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Dates on Blog Posts – Should You Have Them?

Posted By Darren Rowse 22nd of July 2008 Blog Design 0 Comments

Last week in my post exploring how to make blogs sticky I suggested (in point 14) that one technique to consider is to remove the dates from your blog posts.

My theory is that dates can either add to or take away from a post. Let me explore this a little further:

When you put a date on a post you signal to your reader when the post was written. This is useful to readers wanting to make a judgment on how relevant the post is for them at any point of time. It signals to them that a post is current or recent when the date signals that it was written within the last weeks and signals to them that a post could be dated when the date is years back.

The Problem of Dates on Posts

The problem is that when you have a post that is ‘timeless’ (ie it doesn’t really date because the tips you give or the principles that you talk about will always apply) a date can act as a distraction to your reader. They arrive at the post and see that it was written in 2006 and a little warning bell goes off in their mind that what they are reading is not ‘current’.

As I mentioned in last week’s post – I’ve had comments numerous time on ‘old’ posts saying things like “this is old” or “this is out of date” even when the post was anything but out of date.

When a reader has this reaction no matter what your post contains – it’ll seem ‘old’ to them and you lose reader engagement. This might only happen to a small percentage of your readers but over time this adds up.

On the flip side – when a reader arrives on a post that IS recent and sees the date showing this you can actually get a good reaction because they get a sense that what they are reading is the latest thinking that you’ve had.

So dates can be good and bad. They can make a post seem dated or cutting edge.

So What’s a Blogger to Do? Should You Have Dates on Posts?

The key question to ask when it comes to whether or not to include the date of authorship on a post is – ‘is it relevant to the post?’

The answer to this question has led me to take two different courses of action on my two blogs.

Here at ProBlogger I include a time stamp on each post.


I time stamp (date) posts here at ProBlogger for two reasons:

  1. The industry is moving fast – when I started ProBlogger 3 years back blogging was very different to how it is today. The tools have changed, SEO principles have shifted, social media has become more important and bloggers are developing blogs in new ways. As a result some of the articles in my archives here at ProBlogger are less relevant and need to be put into the context of the time that they were written. While some principles have not changed more often than not I feel that dating posts can actually help readers determine what’s relevant for now.
  2. I’m on a steep learning curve – when I started this blog I had been blogging full time for only a few months. While I’d accumulated some knowledge on the topic I look back and see that I was somewhat naive and very inexperienced. While I’m far from knowing everything on the topic I feel that I’ve come a long way and I hope that dates on posts help readers to make a call on where I was at when I wrote older posts.

At the Digital Photography School Blog I don’t time stamp posts (and never have)


My reason for removing time stamp dates from DPS posts is simple – in the vast majority of posts on the blog they have no relevance to the post itself.

DPS is not a news related blog and aims to provide camera owners tips on how to get out of Auto Mode. While cameras are changing the basic principles of photography are not (or are changing a lot more slowly). In short – the posts have more of a timeless and evergreen quality and dates would only serve to distract readers from the content itself.

If I write a post that needs to be anchored to a point of time I will usually add it to the title of the post.

Other Solutions for Dates on Your Blog

There are more than just the two options open to bloggers when it comes to adding or removing dates from posts. Here are a few that I’ve seen:

  • Dates on Recent Posts But Not on Older Ones – I saw one blogger do this last year (I’m afraid I don’t remember who it was). They had hacked WordPress so that dates appeared on recent posts (within the last 3 months) but anything older than that did not have time stamps either on the post or comments. This meant that the blogger benefited from new posts looking new and took the potential distraction of old posts away from readers. I don’t know exactly how the blogger did it but presume they set up a rule that looked at the date of authorship and then determined whether the date would be displayed or not.
  • Dates on Front Page but Not Single Posts – another solution that I’ve considered on DPS is to add dates only to front page posts and to have them removed from single pages. This shows visitors to your blog’s front page that you have recent content while hiding distracting dates from older posts.
  • Subtle Dates – you can keep dates on posts without having them ‘scream out at your readers’ that the post is old. For example dates at the bottom of posts, dates in more muted colors, dates in smaller font than headings etc all can give your readers the date without making a big point of it. In a sense this is what I’ve done to some degree on ProBlogger with a lighter color and smaller font with my dating of posts.

