#25 in a series of background briefs

Why the context matters

A key to TCQ is publishing the guarantee in a context where the viewer trusts all claims that are being made about the photograph.

  • 1. Viewers will only trust the “Guaranteed TCQ” label when they are convinced that the photographer’s reputation is truly at stake on the guarantee.

    MORE-credible contexts:

    Viewers are more confident they can hold the photographer accountable, so viewers are more likely to trust the label.

    Three contexts where the “Guaranteed TCQ” label is more likely to be trustworthy

    LESS-credible contexts:

    Viewers are less confident they can hold the photographer accountable, so viewers are less likely to trust the label

    Why isn’t social media a reliably credible place for the “Guaranteed TCQ” label?

  • 2. What matters to each viewer is which contexts they personally trust, not claims that others may make.

    • There is no official designation of “trustworthy websites,” and there never can be (in part because such designations could be instantly obsolete; see #3 below).

    • If you say to yourself about a particular website, “I wouldn’t trust the ‘Guaranteed TCQ’ label there,” then you have just described what is to you “a less-than-credible context.”

  • 3. The trustworthiness of specific contexts can change overnight.

    • The fact that a context may be judged “trustworthy” one month doesn’t mean it will still be regarded that way the next month.

    • For skeptical viewers, any particular context is only as trustworthy as its least trustworthy misstep. It doesn’t take much for viewers to write off a particular context permanently. (Viewers often have a good memory of when they were fooled by photo that appeared to be undoctored but turned out to be doctored. See also here.)

    • Fortunately for content providers, any context can declare a commitment to being trustworthy and start with a clean slate by embracing attributes of trusted websites and inviting its audience to hold it accountable.

The public will become increasingly aware of “which kinds of websites, which specific websites, and even which photographers viewers feel they can or cannot trust.” —From #106