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Evaluating Web Resources
Web browsers such as Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer simply retrieve and display Web sites, and search engines simply list Web sites containing terms that you designate. They do not evaluate the accuracy or value of the Web sites, and there are sites that contain inaccurate, out-of-date, and even false information. You are responsible for determining the usefulness of a Web site. The following guidelines will help you evaluate Web resources.
There are many different types of information available on the Web, but most Web pages can be categorized into one (or more) of five basic types:
BUSINESS AND MARKETING
Business or marketing pages are usually published by companies or other commercial enterprises.
Their primary purpose is to promote the company or to sell products. Business and marketing pages often include a mixture of information, entertainment and advertisements.
For U.S. based sites, the URL or Web address usually ends in .com
NEWS AND CURRENT EVENTS
News and current events sites provide extremely up-to-date information, and include news centers, newspapers and other periodicals.
Some news and current events sites may only provide a limited amount of free information–a few days worth to a few weeks worth– and/or may require registration.
Informational pages provide factual information on a particular topic.
Informational pages are often provided by government (.gov) or educational institutions (.edu) and may include reference materials, research reports, databases, calendars of events, statistics, etc.
Advocacy pages are usually published by an organization with the purpose of influencing public opinion.
The URL address of an advocacy Web page frequently ends in .org (organization).
Personal pages are published by individuals who may or may not be part of a larger group or organization.
Personal Web pages may include almost any type of information including biographical data, information on work, hobbies, etc.
Examples include individual or family home pages, individual faculty or students at a university, and member pages from an Internet Service Provider.
For U.S. based sites, the URL often includes a tilde (~).
Many of the same criteria for judging library databases and resources can also be used for Web sites. Criteria to keep in mind when viewing Web sites
Who is the site's author?
Is the author qualified in the subject area the Web site deals with?
Who is sponsoring/hosting the site?
What are the sources of information for the site?
Are the sources of information reputable?
OBJECTIVITY AND BIAS
Is the author being biased or objective?
What is the purpose of the site?
Is there a date of last update or revision?
Is the information up-to-date?
Is the site relevant to your needs?
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