Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Integrity and Ethics on the Internet

Integrity on the Internet is a topic of wide discussion today. There are many sites on the Internet which have the qualities of integrity within them. However, there are many sites which do not. To have integrity within a site on the Internet the owner and/or webmaster must display certain qualities. The qualities discussed below are not all inclusive but are a sample of the type of characteristics that should be displayed. The characteristics discussed are only meant to be indications of integrity. The discussion is not meant to imply that sites without the characteristics below do not have integrity only that they should be more carefully examined. All sites should be reviewed for having integrity before you decide to use the information and/or services posted.

One of the most important things a sit must have is method of contacting the webmaster or owner. This aspect is important for communication between the site and the visitor (s). This method should be easy to find and easy to use. Sometimes a site has a broken link, a visitor needs more information or has a question about the information provided. Sometimes this involves or should involve validating the source of the information if it is not readily apparent. A site that has a method of contact wants to receive information from their visitors.

Visitors can aid the site owner/webmaster in maintaining the integrity of the data. This can be accomplished by asking questions if there appears to be errors in the information such as accuracy or completeness. Responses to visitors are important if a site is to maintain an appearance of integrity with evidence that they care about the accuracy and reliability of the information provided. Another characteristic is where information is posted but the webmaster or owner does not give the proper credit to the source. Sources of information should be properly identified. This can be an important factor if a visitor wants permission to use the material. The holder of the copyright must grant permission to use the material under the terms identified on the site or the site of the copyright holder. A link should be provided to the source of information if a visitor wishes to use it.

Proper credit must be given for posted information for a site to maintain its integrity, completeness, accuracy and reliability of the information. Giving credit is not enough. When I post articles of other writers, I provide the source and a link to contact them for additional information or questions. I have obtained permission to use other writer’s articles on my site and I have identified the source and a method of contact.

Another important factor is the collection of data collected by the webmaster or owner for tracking visitors and their information. The data collected and how it is used should be identified upfront to the visitor (s). I have a statement on my site that indicates the type of information that is collected and how the information is used. This will help to make the visitor more comfortable in visiting knowing the data that will be collected and how it will be used.

There are other characteristics which comprise the concept of integrity on the Internet. The discussion of the characteristics above is only an indication of how important integrity is when it applies to the Internet. Any owner of a site must assure that information posted is accurate, complete and reliable. The owner or source of the information must also be questioned or validated before posting. Checking sources before posting information will only increase the integrity perception of the site and the information.


  • I agree, Dennis, these are all very valid concerns. Interestingly, I have just contacted someone who used one of my articles without authorization and with his own byline. Not, however, one of my articles about ethics (grin).

    Shel Horowitz, founder,
    Business Ethics Pledge

    By Blogger Shel Horowitz, author, Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green, at 12:05 PM  

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