Document Type


Subject Area(s)

Library and Information Science


Purpose – This paper seeks to understand how users determine credibility in the internet environment from a conceptual level and the implications of these new methods of credibility determination on internet tools (primarily software) and services.

Design/methodology/approach – The author first examines the underlying reasons for increased dependence on the internet for information, using electronic commerce as a starting point. The central concept of “information self-sufficiency” is introduced and then examined through the lens of the internet and conversation theory.

Findings – The author finds that users are shifting from more traditional “authority” methods of credibility determination, where users cede determinations to trusted third parties, to a “reliability” approach where users seek commonalities and coherence among multiple information sources. This has led to an increased pressure for participation and openness at all levels of the internet.

Research limitations/implications – Studies on users and credibility must better account for often invisible technical factors.

Practical implications – Libraries must take into account a greater need for participation and technical fluency when dealing with patrons, particularly in information literacy programs and instruction.

Originality/value – This paper presents a large-scale conceptual approach to credibility on the internet. It seeks to inform current approaches to the subject nested in communications and instruction with the unique technical environment of the internet.