I’m sure there would also be a way to hack WP so that you could flick dates on and off in each post as you publish it. This is actually a mini feature that I’d love to see WP add.

What Do You Think?

  • Do you have dates on your posts? Why or Why Not? (PS: I surveyed my twitter followers on this and found that 75% of them date their posts)
  • Do you think blogs should always have dates on them?
  • What other ways do you control how the dates on your bog appear?
About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. I like your categories, but since you announced this post was coming, I’ve been thinking about it and actually chosen to change my format; formerly, I just auto-dated all posts.

    However, I’ve decided to split my posts by category.

    News-related or other time-sensitive posts get dates.

    Reference posts, like “In Defense of Shark Diving” or “What You Can Do to Stop Offshore Drilling” have their date removed because I think they’re timeless examples of my general ideas and they address a broader scope of time.

    I don’t think my thoughts about those ongoing issues are time-sensitive and I wouldn’t want someone to think the information was out of touch, since I make sure they stay relevant.

  2. 1) I have dates in my posts because: I have a background in astronomy/science, where dates do matter; I let *readers* decide whether posts are timeless or not.

    2) I think blogs should always have dates.

    3) I don’t control how the dates appear on my blog.

  3. My blog covers timely material as well as timeless stuff. I wish I could do both…

    “Dates on Recent Posts But Not on Older Ones” – This would make for a great plugin that I would use tomorrow. Anyone?

  4. I don’t think I’m going to worry much about dates. As a lot of my posts are about jewellery making and people are usually looking for patterns and I don’t think they even look at the dates. I know I don’t look at the date when I’m looking for patterns. I do look on the dates on this blog though, as Darren says computers and the internet are changing all the time. When it comes to jewellery though, I don’t think the dates are so important. Then again, if I think back to the eighties – hot pink polka dot earrings- hmm maybe dates are important.

  5. I think having the dates is a good idea. What about people that really really want to know when you posted your blog, but then they can’t find it?

  6. I think having dates are a good idea as it gives the reader a point of reference when reading the post.

    One solution to combat the ‘out of date’ comments would be to re-visit ‘out of dates’ posts and update content and then re-save. Thus content would be up-to-date and show more recent save date.

  7. I have date on my blog, and i think it’s good when you are blog about something that can be “left” in past so reader can’t be confused and say wtf this is, writing about that old stuff now.

  8. I saw your comments about this the other day and was initially turned off by them. I have often purposefully sought dates on blogs (or other web pages) only to be annoyed that there weren’t any. But then I guess that sort of proves your point, doesn’t it?

    I was checking for dates to see if the content was relevant. But sometimes dated post are important (as when I look for dates on computer hardware related reviews, and such), so I’m glad to see you acknowledge that here in this post. And I tend to agree with your reasons for the different approaches to your two blogs.

    But this also makes me wonder if this applies to my blog. My blog is admittedly small, read by few, and lacks focus. It’s a personal blog, and I update it when I feel like. Sure, I would love people to read it or just a good post if I have one once and a while, but it really makes me wonder how much dates matter for me. Then again, I suppose I should focus on getting some kind of traffic before I worry about such a detail.

  9. I think it all depends on what you are blogging about.

    In my case I found removing the time stamp useful. For posts that need time stamp…well I just type-in the date into the post itself :)

  10. I am surprised someone has not either given this option in a new version of WrdPress or a Plug-In has not been written.

    For us that can’t hack WordPress ti would be great to have a Plug-In.


  11. I use the “subtle comments” method: I include the date within the post but not within the URL. To be honest, I accidentally stumbled across doing it this way when I was playing with the post permalink structure within WordPress.

