“Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.” This is an old saying and in case you were wondering where you could possibly be to put yourself into that situation, the answer is the ocean. That salt water can suck the life right out of you. Can you imagine how agonizing it would be to be surrounded by a precious resource on all sides, but not be able to partake because you know that resource could harm you. The idea is less alien than you might think when you consider that this is the same challenge facing many users of the internet today. Rather than water, the precious resource surrounding web surfers is information and the thing that makes it so dangerous is that many of us don’t know the source of that information. It may come from a genuine expert, but it might also come from a competitor hoping to mislead, someone with little or dated knowledge on a topic, or worse yet, it might just be a flat out hoax.
So the question for web readers is, how can you protect yourself from potentially harmful content? The answer, in many cases, is easier than you might think – rely on trusted internet sources. There is a growing trend towards vendors hiring editors to develop content that is designed to be unbiased and educational. A well known site sponsor is often an indication of a trusted brand. Trust is also the hallmark of many of the traditional trade publishers. While many have struggled to develop their on-line presence, forward thinkers in this space are finding ways of identifying valuable content and placing it in a safe location like their web site.
My point is that savvy trade readers know that there is more to content than a catchy title – the source and the topic play a heavy role in helping people decide what they should read and what they should avoid. So if you are a vendor looking to create a splash in your space, work with the experts to formulate an edit strategy that identifies high value topics and expert writers. If you are a surfer adrift in a sea of information, make sure you verify your content source, and then drink in all of the quality information you can get your hands on.