says NHS Blog Doctor. I ain’t going to say it any better.
…Though I will add that the practice of significantly changing an article while leaving the “Last Updated” field unchanged has been noted many times on this blog. Both the old and the new versions of the article on milk allergy say that they were last updated on Monday, 20 November 2006, 04:54 GMT.
UPDATE Tuesday 10.23am. A comment to this post by Lee Moore points out that the Google cache search result that Dr Crippen had cited to show the earlier version has now been updated, in the way of Google cache stories, to show the later version.
A more permanent record of the changes can be found using the News Sniffer programme. (Specifically the bit of it called “Revisionista”.)
This link shows versions 0 and 1.
This link shows versions 7 and 8
I haven’t the time to track down exactly when various changes happened. However I note that whereas Versions 0 and 1 say at the beginning:
Nearly 80% of 500 doctors polled by the medical taskforce Act Against Allergy thought…
Versions 7 and 8 say:
Nearly 80% of 500 doctors polled by a formula milk manufacturer thought…
There are other changes in the story. One important change relates to the question of how common milk allergy is. Earlier versions say it is very common. Middle versions say that opinions differ. Later versions state some figures from the Food Standards Agency.
As always, I do not complain that changes have taken place. The changes are improvements. What is bad is that non-trivial changes are done by stealth. An organisation with the BBC’s resources ought to find some way of making significant changes explicit. Failing that it ought at least to not make a false statement on the Last Updated field.
Of course none of this business of stealth edits is news to readers of this blog, but judging from the correspondence that “Dr Crippen” has received, the fact that the Last Updated field has not been changed does lead to some readers being misled.