On “Incrementally Correct Personal Websites”

April 29, 2022

A couple years ago, Brian Lovin wrote about “incrementally correct personal websites.”

It’s the idea that we put dates on blog posts and feel pressure that each blog post will be the final word on a topic, but that instead things should be iterative. You write something and publish it, but the expectation is that it’ll change. You’ll keep updating it to make it incrementally more correct or more comlete.

I like the idea a lot. It encourages just publishing something instead of being fearful of pressing publish, which makes a lot of sense. But in practice, recently, I’ve found the opposite to be more helpful for me.

The fact that I need to write a blog post every day encourages me to publish. I have to publish something if I want to hit that daily goal. I can’t dwell too much on whether something is perfect or not — by the time the daily deadline hits, I have to be done.

I do sometimes shy away from writing “bigger” posts that I want to get right — for example, posts about projects I’ve built in the past that I’ll want to link to from my portfolio or resume. But I try to remind myself that each blog post is just a snapshot from a point in time, and that if I want to change it I can edit it or just rewrite a new version later. It’s not the end of the world to make a second attempt at a topic.

I’ve experimented in the past with having an incrementally correct website, where each page is my thoughts on a different topic and the website slowly gets updated over time when I have more to add (Andy Matuschak’s working notes is a prime example of this).

But I’ve found that being able to press publish on something and then never have to think about making it perfect is freeing for me. Once I ship a piece of writing off, it exists as a discrete piece of thought that’s been solidified and written down, and I don’t have to worry about polishing it continuously.

Perhaps Brian and I have landed on different paths to the same goal: removing inhibitions in publishing to your website. His solution is to allow for things to be imperfect and a work-in-progress, and my solution is to put my feet to the fire and be okay with publishing imperfect writing under a deadline. Two means to the same end.