Please don’t trust me

… or anything else you read on the internet, too.

Forrester Research has a report today. They asked 5000 North American consumers “On a scale of 1 to 5, how much do you trust the following 18 information sources?” The lowest number of “generally trust” and “trust completely” votes went to “corporate blogs”, and the conclusion on Techmeme was “corporate blogs are not trusted”.

I don’t want you to take anything I write on trust. I try to lay out novel facts, interesting hypotheses, useful tests, unusual perspectives. News. If you believe something just because I say so, then you’re not reading hard enough. I suspect the world will be better off if you’re more skeptical.

I do agree that a lot of “corporate blogs” are not conversational, and that they echo unsubstantiated statements made by others. A lot of techblogs are the same way, as are news sources. Salinger Syndrome is a real problem.

If Forrester asked me “which websites do you trust?”, I’d have to ask them to clarify the question before I could answer. If a site provides links to source information, then there’s no trust required. If a site reprints rumors, or makes unsubstantiated assertions, then their claims are indeterminate without proof. A website isn’t some guru or messiah that you should follow with a papercup of Grape Flavorade in hand. A website is just someone talking, no more, no less.

Please, don’t issue blanket trust to “corporate bloggers”. Don’t blindly trust other types of bloggers or reporters either. No need to automatically disbelieve, and no need to automatically believe. Check to see whether what someone said can be verified and survives critical questioning, instead.

8 Responses to Please don’t trust me

  1. Great post…and newspaper editors and newsrooms alike should remember this as well.
    There is such hysteria over skyrocketing use of new media – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn – that common sense seems to have deserted. Rather than accepting statements or Twitter memes that “seem” as likely to be true, it is best to check and see whether something that was said can be verified and survives critical questioning.

  2. jon burg says:

    Agreed! These mass studies fail to have the insight a real conversation would net out. And so, the numbers don’t tell a real full story. It’s an issue.

  3. Mary H Ruth says:

    Thank you thank you for making this point. Whoever said blogging had anything to do with trust? Hasn’t it always been no more or less than a log, a journal? What’s to trust? All news is history and all history is subjective.
    The Forrester research is not only barking up the wrong tree, but perpetuating misunderstandings about the internet.
    Corporate trustworthiness in a blog is as simply dealt with as your header here.

  4. Good advice. A lot of this comes down to establishing a relationship between a blog and its readers; trust – or a lack of it – shapes that relationship as surely as anything else.

  5. Your corporate blog postings are not as interesting as they used to be back in the olden days.
    I still trust you, though.

  6. [jd sez: The folloing is off-topic to the above post, but it doesn’t mention what the actual question is.]
    Please, please help…I am a photographer whose business is crippled due to bad instructions from Adobe CustService/TechSupport. I cannot not get any useful response, including two hangups tonight, and I was NOT rude in the least. This has been going on over a week. I have svc Request #s, etc.
    I hope you can direct me to someone who can help.
    Thanks, and I apologize for the off-topic comment.
    Larry Hunsucker
    lhuns@intentimages.com

  7. The question is: “Can you direct me to someone who can help?, because 5 phone calls, 3 svc requests, and multiple days waiting for responses haven’t got me back in business
    [jd sez: Sorry, I still can’t tell “help with what”… whether it’s a presales on upgrade prices, an installation or activation issue, some type of system configuration issue, something else… technical support is still the most logical path for most of these, but the first task in any technical support call is getting confirmation on the question, so we can start to work on the answer. You might be better off writing a blogpost, so others could know what you’re seeking…?]