Press "Enter" to skip to content

Freshness Labels on Content

Steve Jones does some noodling:

I chose the title slightly to poke at Stack Overflow (SO), but the same take expressed in this tweet could be said about SQL Server Central. It’s not quite the same as anyone can answer questions on SQL Server Central.

The tweet is a (long) hot take from Jerry Nixon, a C# developer and MS evangelist in Denver. Essentially he says that a lot of the SO answers are wrong, especially as the software and languages change. Old answers are upvoted, and remain at the top of the list, even as newer answers might be better. People don’t like the behavior on SO of moderators and people who post, which is something we’ve tried to avoid or limit here at SQL Server Central. We want there to be professional discussions. SO also doesn’t allow much discussion or nuance in the questions or answers.

This isn’t just a SO problem or am SSC one. 

Read the whole thing. This is a huge problem with search engines today and there’s a hacky solution for it. Going back to the original PageRank algorithm that Google used, your rank on the search results list was heavily tied to how many individuals linked back to you. Older pages tend to have more linkbacks because they’ve been around longer, and so there’s a built-in bias toward older content. Google, in particular, has done a lot to work around this problem, but there’s a real issue with timeliness in articles: sometimes, you want the brand new information (like say, product recommendations); other times, you want older or even the original information (such as if you’re researching historical activities). The problem is that there’s no good way to indicate this to the search engines we have, so the hacky solution is for content creators to create sites like “The May 2023 Guide to Blahblahblah” and for search engine users to look for terms like “2023 blahblahblah” so they can avoid all of the outdated 2022 and 2021 blahblahblah discussions.

There’s also a story in here around keeping things up to date. Some people are good about that—they’ll go back and update years-old blog posts based on what’s new and happening. I am not one of those people.