This weeks reading by Fogg of Credibility and the World Wide Web, the author examines why its critical to consider the credibility of sources. The two important factors that provide the overall perception of credibility Fogg discusses as expertise and trustworthiness.
The trustworthiness factor of credibility is perceived through the goodness or morality of the source. A student essential has to question if the source is “being truthful, fair and unbiased” (S. Guengerich, 2009). By considering these factors, a perception of credibility is produced. To be fair and unbiased websites should be “backed up by a third-party evidence” (Moss, 2013), with a respected opinion and be able to conduct blind studies. To create another factor of credibility, websites should question points and argue against themselves to eliminate being biased. By comparing similar sources students are able to create a perception of credibility and trustworthiness.
If expect advice or an opinion is included in a website the credibility of that source becomes highly more trustworthy than a site without one. The more expertise, knowledge and skill given to a website creates a sense of credibility and authority. It is essential for students to consider if the expertise is credible as it can impact how reliable the source is.
Credibility is extremely crucial for students to evaluate, as it can be easy for the information to be misleading and untrue in online sources. Students need to consider these factors on how credible a source is before referring it into their work.
“Wikipedia is an excellent case study on research in the digital age” (Ghajar, 2013). This statement by Ghajar is true as Wikipedia gives good, solid background information but cannot be used as a credible source in student assignments. The reason behind this is that Wikipedia is an online free encyclopaedia that can be changed and edited by anyone with no real expert knowledge on the subject. Since the content can be edited on the site to whether the fact is unknown as true or false, the credibility of the site has been damaged.
In Credibility and the World Wide Web by Fogg, four types on online credibility were outlined; Presumed, reputed, surface and earned. In an interview with Business Week, Jimmy Wales the founder of Wikipedia stated that people should not reference the site, yet he acknowledged that the website “provides background information to inform your studies on a deeper level.” (Wales, 2005). Since the founder does not consider the website a reliable source of information the credibility is also damaged through this interview. The information on Wikipedia appears professional, confusing the viewers and then considering the site to contain factual content. However, the sites credibility has also been considered unreliable as there is no evidence that proves that the factual information is true. Therefore, Wikipedia should not be considered as a credible source to use in student work.
- Legitimate vs Fraudulent: The appearance of the website can influence the viewer on whether or not the site is trustworthy. As the web improves and develops, sites have been designed to look more legitimate and credible, however they could actually be obtaining information from an unreliable source. Because of these new designs it will be much more difficult to differentiate between whats credible and whats not.
- Social Networks: Fogg’s studies focused on the credibility of websites between 1999-2002. These social networking sites have to be considered as unreliable, as anyone can create a profile and manipulate the users of those sites to believe anything, such as a non-profit organisation or a celebrity.
- Login Systems: Often giving a website your email to belong to their system, you have to agree to their terms and conditions and trust that the site is credible. These websites operators often manage multiple sites, thus your IP and email address have become linked to a large group of addresses. This allows Spam to be sent a lot easier. The issue is that the users won’t realise that what they have been sent it spam, as it looks similar and legitimate to the sites. Users have to establish how reliable a site is if they have been led to view it through spam.
Fogg, B. J. (2003). Credibility and the World Wide Web. In Persuasive Technology: Using computers to Change What We Think and Do (pp. 122-125). Amsterdam: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.
Fogg, B. J. (2003). Credibility and the World Wide Web. In Persuasive Technology: Using computers to Change What We Think and Do (pp. 147-181). Amsterdam: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.
Ghajar, L. A. (2013, March 24). Wikipedia credible research source or not? Retrieved from http://teachinghistory.org/digital-classroom/ask-a-digital-historian/23863
Moss, T. (2013, January 1). Web Credibility: The basics. Retrieved from https://www.webcredible.com/blog/web-credibility/
S. Guengerich, R. S. (2009) Seven Thing You Can Do To Improve Your Credibility On The Web. Retrieved from http://pragmaticmarketing.com/resources/seven-things-you-can-do-to-improve-your-credibility-on-the-web
An example of presumed credibility is The Australian Government website. With different links to other government parties, the site is a non-profit organisation. This can be utilised as a credible source as the site provides specific information, allowing users to presume the type of content contained on the website.
An example of reputed credibility is the website The West. The site is considered a credible source because of its reputation. It is also seen as reliable because of its partnership with Yahoo and The West Australian, as they are already seen as credible sources. As the site assists its viewers on finding homes to buy or rent, the positive feedback is also spread through word of mouth, making the website have more reputed credibility.
An example of surface credibility is the Perth Now website. It is a site that provides its readers breaking and up to date news. The website has been designed to appear professional and is layed out in a format thats easy to read. The content displayed generally isn’t shown to be biased, and the page is constantly updated allowing users of the site to understand its credibility because of it’s surface appearance.
Princess Polly is an online retailer that has earned its credibility. The brand provides quick responses to its customers questions, and sends emails to confirm all your transactions. The retailer’s website also recognises the users who have been on before and what they have previously looked at. Princess Polly also has link to fashion blogs and fashion blogs linking to their website. The adverts on the site also relate to other items the users are interested in. All these factors contribute to the sites earned credibility.