In my last entry I "quoted" Earl Weaver. I stole the quote from this article on ESPN.com. But if you go there, you'll notice that quote is no longer on the page. Earl is no longer considered part of the top 10 list of managers or coaches flipping out. Heck, he's not even on the honorable mention list. I had read this article this morning and had seen it; When I connected to my computer at home, I still had the article open, and Earl was there! Relieved to discover that I wasn't crazy, and that I could steal that great quote, I began to think about what ethical problems there may be with changing stuff you publish online with no indication you changed it.
Obviously, this article isn't that important. Maybe they pulled the quotes because they were completely fabricated (good thing I used em!). Anyway it's a list and a fluff opinion piece, not real news in any sense of the word. But websites seem to do this all the time, go in and change and edit articles or news with no indication that they did so, other than what might exist in the wayback machine. Hmm, seems Earl isn't there.
Magazines can't retract things or change them without new editions, in fact in no medium before the internet could you just change it and hope no one saw the original version. Is this ethical? I don't really know. While on one hand I don't see the purpose of announcing you made changes, it does seem kind of underhanded to just cover up your mistakes with no acknowledgement. Also, what if the changes are due to some totally different reason? Political or social pressure on a website to censor an article? If you don't keep an archive, you'll never be able to show what you saw was really there before. I don't know, perhaps it doesn't matter at all, but it really bothers me for some reason.