Thursday, July 7, 2005

Can I Trust You?

Dan Gillmor, of We the Media is pushing a system called HonorTags in which bloggers and commenters will follow a taglist to identify themselves as playing any of the following roles online: advocate, enthusiast/fan, inventor of fiction, journalist, personal observer, or professional.

Gillmor feels that HonorTags will help both readers and creators alike. Readers can find content they can trust. The creators of content (journalists, bloggers, podcasters, others) get increased control over how they're identified. The HonorTags will also help creators build trust within their communities and network.

Gillmor says that the system can eventually help readers find credible and relevant information in a world where information (and news) is increasingly generated by the participation of many (of who many are not domain experts). Readers looking at the HonorTag on any kind of content will be able to answer for themselves the questions: Who has posted this information? Can I trust this person and the information?

However, I feel, such a tool (self-tagging) with no impartial third-party to assign these tags and roles or even monitor them, will be abused. For every user who'll honestly tag his/her work, there'll be others who'll tag their work wrongly to get themselves some credibility and increase traffic to their site. The idea of identifying credible sources of content is good and even necessary. Unfortunately the process of doing this by self-tagging is naive.

1 comment:

Sherri said...

That was the first thing I thought while reading -- the system is temptingly abuseable. And there is also the whole problem of classification. Relatively few bloggers strictly fall into such catagories. There are also problems in interpreting one of those roles and applying it to one's self.

Of course, there are also ideas inherent in this thought that information is or isn't trustworthy because someone says it is (or isn't). Even if someone INTENDS to present information as accurately as they can, that information may not be trusthworthy in the eyes of others.

More ideal than idea, really.