    One added bonus tip: If you change the post permalink structure within WordPress, it will *automatically* do a 301 redirect to your new URL! (No need to worry about any of your inbound links breaking.)

  12. I’ve always used dates, and I don’t feel like removing it. When I’m posting my sketches, I would prefer them to have a date. But my tech-related posts might get out dated, and I feel an option to show/hide date for particular posts would be the best option. Sadly even Blogger doesn’t has such an option.

    And anyway, in most blogs, the url does convey how old a post is. Unless you use Paul’s idea which is really helpful I feel!

    PS: Can someone make a Blogger Hack to hide the date when the post is old? I think it’ll really be helpful :)

  13. I use dates because the posts on my blog are about a journey. I plan on releasing a new version of my blog that will include other people’s journeys and so dates are still relevant because I’ll be doing updates to these journeys periodically, so knowing how long ago the interview happened will help people reading.

  14. It really has to do largely with the type of information you are dispensing. For instance if you had a blog reviewing medical treatments then a date would be very important to have. If it’s just a personal blog writing about a few affiliate programs here or there dating the articles isn’t that big of a deal.

    Basically you need to look at your blog, at the material in it and decide if it “timeless” or if indeed there is a shelf life and people need to know how long it has been sitting there.

  15. Actually, for me.. Dates arent important and it can be there or be removed and most of the time i just placed it there because blog networks might need it during pinging.

    Thank you

  16. Hi Darren,

    Here is my balanced solution on time stamp issue which I will be soon using my blog.

    There are 2 places where a blog displays time stamps about…

    1. POST URL (permalinks)
    I am removing dates from permalinks as old posts which somehow manage to show up in Google may not attract visitors because their URL tells people that “I am outdated…”

    2. I will keep time stamp on post itself for reasons similar to yours. I blog on technology and security issues. Many posts are relevant for particular time span only.

    Well this may sound off topic but I feel timestamps are equally important in permalinks.

  17. Hello, I know u are a problogger :)
    Which counter you use on your blog?

  18. I use dates on all posts because even if I am writing a post that won’t be dated, it is nice to see where my mind was at specific times and I can definitely see the difference between current posts and those from a year ago. I like to see the progression and I like seeing that when reading others blogs.

  19. If you update your site on AT LEAST a weekly basis I’d say put dates up on ONLY the front page.

    By the way, modifying your wordpress installation to display dates on a per page/post date basis is as simple as adding in an if statement wrapped around your current date display. Pretty simple hack. You’re either comparing it to (pseudo): date(now) && >= 3 months ago or is_single() based on what you want. Comparing it to is_single() is the one that I’m more for because it targets the front page for regular bloggers. Darren mentioned the guy that had it set to not show after 3 months. That would use the date check.

    If you post once every 2 weeks or wait longer then that, I would suggest not showing any date.

  20. I appreciate having dates on posts so I can get an idea of how current or accurate any statistics or quotes might be — especially if I want to quote or refer to the blog as research for something else. It also helps me place the commentary into a timeline of what was socially relevant when the blog went live.

    I often see people commenting on blogs that are as much as a year old at askpatty.com, so it’s clear that sometimes, even if the information might be perceived as dated, that doesn’t make it less relevant.

    thanks for your great blogs!

  21. Hmmm, awhile back, I gave a few bloggers grief about this.

    I think you were Not one of them.
    Can’t remember now. They were the other great blogs;
    Brian’s, Maki’s, and a few ‘can’t remembers’.

    The first thing I do before reading a blog post, (if it isn’t dated up top), is to scroll down and look at the date of the first and last comment.

    I agree it is a split answer for this reason: there are readers who don’t realize some posts are timeless, and would fail to recognize importance and relevance of the content, simply because the post isn’t wet paint.

  22. I go back and forth on this one. I have a literature site that is totally date independent but I know that when I look at other sites I always like to see how current the most recent post is. I agree that wordpress needs to make it easier to remove dates, commenting out the code is a pain.

