Evaluating Web Resources
When searching for information on the Internet, it is important to be aware of the quality of the information being presented to you. Keep in mind that anyone can host a web site. To be sure that the information you are looking at is credible and of value keep the following criteria in mind:
- Is it clear who is responsible for the contents of the page? Try to find out who are the authors of the Web page.
- Is it an organization, society, governmental site?
- Is it sponsored by an educational institution or is it someone's personal site? Or, is it a commercial site where someone is selling something?
- Do the authors of the site have any qualifications to go with the information they are presenting? Does the site present any other way of contacting the site authors -- postal address, phone numbers?
- Are the sources for any factual information listed so that you can verify them in another source?
- How well put together is the site -- does it have spelling errors, typos, etc.?
- Are any charts, diagrams, statistical information clearly labeled as to where the data source came from?
- Is this information being provided as part of a public service?
- How much, if any, advertising is there on the page?
- Is the advertising content clearly separate from the informational content?
- Does the author of the page state any bias for producing the page, such as an advocacy for a particular point of view or program?
- When was the last time the page itself was updated?
- Are there any indications on how often the informational content is updated?
- How well designed or user-friendly is the site? If it contains images, are they useful, load quickly or merely take up space.
- Can it be viewed as text-only?
- Is the content written at a level that is readable by the intended audience?
- Does it contain a “search the site” function?
A domain is part of the web address nomenclature or URL. It is a string of text associated with the numerical IP address of a website that's easier to remember and search. There are two parts to every domain name: the name and the extension -- these form the “address” of a website on the internet. The "name" is the unique identifier of the website. The domain extension comes after the "name".
It is important to note that domain extensions like .com, .org and .net can be purchased and used by anyone, but .edu and .gov are reserved for educational and governmental institutions only.
Most common domain extensions
- .org = organization
- .edu = us educational institution
- .info = commercial
- .tv = television
- .gov = US government
- .mil = US military
- .biz = business
- .museum = museums
- .com = commercial site
- .net = network resources
- .name = personal sites
Resources for Evaluating Web Pages
- Evaluating Web Resources: A 60 Second Guide.
- Web Literacy for Student Fact Checkers by Mike Caulfield.
- Evaluating Online Resources: The Complete Beginner’s Guide -- How to Find Trustworthy Sources and Avoid Plagiarism, Copyright, and Accessibility Issues by Kristina Tuvikene, WebsiteSetup.org
- Evaluating Digital Sources by OWL Purdue Online Writing Lab
- Check, Please! Starter Course: Shows you how to fact and source-check in five easy lessons, taking about 30 minutes apiece. The entire online curriculum is two and a half to three hours and is suitable homework for the first week of a college-level module on disinformation or online information literacy. The text and media of this site, where possible, is released into the CC BY, and free for reuse and revision. Development of this website concept funded in part by RTI International and the Rita Allen Foundation via the Misinformation Solutions Forum Prize..
Online Verification Skills by Mike Caulfield, Director of Blended & Network Learning, Washington State University
Online Verification Skills — Video 1: Introductory Video (2018 June 29). 3:13 min
Online Verification Skills — Video 2: Investigate the Source. (2018 June 29). 2:44 min
Online Verification Skills — Video 3: Find the Original Source. (2018 May 25). 1:33 min
Online Verification Skills — Video 4: Look for Trusted Work. (2018 May 25). 4:10 min.
Skill: Find Better Coverage with Mike Caulfield. (2020 May 14). 4:27