In one of the IIW intro sessions, Google's Kevin Marks made the point that relying on what attributes users provide themselves is risky as what they too often provide is 'noise'.
When asked for zip code, more than statistically appropriate numbers answer '12345' or '90210' (Schenectady NY and Beverly Hills respectively).
Myself, I assert that self-asserted attributes are 'full of sound and fury, signifying nothing'.
'A tale told by an idiot' is maybe a bit strong.
That's not quite what I said, I said if you force people to tell you information in your forms, with no clear benefit to them, they will lie to you to get past the barrier.
It's not about users being unreliable or idiots, its about treating them with respect so they have a reason to trust you with the truth.
Thanks for the clarification Kevin.
Neither do I think they are idiots, some of my favorite people are users.
p.s. this has been a bad week for my alienating Googlers ....
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