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Some Guy on the Internet Said

Have you noticed how blogs can give a person more authority just by virtue of the fact that their thoughts are “published”. In some circumstances this can be pretty bad, at least for the gullible. How many times will people make decisions based on advice or reviews that basically comes down to acting on the opinion of “some guy on the internet”?

For some reason the same person could post the same thoughts in a forum and not get noticed, but publish a popular blog and all of a sudden they seem to be an expert. No additional qualifications, no visible change in talent, experience, wisdom or clarity of thought. No, just the same thoughts published in a blog.

It seems in a certain segment of the online population a blog is like having a book published. The act of publishing bestows some veneer of authority. Having been published and technical edited/reviewed others I know what a fallacy even that is but at least with print publishing there is some fact checking, at least with the good publishers a modicum of quality control. Nothing stops a blogger spouting absolute complete offal and having it taken as gospel.

OK so most of the time the blogger has to build up some sort of following before this takes place but I actually believe it is that very following that causes many bloggers to think they know better. “10,000 rss readers can’t be wrong”. After this happens comments they make that would be taken as trollish in other media becomes dogma for their followers. Just look how disproportionately influential some blogs have become, say, in the web2.0, tech or marketing crowds. Yes some of them deserve to be popular, but do they deserve to be followed blindly? I would say no-one deserves that. A healthy level of cynicism is worthwhile while reading anything on the interweb.

The good news is this affect can be used to your own evil advantage if you want to generate consultancy work, attract writing and speaking gigs or just become internet famous.  Just remember wise words from Spiderman; “with great power comes great responsibility”.

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Author: Chris Garrett

Chris Garrett is a content marketing and blogging coach and co-author of the Problogger Book with Darren Rowse.

15 thoughts on “Some Guy on the Internet Said

  1. Call me paranoid, but I think you should always consider what you read – whatever the source. Just look at the genetics guy recently who falsified his results!

  2. Woof!

    Sorry, but that cartoon is great. It should be on top of the article 🙂

  3. I remember the cartoon but I don’t think it was one of Hughs, I don’t recall any funky lines or swearing in it, heh

  4. Okay, sure. There are lemmings out there. It’s the primary reason why SOME A-bloggers are where they, not because they know S.F.A.

    But there are also intelligent people who can make their own decisions. A good writer is going to prove his/her points with links to credible sources. Which is why I really believe that we still need old media.

    non-sequitur:
    Didn’t Hugh Macleod (gapingvoid.com) have a cartoon in which a dog says to another dog “on the internet, no one knows you’re a dog”? I think that that cartoon might just describe some readers as much as some writers.

  5. @Howtobewebsmart (what a loooong name Too much information needs to be categorized and filtered. That’s what smart RSS readers are for 🙂

    What will people say: Somebody arsed me …

  6. Quite right Sergio but the new media is supposed to be .. well, new, if not necessarily better? Also it is a heck of a lot harder in old media to get into the position whereas anyone can start a blog.

  7. I do agree with you Chris, but this is not a new problem nor an exclusive problem with the Internet. This same issue can be brought to other media like TV, radio or newspapers. Not evry newspaper, TV channel or show has quality information, but people do believe blindly everything they see on TV or read on the Newspapers. With the Internet it’s just easier to loud your voice, but on the other hand there is so much noise that I am not so sure that it is so easy to be listened

  8. I’ll believe anyone who can close a post with a Spiderman quote and pull it off.

  9. I think we’ve found a huge problem with blogs: too much information. Which means when someone actually finds a blog, he/she is more likely to believe it’s information is credible, simply because he/she found it. In other words, people start believing the blogs they find, for no other reason than they don’t have access to/couldn’t find, other information.

  10. Well, we are all surrounded by funny people. But back to the subject: A blogger who is censoring comments only for the reason that a blog stays on the right way of producing one-way information will only get appropriate consumers (!).

    A handgun supporter killing all anti-handgun arguments by censoring comments, trackbacks and everything else which comes along his trigger happy blog will have a very nice and following audience in that very specific corner of the Internet. What can I do about people virtually posting “No trespassing! Private property.” signs?

    The same like I do with any other bad product: Ignore it or publish my opinion about that subject on my own platform. That’s the so called freedom of speech.

    (BTW: That new comment box is lovable!)

  11. Yes Markus people do pull up others when they post false statements but unless the blogger allows those comments or trackbacks who is going to know? Only the people who bother to research will find them; the same people who are not gullible enough to believe it in the first place!

  12. As Chris says, once a person has a bit of a following on his blog, too many readers take what he says as the truth. But what Markus says is also true: there are people out there who know better (or worse) and if they don’t agree, they won’t hesitate to point out what they think is wrong.

    Sometimes having a following has nothing to do with the quality of a blogger’s commentary. It has more to do with exposure. Imagine the lucky blogger whose blog is mentioned on a TV show, radio show, or on some wildly popular Web site or blog. People will go there just to see what it’s all about. Then, because of herd-like tendencies, the ones who can’t identify schlock for themselves will continue to visit, read, and believe.

    The thing I worry about is comment moderation taken to extreme — where bloggers will delete comments that don’t agree with what they’ve said, thus preventing the two-way exchange of information.

    A funny side note here. I run a blog-based local Web site and one of the contributors writes a column of what you might call “tall tales.” They’re sometimes quite outrageous — for example, this week, he claims that in August, Mars will be only 76 miles from Flagstaff. The odd thing is, people are so gullible that they often believe his stories.

    There are a lot of really dumb people out there.

  13. So true, It is a fact I think..that if a person posts in forum, he may be ignored but if his/her write ups come on a popular blog then he is considered to be an expert.

    Hey Chris, you are such an expert in these blog posting 😉 ha ha ha (just kiddin’, you acutally are an expert in this field and I know that you don’t even need my approval for that )

  14. I am not sure if it is so easy to publish some dogma on the Internet and get consumers following blindly. If you can’t proof the facts by linking to i.e. hard facts sooner or later somebody else will proof that you are wrong. That’s one of the very positive miracles on the Internet. Information becomes public.

    Publishing in print and counter arguing in print is very slow and only a small elite will follow that printed debate.

    The one million pixel success can’t be repeated too often 🙂

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