How to evaluate websites
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Information found on the Internet requires particular attention, as anyone can create a website and post information without review or consequence. It is essential to examine and determine the validity and accuracy of the information published on websites.
- Is the author or organization clearly identified?
- What is their particular expertise on the topic? Many sites with reputable authors will include biographical and contact information.
- When was the website created?
- Is the site updated and maintained? Check for broken links, or links to less reputable or abandoned sites – these are signs of a dated website.
- Is the topic covered in-depth with research to support it? You should be able to cite the information with confidence that it is valid and substantive.
- Is the website academic, professional, commercial, political or "click-bait"? The sole purpose of "click-bait" is to gain clicks and generate advertising revenue.
- Is the information meant to educate and inform, to persuade, or to sell and make a profit?
- Check for advertisements and sidebars that lead to unrelated sites.
- Is there a bibliography or reference list of sources, including links to other relevant web pages?
- Are various sides or opinions on a topic or argument covered?
- Does the site voice extreme views or use inflammatory language? These are characteristic of propaganda.
- Does the site acknowledge affiliations or associations with universities, political parties, or social, scientific or government groups? Any arguments or conclusions should be supported by evidence and verifiable sources.