A group of journalists and news publications have established an initiative, called the Trust Project, to establish standards about what makes for a ‘good’ website for news. This initiative offers a parallel to how justice system professionals might establish common indicators for what makes a ‘good’ website for legal help information.
The Trust Project has established 8 indicators that go to the trustworthiness & quality of a news article and publication. These 8 indicators are the result of research the group did with key stakeholders, in which they asked about what makes a news story or site trustworthy & quality for the public.
The Trust Project operationalizes the 8 Trust Indicators — primarily by focusing on how news sites operate and how search engines rank news sites.
- The news publications can use these 8 indicators to manage their practices. Ideally, they establish these principles within their organization and ensure that they are meeting these standards with each article they publish.
- The news publications communicate whether and how they abide by these 8 indicators in their website’s schema markup, to alert Google and other search engines about how their publication operates.
- This signal can then be factored into search engines’ ranking of sites in response to people’s queries. As search engines’ crawler bots look at websites around the web, they will see through the schema markup that a given news site has said that they adhere to these 8 indicators (or a subset of them). This markup-based attestation can then signal to search engines, about their websites’ trustworthiness.
- The search engine platforms may then choose to factor adherence to the 8 indicators in their ranking of news sites. When the search algorithm decides what pages to serve to users, and where to rank different pages, the algorithm might now pay attention to whether a web page adheres to the 8 indicators. The algorithm may be programmed to rank pages higher if they adhere to the 8 indicators — as one other factor in the algorithms’ many factors.
Legal help websites may consider a similar strategy. The 8 Indicators for news publications might not all apply to legal help publications — but there might be similar overlap. If our justice professional community can agree on a shortlist of quality indicators for legal help websites, we might then similarly create Schema markup so websites can attest to following these indicators & search engine (and AI) platforms may then use this to factor in their rankings.