t use relative time and date words (like currently, recently, lately, last week/month/year, yesterday, tomorrow) UNLESS I also have a specific point of reference for that relative time and date.
In this blog, the date of the post is automatically added to the post, and I include a specific month and year when I add a statement about when I last checked the links in a particular post.
Even so, if I say ‘last week’, that automatic date adds an extra processing step for a reader, especially a reader coming to the post long after its original publication — they have to think ‘Last week? Whose last week — mine reading it, or when it was posted? Then, to confirm when ‘last week’ was, they have to shift their eyes away from the content to the date stamp at the top of the post. However, there are MANY websites where the content states a relative time, but gives NO specific date/time as a point of reference.
So if you don’t know the origin of the blog, website, printed article etc.
and come across a date like 03/04/09, how do you know which date is being referred to?
Outside the digital world, many magazines and journals do not print a date on an issue.
For example, ‘Last month, released their latest CD.’ There are two problems with this type of statement: the reader has no idea when ‘last month’ was if the article or web page isn’t dated, nor do they know which ‘latest’ album is being referred to, as the album isn’t named and nor is a date given.
If this statement was in a newspaper, the problem isn’t so bad, as newspapers have a date on each page, which is the point of reference for the statement.
But non-commercial websites, in particular, are notorious for not dating content.
Which means those researching information cannot figure out when something occurred.