10. Website Credibility through the Writing Tone – 9.0%

The tone of the writing on a Website was something people noticed when assessing credibility. The participant comments include writing tone as a criterion usually in a negative way. People generally said thatsensationalism or slang hurt a site’s credibility, while a straightforward, friendly writing style boosted credibility. Some sample comments relating to the tone of writing are below:

  • ” Holy Crap” and other slang or poor language harms credibility. Credible people tend to understate. — F, 53, California
  • ” Cops” to search lake again vs. “Police”, “8 hurt” vs. “8 injured”, and so on. This site uses lower English and lowers its credibility. — M, 44, Texas
  • Seemed less sensationalistic, more dry, and therefore more credible. — M, 38, Washington

Participants claimed to be able to detect a “sales pitch” or “marketing” language, and were generally skeptical of sites with an abundance of either.

Many participants explicitly distinguished between content that seemed (or was proclaimed to be) factual, opinionated, “gossipy,” religious, or overzealous.

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