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When a date doesn’t date…

In the last week we have seen a lot about world and local financial markets – they dropped drastically but has already picked up some of that again. Have you tried researching information about this situation, either in general or for something specific?

News without a date

noting dates in a calendar

Knowing the date can be important for context

I was looking at various superannuation sites yesterday to see what they were telling members about their investments and was amazed that not all listed a date for the news item they had published.

One in particular started their article with “Last week was a tumultuous one for world share markets” and finished with a footnote “*SR50 Balanced fund SuperRatings Crediting Rate Survey, June 2011”.

So was it about things that happened last week (i.e. early August 2011) or some other week since June 2011?

I’m fairly confident the article went live in the last 48 hours so presumably it is about recent developments. But what if I hadn’t looked at their site until next week – would the data still be relevant or useful?

Yes, putting dates on websites can date them fast (the ‘last updated’ reference on many pages is the prime example of that) but current news items are the exception.

I have  often read blog posts and wondered when it was written; “new version of ABC will be released next month” and “our web visitors doubled in the past 12 months” carry more weight when I understand ‘next month’ and ‘past 12 months’. A small note after the post is fine (WordPress does it by default and that works for me!)

People need to have a context, a reference point for the information. Especially for things like financial markets which change so rapidly at times.

And just to be clear, this is being written on 10 August 2011!

What, if any, pages on your site do you add a date to? If not all pages are the same, why do you add dates to some but not others?