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How to Evaluate Internet Websites  

Last Updated: Jan 31, 2017 URL: http://libresources.lrei.org/evaluateinternet Print Guide RSS Updates
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Compare these Websites

Which site is the correct one? How can you tell? Could you tell at first sight?

BIAS

Compare these websites. Is the information presented in a similar way? Can you identify the agenda of each website? What is it? How could you tell?

 

The CRAAP Test

Check for CURRENCY, RELEVANCE, AUTHORITY, ACCURACY and PURPOSE

(http://plpnetwork.com/2014/03/26/infuse-digital-literacy-curriculum/)

 

How Can You Tell Real from Fake?

What to look for when trying to determine whether or not a website contains information you can trust.

AUTHORSHIP
Who wrote the information on this page? Look for "About" "Contact Us" "FAQ" or "Site Map"

VERIFY

Does the information on the page match what you already know about the topic? Verify using another source, preferably a trusted digital source like a subscription database or print.

CHECK THE URL

The end of every URL (Uniform Resource Locator) gives a clue about where the information comes from. How does knowing the source of the information help you evaluate it?

1) .com=commercial

2) .edu=educational institution

3) .gov=government

4) .org=nonprofit organization

5) .mil=military

WHAT'S A TILDE?

That funny little symbol on your keybopard that looks like this (~) and usually indicates a personal website that may not be affiliated with an organization. How should you treat information you find on a personal website?

UPDATES

Are you able to find dates on the information contained in the websites? When was the information last updated? What does that date tell you as a researcher?

BIAS

Bias is "a partiality that prevents objective consideration of an issue or situation." Is it bad for a website to be biased? Why or why not? How can you tell if a website is biased? Hint: is the author trying to persuade you of something? What kind of words do they use to do that?

"CLICKBAIT" and "FAKE NEWS"

Merriam-Webster Online defines CLICKBAIT as "something (such as a headline) designed to make readers want to click on a hyperlink especially when the link leads to content of dubious value or interest." Wikipedia defines FAKE NEWS as "wesbites that deliberately publish hoaxes, propaganda, and disinformation purporting to be real news...Fake news websites seek to mislead, rather than entertain, readers for financial, political, or other gain." Why would someone want to write and spread FAKE NEWS? How can YOU tell if something is CLICKBAIT or FAKE NEWS? Here are some things to look for:

  • The article contains bad grammar and/or uses slang or casual language.

  • The article blends fact (things you know are true) with fiction (things you know are made up).

  • The article makes sensational claims like "This miracle plant cures cancer!" or "Scienists say California will fall into the Pacific Ocean by 2018!"

  • There are sentences with ALL CAPS.

  • The article has examples of extreme language such as “amazing” “epic” “shocking” “worst ever”

  • The article or website has an odd domain name (something other than .com, .org, or .net)

COMMON SENSE

When all else fails, use your common sense. Does the information seem "right" to you? Are there spelling or navigation errors? Is the above information hard to locate? If you have any doubts at all, use a trusted digital or print resource instead or ASK A LIBRARIAN.

Personal Blogs & Websites

Here are some examples of personal websites or blogs, where people have shared information with the general public on a certain topic. Personal blogs and websites may contain FACTS but they are also full of OPINIONS. What's the difference? How can you tell? Can you trust information from a personal blog or website? Why or why not?

True or False?

Now that you know how to tell good information from bad on the Internet, can you tell which of the following websites are real?

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