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Online Credibility and Community Among Blog Users

Jeanine Finn and Homero Gil de Zuniga

ASIST 2011 Annual Meeting
New Orleans, LA, October 9-12, 2011


Summary

This study is based on a secondary analysis of data from a survey of U.S. adults related to informational media use, trust, and community engagement. The authors were interested in determining if the act of contributing to online information sources (blogs, in this case) was correlated with higher expressions of trust in "alternative" or citizen-journalism sites. While familiarity with these sites has often been shown to correlate with higher trust measures, isolating participatory behavior from reading/use behavior is a particular question that has not been much addressed in the literature. Several survey responses related to online behaviors and attitudes were examined, and contributor users were found to be more likely to rate alternative media sites (with user-contributed content) as credible than other users. This effect was consistent even when controlling for demographic factors or otherwise generally advanced online information use. Content contributor users were also found to score slightly higher on measures of off-line social capital. This conclusion suggests an area for future research into the norms and motivations behind the development of collaborative information resources, and better analysis of the role of trust or credibility in explaining why some types of online resources (wikis, blogs, digital libraries, etc.) succeed and flourish, while others do not.


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