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Using websites can be tricky. Ask these questions to get a sense for whether the website is reliable:
- Ask who is responsible for the information.
Are they qualified to teach you? Why are they providing this information? Does someone take credit for the information by name? Can you contact them if you have questions?
- Ask whether the information is objective.
Does it present both sides of an issue? Is it designed to persuade you? Does anything about the information seem fishy?
- Ask how current the information is.
Is the site dated? Has it been updated recently enough to provide good information? Are there old or out of date links?
The internet has a lot of great information - but also a lot of bad information. It's easy to get bogged down when trying to sort one from the other. Try the following tips to make searching and using internet resources easier!
- Know what domains mean.
Anyone in the world can own most domain endings, such as .com and .org. A .org site does not mean that the site is run by an organization, or that the information is trustworthy. Two domains endings you can usually trust: .gov, or .us.gov, are always government-owned websites; .edu are always school-based websites.
- Use the advanced search.
Google has an advanced search option that lets you be more specific in your search. Tell it NOT to find pages that use certain words. Tell it to find pages from certain dates. Most usefully, tell it to find pages that have a certain domain ending.
- Let other people help judge the quality for you.
Don't do all the hard work yourself! If you've found a website you really trust - maybe a government site, or the site of a well-known and respected organization - check out their links pages. You can also use great resources like the Internet Public Library to search through pre-judged webpages. Be careful, though - you should always have your critical thinking and judgement engaged when using the web.