  23. I find that the dates that make a post seem old to me (as a reader, not a blogger), are those in the comments. I don’t usually look at the post date, but when I get to the comments I find that it was a month, or 2 months, or 5 years ago and so I don’t leave a response.

    As a blogger, I’ll probably continue to date posts, partly out of habit (yes, that makes me seem lazy and lame, unfortunately). I haven’t crossed that bridge yet.

  24. How about an “updated on: [date]” entry?

    This would be a seperate field from the original post date and also include a second line that says when it was updated. It would preserve both the integrity of the original post as well as promote it as “fresh” new content.

    So, a date line in the blog entry might look like this:

    Updated on July 22nd, 2008 at 11:05am by Darren Rowse.
    (Originally Written on August 1st, 2007 at 12:07 am by Darren Rowse)

    This would be a great plugin for wordpress or any other app (if it’s not there already or if you have the time and skills to create one)
    Features might include:
    1. Extra fields on the write post that ask if it wants to be pushed to the front of the list (like a new post)
    2. What date to use for the updates – If you’re like me, I save every 5 seconds, so you don’t want to show an update for every time you press save.
    3. Allow the visitors to view the original post – Now that wordpress has a feature to save older versions and compare them, why not provide this to the visitor?

  25. I personally don’t like to visit a blog article and not find the date, either stamped to the article, or as part of the URL. However, I like the idea of timestamping articles only on the front page. SE visitors might find an old, indexed article, and then click your logo to go the homepage to see if you are still writing new material. Without a timestamp on your latest work on the homepage, visitors have no way to know if you are still keeping up the blog, and may decide to skip subscribing.

  26. A fair part of my posts are reporting on recent research, and should be dated. I expect these to become “stale” as new research is written about.

    Another portion of my posts are “timeless,” meaning that their content is not time-sensitive. An example is “Financial Help with Prescription Medications.” When these posts disappear from my recent posts sidebar, I list them in a “references” section of my left sidebar. My plan is to turn them into static, undated pages at some point.

    I also have a large number of static pages that are reference articles that should not be dated (though my theme does that, dangit). As these are updated the date is displayed prominently in the text.

    I wish my current theme had a way to turn dates on and off. I don’t have the technical skill to twiddle with the innards to get it to do that, and can’t afford a custom theme that would allow manipulating the dates.

    I join others in calling for, urging the development of, begging for a plugin to manipulate the display of dates!

  27. Great question and one that I have been contemplating for my blogs.

    I personally would also love to see WP create a radio button to turn dates on and off for each post.

  28. I believe as you do Darren. The dates are relevant for certain types of material and should always remain on those, but on others such as your photography blog, well that information is timeless information. My wife is a professional photographer and the basic techniques never change people simply come up with improvements or additional ways of doing a shot.

  29. Interesting post. I hadn’t considered your second course of action with the photography blog. I’ve run across the same dilemma when dating paintings that I want to sell. Same deal–you worry if the painting is older than a year or two, a potential buyer thinks, “What’s wrong with it?” Having said that though, I have to agree with dating of posts if just for you to see how your writing has evolved.

  30. I could be mistaken, but I believe you’re referring to the Date Exclusion Plugin that I wrote for DailyBlogTips.com awhile back. Unfortunately, it no longer functions in WordPress 2.6, so I’d have to brush up on my plugin programming to fix it. Barring that, it’s there if anyone cares to pick it up and develop it further.

  31. I think anything that is maybe ‘news’ related or time relevant (like technology) should definitely have a date. When it comes to more hobby like sites or perfecting an art or craft I think it’s okay not to to have the dates because when it was written doesn’t change the relevancy of the subject matter.

  32. Interesting post Darren,
    This is a fresh point of view, my blog is dated, I think people would like to know if the last post is up to date or not, when the owner visited it last, etc

    Free internet Home Business Opportunity

  33. I believe, readers of blogs realize that the post must have been written on a particular date, and so it doesn’t hold much importance, Darren. But I would want to make my blog’s date smaller as in yours. It is now enormous, as large as the blog’s post title itself. I will make it smaller. That will accentuate the title better.


