Strategies for Evaluating a Web Site
To learn more about the publisher of a Web site, try to locate its disclaimers. Look for their "site information" or "about" links and examine them carefully. If you are visiting a Web site sponsored by an organization or agency, find out where their mission statement is located and examine it carefully as well.
Finally, examine the related Web sites to which the one you are evaluating is linked. Web site publishers tend to link their site to ones they think you will find useful and those that generally agree with their particular outlook or mission statement.
Examining these links can help you decide whether the publisher of a particular Web site is credible and provides information relevant to the paper you intend to write.
Here are a few questions to ask when evaluating a Web site:
- Was the site created for particular commercial purposes, such as selling a product or service?
- Is the site devoted to a particular political cause or causes?
- Is the site developed by a particular organization or government agency?
- If you are reading a newsgroup or mailing list, is it a general interest group or one devoted to a particular cause?
- If you are reading a book, what does the name of the publisher tell you about the intended audience?
- Is this publisher known for publishing works in a specific field with a specific political agenda?
- If you are reading a periodical, does it have a predictable point of view? The Nation, a magazine of commentary from a left-leaning political point of view, is likely to give you a different picture of the world from that found in the National Review, edited by conservative William F. Buckley, Jr.