Correcting Online Mistakes

Anything that goes on the web is permanent, which means when mistakes happen – and they will happen – there is no way to undo them. So how can you fix them? Admit the mistake and issue a correction. Admitting your mistakes builds trust with your clients and gives you a chance to apologize, if necessary. It also gives you a chance to respond before your competitors do, playing a type of proactive defense. As an added benefit, search engines tend to prefer newer results for a given search, making it likely that people will see the correction before finding – and acting on – the erroneous information.

I have increased respect for STRUCTURE magazine because they did just that last week. An email announcing a new online video about BIM was sent to their mailing list before the video was available on the webpage. This is a good example of the need to double check that information is ready for release before posting, but more importantly within three hours the staff had noticed the mistake and sent out a correction via email. This simultaneously prevented the inevitable flood of “broken link” emails from readers and provided an additional point of contact, reinforcing the positive message that STRUCTURE is responsible and responsive to their readers.

It takes a lot of courage to admit when we are wrong; most of us don’t like to admit our mistakes, preferring to cultivate an image of competent perfection. But the truth is mistakes happen, and how we deal with them says a lot about who we, and our companies, are.