The Impact of Anonymity on Weblog Credibility
Posted: 25 Feb 2009
Date Written: February 22, 2009
A blog, or weblog, is an online diary whose writer is known as a blogger. Many bloggers choose to publish anonymously. This paper examines whether a blog by an anonymous blogger will be perceived as being any more or less credible than one by an identifiable blogger. Two studies were conducted in the UK to examine this, with one of the two studies being replicated in Malaysia. The first study presented respondents with a blog entry in one of three conditions: where the blogger was fully identifiable with a photograph, where only the age and sex of the blogger were revealed, and where only an alias was given for the blogger. Multi item constructs were used to measure the credibility of the blog and the blogger. No differences were found. Study 2 examined whether this was due to the presentation of the blog entry. This time respondents were shown one of two blog posts which conveyed exactly the same information and revealed exactly the same information about the blogger. One post introduced a number of spelling/grammar/punctuation errors. Results show that the well presented blog's writer was perceived as being more credible than the writer of the badly presented blog, but there was no difference in the credibility of the blog itself. The implications of the results are discussed with reference to the use of blogs as a knowledge sharing tool.
Keywords: perceived credibility, computer mediated communication
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation