Why our posts show dates, but not years (plus the way to always know the year of a post if you really want to)

By: Dafne CholetCC BY 2.0

Why are there dates but no years on your site?

(Or at least I didn't see any.)

I hate posting when things are years old.

It's just silly for me if a topic is dead.

-Marcia

Hey, Marcia. Thank you for sharing this feedback! We made this change six months ago, and you're the first to comment on it — so congrats on the eagle eyes! Not including the years on our posts is actually a very conscious design decision. Lemme take a few minutes to explain the logic behind my decision, and then share a tip for how you can still see the post's year of publication.

On Offbeat Bride, years feel especially irrelevant because the vast majority of our readers are transient — they come in, read for a year, get married, and move on… hopefully to our sister site, Offbeat Home & Life.

Since so many of Offbeat Bride's topics are evergreen, even posts that are 7 years old are still relevant to readers who just got engaged this year. On Offbeat Bride's Facebook page (the way many of our new readers find us) we share an equal number of new posts as we do our super popular older posts — and it's frequently our older posts that perform better. Search engines also don't care how old a post is: the most popular post I've ever published was written in 2007. (Although it's been updated many times since.)

Since we don't do news stories, I don't think it matters that much if a post about first-dance alternatives was written in 2011 or 2014… the ideas are relevant for folks engaged right now. Likewise, on Offbeat Home & Life, are moving tips from 2012 less helpful now than they were in 2014?

What I'm hearing from you here is a concern that you don't like commenting on older posts. I respect that, but I've seen comments stay active on certain posts for many years — this post on Offbeat Bride still gets several comments a week, four years after publication. I get that commenting on older posts feels silly to you, but for me as a publisher… I don't think of older posts as "dead" at all. In fact, across all my sites, every day half the most popular posts are older posts. I like to think this is because a lot of our archives are solidly written so they're not just timely filler. There's gold in them thar archives! They're certainly not dead to me.

Pro-tip: if you REALLY want to know the year, you can look at the comments for any given post. The timestamps for comments do indeed show the years.

  1. Great to know! Thanks for explaining. It never occurred to me to look at the URL to see the date. Also, I'll think about the comments differently now, as my attitude before was similar to Marcia's: if it's a year or two old, who is going to see my comment and respond if I ask a question about something related to the article?

    12 agree
    • Yeah, you'd be surprised… especially with so much of our traffic coming in from Facebook and search engines (not the homepage or RSS, where new = GOD), the age of posts just isn't as closely tied to activity.

      We have old posts that still get comments, and brand new posts that never get a single comment! Commenting is a fickle beast, in the age of Facebook.

      1 agrees
  2. This makes perfect sense. I'd been wondering about it as well, though I hadn't put two and two together to realise that ALL the posts I'm seeing now lack a year, but ALL the posts that HAD years on them were posts I remembered reading/pinning when I was planning my own wedding. As a former BBS resident, I even remember asking specifically about whether it helped the site to comment on old stuff, having developed the same sort of desire to avoid to thread necromancy as Marcia during my time there.

  3. You know, I noticed this but just assumed that the posts have never had years on them! I figured that since I've stopped using my RSS so much, plus been clicking more content from Facebook, that I just never noticed…

    1 agrees
  4. I noticed this a while back and was actually glad to see it. Prior to this change, I'd read the comments down to the end but wouldn't contribute if the post was over six months old.

    That said, and I am not sure if you are doing this already, but I think some of the site news posts could use a year just so it's more clear when something took place (for example, the change of Offbeat Families into a repository instead of an active site).

    2 agree
    • Yeah, this is a great point… it'd be hard to turn the years on/off for certain posts, but like with that Offbeat Families post, I can just make a point to say "As of September 2013, bla bla bla…." in the post itself.

      6 agree
      • So much this. About a month ago I ran into the original home cooking challenge posts and was "cool!" and then I noticed the related posts was day 6 of the challenge, prompting a very confused search for the year of the post. I'm definitely glad to now have the url trick, at least.

        As a side note, those kind of series posts could really do with a Previous Post/Next Post type link system. I eventually figured out the tag for it, but the random order the Related Post links sent me on made things a bit interesting for a bit.

        3 agree
        • those kind of series posts could really do with a Previous Post/Next Post type link system

          This is great feedback as Megan start to scheme this upcoming cooking challenge!

          4 agree
          • Yes! For those week-long series, a simple URL list added at the end of the post itself would really help.

            Ex :

            Day 1 : Menu
            Day 1 : Megan's report
            Day 2 : Menu
            Day 2 : Megan's report

            etc.

            With that list copied at the end of every relevent post and URLs updated as the challenge progresses it makes it a sinch to find the following article in the series or come back to check something you missed. I really like when blogs provide that for me and it gets me reading more posts.

            5 agree
  5. Great post Ariel! I guess because I'm a URL-nerd, I always noticed that it was there. I didn't even realize the posts had dates! Priorities, right? lol

    6 agree
  6. I usually check the date by the first user comment.

    I never saw blogs as being the same as forum posts, where it seems most of our anti-old-post-commenting comes from (usually due to rude people yelling at us for bringing up an old post). Blogs are more like public property and can be used at any time. I like the fact that comments are still open on a lot because it helps keep the topic relevant.

    • Uh, oh. Bad news for your method: The datestamps on our comments no longer display years, either. We made the date change system-wide, so that ALL dates anywhere on the blogs are now just Month Day, not Month Day, Year.

      On the topic of old forum threads…interestingly, on the Offbeat Bride Tribe (where years ARE shown) I very actively encourage reviving old threads! Is it helpful to have threads that are like "first dance alternatives 2012" and "first dance alternatives 2013" and "first dance alternatives 2014"? If I'm looking for ideas for first dance alternatives, I don't want to have to check 8 threads about the same topic! This is why Offbeat Bride Tribe mods tend to merge threads… which some members really, really hate.

      (This is one more reason I suck at moderating forums… I think my brain works in very different ways that most peoples, and it drives me slowly insane. Thank god for the Offbeat Bride Tribe's community manager, Kirsten, and the volunteer moderators over there.)

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