Friday, February 15, 2013

How Do You Feel About Re-Posting Old Blog Posts?

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Blogger/author Jami Gold wrote a great post about writers plagiarizing themselves several months back. She said something that has stuck with me ever since:
Many of us who blog will occasionally rerun blog posts, sometimes with updates and sometimes without. If we don’t acknowledge that we’re re-posting material, are we misleading our readers by implying the post is new and original? What about when we post material we’d previously submitted for a guest post?
I post old posts. Monday's article on theme is a perfect example. I've also posted things I've done for other blogs (those I always credit and link back to the original post) Early on in the blog's life, I'd title reruns "Golden Oldies," but I stopped when tweeting got popular because long titles get truncated and all those extra words meant the actual title was getting lost. (My favorite example of this is my recent post on characters screwing up their decisions. I saw one tweet where it was accidentally shorted to "When Your Characters Screw" and the tiny url. Maybe that's why that post got a lot of hits?)


I've always had mixed feelings about reruns. I've read old posts on other blogs before and thought "Hey, this is a rerun." I've also thought "Oh cool, I loved this post." If the blogger is only running old stuff and it's few and far between, it bugs me. The occasional rerun doesn't. I know there are days when life gets crazy and you just don't get the time to blog like you wanted. The choice is no post or an old post. I'd rather an old post than leave my readers hanging. (Though with RSS feeds and subscriptions, is this really a problem anymore? Are readers checking blogs to see if there are new posts or just waiting until new posts show up in their email or reader?)

I have over 1,000 articles on this site now. Most of them are just as valid and helpful today as they were when I wrote them (like the theme post). When I redesigned the site, I did so with the goal of creating a useful archive of articles for writers when they got stuck.

To me, pulling something from the 2010 shelf and dusting it off for a new crop of readers makes sense. If I already have a great post on a topic, why write a new one? I don't want someone to look up everything on "theme" and find the same advice written in four different ways.

Unless the post says everything it needs to (again, like the theme post) I update it when I repost. Early posts of mine are often sparser because I hadn't quite found my stride and style for the blog. Those get new information and even someone who's read it before will find new tips. These are always my first choice posts when I need to do a rerun.

My Guidelines for Rerunning an Old Post

1. The older the better

I like to pull from the first two years of the blog. I had very few readers then compared to now (all of 2009 was less that a single month today) so odds are those posts weren't seen by many people anyway.

2. Update where possible

I add new ideas, new tips, new bullet points or questions. Edit out stuff that doesn't matter. Unless the posts is solid and fits into the current blog style, I revise it.

3. Pick posts with as few comments as possible

I figure if only two people commented, the post had few views. It's also a decent sign that it's a good topic to rework or add to if it didn't spark some conversation.

4. Posts that answer reader questions

Folks ask me questions, and when I know there's an older post that answers it, I'll often rerun it. These depend on how long ago the post ran and if I think it'll be helpful to more than just the commenter. If it's a recent post, I'll just link to it when I reply to the comment.

And the exception to the rules...

5. Very popular posts that don't make the most popular list

I have posts from several years ago that are some of my highest-viewed posts on the site. Yet due to weird Blogger algorithms, they aren't in my Most Popular Posts list. So from time to time I pull those out and see if they make the list (they often do). These are posts I know folks like and find helpful, and they're exactly the kinds of posts I want readers finding.

These days, I regularly tweet old posts, so anything that gets re-done in any way gets my byline added. That way, I know immediately if I've used it recently. Something I tweeted I won't re-post. (Barring those first few months when I didn't do this and forgot what I'd used. Learned that lesson quick!)

I don't want the blog to be rerun city, but I do want to utilize it the best I can. It was created to be used. To me, that means using the whole of it, not just the recently written.

I have some questions for you:

1. How do you feel about rerunning old posts?

2. Do you want to know if it's a rerun? 

3. Should it have an "originally published on X" date? And if so, where? Top or bottom?


  1. I'm okay with rerun posts. As much as I've tried to read the archives here I definitely haven't read everything yet!

    I would like to know it is a rerun. I'd say "originally published on X date" at the bottom is fine. Mainly because I read a lot of writing blogs so sometimes I'll think I read a post before but really haven't or I have because it is a rerun or because I read something of a similar topic on another blog. It would be nice to know "oh okay, I DID read this here once" instead of wondering if I'm having deja vu or just losing it.

    I,for one, just blog hop to see what is new. I have a list of blogs bookmarked and when I sit down at the computer I just go one by one. Probably not the best way to do it but it works for me!

  2. I haven't reblogged anything so far, but then again my blog is barely one year old. However, I have absolutely nothing against reading rerun posts if the information is still valid and valuable. I would like to know it's a rerun as quickly as possible, though, just so I know the author is up front and has nothing to hide. :)

  3. I don't rerun posts because I mostly do author interviews and book reviews. So it doesn't make sense.

    Since yours are about the craft of writing, I think it's fine if you re-post them as long as you tell us and tell us whether you added anything. That way we can decide whether to read further.

  4. I don't mind you rerunning posts. Your information is always great and if you update then we get your original info plus your updates.
    I don't really have a strong opinion about knowing whether or not it's a rerun. The info always sounds fresh.

