Why duplicating content creates risk

Jennifer Hamrick
Tuesday 27 February 2018

One of the main drivers behind the external website programme is to centralise data for external users which has previously been held across various School websites, blogs, department subpages, etc.

So far, when we have built new webpages containing information that should be centralised, we have asked relevant stakeholders to remove that information from their own websites. For example, we have asked Schools to remove information about entry requirements for specific programmes which is held in the digital prospectus. Why? Because duplicating content creates risk.

Information is inconsistent. With the same data held across multiple sites and managed by different groups, there is a high chance that information can quickly become inconsistent. A prospective student may see different modules listed on a School’s blog than they see in the digital prospectus, and they may become confused over what the course content really contains and which source to trust.

Information becomes out of date. All centralised pages undergo a monthly review by the digital communications team. This review is known as the editorial calendar, and we make sure all webpages contain accurate and up-to-date information that meets digital standards. If the same information exists elsewhere, there is a risk that it is not undergoing the same rigid review that digital communications conducts for centralised pages, and information will be out of date.

Information doesn’t get communicated to stakeholders. When a change is requested for a centralised webpage, the digital communications team makes sure that all relevant stakeholders (Schools, units, Admissions, students, etc.) are contacted about the change. This is because changing information on the web could pose a risk in terms of consumer protection legislation.

We also want to make sure that changed information is meeting the requirements of all stakeholders. For other websites with duplicated centralised content, there is no process in place to communicate changes to stakeholders.

Duplicating content not only creates risk in terms of consumer protection legislation, but it also creates the risk that external users will receive the wrong information, or get confused by the information they receive, and they will not be able to complete their task (such as applying for a course at St Andrews).

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