  34. Great post…something I had not thought of before! My main blog about life in Detroit (http://thedspotredeux.blogspot.com) has dates because at least 75% of the posts are time-sensitive. However, if a person goes back to old posts, I think that knowing the date the posts were written will help put into perspective the history and relevance of the subject matter. In the other posts’ subjects, it really makes very little difference when they were written.

    In the two other blogs I am developing 1) will be VERY time-specific and I think for that very reason, dates will be very important–It will be a political blog; things will change so fast. Having dates will serve as an interesting timeline.
    2) This blog will be skill-based, and I am glad to know that I can have my webmesiter figure out a way NOT to have dates, because they will be unnecessary.

    (BTW, I’m only a 1-person company; my “webmeister” is my computer-geek nephew!)

  35. I don’t have the date on my posts because its not time sensitive content and there for completely irrelevant. How ever I have had other sites where the more “news” style has made having dates useful.

  36. I think if you have an encyclopedia-esque blog, something that’s lot of dense information on a topic vs. something that’s more personal, I would go without date stamps.

    Otherwise I don’t think it matters much at all – it’s a personal preference! Stamp if you want to keep track of the blogging journey that you’re on or if your blog is like a personal journal… for everything else, it’s completely up to you.

  37. I just set up my blog so that it has dates on single pages, but only if the post is 30 days old or newer. I found some php on another blog showing how to set this up. Best of both worlds!

  38. as much as i like dates i do have an old site where i take em off so people think the site was made today…im like that i create the format to fool people

  39. >> “Dates on Recent Posts But Not on Older Ones ”
    I would love that. Actually thought of it several times, never found a plugin/hack for wordpress to do so. Hope somebody releases such a great code. :-)

  40. I have dates on my blogs, but I find them distracting at times for me, as the women begin to nag after awhile.

  41. I first started blogging on Xanga. Back then it was a real journal. Dates are emphasized, right on the top, and there weren’t even titles (!!) back then. So whne I started my WordPress blog, I guess the habit carried over and the theme I chose highlighted the date. Now I’m thinking that I might be better off making the date less obvious, but I just haven’t gotten to tweaking it.

  42. Mathias Holzapfel says: 07/22/2008 at 7:39 am

    Dates are very important. Always. All our writing is affected by the environment at a given time. What now seems timeless could be outdated in a few years. But who can tell if it is “outdated” or simply “stupid” if there is no date available.
    So, if your content is timeless, the best thing to do is adding a date ;o) …

  43. I have dates on some posts and no dates on others. The posts themselves are not dated because my blog was set up to not include dates but there are certain recurring topics that have dates.

    When I post an update of my monthly spending I put a date on it because this is something that comes out at least twice a week.

    I also put date on my CVS shopping experiences because I want my readers to know how I did with that current week’s deals and specials.

  44. Although it’s timeless content, I still want to see which date it was posted (or updated).

  45. Problogger.net entered the internet sphere on February 5, 2005, according to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.

    In this sense, it doesn’t matter, Darren, whether or not you include dates in your posts for one can always figure out how old content really is.

    But to a larger point, imagine walking into a library or bookstore and having no idea how to qualify the age of a book if the copyright date was not present. There goes the “rare book” world.

    Personally, keep dates. They serve to preserve the past and allow us to know who we are and where we came from.

  46. Posts NEED to have dates. How can you be sited and be trusted without it? An English teacher wouldn’t trust anyone if they added “this is timeless” in the data spot, even if it was. This is a big problem with the web… not having dates.

  47. I date my posts because I believe that people love to read the most relevant material. I may think of removing dates off some of my posts later on…but then how would I archive them?

  48. One of my biggest pet peeves is posts without a date! I always want to know when something is written so I have a reference point. Often if I don’t see a date I move on. Even if something is old I will still give it a read if the subject is right. I think most readers would like to see a date and writers should be trying to provide readers with what they want.

  49. I date mine because I want to show readers, and myself, where I was at a particular time with my weight loss.

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