Here’s a free idea for anyone who wants to whip this up: a new plugin for WordPress which shows readers the revisions made to a post. I’ve always wanted something like this, but the two plugins that currently exist aren’t up to snuff (and one is dead it looks like as it’s been two years since its last update).
Here’s the gist of how the plugin I picture works:
- After a post is published any change made to it requires a comment be entered about what the change was. This is published on the site at the bottom of the entry after any footnotes. It can be short like I show in the below mockups, or verbose like The New York Times updates.
- There’s a reader toggle that allows the reader to see the complete revision set of the document. This is shown inline for space and ease of viewing.
- The site admin can set a threshold where X% of changes to overall text triggers a new post to be automatically published on the site letting readers know substantial changes have been made. The author of each post is warned that recent changes will trigger this post, and able to fill in text in a custom field to explain changes in the new post. Picture the posts that Kottke.org posts to let RSS readers know of updates. The author can also trigger this if needed. The update post would only publish once a day and contain a listing of all of these items.
The goal is more transparency in publishing. I, or any blogger, could effectively wait for a ‘big name’ to endorse a post and then change all the text in my original post so it looks like that ‘big name’ just endorsed something awful.
But more practically I just want to show the readers changes that have been made so that I can keep articles updated, in a more ‘living document’ manner.
Here’s a mockup of what I’d like to see for the revision displays that the user could toggle on:
And here’s what I would like to see shown at the bottom of the post listing revisions:
You can have this idea, but if you build it let me know so that I can use it.