Atlas Thesis Project: Blatant Lies

by Lauren Monitz

Have you ever wondered how much information on the internet is actually legitimate, well- researched news or knowledge? More often than not, people assume a site's credibility if it looks even remotely professional, as opposed to just some average Joe posting crap he heard from the bum across the street. I know I'm guilty of it, and I'm sure most of my classmates are, as well. We want to trust what we read and hear as opposed to not trusting anyone or anything. I think this is mostly because the internet was created to be a tool as opposed to a research hindrance. And let's face it, we're lazy. We often just trust the first answer to a question we find because verifying the information would take that much more effort.

But in reality, anyone can claim whatever they want on the web about any subject- academic or personal just to share information or express a point of view. People should be much more critical and skeptical of things they read on the internet and take everything with a grain of salt. There are plenty of sites denying the Holocaust happened, denying man landed on the moon, Ward Churchill-like ramblings, and basic logical fallacies that are “supported” with numerous facts, pictures and statistics claimed as evidence. Let's explore just how naïve people can be about things they read on the internet.

For my thesis project, I created a fake liquor and spirits consumer report blog. It is 100% fabricated by me with loosely related sources, completely made-up content, and a makeshift professional design look. Let this serve as a warning to you- don't believe everything you read.

View the Blog Here


Stanford University's Guidelines for Web Credibilty (click to visit the site):

1. Make it easy to verify the accuracy of information on the site.

Like a research paper, sources provide support through citation and reference links. Even if people don't follow the links, your material is supported with confidence and evidence.

2. Show there's a real organization behind your site.

Showing that your site is a legitimate business will boost the site's credibility. The easiest way to do this is to include a physical address or posting a photo of the office.

3. Highlight expertise in content and services you provide.

Stating clear titles and authority credentials gives you expertise on the subject matter.

4. Show that honest and trustworthy people stand behind your site.

Showing that there are real people behind a page of information lends credibility. By adding a personal bio and photo, you are taking responsibility for the content.

5. Make it easy to contact you.

One of the easiest ways to increase trust is to make it simple to contact you with questions or comments through either a phone number, physical address or email.

6. Design your site professionally or appropriate for your purpose.

People usually evaluate a site based on aesthetics and design alone. This includes the layout, typography, imagery, and content.

7. Make your site easy to navigate and useful.

Snazzy technology and flashy multimedia is great, but if a site isn't easy to use and provide you with the information you're looking for, what good does it serve?

8. Update content or revise often.

Sites that are actively updated and revisited to verify all information is as accurate and current as possible are given more credibility.

9. Even the smallest errors hurt credibility.

This includes everything from broken links to spelling and grammatical errors.



Research quesion #2: How did you promote this blog so people would actually read it?

Research question #3: What was the overall reaction and response?