#AskaDev: Sifting Out the Fake News in the Dev World

We ask developers how they judge the quality of content.

You need to keep it real when you market to developers.

Whether driven by performance metrics or too much time spent at happy hours with the sales staff, technology marketers don’t always write content with the needs of the developer in mind.

It’s tempting to dollop on a bit too much sales fluff or critique a subject matter expert as writing with too technical an audience in mind (even though developers are, you know, technical). So, we asked developers how they assess the trustworthiness of a report, blog post, newsletter or forum.

Here’s what they told us:

Łukasz Mądrzak, chief engineer at RedStudio.ie, has his perfect world scenario – and a more realistic answer.

“Until Elon Musk creates the article trustworthiness and fact-checker website, pravduh.com, which he has promised to do in the next free block of 10 minutes of his time, we are dependent on the traditional ways of checking the credibility of content.”

Here’s Mądrzak’s real-world vetting process:

  • Check whether the content has been published by a recognized brand or accredited forum.
  • Focus on the source’s past performance. Is this brand known to publish fake news and inaccurate statements? Is it being sued for slander or defamation? If so, I’m very unlikely to engage with it in any way. Some stock traders may say that past performance is not a good indicator of the future performance of a stock. However, it’s hard to ignore it when it comes to a blog.
  • The date of a report or a blog post is very relevant to me. If a blog consists of just one or very few blog posts and hasn’t been updated in a while, it will negatively impact my rating. Things in tech change too rapidly to engage with outdated content.
  • I also think the delivery medium is important. On a subconscious level, I would judge the design of the website or the app through which I am consuming the content. And if it is subpar or outdated looking – I will be more likely to consider as untrustworthy. Naturally good grammar and punctuation would also be hugely important.

John Vester, senior architect at CleanSlate Technology Group, has an interesting take on evaluating content based on its followers.

“In the age of the Internet, we (understand) that everything available online is not as accurate as we would like. For me, I look at the reputation of the site, author, or underlying technology to gauge the trustworthiness. Comments on a given report, post, newsletter, or forum can also help reveal issues as well.”

Speaking more specifically to evaluating technical blogs and communities, Travis Johnson, a technical support engineer with Devada, has some tips.

“I believe it’s a blend of content driven by unbiased creators as well as an active and progressive-minded user community. The user community, to me at least, is something that shapes my perspective of whatever I’m reading. To be able to discuss content with other users is important. We’re able to provide feedback to one another and provide feedback to the author or the site in question.’’

What’s the Takeaway

If you are marketer reading this here are a couple of ideas to think about.

-Keep your content up-to-date. We know it takes a while for a solid blog post to rise to the first page on a search, but that is no excuse to not refresh it with the latest statistics (hey, we’re trying to do that ourselves).

-If your company hasn’t made a name for itself yet, look for publishers that are respected and seek to place content on those sites. Even if you byline it, you’ll benefit from the cache the publisher providers.

-Invest in a community and in technical content (beyond documentation) to place on your community site. Developers like to hang out, debate, suggest and seek help from each other. A key to a robust community: More than half the answers and suggestions come from users, not just your staff.