The Web Credibility Project: Guidelines – Stanford University

Of vague interest The Web Credibility Project: Guidelines – Stanford University. IMHO a fatal flaw after a quick glance is the lack of a clear answer to the "What do we mean by Credible" question.

In the desire for 10 simple guidelines they ignore the context. To my mind the context in which I am reading helps determine what makes a site credible. Some examples:

  • In the field of Emerging Church, Johnny Baker is credible, not just because his blog is cool but also because I have met him and been taught by him.
  • In Methodism Richard Hall is credible because I have met him, we have exchanged many emails, my superintendent knew him, he is listed in my copy of the minutes of the Methodist Conference.
  • In the world of software Kevin Dangoor is credible because I have used the software he is lead developer of (TurboGears) and because I have seen the way he reacts and writes on the TurboGears mailing list.

In other words what makes a website (or a person) credible on the internet is very much less about the website than what I know of them from outside the website.

This is even true of companies I buy from. Yes I make decisions based on their website useability, where they are located etc. But I always have a look around to see what else I can find about them. Looking at the credibility based on reputation around the Internet seems to me to be a much safer way of deciding who to do business with.

Strange how closely that maps onto the way that Google ranks pages.

Oh yes and one other. If you are selling software then for me the way to credibility is helped immensely by your attitude to, use of and distribution as Free Software.

Hat tip to Smart Mobs: Stanford Guidelines for Web Credibility.

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