Judging Online Information

How can you tell whether what you read online is accurate? Read this free lesson on how to judge online information.

Is Wikipedia reliable?

Yes!

It's a better source of information than most websites, and it's a good starting point for research.

No!

Anyone can add or change information, even if they don't know what they're talking about.

The truth is, it depends on how you use Wikipedia. It can be a great starting point for your research, but you shouldn't assume that all of the information is true. Instead, use the references at the bottom of an article to find the original sources. Then you'll need to evaluate those sources to see whether they are reliable.

Keep in mind that some Wikipedia articles are better than others. For example, try comparing the following two articles:

  • The Bicycle article is well-organized and contains numerous references at the bottom. This is because many different people have worked on the article, and it has gone through many revisions.
  • The Andean New Age music article does not contain any references, so it's difficult to know whether it's reliable.

Using multiple sources

No matter what kind of research you're doing, it's important to look at multiple sources. Even a reliable website may not include all of the relevant information. Using multiple sources allows you to see all sides of a story, which gives you a better perspective than if you had only looked at one source.