Establishing Cred

Out here in internet land, it frustrates me to see so many recommendations and endorsements for things that aren’t great. What’s even more frustrating as a journalist who gets paid to evaluate these same things is watching any schmoe on the street get offered the same gratuities, generosities and respect that I’ve worked so hard to establish.

What am I talking about? Blogs.

Sure, the power of the blog is great. But the power of the reader is greater. While a blogger has the power to publish anything he/she thinks of, the power of the reader is to know when and when not to pay attention.

Forgive me if i sound all high and mighty here, but I’m beginning to wonder what happened to our ability to reason. take this situation as an example:

You’re interested in a new suspension fork. You’ve read all the magazine reviews that say Company A is the best out there, hands down. But you’ve never used one, you don’t know what it’s like, and you really don’t have that kind of cash sitting around. It’d be great to get one just like it for about half the price. With some internet research, you come upon Company X. Their site says that the company’s staff consists of defectors from Company A who got tired of charging so much for forks. Their mission is to offer a similar product for half the price. Great!, you say. Sign me up. Then you get to thinking, “I’m a good consumer. I should research this thing first.” After a few more clicks, you come upon a link to a blog…. which includes a review of the fork by MTBlogger, who writes,

“Got a hold of Company X fork the other day. Man what a difference. There’s absolutely no need to spend $600 when you can have the same high-end fork as Company A for half the price. Don’t waste your cash– call up Company X today and get one for yourself.”

What’s your reaction? Believe MTBlogger and go pick one up for yourself? Or ask a few more questions like, “ever used Company A’s fork?” or “How many rides do you have on it?” or “What kind of trails do you ride?” or “How long have you been riding?”
A good Blogger would write back to you as soon as you post. You may find that MTBlogger is new to riding, has only owned one mountain bike that he got used from a friend, and this is the first sincere upgrade his bike has ever seen. Or you may find that MTBlogger is more of an armchair critic than anything, spending more time at the computer than on the trails.

Are people’s desires for recommendations outweighing their reason? Are we as consumers so hungry for answers that we’ve forgotten how to evaluate a source? Did we ever know how to in the beginning? Is the age of information becoming so muddied with dribble that we’ve neglected to actually interpret the information as we perceive it? Yes, yes and yes!

Don’t get me wrong… the web has great information, but 90% of it is crap. Stop wasting your time trying to separate the wheat from the chaffe. Find reliable sources. Stick to them. Support them. Pay attention to them. Ignore the rest.

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