Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Website Evaluation

Imagine, if you will... the library is closed, you forgot your database passwords, and you have an assignment due tomorrow.  So you hop on Google to find information, and get 300 million hits.  How do you know which one of these millions of sites is good?  Try some of these tips:
  • Does it end in .gov, .edu, .mil? These are high quality sites.
  • Does it end in .org or .net? These are usually reliable, but double check!
  • Does it end in .com These are commercial businesses, so use caution! Ultimately they’re probably trying to sell you something.
  • Is there a person’s name in the URL after a tilde (~)? For example: The tilde means it is a personal webpage. It could be factual; then again, it might just be an opinion. No one is double checking this page for accuracy, bias or content.
  • Is it hosted by a free web hosting site like Weebly, Wix, Yola, or Webnode? Or is it on a blog like Blogspot or Wordpress? Is it a wiki? Once again, these are usually personal pages.
  • Is it current? Check the date, often found at the bottom of the page. If it’s more than a year or so old, chances are no one is keeping it up to date. Remember, a lot of information ages quickly! Why take chances?
  • Is the site free of errors? If you notice more than one grammatical or spelling error, then can you trust that there are no factual errors?
  • Are there lots of ads? They’re distracting. Also, again they’re trying to sell you something; information is secondary.
  • Finally, read the webpage! Does it seem to be opinionated or satirical? Does something seem not quite right? Use your judgment! If it doesn’t feel right, choose another site!

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