30,000 Bloggers Can Be Wrong

Posted on July 13, 2005

If you find the same information on 30,000 different blogs does that mean the information is correct? 30,000 seems like a substantial amount of blogger support for the truth but Ian Betteridge at Technovia makes a good point that if the 30,000 bloggers all got the information from the same source (in this case Robert Scoble at Scobleizer) and the source is wrong then all the bloggers will be wrong too.

Does Scoble call up people before posting something about them? No, of course not -- he doesn't have the time. Yet, when wearing my news journalist hat, I'm expected to do exactly that.

Ultimately, most blogging is about what's being said in the rest of the blogosphere. It's an accurate representation of what people are talking about, which is not the same thing as being an accurate representation of reality. One of the best things that I learned doing seven years of philosophy was a simple one: Truth is not consensual. Simply because 30,000 say that Apple is preparing to launch a phone company doesn't make it true. It just means that 29,999 bloggers saw it on Scoble's blog.

If the information turns out to be incorrect it will probably eventually be corrected by the blogosphere in a later draft of the story. This does not include situations like Ana blogs (anorexia blogs) where the bloggers support each other's eating disorder and spread dangerous and false information.

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