James Leroy Wilson's blog

Monday, November 07, 2005

Correction and Clarificaiton

In my post, The Score That Time Forgot I mentioned the Cougars facing the Blue Devils, when it was acutally the Sun Devils. I knew this; I meant the Sun Devils. I should know the difference between Duke basketball, which is the only reason to write about Blue Devils, and Arizona State football, which is the only reason to write about Sun Devils. But I missed the "typo" (for want of a better word) when writing the post, reviewing it, and reading it after it first appeared on the blog.

The question then becomes, for future generations, should I let stand "Blue Devils" in the original post, or should I replace it with what I meant, which was "Sun Devils?"

That's the ironic thing: I have the power to change it to what I really meant, which was Sun Devils. Any Googler would never catch my absent-mindedness from here on out, by the force of a few keystrokes on my part. But that would be an instance where I have the power of both "time" and "interpretation." I could fix my error in the original, but then I'd be intentionally trying to cover up my mistake, which may have been noticeable to alert readers who saw it initially. If I correct a typo or some other error within a few minutes time of it appearing on the blog, that's one thing. But correcting blog posts more than a day old is trying to cover up an error as if it never happened although many had seen it.

You can erase history, but you can't erase memory, which is why you shouldn't erase history. I'm letting the initial post stand, and hope I will do so with all posts that I don't either correct within a few minutes' time, or update. Let the flawed version stand, and then add correction and/or clarifcation later. That's the only way to earn trust. Dishonesty isn't making mistakes, but rather pretending mistakes didn't happen. Credibility is not making no mistakes, but rather in admitting them.


  1. Everett Wilson3:17 PM PST

    I think I understand this, but I don't see it that way when it comes to material that is being referred to in perpetuity.
    Consider that most future readers assume that the writer is correct, because he has let stand information that is correctable, and in a fluid medium.
    An error in fact can be corrected with a note such as this: "The original posting of the blog said this: " ". The corrected blog follows." Then make the necessary changes. You acknowledge the mistake without perpetuating it for future readers.

  2. My first instinct was to agree with you - the ability to correct your mistakes is a temptation of Orwellian proportions - but Everett has a good compromise with his "correction note" idea. And it's not as if you're trying to change the essential facts - just trying to erase a typo.

    The fluid nature of this medium is both a blessing and a curse - the curse being that a person could say, for example, "I never said there were WMDs in Iraq" and alter past blog entries to "prove" this "fact."

  3. I did add an update to that post. I just thought it was amusing that if I corrected the original, I'd have been guilty of the very same thing I was talking about.