Trusting Websites

Anyone can publish material on the internet. When using the internet it is important to be aware of the possibility that the site you are viewing could be biased, inaccurate, misleading or out-of-date.

To help you judge whether a site is trustworthy, ask these key questions:

Authority

Who is responsible for publishing the site?

  • .edu indicates an educational institution.
  • .gov indicates a government site.
  • .org indicates a non-commercial body.
  • .net indicates a non-profit organisation.
  • .com indicates a business site.

The .edu and .gov sites generally have a high level of authority or trustworthiness.

Is there information on the site about the author? Have you checked the 'home' link to find out who is publishing or supporting the page you are reading?

Purpose and audience

  • What is the main purpose of the site? Is the site trying to inform or persuade?
  • Are you reading facts or opinions?
  • Is a bibliography included, to show the sources of the information?
  • Are there links to reputable sites?
  • Is the site meant for students and other people seeking information? Or is it aimed at consumers or a specific interest group?

Currency

Is the information current?

  • When was the information published?
  • Is the site regularly updated?
  • Are the links still active?

Check if publication and update information is included at the bottom of the main page.

Design

Is the site well-structured?

  • Does the site have a professional look?
  • Is it well organised and easy to navigate?
  • Is it logically set out with headings and subheadings?
  • Are the spelling and grammar correct?
  • Is it free from advertising banners and popups?

Summary

Websites that are the most valuable for providing good information for assignments are produced by people or organisations with good authority. They are unbiased; aim to inform you; assist you to make your own judgements; are up to date; provide links to other reputable sites and are usually well designed and easy to navigate.

Adding a website to your bibliography

 

 

 

 

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