When content expires

Expired tree.
Gretchen Enger wrote to me:

I stumbled across your site today. Great articles, BTW. I have a few content questions that I hope you can answer:

Are there best practices for when to expire content?
When content should be removed from a site?
How do you know the value of outdated site content?

Gretchen Enger

Hi Gretchen

Very interesting questions: no easy answer. (You guessed.)

  • It depends on the topic - WordPress? Abraham Lincoln? writing sonnets? language usage? camera reviews?
  • It depends on the type of web site - .com? education? intranet? government? encyclopaedia?
  • It depends on the type of article - news? promotion? general knowledge? inhouse memo? blog post?
  • It depends on the purpose - marketing? archiving? adding to your mailing list?

For example, I'm not sure whether you found me through my old QWC.co.nz or the 1-year-old Contented.com. QWC continues to attract readers, so it has value, despite the fact that Google prefers fresh meat. I don't know the dollar value, but purchasers often find the new site through the old, content-rich QWC site. As long as articles aren't out of date, I leave them online. (I usually sieve them every six months or so.) The value in credibility is more than the cost of maintaining the site.

That's why I love blogs, where everyone *knows* each posting is thought-of-the-day and will go out of date. Plus it's a searchable database, so everything is already archived and dated. That's why I don't add to the QWC.co.nz articles, just delete from time to time.

If articles go out of date, you can link to newer ideas.

So looking at each site case-by-case, you need a policy. A few wild, impulsive starting points:

  • News: off the news page in 2 days, then archive
  • Tips: leave as long as they are valid: check monthly
  • General knowledge and feature articles: leave as long as they are valid: check 6- monthly
  • Product-associated articles: check frequently, change or shift with change of product
  • Blog: leave forever, yay!
  • Columns: treat like a blog

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