Evaluating WebPages

The WebPages that you scan may not be very reliable. Sometimes, they may be sheer propaganda. It is sometimes useful to see who are the people behind the WebPages. Is the page you are scanning authoritative, accurate, current, objective? 

Some WebPages are easy to evaluate. You might be able to detect the bias or incorrect information yourself. When that is not very evident, look for: 

• References to sources of information

• Links to outside sources for further information

• Date of updating the page (usually given at the bottom of the page),

• Details of the author of the page with clear indication of his qualifications for writing on the topic (the author could be an organization – look for

About Us, Background, etc., of the organization, if that is the case)

• Credibility of the organization behind the page (given in Contact Us or About Us) – that will give you an idea about any conflict of interest

• Sponsors of the page and advertising on the page (will give you an idea about the possibility of self-interest)

The URL of the site also gives some indication of the kind of organization behind the page. If it is a .com site, it is a company. If it is .gov, it is a government. If it is .org, it is an NGO or a social organization. If it is .edu, it is an educational institution. But there are times when you need to really double check. Otherwise, you may not be able to distinguish between propaganda and facts.

 

Who is running this webpage?

This is easy to check if the website has an “About Us or “Contact Us” tag, but even then, you cannot be sure whether the information provided is true.

There are also tools such as:

http://www.geektools.com/whois.php for checking .com, org and .edu sites

http://www.betterwhois.com/ for .com, .net, .info and .biz sites

http://www.allwhois.com/ for .com, .net and .edu sites


How popular is this site?

If there are a large number of people who visit a site, the chances that errors are detected and pointed out become larger. www.alexa.com will give you an idea of how popular a site is by giving you a traffic rank for the site. Popularity does not necessarily mean accuracy or credibility. Ultimately, you will need to use the journalistic tools – the five Ws and H.