Not long ago I had the occasion to visit a little school and talk with it’s administrators and staff. When I say little, I mean very little. 24 students, K-6.

When they found out I do websites, the principal said, “Oh, we just got a new website. You should check it out.” I said I would.

So I did. Nice site. It does a lot of things right.

But when I read their online self-description, it said they have 80 students!

I’m not sure why they decided to more than triple their enrollment numbers. It’s a very nice school with an outstanding student-teacher ratio and 24 beautiful smiling happy children.

I suspect they may be afraid that people looking at them online will see the small number and be turned away. But inflating the number to draw potential new families in, only to have them find out when they come to see the school that the reality is much different, is even worse than having them pass over in the first place. Now, instead of just saying, “That school is not for us. It’s a little too small.” Those families have been trained to say, “That school is small, and they’ve substantially misrepresented themselves to us. They’re not trustworthy.” And, when it comes to trusting people with your children, trustworthy is way more important than size.

It’s tempting to say things online that are not quite true, to inflate the numbers and spin the news. To those just getting familiar with the online world, it can seem as though you’re anonymous enough to get away with things you might not say to people face to face or in the newspaper. But actually the opposite is the case. Online statements are only a click away from being fact-checked. And, especially for sites that are connected to an institution like a school, a non-profit organization, a government, or a business, the whole point is not to be anonymous.

So tell your story online. But tell it like it is. 24 beautiful smiling children are nothing to be ashamed of.