How can you tell whether what you read online is accurate? Read this free lesson on how to judge online information.
If you're looking for information, the Internet has a lot of it. The problem is, you can't trust every website you find. You'll need to evaluate each website to decide whether it's reliable. Let's look at some of the questions you should ask yourself whenever you view a website.
No matter how good a website is, you should always ask yourself whether it contains the information you're looking for. Remember, just because the site comes up in a Google search doesn't mean it's relevant. For example, if you're searching for information about the history of skateboards, a site that sells skateboards may not have what you're looking for.
There are many types of sites on the Internet. Encyclopedias, online stores, blogs, and humor sites all have different purposes. Determining the site's purpose can help you decide how reliable it is.
In order to get the most reliable information, it's best to stick to unbiased sources. News organizations, encyclopedias, and other sources have traditionally tried to stay unbiased. This helps them build a reputation as a trusted source.
Most websites don't try to stay unbiased like a newspaper would. And that's okay for casual web browsing. However, if you're trying to find reliable information, it can be a real problem. For example, if a news blog is biased, it may distort the story or leave out important information.
Every web address has a top-level domain. Some common examples are .com, .org, .gov, and .edu, although there are many more.
Online articles don't always say who the author is. That doesn't mean those sites are less reliable. However, if there is an author listed, it's a good idea to find out more information about the author.
Many websites will include a date at the top or bottom of an article. This can tell you how current the information is. For some subjects (such as biographies of historical figures), this may not matter as much. However, for technology, news, politics, and other subjects, it may be very important to have the most current information available.
In the example below, the article is talking about an older version of the iPad, so it may not be relevant if you're thinking of buying a new one.
You can't always rely on the site itself, since many sites try very hard to disguise their purpose. You may need to get a second opinion—in other words, see what other people are saying about the website.