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I was quite surprised a few days ago when I visited the latest HTML specs from W3C (they moved it to a new website and URL, but it's official) and saw that they had been updated on that very date. I thought, "Wow, how lucky." Then I visited the site the next day, and the day after that, and so on. Each day showed a new update date.

I compared the specs from two different days and found absolutely no changes. It seems they are dynamically updating the date. I've seen this tactic in low-quality blogs that aim to cheat Google with "current" content, but I've never seen it on a reputable site.

So this got me wondering: Does this affect UX in any way? I think they are misleading users into believing there was an actual update, which wasn't the case. I'm curious if this could impact other areas of UX, such as accessibility.

For reference, this is the title today October 10th 2023

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Edit

Please note the question is generic, I gave this example because it kind of shocked me coming from a well respected resource, but I mean on any site. This is more common in low quality sites, hence why I mentioned an example from an authoritative website once I found it.

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  • How would it impact the accessibility of the website, specifically to do with how the information is perceived or accessed?
    – Michael Lai
    Oct 12, 2023 at 1:05
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    Just wondering if it fits into Cognitive and Neurological disabilities usability.yale.edu/web-accessibility/articles/… . I imagine someone with ADHD, OCD or autism may have issues with something that is always new, kind of "Groundhog Day" . But again, just wondering, hence why I ask. As someone diagnosed with both ADHD and OCD, I find it a bit weird, like something is off. Not to the point it paralyzes me or something, it just bothers me
    – Devin
    Oct 12, 2023 at 3:01
  • I'm not sure that I do read whatwg.org as "official". (It does sound like they should be held to the standards of "reputable sites", including honest update timestamps, but I don't think it's official W3C material. Their FAQ says they split from W3C.) Oct 12, 2023 at 4:45
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    By the way, a different standard of theirs is not updated to today (at the time of writing its updated date is in September): url.spec.whatwg.org So it may be that the page you're looking at really is updated in some way. Of course, an update might mean activity in a ticket proposing a change or something rather than a published difference in the standard itself. Oct 12, 2023 at 4:51
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    …actually having done another review, the date is updated every time the build is run as part of Wattsi. It just so happens that it runs the build whenever the main branch is updated (using a GitHub workflow).
    – Kit Grose
    Oct 13, 2023 at 1:15

1 Answer 1

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I suppose if it has affected your experience on the website, I would say that it has for other people as well.

I think one of the problem is that the term used to indicate the 'freshness' of the website is not clear, and it was something that I had asked previously about before on UXSE (Value of the "Last Updated" field on a web page).

I believe that if there was a clear definition of the terms updated, modified and reviewed, then there won't be any ambiguity to the users.

Of course, if the website administrator or owner still chooses to misrepresent the information, there's not much you can do about it.

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