DrKPI Trust Index

Summary: Do you trust your banker?
What about your blogger or physician?
Building trust takes a long time.  So how do bloggers do it?

We explain 3 points here:
1. Why trust matters in the blogosphere
2. How doe we calculate this index?
3. What the DrKPI  Trust Index can tell advertisers, sponsors and readers alike.

Der DrKPI Trust Index (you are here) one of the measures we use to assess trust and user friendliness of blog content.

Measure for Impact
Measure for Impact

The DrKPI Trust Index  is an algorithmus  and part of the DrKPI Blog Index. The latter allows us to analyse blog content. This makes it possible to assess how much trust readers are likely to put into the blog’s content.

More about this issue can also be found in the blog entry: Can you trust your banker more than a blogger? (including presentation slides)

Each one of the components of the trust index is being measured and part of the DrKPI Trust Index.

Believing is okay, checking is better

If you believe the above screenshot, die weekly newspaper Die Zeit endorsed the website. But things are not that clear …. see below.

The above claims that somebody has endorsed the site. But is this the case?  If we read the screenshot below, it is far from obvious. Writing “it could interest” is not to same as “it will interest” graduates.

Accordingly, the blogger uses the lukewarm recommendation, changes it and sells it to reader as a strong endorsement.

Take such evaluations with a grain of salt.
Assessments based on gut feelings are hard to defend in front of your management committee.

In other countries, such as the US or the UK, readers have become jaded and do not trust endorsements that much any longer.  Looking a the screenshot below suggests they are right in doing so.


Can you trust these endorsements or is it just hype?

We address the trust issue further below.


Trust is defined as “the extent to which one is
willing to ascribe good intentions to and have
confidence in the words and actions of other people”
(Dietz and Hartog, 2006, p. 559).

Some studies
describe trust as a “psychological state
compromising the intention to accept vulnerability
based upon positive expectations of the intentions or
behavior of another” (Rousseau, Sitkin, Burt, and
Camerer, 1998, p. 395).
Trust is also described in some studies as “the
willingness of a party to be vulnerable to the actions
of another party based on the expectation that the
other will perform a particular action important to the
trustor, irrespective of the ability to monitor or control
the other party” (Mayer, Davis, and Schoorman,
1995, p. 712).

These authors further, distinguish between trust and

– trust is an action that the trustor takes while
– trustworthiness is a quality that the trustee has.

They add that a party may consider the other party as trustworthy. Unfortunately, he/she may not indeed trust the second party (Mayer, Davis, and Schoorman, 1995).

Mayer, R. C., Davis, J. H., & Schoorman, F. D. (1995). An Integrative Model of Organizational Trust. Academy of Management Review, 20(3), 709-734.

Rousseau, D. M., Sitkin, S. B., Burt, R. S., & Camerer, C. (1998). Not So Different After All: A
Cross Discipline View of Trust. Academy of Management Review, 23(3), 393-404.

Vaezi, Reza, Torkzadehm Gholamreza, Chang, Jerry Cha-Jan (August, 2011). Understanding the influence of blog on the development of social capital. Newsletter ACM SIGMIS Database archive, Vol 42, Nr. 3, pp. 34.35 doi: 10.1016/j.elerap.2009.07.003

But where does that leave us when it comes to trust and blogs?

Trust is a hard concept to measure and becoming ever harder in the online world. For instance, online seller platforms such as e-bay use evaluations from buyers. These provide future users with an idea about a seller’s trustworthiness.

Often we trust these endorsements at our own peril. Nevertheless, generally we develop trust through experience. For instance, if your product fails during warranty, how easy is it to get the problem fixed? Depending upon that experience we start trusting or distrusting customer endorsements for a particular supplier, store or brand.

If Guy Kawasaki, Chris Brogan or Brian Solis endorse a book that may convince you to purchase it. However, after having read the book you might be dissatisfied. In turn, you will look at these 3 luminaries’ endorsements with a grain of salt next time.

Rest assured, these guys endorse many things if it pays….  ranging from PCs to books as well as conferences or smartphones.

Trust is highly subjective. Nevertheless, Agarwal and Liu (2009, p. 43) proposed three characteristic properties, namely:

1. Transivitivity:  The closer two bloggers are in a network or geographically speaking, the greater the level of trust.

2. Asymmetry: This means that if I trust you, you may not trust me. If it were symmetric both with trust each other.

3. Personalization: Trust is a subjective and personalized concept. Everybody understands something different with respect to an individual, a blogger or a blog. Trust of a blog is always evaluated with respect to some other blog or company.

Agarwal, Nitin; Liu, Huan; Tang, Lei and Yu, Philip S.  (February 2008).  Identifying influential bloggers in a community. In Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Web Search and Data Mining (WSDM08), pp 207-218, February 11-12, 2008. Stanford, California. Retrieved, April 7, 2014 from http://www.public.asu.edu/~huanliu/InfluenBloggers/Identifying_influential_bloggers.html

Agarwal, Nitin; Liu, Huan (2009) Modeling and data mining in blogosphere. Morgan and Claypool Publishers. See also: http://www.morganclaypool.com/doi/abs/10.2200/S00213ED1V01Y200907DMK001

Age of blog

We use the age of a blog as a proxy for measuring trust. While this is not an infallible measure, it does indicate some level of trust. For instance, if we have subscribed to a blog’s content and read it for 5 years, we know what to expect. We also put some trust into its content. For instance, if the author presents us with some statistics we either trust the numbers or we do not.

