Serializing credibility

Jan 21, 2005

The Harvard conference on blogging, journalism and credibility is in full swing, and is interesting listening (there’s a webcast). A few of the last speakers have finally gotten around to talking about how blogs build up credibility; one speaker mentioned how hard it can be to find a blogger’s bio, and how the Google footprint can be misleading.

Earlier today I went searching for the e-mail addresses of the 76 bloggers signed up for the Triangle Bloggers Conference, but many of their blogs don’t give contact information. Fewer yet have an About page that explains who the author is, where they live, what his/her profession is and why he/she writes the blog (mine can be found through the About link in the navigation at the top left of this page). Jeff Jarvis has asked about tagging blog posts as a way to give readers some of that About information. However it’s done, it sure would be nice to have consistent, standard About and Contact parts for a weblog. Part of journalism’s credibility is the masthead in a newspaper or magazine that tells you who the editors are, who the company officers are, where to send letters and how to call into the offices. You a blogger and want credibility? Make it easy for your readers to find you, contact you, know you.

Blogging is a serial publication, and we bloggers write for regular readers. If you’ve regularly read the Coconut Wireless (formerly at Zuiker Chronicles) you’ve followed my forays into blogging, my medical journalism and HIV research, my political and religious flashpoints, my family growth. Through your comments and email messages, you’ve acknowledged my blogging efforts (Tom Chung has been particularly ready to challenge my political statements and engage in intelligent debate). Am I credible? You decide.

But here’s the other side of blogging – at times, 75 percent of the hits I get on this site come through Google, from people in China or Spain or Finland or even Iran (you can see the list of countries here). Last week I got hundreds of hits through links on Scripting.com and BoingBoing. Probably all of those visitors were reading the Coconut Wireless for the first time. So my serial publishing effort gets seen as a snapshot, and if those readers don’t take a few moments to read my About page or read down through some past posts, they get little context. Which is fine for some posts, but maybe not others.

The conference is back … so I’ll finish this post later. Until then, a question: What can I add to this blog, or to individual posts, to provide more context or information that will build my credibility?

Anton Zuiker

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