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Friday, February 18, 2005

 

Editor's note

So here's where I confess that my day job is editorial in nature. (As if everyone reading this blog isn't a friend or family member.) As a result I have strong feelings about editorial dos and don'ts with regard to Web content. So this morning, when I was tempted to edit last night's post (I wanted to take out the last "something"), I held back...because once something is published on the Web, you can't just change it without noting the change (unless it's a typo or something else minor), without sacrificing your readers' trust. And it seemed odd to delete one word - "something" - and then post a note:
"something" deleted 2.18.05
While we're on the subject of trust, I did something last month that I won't do again. I mentioned I was going out of town, then I published a few posts about being in the mountains, and then after the fact I referred to having been at Sundance. In retrospect, I should have either said where I was going or not...and if I'm serious about this blog (which I think I am), I should have seized the opportunity to post about such an interesting place/event.

Related Links:

1. The Web Credibility Project at Stanford
Information about how people evaluate the credibility of Web sites. Transparency is key, which is why changing Web content after it's published and acting like you haven't is not cool.

2. The Digital Future Report - Surveying the Digital Future, Year Four: Ten Years, Ten Trends
According to this Internet trend report from the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future, the credibility of Web sites is down overall, with Web sites tied to government and established organizations considered much more credible than personal Web sites or blogs.

3. A Blogger's Code of Ethics
Adapted from the Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics by Cyberjournalist.net (which is published by the Media Center at the American Press Institute). This code covers many of the basics, but while it says you should admit mistake, it doesn't say you should be transparent about any changes you make to content after it's been published.

As the comments at the bottom of this code make clear, not everyone agrees that all blogs should strive to be credible. And it's true: some blogs are all about getting attention or causing trouble, or just wasting time, while others are about an honest search for information and connection. This spectrum exists in all media - it just puts the onus on those of us engaged in the 'honest search' to work that much harder to uphold standards and make it clear we're doing so.

There's more to say on this, but I have to go to work!

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