Popularity is not Credibility

Steve Rubel talks about How to measure a Bloggers Credibility. He mentions these four methods:

  • Assessing his/herTechnorati standing
  • Checking whether the person makes his/her traffic statistics publicly viewable
  • Using Google and Marketleap
  • Researching the blogger’s media coverage

Now I read his blog pretty regularly, and he’s a pretty bright guy, so I’ll assume he’s using these primarily as a starting point, not as a final deciding factor. The problem is three of these factors are nothing more than a measure of website popularity. Now repeat after me … POPULARITY IS NOT CREDIBILITY!

For example mafia kingpin John Gotti was wildly popular, he received hundreds of fan letters even after he was incarcerated and was serving time in jail. So he was popular but other than when he ordered a hit, not a very credible person. How about President Clinton’s confession of not having sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky? Again another very popular person caught in a public lie, and losing credibility. Lastly lets look at Michael Jackson … then again lets not, but you get my point. Now of course you could find hundreds of examples of people who are popular and very credible, which proves my point, there is no correlation between popularity and credibility.

On to publishing weblogs, now I’m all for transparency. Heck I’ll freely admit to blogging about popular subjects to get on the bandwagon, and get some free link love from time to time. I’ve also ‘picked a fight’ with some higher profile bloggers to get some attention now and again. However I believe strongly in my argument and viewpoint, enough to defend it publicly, the blogosphere just makes my voice a little more noticeable. Anyway publishing your weblogs is a bad idea. First of all there is the issue of referrer spam. You set up a bot to do it everyday and get yourself a close to permanent link. Second if I’m you’re competitor (think traffic not dollars) I want to know how and why people are finding your website, I can get a lot of that information from your traffic stats. Lastly the figures are not 100% accurate and very open to manipulation. Spiders and bots can account for a big chunk of traffic and make things look considerably better or worse than they really are.

So how do you know if someone is credible? I don’t have that answer, shoot them an email, follow up with a telephone call, ask an unexpected question, gauge their reaction, listen to the little voice in your head that tells you when somethings not right. Whatever you do trust search engines, I hear there a whole group of people who try to manipulate the results to make money.

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