WordPress and Authority

One of the ‘uses’ of a blog for the blogger is to establish his or her expertise on a particular topicWordPress and Authority do go together well.  I reveal what I know, what I am learning and you can form some sort of judgement of my expertise.  Authority contains the word author.  Let’s say for the sake of argument that expertise and authority are often the same thing, except expertise may exist in a person without anyone else knowing about it.  But authority occurs when others believe a person has this expertise.  Authority also implies power, but I am not speaking of power here.

Young people have no respect for authority now...

Young people have no respect for authority nowadays (Photo credit: Alexandre Dulaunoy)

It is possible to ‘borrow’ authority and it is possible to express inherent authority.  Borrowed authority can come from authority granting institutionslike schools, licensing bodies or hierarchical organizations.  For example, a degree from a University is an attempt to transfer authority from a faculty to a person who has been granted the degree.  A church can bestow authority on a person by way of ordainment.  Borrowed authority is also granted by democracies, monarchs, dictators, tyrants, warlords and crime syndicates.

A person who has inherent authority is like the person who assumes leadership at the scene of an emergency. No one grants that authority. Sometimes people just obey it for lack of other options and at other times people just don’t think to question whomever acts like the authority.

Another meaning to the word authority has to do with the validity or truthfulness of a statement. An article might use borrowed authority in the form of references and quotes. A person reading the article might be more comfortable since the article is not merely a bald assertion, but seems to be corroborated by the referred-to authorities.

Starting in the 1950s Carl Rogers brought Pers...

Image via Wikipedia

Carl Rogers in his first book, On Becoming A Person (pg 23-24) said:
Experience is, for me, the highest authority. The touchstone of validity
is my own experience. No other person’s ideas, and none of my own ideas,
are as authoritative as my experience. It is to experience that I must
return again and again, to discover a closer approximation to truth as it is
in the process of becoming in me. Neither the Bible nor the prophets ~
neither Freud nor research – neither the revelations of God nor man –
can take precedence over my own direct experience. [….] My experience is
not authoritative because it is infallible. It is the basis of authority
because it can always be checked in new primary ways. In this way its
frequent error or fallibility is always open to correction.
The term “Authority Blog”, apparently coined by Chris Garrett, refers to a blog that aims to provide expertise on a particular

How does a person become an authority without borrowing? Here, I am speaking of an intellectual, social, cultural or spiritual authority and not so much power as a government might wield.

WordPress allows an indivdual to get into the discourse about a topic. It allows the person to reveal his or her experience, thinking and research on a topic and to present that in a coherent way so that others can test what is being said against their own experience or thought. Those “others” can post comments attached to the WordPress articles, they post related material on their own blogs or sites or they can do both.

In the beginning of this article, I put out the idea that expertise and  authority differ. Authority is a perception of others, while expertise can be harbored without anyone else knowing about it. So, it is for others to decide if a person is an authority on some topic, while it is that person’s role to accumulate experience and thought from which expertise can be built.

Thus, it appears that the greatest obstacle to authority is within. I suspect that this is true for many people and if you are one of those, like me, who faces self-doubt, my suggestion is that you write a WordPress blog and leave it open to comments. That’s how I see WordPress and Authority. What is your thinking?


Image by Getty Images via @daylife

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