Some bloggers choose to remove the dates of their posts. But I would say very few get away with it. What I mean it that most of the times it just causes confusion and frustration for the reader. Because there are lot of subjects you blog about that will make it harder for your readers when you remove the dates.
For example, just about anything in the tech industry. Things change so fast. Even for us here, we want to make sure that when you are looking at a post about a WordPress plugin, that you are aware of when it was published.
But today, I am not talking about the merits of dating your posts or not.
I’m Talking About How to Handle the Dates for When Your Post Has Been Updated.
If you are like me, I often go back into posts, especially popular posts, and update them. Often it’s something that reflects a new feature—or some other change— in a plugin or theme. If you run a news site, you may also update your stories with changed or new info. In either case, it’s nice to let the reader know. Especially in my case, where I may have originally published a post on a plugin in two years ago, have updated it, and want my readers to understand that they are learning about a newer version.
But is the Solution I Found the Right Solution for You?
But as I made started to explore how to do this on my site, I found a few blips along the way that you need to consider if you are going to do this.
Adding Code or Using a Plugin to Replace the Published Post
Now if you search WP.org, you will find plugins that have this feature. Also, WPBeginner has a post that will show you the code you can use to drop into the functions.php file of your theme. My first thought was that this would work perfectly.
But it didn’t.
The problem? I often go in and make slight changes without updating the content. When I update the post, this would reflect via the date. But I didn’t want it to always change. Because if there was still something in that post that was dated, I felt that wouldn’t be fair to my readers.
Then I thought, well, what if I were to leave the published date in there and add the update as well. It sounded like a good idea, but I couldn’t find a plugin—or the code— to do this. But luckily, because I use a Genesis child theme, I figured out a workaround.
Using Genesis Simple Edits
This is a plugin I was already using because it lets me easily customize the meta before and after a post, as well as my footer. You can see the post on this plugin here.
So in the settings I have this (with some changes I had previously done).
Now on my site, in order to get the updated date, I have edited and added something. I put Published: before the post date and added the text Last Update: and the correct meta shortcode to display the modified date.
And now it shows as this on my blog posts.
At this point I was very happy. I had figured out the solution.
A few days later, I found that I needed to do some tweaks to some code for the player in my podcast posts. All 73 of them. So guess what happened? Now every podcast was shown as updated on May 4th. Whether I had left it with just the updated date, or even in addition to the published date, it looked horrible. And of course, as I mentioned earlier, it would confuse my readers who might look at the date and wonder why a particular podcast was recently updated.
And Those Scheduled Posts
Now even stranger, was the issue with a scheduled post. Almost all of my posts are written ahead of time, even if it is a day before. And then I schedule. Well, guess what having both the published and update date did in that situation in the instance of scheduling even one day before?
The published date came after the update date. Which technically makes sense with how WordPress work, but for the reader, no sense at all.
These kinds of things bug me. So I was back to square one.
My Final Solution
Although I really wanted to keep this information in the blog meta, I finally decided I would simply add this at the beginning of each post that I update from here on in.
And it would appear this way on the post itself.
Sure, I could have just as easily put in the date, but I chose to use the meta. Of course if I were to update this post again, but only with a minor change, I could do that just as easy.
Is this the perfect solution?
Well, it’s as close as I can get right now.
Am I bummed it won’t reflect in past posts that were updated?
Yes and no. But I figured the posts that would reflect it due to tiny changes, would outweigh the posts where I really wanted to show the updated date. So that is that.
In the end, it’s like so many things to do with WordPress. Not every solution you find will get you what you need. And that isn’t always apparent in the beginning. But we keep on keeping on and I’m happy I could share this experience with you.