Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Why there can't be just one version of a story, one set of comments

A reader asks in a comment posted to one of our stories today:

Just wondering why the Freeman often reposts pretty much the same story from a previous day as a new story?

It's like a kid rewriting anothers work for a book report.

Can't an existing story on the topic simply be updated if necessary and moved back to near the top of the "new" news? Why a whole new post/"story"?

Reader comments are often inciteful, enjoyable, and/or infuriating - which is why I like to read them! Having to wade through several of the same stories seems kind of rediculous.

If at all possible, Webmaster, get the reporters to update and repost the EXISTING story! "

Here is how I responded:

If we were to roll an existing story through our daily 3 a.m., top-to-bottom refresh of our website, a story that was published on, say, Tuesday would not appear in the archive for that date. It would only appear on the date the story was allowed to expire. There is no practical way to replicate a story that would move an existing set of comments forward while preserving the previous version for archiving.
As for why a story that appeared on Tuesday appears Wednesday morning in substantially the same form, our metrics show that a considerable part of our readership does not catch up to a local story of substantial interest that was posted in mid-day until the next day. (Local stories have a longer shelf life than national and state wire stories, which are allowed simply to expire at 3 a.m.)
We appreciate the value of reader comments. Quite logically, we think, the comments of readers are attached to the version of the story that was appearing when the comments were posted. This makes sense because sometime the particulars of stories are changed as a story develops and the coherence of a line of commentary can be jumbled if the story to which the comments were originally posted has been replaced by a newer version.


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