Evaluating Web Sites
When evaluating content on the Internet, it is vital to remember that the Internet is filled with garbage, junk, and errors, as well as valid information. Determining what information is valid, and what is not, is an important web skill to develop. Depending on what type of information is being sought, a web researcher should ask the following questions of a web site in order to determine the validity of the web site and its content.
Some general criteria to use when evaluating web content on the Internet:
Does the information appear to be biased, or striving to be balanced? Are the facts stated clearly? Is there information that appears to be missing that should be present? Is there reference documentation for factual information? Are there links to reliable external sources pertaining to the topic?
Who is the host of the web site? What is the domain suffix (.edu. .org, .com)? Is the domain appropriate for the content? Who is the author of the web site? What are the qualifications of the author? Is there a sponsor for the web site? What is their affiliation? Are there advertisments on the web site?
What is the stated objective of the web site? Why was it created? Is this a personal vanity web site? Is the web site for satire and irony? Who is the intended audience for the web site?
When was the website last updated? Is the posted information supposed to change, or be static? Is currency of information important to the information being conveyed?
Is the information clearly organized? Are there many spelling or grammatic errors? Is the graphical information necessary, and supportive of the information being presented? How did you access this web site? What groups or individuals link to this web site?
Here are some useful online resources to aid in evaluating websites on the Internet.
Evaluating Web Resources
Guidelines for evaluating internet information - selected web listings
Critical Evaluation Information
Written by Jennifer Brayton, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Sociology, Ryerson University
1999 Sessional Instructor for MM 1001: Introduction to MultiMedia
University of New Brunswick
October 1999 original university lecture