MA101′s Guide to Necroing News Articles

Did you all see this one from Wonkette floating around Facebook the other day, about a Tea Party sale in Kentucky hawking “Yup, I’m a Racist” T-shirts for the 4th of July? (Also “Everything I Need to Know about Islam I Learned on 9/11.”) I know I saw it on a couple different people’s feeds, crossing several unrelated social circles, so it’s out there.

It’s also almost a year old.

Now, some confusion might be forgivable, sinceWonkette posts the current date at the top of their site in large black type, and lists the post-date of their articles in smaller gray type further down.

But this is not a particularly unique event. People do this all the time. It’s extra-hilarious when they do it with an old Onion article that’s become relevant in the current news cycle, committing two “even people on the Internet think you’re an idiot” fouls in one go (and extra-extra hilarious when it’s a U. S. Congressman doing it, but we already covered that story).

In somewhat old-fashioned internet parlance, “necroing” is the act of posting in a bulletin board thread that’s been idle for a long period (usually anything over a month old qualifies) so that it rises back to the top of the first page despite lack of interest. It is frowned upon and most message boards these days will give you some kind of ban or warning if you do it.

Necroing news stories on social media sites should be met with the same public opprobrium. People smarter than you are already doing it on purpose during political campaigns, posting ancient good news about their candidate (Milwaukee mayor and gubernatorial recall challenger Tom Barrett’s heroic intervention in a mugging at the 2009 Wisconsin State Fair is suddenly popular again this week, for example) and waiting for Facebook to spread it around as good news. Old smears, of course, can get treated the same way.

So what does all this mean to you? It means you need to check the date on a news story before reposting it. And if you do, obey the Rules of Necroing, set forth arbitrarily here and now by me:

  • Never necro unknowingly! Check all dates before posting.
  • General-interest articles on subjects that do not change rapidly (geological science, say) can be necroed safely.
  • Time-specific subjects like political campaigns shall have a necroing window of no more than one month. After that, shut up.
  • Thou shalt not suffer a necro to live. Let people know if they’re posting old stories.
  • If you must necro, make it clear why the information is still relevant to whatever you’re talking about.
  • Always state clearly that a necroed article is old news.

Got it? Good.

Now get you to the comments, but no pointing out that I linked to three different necroed articles in this post. That was for demonstration purposes only.

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    • Denny Vaccaro
    • August 27th, 2012

    I’m just going to set this aside to post to Facebook in a year or so.

    • It’s not particularly time-sensitive. It’ll be relevant then too, unless people get miraculously better about their posting habits in the intervening year.

      But I see what you did there.

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