Blogs: Credibility, Ethics and Purpose

What makes a blog trustworthy?

Is it a list of citations and references, careful use of copyright or the lack of typos? Perhaps credibility is linked to lengthy appendices? Maybe, what really counts is the sophisticated meaning behind each line of posts?

Probably, it’s all of the above and none of it at the same time. Have you ever come across an accurate definition of what’s Ok to publish in blogs and what’s not? Obviously, blogging on illegal use of guns and drugs might bring extra traffic from police (as well as unexpected knocks on your front door in the middle of the night); but overall boundaries of credibility and ethics in the industry are vague.

Last Wednesday, in my Writing and Editing for Digital Media class, we’ve discussed credibility and ethics of numerous blogs that exist on the web. One of the students mentioned that her neighbour has a blog on kids’ allergies, where she gives advice to parents, even though she has no medical degree. How appropriate is that information? The author’s advice might do more harm than good!

I think there is nothing wrong with blogging without tertiary qualification, as long as the blogger does not claim to be an expert; then the information status becomes an opinion column and not the only path to follow.

Some tips and advices are learnt from a l experience. Just a personal example: I have a medical condition. When I found out about it, I decided to write an article about the sickness to make others aware of the symptoms.  Once my beloved article was published in a women’s  magazine I heard a lot of positive comments from the readers; however, one doctor who read the article made sure to publish a letter to the editor, explaining that my text wasn’t accurate, quoting statistics and using numerous medical terms.  Did the doctor completely understand what exactly I went through emotionally and physically? I doubt it. I spoke from personal experience and not from an encyclopaedic point of view.

Is there anything wrong if I share my ways to treat a sore tooth without being a dentist, my relatives always begged me to become? I’ll tell you anyway – Just go to sleep: you won’t feel the pain, will get some zzzzs and will save heaps on a doctor’s bill! ))

The thing is that filtering blogs is impossible. New blogs emerge each day and virtually anyone can create a free account about anything: ancient history, travelling, hot dogs recipes, love and hatred, vacuum-cleaners collecting – You name it! So, does it mean that we’ve got to start a secret censorship society to monitor all the blogs that might convey unreliable information? Unlikely. I guess it’s up to us – users of the web- to decide which blogs are reliable, according to our instincts, ethics and reading purposes. If you are looking for exact information, there are tons of resources with the government logo on it, those ones are censored – go for it if you please ))

I personally consider blogs to be opinion columns, even though this definition is minimising the complex definition of blogs in the modern publishing. However, if a blog is an opinion column, I don’t expect it to be 100 % accurate. I am willing to see open-ended, thought provoking questions in it, though. And if the contents has a typo or an occasional uncertainty hidden between line 17 and 18? So be it – we all make mistakes (except for me, of course): a blog is not a college essay.

Same rule applies to ethics: All people have different sets of values based on their upbringing, education, life experiences and hobbies. Therefore, what’s ethical for you is not necessarily ethical for me and vice versa. I don’t think it’s ethical to ruin my sweetest sleep in the morning, but guess what? My alarm clock does not care a bit!

My own ethics sensitivity depends on three factors:

• The practise has to be appropriate according to the Torah, which (being an observant Jewess) does reflect my set of values and beliefs.

• I have to feel completely comfortable about it, not half-way.

• My loved ones should not be ashamed by this practise performed by me.

I try to apply these factors when blogging as well. However, for some web writers, blogging is the way to pour out their negativity and bad energy, so why would they bother about ethics? Feel free to share your sets of values: what ethical behaviour means for you?

And finally, let’s discuss the purpose of blogs. There should be one, if so many people are blogging out there, right?) I’ve covered this topic in my previous post at length. The only thing I can add is that every person in this world is a unique universe on his/hers own: that’s why blogging may have different aims for all of us.

It’s a great exercise to develop your writing skills. It builds up positive self-esteem as you see how your contribution makes an impact on readers. It helps to develop analytical thinking and make new, interesting contacts. It may become a source of income if you try hard enough… And it’s just fun to have your own opinion about anything around you.

Let’s start right now: what do you think about your computer’s performance? Don’t you think it’s time to upgrade ?

I hope to find out the answer in your blog!

Categories: blogs, digital media, Judaism | Tags: , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Blogs: Credibility, Ethics and Purpose

  1. I never soley rely on any one source for my information. The mainstream media is often propaganda and sometimes blogs are much more accurate. One has to be discerning and use one’s powers of perception to decide what they believe is true or false, no matter f they read it on a blog or in a newspaper, or whatever.

  2. Hello!, Very interest angle, we were talking about the same thing at work and found your site very stimulating. So felt compelled to com?ment a little thank you for all your effort. Please keep up the great work your doing!

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