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Evaluating Internet Sources
What is the site's domain?
Think of this as "decoding" the URL, or Internet address. The origination of the site can provide indications of the site's mission or purpose. The most common domains are:
- .org : Traditionally an advocacy web site, such as a not-for-profit organization, though open to anyone now.
- .com : Traditionally a business or commercial site.
- .net: Traditionally a site from a network organization or an Internet Service Provider, though open to anyone now.
- .edu :A site affiliated with a higher education institution.
- .gov: A federal government site.
- .in.us :A state government site, this may also include public schools and community colleges.
- .uk (United Kingdom) : A site originating in another country (as indicated by the 2 letter code).
What is the authority of the page?
Look for information on the author of the site. On the Internet anyone can pose as an authority.
- Is the author's name visible? Does the author have an affiliation with an organization or institution?
- Does the author list his or her credentials? Are they relevant to the information presented?
- Is there a mailing address or telephone number included, as well as an e-mail address?
Is the information accurate and objective?
There are no standards or controls on the accuracy of information available via the Internet.
The Internet can be used by anyone as a sounding board for their thoughts and opinions.
- How accurate is the information presented? Are sources of factual information or statistics cited? Is there a bibliography included?
- Compare the page to related sources, electronic or print, for assistance in determining accuracy.
- Does the page exhibit a particular point of view or bias?
- Is the site objective? Is there a reason the site is presenting a particular point of view on a topic?
- Does the page contain advertising? This may impact the content of the information included.Look carefully to see if there is a relationship between the advertising and the content, or whether the advertising is simply providing financial support for the page.
Is the page current?
This is both an indicator of the timeliness of the information and whether or not the page is actively maintained.
- Is the information provided current?
- When was the page created?
- Are dates included for the last update or modification of the page?
- Are the links current and functional?
Does the page function well?
The ease of use of a site and its ability to help you locate information you are looking for are examples of the site's functionality.
- Is the site easy to navigate? Are options to return to the home page, tops of pages, etc., provided?
- Is the site searchable?
- Does the site include a site map or index?