  5. Personally, I would rather know it's a rerun, with the "originally posted on XXX" at the bottom.

    But that's my preference. I won't stop reading your blog if you don't do it. There've been a few times where I've seen a rerun, thought "This sounds familiar" but posted a comment, then realized I'd already posted a comment back when it was first written.

  6. I actually like the occasional rerun. It refreshes my memory. No preference as to whether the blogger tells me it's a rerun or not.

  7. Thanks guys! Looks like letting people know it's a rerun would help folks, so I'll start doing that from now on. I'll also say if it's updated or not. If it's just edits, I won't call that "updated," only if I've added new material.

    Haley, I did the bookmarked blogs for years as well. I found the exercise relaxing :) I just recently shifted to RSS feeds and subscriptions. (but only because I have too many to go through and keep up with daily these days)

    Carradee & Natalie, you guys are some of my oldest readers (huge hugs for that), so reruns probably affect you more than most. Good to know your thoughts there.

  8. Reposting old blogs is fine with me. One, I'm a relatively recent follower and I might have missed it or two, I was too busy at the time it came through and didn't read it. Go ahead and post on the top that it's a rerun so if someone doesn't want to read it again, they won't! Thanks for asking.

  9. Hi Janice,
    What you are doing is perfect. It's evident that you've taken past articles and tied them in beautifully to suit what you're trying to convey.
    It saves a lot of time, in that I don't have to go hunting for more details.
    Now if someone is just reblogging an old post, then that's just being lazy. I say, don't bother posting.
    Just my two cents worth.

  10. I LOVE your reruns. You have so much good stuff here, but I went through it at length when I first discovered you. Now, I don't tend to do it as much, so when you repost an entry, I will read it and rediscover all over again.

    I DO really like to know it's a rerun, though, and prefer to know up front - not sure why, but it's a definite preference for me! Maybe I don't like déjà vu and I can avoid it up front - who knows!

    I will say I read through an RSS reader, and at one time, it wasn't notifying me that you had a new post if you reposted an old one. It's been hideously busy around here lately, so I've lost track of whether it's still doing that. But if it would help for you to know, I'd be happy to check that out for you.

  11. I don't actually go to your blog to check for updates; I get them in my email and read them there. So, it's not often that I hit your site unless it's an article I want to save for my own reference. :)

    I don't mind reruns, although I do like to know if they are a rerun. I don't have an opinion one way or another on having an originally published date.

  12. I don't mind reruns at all. Even if I read it before, I am a different writer. I might not have been ready at the time or have been able to apply the awesome advice because of where I was at.

  13. I don't mind reruns, but I like to know it's an older post up front.

  14. Good information never expires. I have a diferent take on older blog posts: compile them into an e-book as a guide (whatever your focus). When I published my first MG adventure I went on a few blog tours and many hosts wanted articles on child literacy and ways on getting kids to enjoy reading. ALL the posts had to have a unique angle. Phew, some task. I ended up becoming something of an expert on kid literacy. Then I began giving talks to teacher and librarian associations here in South Africa, where I live. I now have so much information that I am in the middle of a guide for parents/teachers/librarians which I am going to publish as an e-book. So, no, old posts never die. They do bigger and better thing.

  15. Khanada, I subscribe to my own blog thorough email and an RSS feed (just so I can see what others are seeing) so I know they're still going out. I don't think I have any way of knowing who's getting feeds though. If you're not getting four posts a week from me, then something is off.

    Fiona, wow, great story. And a great angle for reaching parents and teachers. That you sort of fell into it is even more amazing. I do have ebooks in the works to put my old posts to work, and the plan is to focus on those after my next novel is done.

    Everyone, I'm sold. From now on, any rerun post will say so at the top, and indicate new material or not.I'm so glad I did this post instead of rerunning one :) (was a crazy week and I fell behind)

  16. Maybe the issue I was having was confined to the particular app I use. I just happened to pull up your blog one time directly in a browser and saw I was missing a post, but I could tell from the comments it was a rerun. Now I don't see dates anymore for comments, so I can't tell which is which -- but with your new system, if I AM missing one, I'll know if my app is still struggling with those.


  17. Hi, Janice. I started blogging only in late October. As I didn't initially categorise (for obvious reasons, I hope!), I had to go back to do that in late December. On days when I was as usual posting new stuff, some glitch in the update also reposted two or three of the early posts, which, of course, had not then had many views as I didn't have much of an audience. I was pretty gobsmacked to get lots of views of them and some very positive feedback that I'd missed the first time. Just chance!
    However, I think it depends on the nature of the blogs; in my case, some are topical and wouldn't have much relevance later, or book reviews that I think people would remember. Others might work, but I'd just feel a bit disappointed with myself if I didn't come up with something new.

  18. My blog is barely four months old so I haven't used old posts yet. However, if I did have to re-post an old entry, I'd def go far back. The guidelines you have are pretty tight though!

  19. Khanada, I took the dates off on purpose, but maybe I should put them back. I didn't want to discourage new comments on an old post. I reply to old comments as well as new, and with tweeting old posts, too, there's always someone commenting somewhere. But I see where that could be confusing.