The Internet can be a rich source of information; however, not everything found on the Internet is quality informatiion. Virtually anybody can post anything to the Internet and with simple desktop publishing techniques, the site created can look authentic. Moreover, with no publishing date, it is not always easy to determine whether a web site was created yesterday or five years ago. Internet searching can also be time-consuming and frustrating, often with little results to show for the effort.
The library web page offers a list of Recommended Sites (see link below) for a wide variety of subjects. In addition, the Internet Public Library offers a great index of websites by subject.
Evaluating internet information can be particularly tricky because the layout is different from a print source. Important information for evaluation can appear in different places, often requiring clicking on two or more links. Here are some helpful hints for web evaluation:
Who? is the author or publisher of the site? If you can't find a name on the page that you are on, check the "About us," "Contact us" or FAQ sections of the site.
What? Look for information that indicates reliability. How is it presented? Are sources cited? Try to identify the format of the information: is it an online newspaper, a blog, a scholarly article?
When? In addition to looking for a “last updated” notification, look for references to current information or events. Sometimes a site will have a “News” or “Media Release” section that will refer to dates. Numerous broken links are often a sign of age.
Where? What type of site is it? Commercial, institutional, personal? Does the site contain advertisements? The site’s domain often indicates where it is coming from. Not every .edu/.gov or .org site is guaranteed to be reliable. Generally speaking, however, those sites with domains indicating an educational, governmental or organizational entity will contain authentic information.
Why? Is there an underlying purpose of the site? What is the word choice utilized in the site? Do the words indicate particular values and opinions or are they more objective and neutral?