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Evaluating Websites

What?

What is the site about?

Does it have the kind of information you need?

*Look at the browser title bar, document title,
content, and links.

 


Who?

Who created the page/site?

Can you find and verify the author's
qualifications, whether an individual or an organization?

*Look for "About us /Author" links for
author’s name and contact information.

*Verify author's qualifications in another
source, e.g., journal, encyclopedia, etc.

*Look for a link to the home page of
the website where the document lives.

*Look at the parts of the URL or
address to find organizational affiliation.

*Use a WHOIS search to help determine ownership of website

 


Where?

Where is the information coming from?

Does the site list any sources or methods used in
gathering their information?


*Look at the URL and domain suffix.

- Only the following three are restricted:
.mil=U.S. Military.
.edu=U.S. institution of higher learning.
.gov=U.S. federal, state, or local government.


*All other suffixes can be registered by ANYONE:
.com, .net, .org, .tv

*Two letter country codes (.uk, .ca) can identify
where is it from if not U.S.

*URL should match the organization responsible for the page.

*Check who owns the site at a WHOIS site:
http://www.networksolutions.com.

 


Why?

Why is this site on the web?

How does it affect the information?

*Look at “About us/Mission/Purpose”,
links, content, and advertising.

*Determine purpose of the site:
-Informational (provides multiple viewpoints and references).
-Business or marketing (tries to sell you something).
-Advocacy or “soapbox” (tries to persuade you).
-Entertainment (satirical, fictional).

*Choose sites whose purposes are compatible
with your information needs

 


When?

When was the page or information created?

Is the currency of the information provided important?

*Look for dates. Can you tell what they mean?
Publication or copyright date? Last modified or
updated? Date statistics gathered or published?

*Note date you accessed the site. You need this to cite the Web site!

 


How?

How accurate or credible is the page?


*Examine references and bibliographies.

*Verify information in a reputable source
(e.g. encyclopedia, book, other websites).

*If you notice many errors in spellings, punctuation,
grammar, etc., question the accuracy of other information.


Here are some suggested sites to help you evaluate websites:

Evaluating Web PagesTechniques to Apply & Questions to Ask (UC Berkeley Library) Tips for Evaluating SourcesDiana Hacker’s Research and Documentation Online ICYouSeeA Guide to Critical Thinking About What You See on the Web The Good, the Bad and the UglyWhy it's a Good Idea to Evaluate Web Sources