SEP 46: Per document changelogs

This site has a changelog. I’m pretty remiss at updating it, and in many ways these proposals have made it redundant in terms of tracking major changes to the site itself. But this proposal isn’t for the site wide changelog, here I’ll be exploring whether there might be utility in have per document changelogs. Of course, most documents will, at most, a couple of small typo fixes in their lifetime, but for some documents I could see it being useful to track changes. Examples:

  1. Essays. If I make a factual error in an essay and later realise my mistake and correct, I think it’s an ethical requirement to announce that a change has been made to that effect (eg. a newspaper retraction). I don’t want to gaslight people by simply changing what I wrote without making it clear that the words/facts have been changes.

  2. Beliefs: as my beliefs evolve/develop/change it seems to make sense to record those changes. Is a ‘changelog’ the right format for that? I’m not sure, but I’ll give it a go.

I think the log should be written into the frontmatter. If a change that warrants recording — not typo fixes, think thematic changes — is made, it could be reflected like so:

  - 2023-04-19 18:08:47: A previous version of this essay dated the St. Markus
    quote to 1623. I have since learned that this date is in doubt so it has
    been removed.
  - 2022-01-30 12:49:14: The following figure, previously included in the
    article, has been removed because it may have been exaggerated.

This changelog could then be emitted in the footer of the document, before or after the footnotes, either in full or collapsed in a <details> element.

Some might ask, “why not use version control?” Well, I do use version control, all of this site is versioned in git and pushed to multiple remotes, but if I’m being honest I don’t enjoy git. I love it, don’t get me wrong, using git has saved my but numerous times, but I don’t love using it. My lack of love for interacting with git makes it a non-starter for me in this role.