As this website approaches 20 continuous years of existence, and my personal online presence spans more than that, I've found myself cringing at my past self while reading my own content, more than once. I'm sure this happens to everyone, and in fact, I consider it a natural part of maturity; if I'm not constantly changing how I write, how I think, and what I believe, I'm not growing, I'm stagnating. Plus, while I like I think I was pretty articulate as a teenager, I can't imagine anyone looking back at things they wrote in high school and thinking particularly highly of it.
When it comes to keeping/collecting old material, I'm very much a natural archivist - my default impulse is to hold onto everything forever. But I also want to make sure the content I maintain here always reflects my values, or at least serves a constructive purpose. Because despite my tendency to occasionally go years without posting, this isn't some abandoned old blog, this is (or is at least meant to be) a living, active portfolio of my work.
I could easily find this balance by just reviewing my writings from time to time, removing anything that I don't want to display anymore, but I don't always have the time or emotional energy to do that regularly, plus there are a few situations where a post feels like it can still do some good in the world, even if it's not what I would say on the subject now. So, I'm presenting this in the form of a policy mainly to clearly communicate my own guidelines and criteria for when this happens, as well as offering guidance attached to older articles that I haven't revisited recently.
- As the site's owner and administrator, I reserve the sole right to determine what is and is not publicly displayed here.
- As the site's owner and administrator, I bear sole responsibility for the content I release for public view, past, present, and future.
- As a general principle, I maintain this site as an archive as much as anything else, and I do not remove content purely because of its age.
- If I feel I can modify an article instead of deleting it, I will try to do so and re-post it when I'm able to work on it.
- When I remove old content, it is usually (but not always) based on asking myself the following questions about it:
- Does this represent my current views on the subject?
- Does this serve a purpose that I feel is useful or important?
- Do I feel good about attaching my name to this in the public eye?
- Does this contain harmful content or language that needs to be updated?
- I do not have the time or energy to vigilantly patrol my older work, but I will not hesitate to take action if I become aware of content I posted that requires it. Please let me know if you feel something I posted requires modification or removal.
- To assist in contextualizing my older work that I might not have reviewed recently, older work created by me will be prefaced with a message indicating that it may not be current, based on the following criteria:
- Last-modified date older than 10 years ago, or
- Original publishing date older than 15 years ago and last-modified date older than 5 years ago.
- While I do not consider myself a journalist, and I am not aiming or intending to engage in journalism on this site, I have great reverence for the ethics and ideals of journalists. To that end, in order to improve transparency and take responsibility for my words, the following changes to the way content is displayed, in addition to the aforementioned preface based on content age:
- All content will contain a byline indicating the author's name. Prior to 2022, this was not part of the content display templates, since my name is already in the title graphics, but this change will make it more explicit.
- The author byline will be overridden for content hosted here that I didn't create, to more clearly indicate authorship for guest content.
- When the text of a written article is modified, the revision date will appear in the article's template, to better distinguish between actual editorial changes and content-management changes (toggling Featured status, moving to a different category, adding/removing tags, etc).
- This policy does not apply to content posted to other websites (where I may not have enough control to meaningfully update or remove older content, and/or may no longer be an active user), or archival copies/mirrors of this website (which I have no control over, and may not have granted reproduction rights to). While I always take full responsibility for what I write and say, this is the only website I have full, direct editorial control over, and where I actively review my past work on a regular basis.
- I generally do not post statements of retraction about specific content, mainly because I strive to catch my own mistakes before anyone else does. If I feel the need to make such a statement, I will do so.
Thank you for reading. I hope my work has a net positive impact on you and your life, and maybe even the world as a whole.
- Natasha L.