The Web Smart Checklist
How do you know which websites to trust? Is the information that you found reliable? Once you make a mental checklist of things to look for it's much easier to sift through information and become a more confident internet searcher. For example, many of us forget to do little things like check the date that an article was written or look to see who wrote it. Information like this can be incredibly important so it’s good to have your own web smart checklist for evaluating a website and/or its contents. Here are three easy basics for your checklist: currency, errors, and source. Let's take a look.
Is the information up-to-date? For some things it doesn’t matter but for other things like information in medicine, science, and technology, having the most up-to-date information can be critical. Make it a habit to check the publication date of what you are reading. Sometimes the currency of the entire website is important. Check to see how often the site is updated. This information is often found at the bottom of the webpage. Look at the bottom of this webpage as an example. You can see the current year in the copyright statement. Clues like this will let you know whether or not the website is being regularly updated and maintained. Currency can be very important.
An occasional typo is one thing but regular spelling errors are unacceptable. Grammar is important too. It is a good indicator of the quality of the source. Don’t settle for a poorly written website. It’s not worth your valuable time.
Who's behind it
Who is giving you the information? What are their qualifications? Do they have an agenda or a bias that you should be aware of? Are they making claims that sound too good to be true? You should always know the source behind the information. If you’re not sure, take a moment to look behind the mask and click on a link to an author’s bio, use a search engine to look up their name, or scan through some of the other articles that they have written.
If something isn’t attributed to a particular person then find out more about the organization or business behind the information. Look for links that say “About”, “Background” , “Our Story”, or “Philosophy”. Credible companies and organizations make this information easy to find. Pay attention to the web address too. Government and education websites are considered among the most credible and reliable sources. These sites will have .edu and .gov in their domain name. This doesn't mean that many .com sites are not fantastic resources but sometimes it can be helpful to limit your search to a .edu or .gov site. Watch this video to learn how to do this quickly and easily.