Blablacar releases shocking study on Trust in Online Communities

Dec 5, 2012
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Be A Trustman | BlablacarThis morning at LeWeb, Blablacar CEO and co-founder Frédéric Mazzella spoke on stage as one of the Ignite speakers. In his speech, Mazzella announced some amazing figures – Blablacar now matches 400,000+ travelers a month across Europe in a community of more than 2.5 million users; for Mazzella, however, this isn’t good enough. He began asking himself the question “how are these people able to trust one another enough to share their journeys?” In order to answer this question, Blablacar teamed up with Groupe Chronos to do a study on how must trust members of online communities, specifically members of Blablacar, put into their online community, based on the completeness of the user profile.

“How much do you trust your friends & family?”

Blablacar Study: Degree of TrustIn order to assess trust, the report first asked participants how much they trust friends, family, neighbors & strangers. The report revealed interestingly that friends are trusted just a bit more than family, with neighbors and strangers trailing behind. The study, which got responses from 631 participants (all of whom are members of the Blablacar community), used this quantification of the trust relationship to then assess the level of trust its members have for various ‘people’ in their online community.

A member of the online community with positive ratings is trusted more than your own neighbor

Blablacar Study: Trust in members of your online communityThe study then took four ‘profile types’ in its online community: members with empty profiles, only a photo, only a verified phone number, only positive ratings, and someone with a complete member profile (photo, verified number, ratings, etc.). The results showed that while an empty photo conveys less trust than someone on the street that you don’t know (1.92 out of 5 vs. 2.15 out of 5), the study showed that with only a photo, members raise their level of trust beyond that of ‘stranger on the street’. A corresponding verified phone number  puts members just below the level of a neighbor, with positive ratings putting them just above a neighbor.

Members with a complete online profile are trusted more than a neighbor, and almost as much as a friend or a family member.

The most interesting part of the study, however ,is the fact that members of an online community with a complete online profile – photo, ratings, verification, etc. – are almost on the same level of trust as a Friend or Family member. When asked where this trust comes from, ~75% of users said “online regulation” – if your online community gives the OK on someone, why shouldn’t you? 46% of participants also stated that having a platform of shared values encouraged their decisions, suggesting that people join online communities because they believe in the impact that community can have, and the values it stands for.

Blablacar launches BeTrustman.com, to encourage building trust in online communities

Along with the study, Blablacar also launched a new website, BeTrustman.com, which hopes to encourage trust-building in online communities. The idea of Trustman, which Mazzella expressed during his talk by ripping open his shirt and declaring “I am Trustman,” is that each member of a community can be a ‘superhero’ of trust, and that with each member of the community who become a Trustman, the community grows stronger. You can download the entire Trust report on BeTrustman.com, or by clicking here.