So there has been some “leaked” information from “reliable sources close to the subject” running around the WoW community lately. Matticus has an excellent post on why it is that sometimes you just can’t name your source – whether that’s because they will lose their job if it gets back to them or because they’ve simply asked you not to squawk.
Heck, I follow the same guidelines here, more or less. If you email me with a question, and ask me not to mention your name and server – I won’t. You’ve asked, and your privacy as a gamer is important to me.
Of course, it’s a little different when you’re dealing with news and not Ask Anna’s Advice Column, but hey – the basic premise is the same.
That said, regardless of the ethics of preserving source confidentiality – nobody is /required/ to buy in to what is posted until it is posted with a defined source. Nor is a blogger /required/ to post that information until it can be decidedly sourced.
Now, I know that things are different for those folks that actually try to break the news. I don’t (and that’s no surprise to those of you that’ve stuck with me for… what, nearly a year and a half now? eesh…) and so I don’t run into this problem very often. If the Warcraft Head Developer were to email me this week and say “Anna, in the next expansion, Paladins are going to have summonable angel pets as their form of raid healing, but you’re not allowed to use my name or credentials at this time” I’d do a tiny little happydance… and shut up about it. It’s not my blog’s business to break news.
However – it /is/ the business of other sites to break news.
And if they so choose, they have – like every other journalistic source – the right to publish news with unnamed sources. It’s a standard practice in journalism.
I, as Jane Peon the Site Visitor, have a different right. And it’s a right I exercise on major world news sources, gaming news sources, craft news sources, and whatever other sites I frequent. And that is what I call the Right of Disbelief.
The Right of Disbelief doesn’t entitle me to bash, hate on, flame, or otherwise be an asshat to the person that posted the potentially un-believable subject matter. What it entitles me to is simply this – I can choose to say “that’s nice, and I’ll wait to form an opinion on the subject until we have a qualified source close to the subject that’s willing to pony up the accountability for this”.
Well it’s simple. If the Blizzard lead developer sends me that email about Angel Aoe Pets, and then sometime between now and whatever the heck the next expansion is the entire Dev team shoots that developer down, and the plan changes to giving Paladins little cherub babies as mana regen instead… nobody’s ass is on the line… except mine. My choosing to report on that (with an anonymous source) only gets MY ass grilled if it’s wrong.
However, if that same developer allows me the privilege of using their name and title, THEIR ass is now on the line as well. This is why in the early stages of these “releases”, an accredited source is very rare.
And so, I maintain my Right of Disbelief for many many things about WoW. I don’t freak out about early, leaked Patch Notes, or pre-Blizzcon special “mined” releases. I’ll believe it when I see it. When, as Matt’s E1-E5 rating would suggest, I have at least an E4, if not an E5 rating on the source.
That doesn’t make a site that is willing to publish E1 information any less valid. It simply means they’re willing to take the grilling if the source data falls through – a risk I (and my tiny little insignificant website) am not willing to take just yet.
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