When you’re surfing the web for fun, it may not matter to you whether or not the information on the website is accurate or truthful. When you’re surfing the web with a purpose, such as looking for citations for a school paper or for information on a medical condition, then you need to evaluate the website to make sure that the information you’ve found is relevant and trustworthy.
Whenever you need to evaluation a website, the following questions will help you decide whether or not it’s good source for your topic:
- Who created it?
Anyone can make a web page or misrepresent whom they are. Look for an About Us page that describes who created the website.
- When was the website last updated?
Look for a date near the top or bottom of the site’s home page. If a website has been updated recently, that means someone’s paying attention to the site, making sure links still work and possibly changing parts of it to reflect more recent news or research.
- Is it clear what the website is about?
You should be able to tell why a website exists, and what information it’s trying to provide. If the purpose of the website is confusing or unclear, that’s a telltale sign that you should look for a different site.
- Does the site contain lots of ads?
It’s not always easy to recognize all the ads on a page; sometimes ads will look like messages from your computer, or just like part of the website that you’re looking at. Be aware that if a website has lots of ads, you may want to think twice about whether the information on it is unbiased. Note: some valuable sites do contain advertising to help support their existence on the web.
- Is it easy to find the information you need?
If it’s difficult to find the desired information, and especially if it seems that information from one part of the website contradicts another part, you may want to try another site.
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