When web search results get read out of context

2007-08-07, , Comments

It’s always interesting to root around httpd server logs and see which web searches refer readers to Word Aligned. Occasionally, though, it’s alarming. Certainly I’m reminded I ought to keep material up to date, or at least ensure that everything I post includes sufficient date/version information for readers to judge when it might have passed its sell-by date. Should I also make sure nothing here can be taken out of context? After all, many readers aren’t interested in reading through the whole of an article: they just want the specific advice their web search reveals. How do I test a Subversion pre-commit hook? How do I use Spirit to parse a binary file? Find me a picture of the Newport Transporter bridge.

Here’s an example. Few people bother to RTM these days when STW gets the answer more directly, but it still comes as a surprise to me that anyone should ask a question as basic “How do I comment out code?” — a question which, it turns out, occasionally directs programmers here. I hope these programmers take the time to read the rest of the article, which argues that the version control system is the best home for old code, and that deleting code beats commenting it out.