Similarly, a blog that is less than one year old has not yet had the time to develop a high level of trust between the author(s) and readers.

0 = less than 1 year old blog
33 = more  than 1 year old blog and less than 3 year old blog
66 = more than  3 years old blog and less than 6 years old blog
100 = more than 6 years old blog.

Maximum points = 100

Do you really want dialog?

Social media should be compared to the Internet “Stammtisch”. Put differently, it represents the regular get together of Skat friends. They may do this at the local pub talking and gossiping about the neighbourhood, politics and so forth.

The internet changed many things. For starters, in the past we had a few (e.g., newspapers or TV news) broadcasting to many. These days, many can broadcast to many. In practice one communicates to a few mostly.

These days, it is getting ever more difficult to get many to read your content. For instance, one percent of your followers clicking on a tweeted URL today is the norm. Three percent clicking on a URL is the rare exception.

So even if you have 10,000 following you on Twitter or liking your Facebook page, maybe 1/10 of 1 percent, or 10 click on your shared link. This means you bring 10 new readers to a blog entry or newspaper article. Not many!

Another challenge is that many tweet or share the same content or link several times over a period of a week. Hence, it is ever more difficult to keep up. Therefore, readers need to be encouraged to engage with your content.

Hence, writers including bloggers and editors need to get into dialog with their readers. Easier said then done. These days, maybe 1 person per 1,000 readers of a blog post wants to comment. If the person takes the time and writes a comment, she expects a thoughtful answer from the author of the blog entry.

It is easy to set up a blog and share insights with the audience. Content may be gossip or thoughts and experiences or happenings out of a life of a CEO.  Nevertheless, without enabling your audience to give feedback by commenting, a dialog cannot happen. Dialog is a feature that helps build trust between commenter and author. As importantly, it also helps with trust with those that just read but sty silent. It adds beef or further depth to your blog entry.  Taking readers seriously and replying helps build trust with commenters AND those that just consume your content.

Developing trust takes much time. As pointed out commenting is an important proxy of putting trust in your reader. If you disable commenting you do not want to go into a dialog. How can somebody claim to be interested in what others have to say, if the commenting function is simply turned off?

Hence, if we want to engage and dialog with people we need to give them the option to do so.

Actions speak louder than words!
Some say A but do B: In turn, how can I trust you?

O = Commenting not enabled
100 = Commenting enabled


Advertising makes it more difficult for a blogger to stay neutral. Put differently, you can bash the advertisers or your sponsors continuously. Also, how much are you influenced by the free trips, dinners and goodies you get from this luxury brand?

This is particularly an issue for style and travel bloggers. Also, self-employed people need to make a living. Here sponsorship helps to generate a bit of much needed revenue.

Similarly to newspapers, it is difficult to truly separate editorial content from advertising. For instance, newspapers have special inserts published weekly or monthly. These 4 to maybe 12 pages carry often up to half or more in form of advertising. Advertising makes them feasible. Nevertheless, it affects the tone of the writing. Put differently, how can you talk about the IT industry and publish each time articles highly critical of that industry in this special section?

Similarly, you cannot be a travel blogger and complaint about airlines and their CO2 footprint, still hoping to get free tickets regularly to far off destinations.

Accordingly, a blog that does not carry advertising might instill more trust. Google ads, links to websites for commissions on sales such as Amazon, etc. make a blog author less independent.

O = Commenting not enables
100 = Commenting enabled

Calculating the DrKPI Trust Index

The DrKPI Trust Index ranges from 0 (lowest score) to 100 (best result / score you can attain).

[(Age+Dialog+Advertising) / 3 ] DrKPI Trust Index = maximum points = 100

For a blog with high trust levels we calculate the numbers as follows:

[(100 Age + 100 Diaolog + 100 Advertising) / 3 ] = 100 for the DrKPI Trust Index = Maximum Score

To calculate the DrKPI Trust Index we use the z-standardization – the z-score for this indicator. The numbers (i.e. the z-scores) are then added up. 

z-transformed values have a mean of 0 and a standard deviation of 1.

This means a negative z-score shows that the measured blog’s performance is below the average of all the blogs included in this benchmark.

The z-scores are then re-scaled. The scale ranges from 0 to 100 (best score / performance).

68% der Werte beim z-Standardwert liegen zwischen -1 und +1
68% of the z-score values are between -1 and +1


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More tips and tricks:

    1. Definition: DrKPI Headline Index
    2. Method for the DrKPI Index
    3. DrKPI Conversation Index
    4. DrKPI First Impression Index
    5. DrKPI Writing Style Index
    6. DrKPI Knowledge Transfer Index
    7. DrKPI Top 100 CEO Bloggers
    8. DrKPI Top 100 NFL Blogs

Test and benchmark your blog’s trust levels – RIGHT NOW – for free using this link.


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