A random sampling of the stupid.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

There's a reason to date your articles

Apologies about the unusually long delay between postings

By now the story about United Airlines going into bankrupty is old news; both the fact that it happened 6 years ago, and the fact that through a series of unfortunate events, Bloomberg reported that it was happening again last week. Anytime something like this happens, the SEC usually stomps around a few times to find out what went wrong, and assure people that it will never happen again (lol). WaPo reports:

Now, the WSJ reports, the SEC has opened a preliminary investigation into how the story resurfaced. It may not turn into a full investigation but a lot of investors felt the impact Monday and those trades aren't being reversed.... The Tribune says the story made it into the current news flow because of one person visiting the article at 1 a.m. Sunday morning and that pushed the story into the business section's "most viewed" list, which is where Google News found it Sunday afternoon after someone else clicked on the link. In an interesting insight into Google News, the first inbound link came in three minutes later. But the major trouble began when Income Securities Advisors put it on Bloomberg News?and getting it there had nothing to do with bots.

There is an astonishingly simple way to solve this problem forever. Date your news articles. Print newspapers don't do this because the paper itself is dated, and dating every article would be redundant, but if you're going to post articles online, all you have to do is include a tag with the date. Ideally, the tag would be in format easily readable to both humans and computers (i.e., make 2, one in html unseen by humans and one at the top just below the headline) so that crawling newsbots could easily figure out what's new, and so could any human who read the article. In fact, most news articles you find online do this already, on account of not being idiots. It might be hard for a computer to easily figure out the date of the article, but that's where the html date stamping comes in.

Seriously, this is not a complicated problem. Error rating: 6. SERIOUSLY, THIS IS NOT A COMPLICATED PROBLEM. Nothing irritates me more than easily solved problems which have not been solved.


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