Evaluate Web Sites
"And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ-to the glory and praise of God." Philippians 1: 9 - 11
*Anyone can put anything on the web for pennies in just a few minutes. Your task is to distinguish between the reliable and the questionable.
*Evaluating web pages skillfully requires you to do two things at once:
- 1. Train your eye and your fingers to employ a series of techniques that help you quickly find what you need to know about web pages;
- 2. Train your mind to think critically, even suspiciously, by asking a series of questions that will help you decide how much a web page is to be trusted.
1. Look at the URL: www.evaluatewebsites.com
- Look for a personal name – you need to investigate the author very carefully
- Government sites – look for .gov, .mil, .us
- Educational sites – look for .edu
- Nonprofit organizations – look for .org
- Commercial sites - look for .com and .net (most unreliable - need to evaluate carefully!)
2. Who is the originator or author of the site?
- An email address with no additional information about the author is not sufficient.
- Is the originator well-known or well-respected - what credentials are listed?
3. Are the mission, goals, and objectives clearly stated?
- Is it a Public Service site? Advertisement? Designed for Entertainment? Personal Home Page? Promotion of Special Interest Group? Homework Assignment?
- Try to determine why the site is on the web.
4. What is the last update to the page?
- How recent the date needs to be depends on your needs.
- For some topics you want current information.
- For others, you want information put on the web near the time it became known.
- In some cases, the importance of the date is to tell you whether the page author is still maintaining an interest in the page or has abandoned it.
- Undated factually or statistical information is no better than anonymous information – DON’T use it!
5. What graphics, animations, images, and sounds are on the site?
- Are there links to other pages? Do the links work? Are they reliable sources?
6. What kind of stories, messages, or articles, resources are posted?
- Are they documented? Are they well researched? Is statistical data clearly labeled? Typographical or spelling errors? Pages easily loaded?
7. Who is the intended target audience?
- Is there a bias indicated on the page or through the links? Especially when you agree with something, check for bias. Limited coverage or point of view?
8. Is there contact information for your comments or feedback?
9. Does the site include references and credentials?
- Is the page merely an opinion? Is the page a rant, an extreme view, possible exaggerated?
- You should hold the author to the same degree of credentials, authority and documentation that you would expect from something published in a reputable print source (book, journal article, newspaper).
Web Evaluation Checklist: Sites scoring less than 16 points are unacceptable – find a better web site!
Criteria: Is the information helpful & important?
Evaluation Techniques: How much information is there? Has the page won awards? Any links or advertisements?
1 pages/many ads 2 pages/a few ads 3+ pages/no ads
(1pt) (3pts) (5pts)
Criteria: Who is the author of the page?
Evaluation Techniques: Is his or her name listed? Can you figure out what makes the author an expert? (Look for an about me link)
Not Qualified Somewhat Qualified Highly Qualified
Or No Author
(0pt) (3pts) (5pts)
Criteria: Is the sponsoring organization reliable?
Evaluation Techniques: Is the organization’s name prominent? Is there an about us link on the home page? What is the organization’s reputation?
Not Reliable Somewhat Reliable Highly Reliable
(0pt) (3pts) (5 pts)
Criteria: When was the information written & last updated?
Evaluation Techniques: Is there an update date listed at the top or bottom of the page? Is there a copyright date at the bottom?
6 yrs or more 3-5 years old 2 yrs old or less
(0pt) (3pts) (5 pts)
* Hint: If you can’t find the home page, erase the end of the url back to the part that ends with .com, or .gov etc.