It’s time to demand transparency. I care what happens to other people. I care that people have a chance, without being misled, to achieve their potential. What I can’t stand is when a website, business, or other organization shows no transparency. What is transparency? Example image and description below
Transparency is when you can see through something to what is actually behind it. You can see what is behind the computer screen here.
Opaque is the opposite of transparent. Example image and description below.
The curtain here does not allow us to see through to what is behind it. The curtain is not transparent. It is opaque.
Why demand transparency?
Transparency must be demanded to avoid deception, deceit, and dishonesty. It must be demanded to enforce credibility, trust, and value. To build integrity and trust, I advocate greater transparency in the following basic way:
Clearly Defined About Information
Each website or online presence (Facebook and Twitter accounts and any other type of ‘page’ included) should have a clearly defined about section. This page must include the following:
- Who owns the website/page.
- Who makes updates to the page? Is it the owner, or some hired gun to put out updates?
- If hired talent is making updates, create an about page for them so we know who they are.
- What does the person look like – a few pictures is a must.
- Why has the person created the website/page?
- Where does the person live – limiting it to state/province only is fine, but the more specific, the better. I understand giving out an address might be a concern, but it isn’t too much to ask to put your state/province of residence.
- What is the persons experience/credibility to put up the website? Do they have a college degree or are they just passionate about what they are doing, or both?
A video showing proof that the person is doing the website/page is not required, but will further cement credibility.
***** These folks get it *****
Lisa is the owner of 2createawebsite.com. She has a clearly defined about page and I know that she lives in Texas. She’s been doing internet affiliate marketing since the late 90’s. She provides pictures and videos of herself. She is very credible and she is having immense success in her websites. I believe her credibility and transparency play a role in this.
Joel On Software
Joel is the creator of joelonsoftware.com, a website/blog for programmers. Joel lives in New York and provides pictures, videos, and podcasts for the audience. He’s written countless articles and outlines his past experience and reason for doing the website. It’s very clear who he is and what his credibility is.
Steve Pavlina owns stevepavlina.com, another credible website. I don’t necessarily agree with everything he says there, but he provides pictures, video, and is very transparent about where he lives and the relationships he has. His past is very well known and he lives in Las Vegas. There is no question who he is, what his experience is, and what he is presenting.
***** Questionable websites/pages *****
Tony Robbins Facebook/Twitter accounts
The main issue I have is not that I don’t know who Tony Robbins is. He’s a prominent life coach/seminar instructor. The issue I have is that his Facebook/Twitter pages send out updates constantly, but any questions about who is doing them go unanswered. It is obvious to me that someone other than Tony is doing them.
Who is sending out the updates? Where do they get the information from? Does Tony tell this person/people what to update or give them room to decide what to send out? I feel with answers to questions like these, I’d trust his Facebook/Twitter accounts much more.
FileHippo.com is a giant repository of files. For all I know, a man in his underwear wearing a hippo costume is in his basement running this site. There is no about page explaining who or what is running this website. A simple explanation following the criteria I outlined above would give this site some credibility.
ASP.NET center (a programming website)
This is a programming website, located at aspnetcenter.com, for people who use the ASP.NET technology to develop their websites. Not only is the page littered with advertisements, there is no indication of who owns the site. Yet this site is getting website visitors and probably making money. But who knows if the information is really accurate. What credibility does the owner(s) have?
I believe there should be a transparency standard for websites and other online pages. The question for you is: Should there be a standard for websites to be transparent? Is it reasonable to demand pictures, video, general residence, experience, education, and intent from website owners?