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FS 100 - College Success - McCloskey: Websites

Evaluating Websites

Credibility

  • Who is the author or organization responsible for the information?
  • What are the author’s credentials? (experience, education, academic or
  • professional affiliations)
  • Are the expert and the webmaster the same person?

Accuracy

  • Are references included that verify the information’s source?
  • Is the information consistent with other sources on the topic?
  • Are there mistakes in spelling and word usage?

Bias/Objectivity (Fact vs. Opinion)

  • Is more than one viewpoint or opinion expressed?
  • Is the information presented as fact or opinion?
  • Is the site’s purpose to inform? To entertain? To persuade? To explain? To advocate a cause? To sell a product?
  • Does the author use emotionally charged language?

Timeliness

  • When was the site’s last update?
  • When was the information compiled originally?
  • Is the information still valid or is it out of date?

Relevance

  • Is the information directed toward a general or specialized audience?
  • Is the information comprehensive enough for your needs? Specific enough? Too detailed? Too vague?
  • Does the information cover the correct period of time for your topic? The correct geographical area?

Types of Top Level Domains and their Uses

As a starting point for evaluating websites, one might use the part of the web address immediately after the "dot" (for example, .com) to try to determine the reliability of the information. This part of the address (or URL) is called a "top-level domain" that someone asks to have when creating their website. The websites you most frequently visit have top-level domains, or TLDs, that likely fall into one of the following categories:

  • Country Codes - two letter representation for a country, individual countries determine who may receive a wesbite within their country code
  • Unrestricted - three or more letter, no requirements necessary for a website ending with these TLDs
  • Sponsored - three or more letters, a Sponsoring organization determines what requirements must be met and regulates whether they are met before allowing that website to exist.
This table provides some common top-level domains, the category they fall into, and their typical usage
TLD Category A site with this TLD can be registered by...
.com Unrestricted Anyone
.edu Sponsored An accredited US-based college or university approved by EDUCAUSE
.gov Sponsored federal, state, or local governments within the US approved by an independent government agency
.net Unrestricted Anyone
.org Unrestricted Anyone
.va Country Code officials of the Vatican
.za Country Code mainly South African citizens and businesses, but no policy excludes others from registering

Evaluation Activity

Evaluate the below websites using the above website evaluation criteria.

The Burmese Mountain Dog Club

Republic of Molossia

Wolf Restoration

 
 

Can we trust these sites?  Why or Why Not?

Google Advanced Search & Tips

Is it real?

Ultimately, it will be up to you to distinguish if a website is credible and the information is correct and unbiased.  These sites can help you weed out "fake" news