Are Web sources credible? That overly broad question is based on the false premise that Web sources are more or less of equal quality. They are not.
Instead, ask two targeted questions:
1. How much trust should be placed in specific Internet sources?
2. What are meaningful criteria for answering that kind of question?
Where an article or report is sometimes less important than knowing
1. Who wrote it?
2. What is the author's intent?
3. Who sponsors the website where the article is published?
Skills and aptitudes that you already employ in reacting thoughtfully to live presentations, videotapes, books and newspaper articles, as well as to statements made by teachers and classmates are also helpful in evaluating networked resources on the Internet and the Web.
However, your evaluation of websites should also address issues associated with the ease and anonymity with which Internet sources are modified.
10 ways to determine the credibility of information on the Internet
1. How qualified is the person or organization responsible for the website or e-mail communication? If your source is a personal web page and not an institutional one, that fact does not necessarily discredit it. That's the lazy way out. Instead, look more closely at the evidence and the connections. After all, institutions — corporations and governments — also act incompetently, dissemblingly and mendaciously.
2. Is there a way to contact the personal or corporate author of a website or an e-mail? Or is the author's identity concealed?
3. Are primary and secondary sources for claimed facts cited clearly enough that you can track those sources down, i.e., find them and examine them?
4. Is this website logically organized? Does the arrangement of general and specific (dependent, illustrative) parts of web content clearly reflect their interrelationship with one another? If appropriate, is a user's "Help" function provided?
5. Not all content needs to be...