Why republish an old blog post?

Republishing an old post is usually a way to feed the blog at the time when the blogger has no time to produce fresh content, e.g., during travels and vacations. Sometimes, it is a way to bring entire series of posts in front of new readers (I have done this with my BIO101 posts and Clock Tutorial posts, and more).

Sometimes, this is a way to bring up an old post that provides background context for a brand new post that comes right afterward. This way, readers are served two related posts in succession, instead of being asked to follow a link to get background, which is a more effective way to ensure that the readers of the new post actually read the old, background post.

But I rarely see re-posting done for another reason: editing, updating and improving old posts. Often I read an old post of mine and dislike the way I wrote it. I guess, like most chronic writers, I feel like my writing is improving over time. But I am too lazy to actually do something about it – I let the old posts linger in the archives the way they were originally written.

This week, I will try to do something more with two old posts of mine. The proximate reason is the impending Carnal Carnival. But the ultimate reason is that I want to give this idea a try – see if I can edit and improve on the old posts.

So, over the next few days, expect to see edited, updated, expanded and improved versions of these two posts:

First, Friday Weird Sex Blogging – Postscript to Pittendrigh’s Pet Project – Phototaxis, Photoperiodism and Precise Projectile Parabolas of Pilobolus on Pasture Poop. This post is already long and thorough, but it can use some editing. There was also a cool paper published in the meantime so a mention and citation are warranted. There is also a cool video now available that really should be a part of that post.

Second, How to use a Squat Toilet. This is essentially a picture, one sentence and a link. But it is one of my most frequently visited posts ever, usually from image searches for “squat toilet”. And the link provides a great entry into the topic which I should delve into in some more depth. So, this one is going to be not just mildly edited, but completely written anew.

Stay tuned….

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7 responses to “Why republish an old blog post?

  1. Nice. I did this once – a cool new paper on FOXP2 had come out and I had already written a feature on the gene for New Scientist. So I took the feature (with permission), re-edited it to include the new stuff and reposted it.

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2009/11/11/revisiting-foxp2-and-the-origins-of-language/

  2. I’ve also found that I want to re-write or substantially edit old posts when re-posting them. I think as my writing has improved, and as I’ve been trying to be a bit more serious with my writing, I’ve wanted to go back and fix some n00b mistakes, adjust the overall tone, do more linking, perhaps include a new photo or video I wasn’t previously aware of. Perhaps re-organize the entire thing. Or combine two old posts into one, or break one old post into two.

    Or sometimes, new research has been published and instead of just firing off a single-paper post, it makes sense to go back and add it to an older post where it can have the proper context.

  3. Another reason is to present them as a retrospective. I did this with a bioinformatics article that I wrote in 2002. (Linked on my name.) The article was itself a retrospective of sorts!

    In this case I left it more-or-less as it stood with an introduction prepended, as the intention was to present what I was thinking back then and resist the temptation to revise it. I have to admit part of me was sorely tempted to edit it!

    I done this for a couple of other articles. Computational biology / bioinformatics is field full of newcomers, and think retrospectives can add some perspective.

    To be fair my retrospective posts are sourced some another site, so strictly-speaking it isn’t a case of recycling material from the same blog.

  4. Much of the time I am motivated to repost because a given issue that I have already addressed has arisen due to reader comment or another blogger taking up the topic. So some of it is merely addressing the glaring deficit of the blog form, i.e., the transient nature and difficulty with indexing.

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  6. Nice Tip. I will definitely try republishing my posts.

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