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Evaluating Websites: Checklist

A printable list of questions to ask yourself when evaluating websites

Authority: Who is the author?

  • Is the author clearly identified? (An author can be a person, an association/organization/institution, the government)
  • Is the author credible in his/her field of research?
  • Is there a way to verify the author's/organization's credibility? (e.g. 'about the author' or 'about us' link)
  • Is contact information (email, phone, address) available for the author or organization to verify credibility?

Currency: When was the website created?

  • When was the page created or last updated? (This information is often found at the bottom of a website's home page)
  • Is the website frequently maintained to ensure current content?
  • Are links on the page being maintained? (Broken links can be a sign that the website is not being regularly maintained)

Coverage and content: How useful is the website?

  • How well does it cover your topic?
  • Is there a bibliography or statistical data available to check the accuracy of the information?

Who is the intended audience? For what purpose was the work published?

  • Who is the intended audience? (e.g. general public, academics/researchers)
  • Is there lots of advertising? (Advertising is often a sign that a website is trying to sell you something rather than inform you)
  • What domain is the website using? You can tell a lot about a website just by looking at the URL. (e.g. .com for a commercial website, .org for a not-for-profit organization, .edu for an American educational institution, .ca for a Canadian or Canadian government website, .gov for an American government website, etc.)
  • Is the website meant to pursuade you in one way or another? (Is there a particular bias or perspective being espoused?)
  • Does the website use inflammatory language or propaganda?

Test your knowledge!

Referring to the questions above, can you tell the real website from the spoof website?

Website A or Website B

Also try this web evaluation game, created by the British Columbia Institute of Technology:

http://cdl-prod.bcit.ca/library/weg/

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