Doing research on the Web is like using a library assembled piecemeal by pack rats and vandalized nightly. ( * )
- Roger Ebert
- Roger Ebert
The same holds for reporting what's present and what's missing on someone else's website. Here are a couple of recent instances involving The Union:
A March a commenter took The Union to task for not covering a large peace march in Grass Valley; yesterday she told me that photos of the peace march are now up on the paper's website. She doesn't think they were there before.
A little over a week ago I noted that old comments on pre-2007 stories at The Union's website were no longer visible; a couple days later they were visible, so I issued a retraction (not just on NCFocus, also offsite here) assuming I'd screwed up somehow; then a few days ago I revisited the page and comments were missing again.
(the Union's webmaster reports that he is looking into it)
So either I was mistaken in thinking the problem had gone away, or else the comments really did make a cameo appearance before going offstage again.
In any case, the moral for bloggers is this: any time you report that X is missing or Y is present on a website, note the date in your writing, and take a screenshot, lest later on you (and others) be faced with wondering whether to trust your lying eyes.
and for altruistic webmasters, a request: where feasible, if you make a change, say that you've done so, rather than inflict this uncertainty upon your readers.
note: it is still possible that both I and the commenter misperceived or misremembered; IMO not probable, but possible.