Evaluating Internet Sites
Because the World Wide Web is made up of the work of millions of people, information presented
on the Web comes in a huge array, some accurate and some inaccurate. Because there is no
standardization or editorial control, the consumer must be able to judge the reliability of the
information. Here are some questions to ask yourself that will help you answer the question, “Can I trust this website?”
Who is the producer or author of the webpage? This should
be clearly stated.
- Is there a phone number and street address in addition to an e-mail
- Is the person or institution named one that you recognize as reliable
and accurate? Is there verifiable biographical information given?
- Are there clear internal links that help you identify the sponsor
or author. They often say things like “about the author,” “who we are,” or “about the company.”
- Are the author's credentials relevant to the information presented
on the webpage?
Is the information objective or is it opinion or
- Is the webpage free of emotionally charged language or does the page show a clear bias?
- Does the webpage present all sides of an argument in a fair manner? If not, does the author
state that the page gives only one view?
- Does the webpage falsify, distort, or make outrageous claims about the ideas of others?
- Is the webpage a commercial site that is trying to sell you something. While the site might
have reliable information, the true goal is to sell, not inform.
Is the information timely, accurate, and complete?
- Especially in science, medicine, and business, information that is a year or two old is suspect.
- Is the information given from a source that is known for reliability and can be verified for
- Do other sites support or contradict the information given on this site? If many other sites
contradict the information, be suspicious.
- Is the information complete? While any one page can't cover everything, does the site cover
most major topics about the subject?
- Do links to related sources go to reliable sites?
- Is there a source you know of that is reliable against which you can test this page? This
source could be a highly respected print source or another web site produced by a well-respected
Does the webpage look like it is maintained on a
- Does the information look old? Are the sources quoted recent?
- Is last date of revision stated on the page? This date should be
- Do the majority of links to other websites work. If not, the page
is not being revised regularly.
Is the webpage well designed? Can you use it easily
and in a logical way? Does it load quickly?
- Is the information easy to get to or is it drowned in a sea of bells
- Do you have to click more than 3 times to get your information?
More than 3 times is too many.
- Is the text well written without spelling or grammatical errors?
- Is there a good site map or search engine on the site? Are there
good navigational tools for the site?
“Can I Trust This
It's not called the “Net of a Million Lies” for nothing. The Internet gives access to information from all over the world. Some of it is vital and valuable. Some is incomplete . . . or erroneous . . . or out of date. Some is marketing hype presented as fact. And many pages are unsupported opinion, or political demagoguery. A few are, quite literally, the ravings of madmen!
It's all there on the Net. How do you, and your child, divide the information from the raving? The same way you do when you pick up a newspaper or a magazine: Consider the source.
Here's a checklist you can use to evaluate a website.
- Is the author easy to identify?
- Does he know the subject of the page well?
- Is the page sponsored by a reputable organization?
- Is there an address and phone number on the page, in addition
to an e-mail address?
- Is the page updated regularly?
- Do all links work
- Is the site bias free?
- Is it free of emotionally charged language?
- Are all sides presented?
- Is it free of distortions or outrageous claims?
- Is this a commerical site that is trying to sell you something
- Are sources for data listed?
- How does site information compare to other sources?
- Is the coverage comprehensive?
- Are there links to comprehensive subject sites
- Is the page updated regularly?
- Are sources quoted recent?
- Are the statistics included the most current?
- Is the layout logical?
- Is the site easy to navigate?
- Is it free of spelling and grammar errors?
- Is there a search capacity or good site map?
- Can you get your information in 3 clicks or less
County Library; Texas ISP Association