There have been a lot of studies which pertain to trust, the most famous probably the Edelman Trust Barometer. If you haven’t read that stop reading this now and spend your morning being truly enlightened. If you have, then please read on.
A few weeks ago during what seemed to be a crescendo of online banter about Quora and how awesome it was to answer all your questions I became frustrated for two reasons:
What was once a great question site was quickly becoming spamish and narcissistic or dumbed down with ridiculous questions to which the answer could only be, ” it depends”, “yes”, or “no”.
For whatever anomalous reason several tweets and online comments crossed my desk with a common theme that everything you could ever need to know could be found on twitter. I can only imagine the person was simply sitting back and letting 140 characters at a time pass by absorbing the all-knowing information. My snarkier side wondered what these people would think about a surgeon with the same philosophy, “trust me everything I know about heart surgery I learned on twitter.”
I was curious about who would people trust to answer a very specific question of importance. So I put together a very nonscientific survey which simply asked the question, “If your job depended on getting the correct answer to a question which would you trust more?” The options, in no particular order, were twitter, blog, Prof. (with PhD), textbook, Wikipedia, Quora or a friend.
By a landslide textbooks were the winner. A Professor and Wikipedia tied for second and Twitter, blogs and friends barely made a mark.Quora, by the way, didn’t get a single vote.
Before you blast the results let me say again this was not a scientific study and most professors (one did) would challenge the question as not being valid. I agree and would add my sample was likely biased (most likely PR folks), etc. but it does give an interesting snapshot.
The uptake to all this, if you truly believe in the crowd, don’t trust them when your job is on the line and go buy a textbook.