Posted by: Rajiv Harjai | April 13, 2007

Who do you Trust in the Blogsphere?

trust-me.jpg

Trust is a big concern, but I am happy that social media has a better trust rating than any other medium.

My experience in the blogsphere has been excellent, where I have come across many bloggers (who know me also now) and I genuinely trust them.

Now the ironical bit, I have never met any one of them. I don’t know anything about their personal lives. It’s their ideas and thoughts which make them trustworthy like many of my personal friends.

Note: Opinions make people trustworthy (It doesn’t matter if you agree with them or not).

Opinion further links with effort… The other side to this is about bloggers who don’t know me, Do I trust them? Yes, because of my interaction with them (being one sided), since I make an effort to read their blog when ever they put up a new post.

Note: Another point of trust, you trust the person because you make an effort from your side to visit his blog and read what he has to say.

Taking this point further in a real scenario, recently, David Ferrabee (who is planning to do an Internal Communications conference in India,) asked me for some advice about holding the event in India after I commented on his blog. Since I know my way around India and due to my past work experience in Public Affairs, I knew I could help him with this. I gave him advice on how he could go about this, to the best of my knowledge.

David was extremely appreciative of my suggestions and he thanked me. The reason he asked me for my input and advice was because he was aware of my identity in the blogsphere, and he knew he could trust me for my opinions.

Now the question that arises is, how do two people who have never met each other trust each other? What is that one most important aspect that proves someone’s credibility? It’s their name. Although Shakespeare said ‘What’s in a name? A Rose by any other name would smell as sweet’. But today it’s all about the name game.

Note: Name and titles make people trustworthy.

Lastly a question, do I trust the anonymous bloggers, who blog under pseudo names? That’s a dilemma for me. I think I will trust someone more if they had their name, and other details mentioned, but a person who is anonymous might have some great ideas, thoughts and opinions; however I would have my doubts when it comes to the trust issue with them.

Let’s take two real scenarios…

People like TWL, I find hard to trust, even if I like what they have to say, or they make good points. Why might that be? It is not only because he is anonymous, I have personal reasons as well which lead to a logical point. Recently I was offended by him, where I think he lashed at me for portraying my opinion (on the PR Degree debate). I was not offended by his comments, but by the WAY he conveyed them. I think he could have said the same things in a much more diplomatic (read nice, polite) way (that’s what PR is all about…the diplomatic way of conveying your message). Nevertheless, I really appreciate his comments and because of them I am making an effort to better my writing skills.

The reason I mentioned this is to come to my next point which is:

Note: To be trustworthy, you have to be nice to people. Even if you say the right thing, trust might be lost because you didn’t say it politely.

Now there is another side to Anonymous bloggers. One of the blogs which in my opinion is a great Indian PR blog, is Hobbit Hob. I admire him, his knowledge… but again I face a dilemma when this trust question comes up. I can trust many others who I don’t admire just because they have a name and title, I know it’s not fair, but then it’s true.

Finally, as my friend who sits beside me says the ancient wise words, “Don’t Trust anyone Blindly.”

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Responses

  1. It’s so true that honesty and politeness go a long way. For the same reason name-calling does not contribute to a debate, rudeness is not an effective way to communicate. Great points here.

  2. Hi Rajiv
    Thank you for your kind words. I have some opinions that I wanted to share with you. In the physical world, it is with time that you can gain trust over someone you are with. Small good deeds like keeping your words and being honest over time build up trust. I guess it is similar in the blogosphere as well. How do you know a person is credible? Study the track records. Read the archives, his comments, his participation, what other people say about him, etc. I guess this is one way, if not others, to find out more about bloggers who are sitting across the globe and if there are no good means to find out the authenticity of who they really claim they are.

    Anonymous blogging has its pros and cons. While you can participate in candid discussions with a protected identity, it also leads to abuses. There can be various reasons why a blogger chooses to be anonymous and the reason can depend on the external environment, the country, the industry, the work environment, etc., etc., in addition to the blogger’s own blogging objectives. Anonymous blogging can sometimes serve a better purpose than blogging openly. The anonymity of a blog can sometimes make it appealing and credible to some. For that, you have to understand your target audience well. The IndiaPRBlog! is a case in point. PR professionals in India see that there is no agency or any individual trying to promote itself or himself. It just discusses issues in the industry and talks about tools that PR professionals can benefit from. There is no agency name involved so many PR professionals in any agency can open the blog and read it. There is no competition. It is positioned as a platform for all, even if it is a blog. Also remember, business blogging is still in its infancy in India. the anonymity might be protecting the blogger also from allegations of sharing industry secrets and discussing about certain agencies. This tactics might not worked in some other country, but in India it has worked. For that, you have the know the equation among the PR professionals in India and how they view such things.

  3. Firstly let me thank you for visiting. Nice to see you here.

    Very good points Hobbit, I never realized these aspects.

  4. I’m sure TWL is lovely once you get to know him..or her..or them….

    🙂

  5. Richard,

    TWL, is a person or persons , I have started to admire because of his/her/their directness and have appreciated his/her/their comments always.

    My point in the post was a little different. I hope you understand. 😉

  6. Some of this has to do with the fact that this technology allows you to find people with similar interests… listen to them talk… and then engage in conversation… and, in a world where no one will look each other in the eye on a bus or in an elevator, it’s a good way of breaking down barriers.
    /df

  7. Well said David


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