What Are Credible Websites?

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If a stranger on the street came up to you and started speaking, you'd probably want to know more about him and what he was saying before you took him seriously.

The same goes for websites.

Our way of viewing the world is based on the information we encounter. We use that information to make lots of different kinds of decisions throughout our lifetimes.

There's a lot of information online, and since anyone can post it, it's crucial to evaluate websites before you trust the information you find.

Evaluating information is essential for your assignments. It will make your research better, strengthen your arguments, and get you better grades.

The first thing to consider is the type of website and where the website is coming from.

Is the website providing a service or product to sell?

Are there sponsored links and ads? .coms, or Commercial sites, are usually motivated to make money in some way.

Is the page supported by a group, organization or company?

What does the group stand to gain by convincing others of its points? .orgs are created by non-profit or for-profit organizations or associations.

Is the website from an educational or governmental institution?

These websites are more likely to provide objective information and don't contain ads or sponsored links because they are highly regulated.

Is the information from a personal website, a blog, or a website intended for sharing personal opinions about an issue?

Tildes or percent signs followed by personal names or initials usually indicate personal websites.

When you've identified the purpose of the website, ask yourself: "Who wrote this information?"... "Is the author an expert on this topic?"

"Is he or she very opinionated on this topic?"... "How does that influence what they may have written?"

Before you use a website for research, you'll need to do some detective work about the author.

If you don't immediately see an author listed, scan the parameter of the webpage for an "About" or "Info" section.

If you can't find information about the author, backtrack to the main website address by removing characters in the URL after the .com, .gov, or .org. domain.

When you find an author's name, use the name and a few subject-specific keywords in a Web search.

to get more information about other things that author might have written, or things that people might have said about him or her.

That way, if you decide to use their information as a source, you can put their credibility or their bias in context in your paper.

If the text on a website doesn't have a designated author, or there is no information about who is responsible for the website, that may be a red flag and you may want to continue your search for another information source.

Next, ask yourself what sort of evidence the author provides for the points that he or she is trying to make.

Does the website list citations for or link out to other websites, news stories or magazine articles?

What about academic sources like books from university presses or scholarly journal articles?

Do the links provided actually work?

Can you track down those sources and verify the information used on the website?

If you can't find academic sources to verify the information, you may have to move on to a different source.

Finally, consider when this information was published or last updated.

Over time, the way a topic is addressed or written about may differ or change completely.

Make sure that the site you're viewing is either up-to-date or published at a time that is relevant to the topic that you're studying.

You'd be skeptical about a stranger's word on the street. Be skeptical about websites in the same way.

Make sure a website is credible by looking at the type of website and its purpose, the author and their potential bias,

If the information on the website can be verified, or there are references provided,

and when the information was last updated.