What to do when citing the BBC?

Most people consider the BBC News website pretty reputable. However, they have a practice of invisibly updating their stories. See here for an example, sometimes in critical ways. This means that someone could quote them, and a later reader could say, “No, it doesn’t say that.”

So, what should a Doper do?

Make it known that the BBC has a habit of invisibly editing stories.

The contents of the internet can be changed? Lawyers can make people to change things as a matter of urgency? Simple factual errors can be corrected? What’s the question here, or even what is supposed to surprise us?

It’s like asking about the disappearance of spam from this message board. It just gets deleted.

You’re right to consider the issue of citing websites, but don’t forget that the time of your post is also publicly recorded. If a particular section of text is pertinent, then quote it.

If anyone checks your quotes they are missing the point. What’s important here is your own words, not the ones you find elsewhere, verifiable or not.
And for that matter, anyone who wants you to defend your own words is not worth answering. You said what you said. And are free to change your mind at any time, or let things just stand without endorsing or denying your prior stances. You aren’t being interviewed for a top job at the defense department, and even those guys change their position in the middle of a senate confirmation.

The problem comes when someone checks up on the cite and finds that the page cited now does not say what you said it said. They may then think you’re lying, and if they call you on it, your reputation is at risk. I’d rather online sites made their edits clear, much as a newspaper prints a correction the next day.

Do you mean cite in the academic sense? Usually the protocol is to indicate a (retrieved XX-XX-20XX in the cite. On the boards, that time stamp is automatically included on the post for you so theres no need to include that info. If theres any particularly important part of the article, quote it so it will still remain when the webpage is changed.