Written by Media

Ghost Posts

In an age of CRM’s and programs like WordPress, it’s incredibly easy to publish something to the internet before perhaps thinking things through. And while you can just as quickly “un-publish” said pieces, it’s never quite as simple as that. Many other parts of the internet ingest whatever it is that you’ve published pretty much instantaneously. So however ill-judged that Tweet is, someone somewhere has probably captured it (cf. screenshots of many Tweets by many famous people).

I was thinking about this because one of my favourite things about feed readers such as Feedly, is their ability to collect and cache these fragments of publishing. It’s surprisingly common to see the headline and opening paragraph of something that sounds really interesting, only to realise that the author pushed publish too soon, or should never have hit publish.

Case in point. The other day I was reading road.cc and they reviewed a bicycle pump. They usually give a mark out of 10 for their products, and this pump only achieved a mark of 2. That’s pretty low – a mark of 5 or 6 is usually as low as you’d see. I made a mental note to read that later, but for whatever reason I never got around to it. Here’s the Feedly fragment:


(Note that the site uses a separate numbering system to determine story importance and the 2 in this case is not the review score. That appears “below the fold.”)

A couple of days later I was back reading the site courtesy of Feedly, and I came across an intriguing blog entry:


Clearly someone felt the original review was undeserving and the writer hadn’t taken account of the kind of person for whom a pump like this is useful.

But if you click through to read the blog, it’s no longer there. Nor is the original review.

All we have are these fleeting glances of some kind of, perhaps, internal dispute between different writers over the virtues of a review. I won’t get into the rights and wrongs of this, except to say that the internet sees all, so it might be worth taking a leaf out of newspaper practice of putting a holding screen in place if an article is removed.

And yes, I’ve probably removed posts before myself. But they’re test posts when I’m tweaking my blogging platform or similar.