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Evaluating Web Sites

Below you will find some information you can use and questions you can ask about web sites that you are viewing.  Evaluating a web site is useful for personal surfing as well research and study.

Remember : Not everything is on the Internet; "anyone" can put up a web page; learn about the invisible/hidden Internet or deep web.

Look at the URL (Universal Resource Locator) aka the web address, analyze it

     Is it a personal page? Characters in the URL to alert that this may be a "personal" web page:

                   ~          %         members        aol       geocities    google   sites     users

     Personal web pages can provide sound information, but they are created by an individual.
     You would be advised to scrutinize these pages and ask a lot of questions about them.

     What kind of organization is behind it?  Look at the TLD (Top Level Domain) in the address:

 Domain  Entity  What will this tell you about the site?
 .aero  air-transport industry  Must verify eligibility for registration.
 .asia  Asia-Pacific region  For companies, organizations, and individuals in the Asia, Australia, and the Pacific.
 .biz  business  This is an open domain; any person or entity is permitted to register. Registrations may be challenged later if they are not commercial entities.
 .cat  Catalan  Web sites in the Catalan language or related to Catalan culture.
 .com  commercial  An open domain, any person or entity is permitted to register.
 .coop  cooperatives  Limited to cooperatives as defined by the Rochdale Principles.
 .edu  education  Is suppose to be limited to accredited postsecondary institutions (nearly all 2 and 4 year colleges/universities in US and becoming common overseas.
 .gov  government  Limited to US governmental agencies.
 .info  information  An open domain, any person or entity is permitted to register.
 .int  international organizations  Limited to organizations, offices, and programs which are endorsed by a treaty between tow or more nations.
 .jobs  companies  Designed to be added after the names of established companies with jobs to advertise.  Currently not permitted to post jobs of third party employers.
 .mil  military  Limited to use by US military.
 .mobi  mobile device  Must be used for mobile-compatible sites in accordance with standards.
 .museum  museums  Must be verified as a legitimate museum.
 .name  individuals, by name  An open domain, any person or entity can register. Registrations may be challenged later.
 .net  network  An open domain, any person or entity can register.
 .org  organization  An open domain, any person or entity can register.
 .pro  professions  Currently reserved for licensed or certified lawyers, accountants, physicians, engineers in France, Canada, UK and the US. Must be verified.
 .tel  Internet communication services  
.travel  travel & tourism related  Must be verified as legitimate entity.

      Government entities will often have additional domain identifiers such as:

                        .uk - United Kingdom .jp - Japan  .can - Canada etc. 
                        .ky - Kentucky  .ca - California  etc.

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Why does this website exist - why was it put on the web - what is the purpose? 

  • Inform with facts/data? 

  • Share/disclose?  

  • Entice/sell?  

  • Explain/persuade?

  • Dupe/rant/satire? 

What can the perimeters of the page tell you? 

  • Who or what agency or person(s) is the author?

  • What values do they stand for?

  • What are their credentials?

  • What right to offer their opinion/information?

  • Why believe them?

  • What is their bias or agenda?

  • Check page sections such as:
     “About us” “Sponsors” “Philosophy” “Biography” “Who am I”

  • No background info?
    Truncate the address (URL) one section at a time.
    Search the responsible authors, corporate body names on the Internet.

What is the quality of the content? 

  • Is responsibility clearly stated?

  • Is it a commercial, govenment, educational, private, etc. site?

  • Are sources documented in footnotes or links to outside works?

  • Are the links maintained? Lot of dead links?

  • Are other points of view stated or referred to?

  • Is this hype / trash / ranting / violent / overtly sexual / etc. 

What do others say about this page? 

  • Who links to it?  

  • Who owns it?  

  • Who recommends it?

  • Who advertisers on it?  How much advertising is there?

  • Paste the URL into a web site like http://alexa.com to find information.

  • Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. the author or company name.

Try a search in subject directories – smaller than search engines, usually chosen by human interaction not necessarily computer robot programs.  Some examples: 

How much information is on the Internet?

  • There are two groups of Web content. One, which we would call the "surface" Web is what everybody knows as the "Web," a group that consists of static, publicly available web pages, and which is a relatively small portion of the entire Web. Another group is called the "deep" Web, and it consists of specialized Web-accessible databases and dynamic web sites, which are not widely known by "average" surfers, even though the information available on the "deep" Web is 400 to 550 times larger than the information on the "surface."--From U of California, Berkeley's How Much Information.

  • It is very difficult to know exactly how big the Internet is. Most sites that monitor this concentrate on use/general content and not specific content. For instance, see Internet World Stats.

See also: Internet Tutorials - "...site is intended as an introduction for people interested in learning about the Internet and especially the World Wide Web: what it is, how to search it, and how to use it as a research tool"--Web site.

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