Not all websites created equal: Tips for telling good from the bad

Annette Fisher

Guest Writer/Librarian

All websites are not created equal—some are bad, some are good, and some are just a waste of time. So, how do you know if the website you are using is credible? Consider these 5 items when judging a website: Accuracy, Authority, Objectivity, Currency and Coverage.

With accuracy, it is easy to discern the purpose of the website, namely, it is written to inform the reader as opposed to inflaming or inciting the reader. The author is qualified to write about the topic and there is a way to contact the author. Authority implies credentials, for instance, the institution that published the website is reputable.

The domain of the site is credible, for example, it ends with .gov or .edu. As with accuracy, there is objectivity with the website. The information is very detailed and it is not slanted nor opinionated. If opinions are expressed, they are not inflammatory.

The site is not a disguise for mere advertising. Check the links on the site—these cross references are also respectable and credible. Currency implies timeliness which means the website or page was produced recently and/or updated recently. Links are current with few or no dead links.

Finally, coverage entails a balance between text and images. Information is cited correctly. You do not have to pay to view the information.

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